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US on track in ‘difficult’ Afghan war: Obama

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 5:26 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama said the US war plan in Afghanistan was “on track” but somberly warned that gains won by his surge strategy at a heavy human cost were fragile and reversible.

Unveiling a long-awaited policy assessment, Obama said progress was sufficient to permit a “responsible reduction” of US forces to begin in July, though the scope and size of the likely drawdown appear limited.

US President Barack Obama said Thursday that surging troops into Afghanistan had made “significant progress” in curbing the Taliban and stifling Al-Qaeda (AFP)

Despite warning the Afghan war remained a “very difficult endeavor,” Obama said a relentless US operation had placed Al-Qaeda under more pressure than ever and argued that surge troops had made “considerable gains” in Afghanistan.

He said Al-Qaeda was finding it harder to recruit and plot attacks and had seen key leaders killed, although he warned the group was “ruthless and resilient” and was still planning follow-ups to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“In short, Al-Qaeda is hunkered down,” Obama said as he unveiled an unclassified version of the review at the White House, flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The president also said his new strategy, announced a year ago, had forged ahead with Pakistan, saying there was a new recognition in Islamabad of the threat posed by extremist networks in rugged Afghan border regions.

“Nevertheless, progress has not come fast enough, so we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with,” Obama said.

The overview, the result of a two-month National Security Council assessment, said progress in Afghanistan was evident in gains by Afghan and coalition forces against Taliban bastions in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

But the study was short on details and supporting evidence, and did not include pointed criticisms of the Pakistani and Afghan governments that have featured in US government documents leaked in recent months.

Though it pledged to work with Afghanistan to improve governance and reduce corruption, it did not go into details on countrywide graft, including in President Hamid Karzai’s government, that many analysts see as endemic to Afghanistan and a severe threat to US goals.

Clinton insisted however the administration was not trying to sugar coat the war effort, after the bloodiest year yet for foreign troops in the nine-year conflict and public US spats with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I don’t think you will find any rosy scenario people in the leadership of this administration, starting with the president,” she said. “This has been a very, very hard-nosed review.”

Obama, under pressure from his liberal base, said when he announced his surge of 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan last year that American troops would begin a conditions-based drawdown in July 2011.

He argued Thursday that his target had galvanized US NATO allies into a more urgent effort to ensure Afghans begin to assume control of their own security.

However, senior military figures have appeared uneasy with the July 2011 date, and it appears unlikely that large-scale troop withdrawals will ensue. Gates also said the pace of US redeployments was unclear after next year.

“In terms of what that line looks like beyond July 2011, I think the answer is, we don’t know at this point. But the hope is that as we progress, that those drawdowns will be able to accelerate.”

The report trod carefully on uneasy US anti-terror ally Pakistan, following pointed criticisms of Islamabad’s nuclear safety and other areas of policy revealed in the US cables published by WikiLeaks and other reports.

Progress in the Washington-Islamabad alliance had been “substantial” but “uneven” in the last year, and some adjustments were necessary, the report said.

“For instance, the denial of extremist safe havens will require greater cooperation with Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan,” the report said.

Critics of US strategy are likely to argue the review leaves key questions unanswered, including whether Afghan military and governing structures will ever be sufficiently robust to secure US gains.

Administration officials have also played down intelligence reports cited by newspapers, which paint a less optimistic picture of the war than the administration report.

Progress in Afghanistan has come at a high cost: more foreign troops — nearly 700 — have died in 2010 than in any year of the war and Washington has waged public spats with Kabul and Islamabad.

The war also faces waning public support: 60 percent of Americans surveyed in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Thursday believe that the war is not worth fighting, up seven points since July.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam keeps track of imported milk prices

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 7:48 am

As of September 27, the General Department of Customs requested local customs to pay attention to checking imported milk prices.

Vietnam issues new decision to control milk product prices to protect customers’ benefits

If the difference in imported milk prices among the same kind of products is over 10 percent, it’s necessary to check those products after customs clearance, said the General Department of Customs in its dispatch.

In addition, local customs need to investigate unusual declaration on milk prices before allowing products to be imported into Vietnam.

Concerning to strictly controlling prices of imported dairy products, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) issued the Circular No 122/2010 which comes into effect on October 1.

The circular rules that dairy companies must register prices of imported milk with the MoF’s Price Management Department or the provincial departments of finance before selling products in the market.

The Government will apply measures to curb dairy prices if the prices are unusually varied because dairy is classified in the list of items need to be stabilized.


Source: SGGP

Garment exports to US back on track

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

Garment exports to US back on track

QĐND – Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 20:56 (GMT+7)

Vietnam earned 2.7 billion USD from exporting garments to the US in the first half of this year, an annual increase of 15 percent, after dropping last year.

According to the Vietnam Textiles and Apparel Association (VITAS), garments are Vietnam’s major export staple and account for the largest proportion of the country’s total export value to the US , with 43 percent in the 2005-2009 period.

So far this year, garment exports to the US have made up 57 percent of the sector’s total export value.

Clothing made in Vietnam is becoming more popular with US consumers. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has also reported that Vietnam is one of the Asian countries able to compete with China in the area.

The US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel chooses Vietnam second after China when seeking garments from Asia.

VITAS has forecasted that the US will continue to be Vietnam’s leading export market for garments, with an estimated export value of 5.9 billion USD, accounting for 56 percent of the sector’s total export value.

However being second amongst the garment exporters to the US, the value of Vietnam’s textiles exports accounts for only six percent out of the total 100 billion USD that the US market imports every year, according to VITAS.

To improve the situation, VITAS has recommended that businesses pay more attention to increasing the value of their products, restrict outsourcing, strengthen ties with US importers and advertise their products more widely.

Vietnam will now attend the world’s largest garments and textiles fair, called Magic, which is held in Las Vegas every February and August.

In mid-August, a delegation of 20 Vietnamese garments enterprises is scheduled to attend the fair and make a fact-finding tour of the US market.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Vietnam prepares for Asian Track and Field Tournament

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Allied leader says Afghan war effort now on track

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

 NATO‘s top official said Friday the 28-nation alliance is on track with its new strategy for winding down the war in Afghanistan next year, despite security setbacks and a continuing shortage of foreign trainers for the fledgling Afghan police and army.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen offered a mostly upbeat assessment to a gathering of allied foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who are assessing what will be required to meet the goal — first laid out by President Barack Obama last December — of transitioning to Afghan control next summer.

“Increasingly this year the momentum will be ours,” he said.

Fogh Rasmussen asserted that the Afghan government, which has been hampered by a Taliban insurgency, political corruption, a dysfunctional economy and a dependence on foreign assistance, is starting to take more responsibility for running the country’s affairs.

“We are preparing to begin the process of handing over leadership, where conditions allow, back to the Afghan people,” he said. “The future of this mission is clear and visible: more Afghan capability and more Afghan leadership.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, gestures during a group photo at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, Thursday, April 22, 2010.

During Friday’s meeting, which was closed to the press after Fogh Rasmussen made brief introductory remarks, Clinton was expected to press other NATO nations to provide more trainers for Afghanistan’s police and military forces as part of preparations to withdraw Western troops from there by summer 2011.

Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that an additional 450 trainers are needed for Afghanistan’s security forces. Insufficient numbers of foreign trainers has plagued the U.S.-led war effort for years, although the shortfall has narrowed in recent months.

NATO’s assessment of its exit strategy comes just five months after Obama sharply escalated troop strength in the rugged mountain nation to challenge a resurgent Taliban movement.

NATO has struggled, in some cases, to coordinate military operations with Afghan civilian authorities and agencies.

In a speech Thursday before the two-day NATO meeting began, Fogh Rasmussen called Afghanistan the most challenging military operation undertaken by NATO in its history.

NATO was founded 61 years ago this month with the signing of a treaty of collective defense against a feared land invasion by the Soviet Union.

Today, Fogh Rasmussen said, instability in places far from Europe can threaten NATO member states.

“We all want to see a stable and secure Afghanistan — an Afghanistan that is no longer a threat to its region and to the rest of the world,” he said in his speech Thursday. “We will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to achieve that goal. We want to continue to empower the Afghans. And gradually hand over to them greater responsibility for the security of their own country when conditions permit.”

During Thursday’s talks, Clinton ruled out an early withdrawal of about 200 short-range U.S. nuclear weapons from bases in five European countries.

She said any reductions should be tied to a negotiated nuclear pullback by Russia, which has far more of the weapons in range of European targets.

No such talks are in the offing, and Moscow has shown little interest thus far in bargaining away its tactical nuclear arms.

Clinton also said the Obama administration wants NATO to accept missile defense as a core mission of the alliance.

The U.S. sees anti-missile systems as part of a broader effort to combat the dangers posed by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and the rockets that can deliver them.

Some European members of NATO, including Germany, have said it’s time for the U.S. to withdraw its remaining Cold War-era nuclear weapons from Europe and cite Obama’s pledge in Prague last year to seek a nuclear-free world.

Late last year, Germany was joined by NATO members Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg in requesting that the nuclear issue be put on the agenda of the Tallinn meeting.

But some newer NATO members in central and eastern Europe, which lay within Moscow’s orbit during the Cold War, oppose a U.S. nuclear withdrawal. They argue that the presence of the weapons is the surest guarantee of their territorial integrity.

Fogh Rasmussen told reporters here that U.S. nuclear weapons play a vital defensive role in Europe and should not be removed as long as other countries possess them.

“I do believe that the presence of the American nuclear weapons in Europe is an essential part of a credible deterrent,” Fogh Rasmussen said.

Source: SGGP

Market falls as investors track bearish global trend

In Vietnam Stock Market on November 20, 2009 at 10:50 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index, which now tracks 186 companies and four mutual funds on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, lost 0.75 percent or 4.21 points Friday induced by a bearish global market.

The index finished at 555.84 as trade volume dropped by 20 percent over Thursday. More than 53.2 million shares worth nearly VND2.67 trillion (US$149.4 million) changed hands.

Shares zigzagged several times during the session and most performed well until the first half before investors rushed to dump stocks. Among the index members, declines outnumbered gains by 127 to 38 and 21 shares were unchanged. Most blue-chips closed down.

Minh Phu Seafood Joint Stock Co. in the Mekong Delta Ca Mau Province was the biggest loser November 20, followed by Taya (Vietnam) Electric Wire and Cable Joint Stock Co. (TYA) in Dong Nai Province neighboring the city and the city-based Thanh Cong Textile Garment Investment Trading Joint Stock Co. (TCM).

The top three active stocks in volume saw Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) top the list with more than 2.73 million shares traded on the city bourse. The country’s largest brokerage based in HCM City slid 1.12 percent to VND88,500.

Petrovietnam Transportation Corp. (PVT) in HCM City, which gained 4.89 percent to VND19,300, was next having more than 2.42 million shares traded, followed by Saigon Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) which saw 1.94 million shares change hands at VND27,200, down 0.73 percent over Thursday.

After the bell, petrol stocks saw robust growth as An Pha SG Petrol Joint Stock Co. (ASP), the bourse’s biggest listed liquefied petroleum gas importer and trader, rose 4.65 percent to VND17,200. The company has raised VND100 billion ($5.6 million) by selling 1 million five-year convertible bonds through private placement, it said in a statement filed on the exchange website Thursday.

Dong Phu Rubber Joint Stock Co. (DPR), Vietnam’s third-largest listed producer, dropped 0.83 percent to VND60,500 after reaching the highest since October 29 the day earlier. Rubber on Thursday climbed to the highest level in almost 14 months after shippers in Thailand, the world’s largest producer, raised prices to foreign buyers as heavy rain curbed output.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corp. (ITA) lost 2.56 percent to VND42,900. The city-based company is going to list an extra 2.1 million shares on the exchange, according to a statement filed on the exchange website Friday.

Hanoi’s HNX-Index also stayed in the red, falling to 184.79, down 0.89 points or 0.48 percent. Around 24.4 million shares worth VND 986 billion changed hands.

UP-CoM index didn’t perform any better tumbling 1.56 percent or 1.02 points to 64.44. A total of 62,230 shares were traded at VND809.5 million.

In the US, signs of a subdued economic recovery sent investors out of stocks Thursday and in search of safer assets like the dollar. Major indexes including the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled about 1 percent. Energy and material stocks logged the biggest losses as a jump in the dollar sent commodity prices tumbling. Meanwhile, an analyst’s downgrade of the chip industry pulled technology shares sharply lower.

As stocks fell, investors flocked to the dollar and Treasurys.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Terry puts Chelsea on track to reclaim title

In Vietnam Sports on November 9, 2009 at 11:58 am

LONDON, Nov 8, 2009 (AFP) – Chelsea’s chances of reclaiming the Premier League title were given a huge shot in the arm on Sunday as a 1-0 win over Manchester United sent Carlo Ancelotti’s side five points clear at the top.

Chelsea captain John Terry was credited with applying the decisive blow with a header from Frank Lampard’s 76th-minute free-kick, although Nicolas Anelka also celebrated as if he had got the final touch.

Chelsea captain John Terry celebrates his goal during the English Premier League footbal match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on November 8, 2009 (AFP photo)

Either way, Chelsea were undeniably fortunate to take all three points after a contest that a depleted United side had controlled for long periods.

With a virtually full strength squad to pick from, Ancelotti resolved his one selection issue by opting for Deco rather than Joe Cole at the sharp end of his midfield diamond.

Sir Alex Ferguson, in contrast, had his options limited by the absence of the injured Dimitar Berbatov, although the United manager may well have, in any case, opted to start with Wayne Rooney as a lone striker ahead of a five-man midfield.

With a lingering calf strain restricting Nemanja Vidic to a place on the bench and Rio Ferdinand looking increasingly like a long-term absentee, Wes Brown and Jonny Evans assumed responsibility for keeping tabs on Anelka and Didier Drogba.

It was a task United’s back-up centrebacks managed with some accomplishment in an evenly-balanced opening period that was easy on the eye yet devoid of clear cut scoring chances from either side.

On the one first-half occasion in which Drogba got a sight of goal, the Ivory Coast striker directed his header, from Branislav Ivanovic’s cross, wide of Edwin van der Sar’s left-hand post.

Anelka appeared more of a threat, particularly when dropping deep or wide to give himself the space to run at United’s defenders.

The Frenchman had already tested van der Sar with one, skidding long range effort when, just after half an hour, he cut inside Patrice Evra from the right and curled a left-foot shot towards the far corner.

Van der Sar, diving full length to his right, proved equal to the challenge.

Petr Cech was not tested in similar fashion but United were not without opportunities of their own.

The visitors appeared to have legitimate claims for a penalty with quarter of an hour gone when John Terry muscled Antonio Valencia to the ground as the United winger threatened to go past him in the box.

And Ryan Giggs will have been frustrated not to have made more of the Darren Fletcher through ball which found him unmarked on the edge of the Chelsea box.

United’s captain would have had the time to bring the ball down but opted to try and chip Cech with a first-time volley that comfortably cleared the cross bar.

Deco’s ineffectual involvement in the match ended in the Portugal playmaker making way for Cole with just under half an hour left.

By that stage, United were looking the more likely winners with Rooney increasingly troubling the home side’s back four.

A neat combination with Valencia on the right enabled the England forward to send a low drive inches wide, minute before he unleashed a curling shot that Cech clawed to safety as it dipped towards the top corner.

It was Chelsea however who were to have the final word after the outstanding Darren Fletcher was adjudged, debatably, to have fouled Ashley Cole close to the left touchline.

A United defence that had been scarcely troubled all afternoon made a hash of defending Lampard’s inswinging delivery and Terry was unmarked as he rose to glance the ball past van der Sar.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Scheme to track Mekong seafood

In Vietnam Economy on October 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Scheme to track Mekong seafood

QĐND – Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 21:2 (GMT+7)

A pilot programme to monitor origins and quality of seafood processed in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces has been undertaken in response to an EU regulation requiring Vietnamese seafood imports to certify the location of the catch, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Under the programme, the ministry, in collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was monitoring seafood processed in the city of Can Tho and in Dong Thap province from input to output, with both breeding units and suppliers being supplied their own identification numbers and barcodes to identify product origins in the event of a claim of substandard quality.

Nguyen Nhu Tiep, deputy head of the National Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the department was prepared to deploy the programme within the month in about 50,000 breeding units in the Delta provinces of An Giang and Ben Tre.

Some 13 different types of information were being tracked, from where and when products are bought and sold, to what and when the fish have been fed, including pharmaceuticals, he said.

Apart from improving food safety, the monitoring would allow problems to be pinpointed and prevent all seafood exporters from bearing responsibility for a single consignment detected as sub-standard, Tiep added.

The main obstacle to implementing the programme, according to Le Chi Binh, vice chairman of An Giang Province’s Aquacultural Association, was training breeders to embed their fish, take notes, and manage required information.

“Farmers will take some time to get familiar with the new control system,” he said. Thieu Ngoc Thai, a pangasius breeder in Can Tho, said the programme would not only tighten control of his breeding but also create more challenges for him.

Vietnamese seafood is exported to 145 countries worldwide, with exports generating 420 million USD in August alone, bringing export value in the first eight months to 2.6 billion USD.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Railroad plan on track after PM approval

In Vietnam Travel on September 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm

An overall plan for developing the railroad network in Vietnam between 2020 and 2030 has recently been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

 A north-south train in Vietnam

By the end of 2020, the rail sector will meet passenger transport demand of 13 percent and commodity transport 14 percent.

Railway transport of passengers in urban areas will meet 20 percent of Hanoi and HCM City’s public demand.

Projects to build metro systems in Hanoi and HCM city are scheduled to be completed by 2030.

A number of other rail projects include the North – South high speed railway, Central Highland railroad and a railroad that links coastal provinces in the Red River Delta with those in the Mekong Delta will basically finish by 2030.

Under the plan, total estimated funds needed for construction between 2010 and 2020 will be VND1,335 trillion. 

Source: SGGP

China says on track for eight pct growth in 2009

In World on September 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm

China said Friday it was on track to achieve its target of eight percent economic growth in 2009 as a new flood of data suggested that massive stimulus spending was paying off.

Investment on fixed assets in China’s cities was steady in August but exports for the first eight months of the year fell more than 20 percent, indicating that government spending is now the main prop to growth.

“The data from January to August has laid a good foundation for realising the eight percent economic growth target for the full year,” Li Xiaochao, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told a press conference.

“So far, the main reason why the overall economy is stabilising and starting to recover is that we adopted the stimulus package to expand domestic demand.”

Retail sales, the main measure of consumer spending, rose 15.4 percent in August compared with the same month last year, the government said. In July, the figure was up 15.2 percent from a year earlier.

High rise buildings seen under construction in Shanghai

The consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, fell 1.2 percent in August year-on-year, the NBS said in a statement.

August’s inflation figure was the seventh consecutive monthly decline, and compared with a 1.8 percent decrease in July.

But Li sounded a note of caution, saying China has “a lot of work to do” to reach the eight percent growth threshold — which is seen as vital to maintain job creation and thus stave off social unrest.

Growth in some industries was still slow, the official said, with China’s export-driven economy suffering fallout from the global crisis.

Before the crisis struck, the country had experienced double-digit annual growth from 2003 to 2007 and again in the first two quarters of last year.

That had slowed to 6.1 percent in this year’s first quarter, before a pickup to 7.9 percent in the second quarter.

Last year, China unveiled a four-trillion-yuan (580-billion-dollar) stimulus package aimed at boosting domestic demand as exports plunged and economic growth slowed.

On Thursday, Premier Wen Jiabao said China’s recovery momentum was “not yet stable” and that it was too soon to back away from the stimulus policies.

Exports for the first eight months of 2009 stood at 730.7 billion dollars, down 22.2 percent year-on-year. But the monthly figures showed some improvement with August exports at 103.7 billion dollars, up 3.4 percent from July.

China’s trade surplus in August totalled 15.7 billion dollars, up from 10.6 billion dollars in July.

Industrial output expanded by 12.3 percent in August from a year earlier, compared with a 10.8 percent expansion in July. Electricity output rose for the third straight month as factories cranked up activity.

Investments in urban fixed assets rose 33 percent in the first eight months of the year, on a par with growth of 32.9 percent in the January-July period.

Analysts said the numbers had beaten market expectations but China was not yet out of the woods.

“I think that the data is stronger than expected but I would argue for caution, because activity collapsed this time last year and comparisons against last year will always be favourable,” Ben Simpfendorfer, a Hong Kong-based economist at Royal Bank of Scotland, told AFP.

“There was a worry that the fiscal stimulus was fading in the second half but the stable fixed asset investment data should ease those concerns,” he said.

UBS China economist Wang Tao said: “The trend is quite clear — the underlying economy is improving and economic activity will continue to increase.”

New loans rebounded in August to 410.4 billion yuan after falling to 355.9 billion yuan in July, as lenders continued to pump money into the economic recovery effort, and easing fears of tighter credit.

“The solid bank lending is consistent with assurances from senior officials in recent weeks that they intend to keep policy accommodative in the near term,” said Brian Jackson, a strategist at Royal Bank of Canada.


Source: SGGP