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Lawmakers urged to play greater role in climate change issue

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

Lawmakers urged to play greater role in climate change issue

QĐND – Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 21:6 (GMT+7)

 The role of legislators needs to be promoted in policy and legal planning, negotiation and the supervision of conventions, treaties, international commitments on sustainable development and climate change.

This was agreed among the delegates who attended a seminar on the role of the Asian-Pacific Parliamentary Francophone Assembly (APF) in the environmental field and climate change, which was organised by the APF, the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) and Vietnam’s National Assembly in Hanoi on December 15.

On addressing the opening ceremony, Nguyen Van Son, the chairman of Vietnam’s NA’s Committee for External Affairs, said that the event is meaningful in the context of the 16 th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16) that has just finished in Cancun, Mexico.

“The seminar stresses the responsibilities of Francophone member countries in the face of common global challenges in Asia-the Pacific region”, said Son.

At the event, delegates from APF member countries such as Laos and the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu as well as experts from the Institute for Energy and Environment of Francophone Countries (IEPF), representatives of Vietnam’s ministries, along with scientists agreed that environmental protection is always an essential factor in sustainable socio-economic development.

In reality, in a global economy, climate change poses challenges to many countries around the world, especially poor and developing countries, of whom many are members of the Francophone bloc.

The delegates were also briefed on Vietnam’s progress in the implementation of solutions on climate change as well as the NA’s role in sustainable development.

According to Jean Luc Lala, the Secretary General of Administration for the APF, the crucial point is to find a balance between the economic benefits and environmental protection, so all concerned parties must take own responsibility after signing conventions and international treaties in this area.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Markets to issue verdict on stress tests

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

 European bank stress tests will themselves be tested on Monday when investors return to markets in Europe and Asia with a verdict on an unprecedented bid to restore confidence in the EU banking sector.

Market reaction will be crucial to determine whether tests on the health of 91 EU banks, published on Friday, have dispelled suspicions that hidden problems and incorrectly priced risks lurk in their balance sheets.

The unprecdented decision to publish detailed results of the tests follows the global financial meltdown and the crisis in Europe in the last six months, compounded by doubt about the solvency of some banks.

The tests imagine a level of crisis arising from economic downturn, a stock market collapse or a government debt crisis, testing each bank and the system against the given level of distress.

File photo shows people standing outside the headquarters of Hypo Real Estate bank in Munich, Germany.

The results found that only seven banks, five in Spain and one each in Germany and Greece, were unprepared to absorb a new financial crisis.

But analysts were instantly dismissive of the tests, saying the bar was too low to assess the capacity of European banks — many of which hold bonds issued by debt-riddled governments — to overcome fresh financial pressures.

European bank regulators took the unprecedented step of making the results public, although they delayed the release until after stock markets had closed in Europe.

On Wall Street, however, where trading was still going on, analysts said investors were in general relieved by the findings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day on Friday with a gain of 0.99 percent.

Investors in Asia and later in Europe will have their say on Monday.

“The market reaction is likely to be one of some disappointment,” said Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit Group.

He said the overall capital shortfall uncovered by the tests on the 91 banks, 3.5 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars), “is so small, and so out of line with prevailing market expectations, that it will be regarded with some scepticism.”

He described the testing exercise as a first step toward transparency “but insufficient to bring about … rapid and major improvement in confidence in the European banking system.”

The underlying worry is that if banks in general become nervous that their neighbours have potentially dangerous weaknesses, they could become increasingly reluctant to do business with each other.

They would also park funds in safe places, rather than lend normally, in case a link in the banking system becomes insolvent, sparking a domino effect and causing the interbank market to dry up.

Suspicions about about the strength of banks have lingered since the end of last year and well up whenever there is talk of economic recovery faltering.

This lack of confidence became acute three months ago when the Greek debt crisis showed signs of engulfing Spain, Portugal or Ireland.

One concern was that governments with weaker economies — having worsened their own deficits and debt by rescuing some banks — faced a risk that banks might then not want to buy their debt bonds.

Normally, banks hold and buy large quantities of sovereign bonds, considered low risk, easily convertible into cash and therefore representing a matching factor of top quality so-called Tier One capital that banks need to stay solvent.

But the problem became so acute that the European Central Bank broke a golden rule and stood by to buy government bonds from banks that needed funds but had difficulty in borrowing on the markets in the normal way.

The ECB was in effect both supporting the balance sheets of some banks, and also indirectly supporting the government bond market and therefore the ability of governments to fund overspending.

The effect could be to overstrain the balance sheets of the banks as well as increase problems for governments selling bonds.

This explains why one of the test criteria was whether banks could survive the shock of a sudden fall in the price of government bonds.

But the stress tests did not involve the scenario of a eurozone country becoming insolvent and its bonds becoming almost worthless — a fear in recent months given that Greek bonds are now rated in a less than investment phase.

“The prospect of an outright sovereign default, which is what has worried markets most, has not even been considered,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics.

The stress tests are a legacy of the global financial meltdown that erupted in late 2008 following the failure of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, a victim of the subprime mortgage crisis.

The chain reaction unleashed by that meant government around the world had to bail out banks to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, underwriting the banks’ debts by borrowing extensively themselves — through issuing bonds.

A measure of the exercise’s success should become apparent in the movement of two key interbank interest rates — the Libor rate for dollars and the euro-based Euribor rate — in the next few days.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam, Belarus leaders issue joint statement

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Vietnam, Belarus leaders issue joint statement

QĐND – Friday, May 14, 2010, 22:30 (GMT+7)

Vietnam and Belarus have agreed to mutually recognise each other’s market economy status and consider the possibility of trade liberalisation between the two countries.

This was stated in a Vietnam-Belarus joint statement, which was signed by State President Nguyen Minh Triet and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko during the Vietnamese leader’s visit to Belarus from May 13-15.

During his visit, President Triet held talks with President Lukashenko and met with the Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly, Boris Batura, and Prime Minister Sergey Sidorskiy.

The joint statement says the two leaders agreed to step up bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, security, science-technology, education, health care, culture and sports. On this basis, both parties expressed their willingness to continue facilitating long-term cooperation for the sake of both the Vietnamese and Belarusian peoples.

According to the joint statement, Vietnam and Belarus confirmed their support for strengthening the central and coordinating role of the United Nations (UN) to ensure peace, security and cooperation around the world.

They both agreed that the continuing reforms in the UN will enhance the efficiency and capacity of its operations in maintaining international peace and security.

They also stressed on the need to expand the representation of developing nations on the UN Security Council. Vietnam acknowledged Belarus’ view on the necessity to also extend the representation of East European countries on the council. Belarus applauded Vietnam for its successful term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during 2008-2009.

The leaders acknowledged that they had similar views on many important regional and international issues and said they were ready to cooperate closely within the framework of the UN and other international organisations. They will also take part in joint efforts to form an equal and reasonable international economic and political order on the basis of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit, while abiding by international laws and the UN Charter.

Belarus praised Vietnam for its active role in ensuring a harmonious development, peace and stability in Southeast Asia and expressed their belief that Vietnam’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2010 will help to improve the bloc’s prestige and influence. Vietnam applauded and reiterated its support for Belarus’s desire to step up multifaceted cooperation with other ASEAN member countries.

President Triet sincerely thanked President Lukashenko and the other Belarusian leaders for their warm reception and invited President Lukashenko to pay an official visit to Vietnam. President Lukashenko thanked President Triet and accepted the invitation.

Source: Vietnam+

Source: QDND

Dow Chemical wants to evade dioxin issue, says Len Aldis

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

However hard it is, we must find the truth in the struggle for the legitimate interests of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange (AO), Len Aldis, General Secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, has said.

This undated file photo shows the US army spray defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam during the war

He said this during talks with Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper after he could not meet representatives of American company Dow Chemicals at its representative office in Ho Chi Minh City on May 5.

Aldis said he wanted to discuss the AO issue in Vietnam Dow Chemicals representatives in the city.

He said the office told him that “the representatives of Dow Chemicals were not present in Vietnam” and that he should contact Mr. Peter Paul van de Wijs, who is in charge of global government issues for Dow Chemicals.

He said the Dow Chemicals office in HCMC also gave him a copy of a document that he considered a “declaration” of Dow Chemicals about the AO issue in Vietnam.

“Reading it, I could not contain my anger, since it is a totally dishonest statement. Vietnamese Agent Orange victims and American vets will certainly have the same feeling,” he said.            

Aldis said before going to Vietnam, he wrote to Down Chemicals a letter requesting for a dialogue at the representative office and he later received a feedback letter, which reads: “The AO issue is the group’s issue and we are not in position to make a reply about it.”

Aldis said it was simply a way Down Chemicals used to dodge the AO issue in Vietnam .

Dow Chemicals is one of companies making dioxin that the US army sprayed in Vietnam as a defoliant during the Vietnam War.

Source: SGGP

Safety issue prompts new Toyota sales suspension

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 at 7:34 am

NEW YORK (AFP) – Embattled Japanese automaker Toyota has announced it is temporarily suspending sales of its 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV in North America after a safety warning by a top US consumer magazine.

The logo of a Lexus vehicle at a car dealer’s showroom in Los Angeles. AFP photo

Consumer Reports gave the sports utility vehicle a rare “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” rating after conducting tests on the car.

When pushed to its limits, the rear of the GX “slid out until the vehicle was almost sideways before the electronic stability control system was able to regain control,” the magazine said.

“We believe that in real-world driving, that situation could lead to a rollover accident, which could cause serious injury or death,” it added, while cautioning it was “not aware of any such reports.”

In response to the Consumer Reports warning, Toyota said it had asked its dealers to “temporarily suspend sales of the 2010 GX 460” in the United States, but insisted it was “confident that the GX meets our high safety standards.”

Toyota also asked dealers in Canada “to temporarily suspend delivery” of the same model, the company said.

The automaker has recalled millions of cars in the United States since late 2009, over a series of problems linked to “unintended acceleration.”

The recalls have caused an outcry in the United States, with Toyota executives hauled over the coals by Congress and the company’s previously stellar reputation for safety left in tatters.

Toyota said it was concerned by the Consumer Reports rating and had not experienced any similar problems in its own tests. It offered to provide a loaner car to concerned GX 460 owners until it identified a remedy.

“For more than 20 years, Lexus has made customer safety and satisfaction our highest priorities. We are taking the situation with the GX 460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified,” Toyota said.

“Our engineering teams are vigorously testing the GX using Consumer Reports’ specific parameters to identify how we can make the GX’s performance even better.”

The company faces a record 16.4-million-dollar fine in the United States for hiding dangerous defects in its cars from consumers and watchdogs.

And its troubles are not over yet, with the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) warning Toyota in a letter obtained Saturday by AFP that it could slap another fine on the Japanese carmaker.

Toyota recalled more than nine million vehicles worldwide, including more than six million in the United States, mainly for involuntary acceleration problems but also for some faulty brakes on some hybrid vehicles.

Toyota has been hit with at least 97 lawsuits seeking damages for injury or death linked to sudden acceleration and 138 class action lawsuits from angry customers suing to recoup losses in the resale value of Toyota vehicles following the recalls.

It has also suspended production of some Lexus models in Japan over problems with the breaking system.

Source: SGGP

Japan, US to issue statement on security anniversary

In World on January 11, 2010 at 5:54 am

After months of tensions, Japan and the United States will issue a joint statement aiming to deepen their security alliance next week on the 50th anniversary of a key treaty, reports said Sunday.

The US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base (top) in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan in November 2009. (AFP Photo)

Despite a simmering row over the relocation of a US air base in Japan, the two governments aim to stress the crucial contribution of their alliance to global peace, the top-selling Yomiuri newspaper and other reports said.

“The governments are preparing for the statement, with which Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and President (Barack) Obama will celebrate the 50th anniversary and commit to further deepen the alliance,” Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said, according to Jiji Press.

The security treaty, signed on January 19, 1960, has formed the bedrock of the post-war Japan-US alliance, under which pacifist Japan relies on a massive US military presence to guarantee its security.

Final arrangements for the statement will be made when Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet in Hawaii on Tuesday, the Yomiuri said.

Tokyo’s relations with its most important ally have hit turbulence over the controversial Futenma air base, which Hatoyama has suggested should be moved off the southern island of Okinawa or even outside Japan altogether.

The centre-left Hatoyama, who took power in September, has pledged to review past agreements on the US military presence, including plans to shift Futenma within Okinawa, and to deal with Washington on a more “equal” basis.

During Tuesday’s talks in Honolulu, Clinton will tell Okada “how important it is to move forward on these issues in Futenma”, Kurt Campbell, her top diplomat for Asian affairs, said Thursday.

Clinton will tell the Japanese minister that “we also have to have a very clear-headed recognition of how important this relationship is, how many aspects need to be maintained and engaged upon”, Campbell said.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Cambodia not to raise Preah Vihear issue at ASEAN Summit

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Hanoi (VNA) – Cambodia will not list its dispute with Thailand over the ownership of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear Temple on the agenda of the ASEAN Summit next month in Bangkok, according to sources from Phnom Penh.

The ongoing global financial crisis will top the agenda at the summit, and Cambodia will not raise the Preah Vihear issue there, said Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong.

Cambodia is right not to bring the matter to the ASEAN summit, as all ASEAN member countries, as well as other nations friendly to Cambodia have said that they expect Cambodia and Thailand to solve their dispute through bilateral negotiations, he said.

According to the outcome of the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of the two Southeast Asian nations, the two sides will begin measuring the border line and locating existing border posts in December, and the Joint Border Committee and both foreign ministers are to convene new meetings in January, said the Cambodian Foreign Minister.-

Cambodia, Thailand agree on provisional arrangements for border issue

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Phnom Penh (VNA) – After three-day negotiations, Cambodia and Thailand have agreed on some provisional arrangements that would pave the way for resolving the long-running border disputes concerning sovereinty claims over Preah Vihear temple.

The agreements, reached following talks between Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Sompong Amornvivat in the Cambodian resort town of Siem Reap, include joint mine clearance at the temple area and starting border demarcation using the 1904 map by the French colony from areas near the temple first.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said legal experts from both sides will meet in January 2009 to measure the border for planting border posts, according to news agencies.

But it is not clear yet how soon those tasks could begin because the Thai side will first have to submit documents for approval of Thailand’s Parliament.

He added both sides had also agreed to withdraw troops from the Keo Sihka Kiri Svara pagoda and its surrounding areas and the areas near the Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia and Thailand have 790-km-long border line, with only 73 border posts which were planted in 1907.

Tensions between the two countries have been simmering since July this year when the 900-year-old temple was granted World Heritage status by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO).

Following the breakdown of a round of talks last month, troops from the two countries clashed on the disputed land on October 15, killing two Cambodian soldiers and injuring seven Thais.-

Illiteracy rate still a thorny issue in VN

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2008 at 11:11 am

by Hong Thuy

HA NOI — The capital city has a low literacy rate, according to a recent report released by the Education and Training Ministry.

The report says there are nearly 1.7 million illiterate people nationwide. Ha Noi City, which encompasses former Ha Tay Province and parts of neighbouring Vinh Phuc and Hoa Binh provinces, has about 235,000 residents who are unable to read, followed by HCM City with 90,000 people and Long An with 60,000.

According to the report, illiteracy rates are highest in people over 36 years old residing in northern mountainanous provinces, Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands) and the Cuu Long (Mekong) river delta.

More attention needed

Aware of the fact that an ignorant nation is a weak one, the Government has long made the fight against illiteracy a top priority, helping the country to achieve a literacy rate of 92 per cent.

Yet, the struggle is not complete.

Deputy President of the Viet Nam Learning Encouragement Association Tran Xuan Nhi says that ongoing efforts to maintain a high literacy rate among people 15-35 years old in the plains and people 15-25 years old in remote mountainous areas have not achieved results.

“The actual number of illiterate people is much higher,” he says.

The Ministry of Education and Training, in collaboration with cities and provinces, has held pro-literacy classes since 1992, but the outcome still leaves much to be desired.

“The rate of illiteracy remains high despite some progress,” Education and Training Deputy Minister Nguyen Vinh Hien admitted at a workshop last month, which reviewed the three year implementation of a project to build an educated society and develop community learning centres.

A ministry report says the country still has 144,459 illiterate people between 15 and 25 years old. The figure is nearly 250,000 among people 25-35 years old.

According to UNESCO National Committee General Secretary Pham Sanh Chau, only 77 per cent of ethnic minority people can read and write, about 15 per cent lower than the rest of the population.

“It is a worrying situation,” he says.

Improving literacy among at-risk groups is seen as an important way to increase knowledge about epidemics and contagious diseases like HIV and malaria.

Universal literacy will provide a foundation for people to gain an education in science and technology, which will translate into increased productivity for the country.

The Government should help people in remote and mountainous areas get access to learning tools, says Nhi.

“They are a powerful labour force producing vital materials for society,” he says.

A major hurdle on the road to combatting illiteracy is that the Government’s education budget is only enough to provide schooling for 20-25 million people, a third of the population, says Nhi.

The country’s remaining population, nearly 60 million people, have not been given proper resources and opportunities to obtain an adequate education, he says.

To tackle the problem, he has asked the Government to use 3 per cent of the annual education budget to combat illiteracy and provide further education at community learning centres.

Learning society

Knowledge is a commodity that will enrich the whole country.

The Government has taken this tenet as a guideline and established community learning centres so adults, especially farmers in rural areas and labourers in major cities, can receive continued education.

More than 9,000 centres have been established over the last three years to help increase literacy and provide knowledge about agriculture, forestry, fishery and law.

The aim of these centres is to provide an equal learning opportunity for all people in society, but it is not easy to implement this idea.

According to the Learning Encouragement Association, only 30 per cent of community learning centres are operating effectively and only 24 provinces out of Viet Nam’s total 63 have learning centres in all communes.

The association says that a lack of funding has forced many centres to shut down, while others failed to provide relevant knowledge to their students.

Association Deputy President Nhi maintains it will be possible to drive back illiteracy only once such difficulties are solved.

“We need money to run these community learning centres,” he says. —

Water availability becomes an issue during dry-season

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Vietnam is facing many challenges in managing water resources, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, chairman of the National Council on Water Resources, at a workshop on October 29.

The workshop was part of a project to evaluate Vietnam ’s water sector, with the overall goal of helping the country achieve sustainable development of its water resources.

“ Vietnam ’s water resources are confronted by many potential threats. However, this issue is not fully in the public consciousness so there needs to be timely action taken,” said Hai.

According to Hai, challenges in managing water resources come in many forms: limitations and inefficient use of economic tools for sustainable use of water resources, insufficient irrigation supply and a dilapidated infrastructure.

Vietnam is heavily dependant on international rivers. Only 40 percent of surface water is generated inside the country and six of the major river basins depend on water from other countries, In addition, nearly 57 percent of Vietnam’s total water discharge occurs in the Mekong river basin, over 16 percent in the Red-Thai Binh river basin and 4 percent in the Dong Nai basin-all international rivers, according to the council’s report.

Water availability, particularly in the dry season, is starting to be a major issue. The international standard for “water exploitation stress” is tha moderate stress on a river begin when 20 percent of the water is extracted and high water stress occurs for values above 40 percent. For the dry season, four of the major 16 basins are currently classified as highly stressed (the Ma, the Huong, the Dong Nai and coastal rivers in southern Central Vietnam) and a further six are classified as moderately stressed by international standards, including the Red River . Up to 80 percent of the Ma River’s dry season flow is currently being extracted, said the report.

At the workshop, a number of related issues were discussed including the protection of vulnerable communities, sustainability in water resource development, environmental health and enhancing institutional capacity and participation of related parties to achieve the integrated management of water resources in Vietnam .

The report will be a reference for the Government and donor community in developing a water resource management investment and support strategy for Vietnam ’s ministries and agencies over the next 10 years.-