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Showing posts from 2017

Without US, 11 nations in TPP inch closer to a deal

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The remaning TPP members aim to reach a broad agreement at an APEC scheduled for November in Vietnam.
The 11 nations remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the United States withdrew have inched closer to a comprehensive deal, offering hope that major countries can maintain free trade in the face of U.S. protectionism, a negotiator said on Friday.

The original 12-member TPP, which aimed to cut trade barriers in some of Asia's fastest-growing economies, was thrown into limbo in January when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritize protecting U.S. jobs.

Negotiators met for two days in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, to discuss what parts of the original deal they wished to shelve, in a bid to salvage an ambitious vision for a free-trade bloc that originally included the United States.

The 11 TPP members agreed to meet again in Japan next month and aim to reach a broad agreement in November at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting set to …

Vietnam’s government debt jumps 80 pct in four years

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Over 42 percent of the $93.4 billion debt was owed to foreign lenders in 2015.
Vietnam's government debt rose a staggering 80 percent beteen 2011 and 2015 to $93.4 billion, according to the latest figures released this week.

More than 42 percent of the money was owed to foreign lenders, the finance ministry said in a report.

The government debt in 2015 was more than twice the country's budget income, the report said.

Debts owed by cities and provincial governments increased three times to $3.3 billion over the same period.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said at a meeting in March that Vietnam’s public debt and government debt are rising rapidly due to "weak management and use of loans”.

Dung said Vietnam took out several expensive loans between 2011 and 2013 with annual interest rates of as high as 13 percent a year.

Meanwhile, economic growth targets are not being met, he said.

Vietnam recorded its highest GDP growth in five years at 6.7 percent in 2015, thanks largely to crude…

Vietnam to tolerate ‘no mistakes’ at APEC summit after host city's leaders implicated for misconduct

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A deputy PM gives the assurance two days after the Party’s top watchdog proposed punishment against Da Nang’s top leaders.

Construction work and logistical preparations for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the central city of Da Nang, whose top leaders have just been named and shamed in a widening corruption crackdown, must go ahead smoothly and be completed on schedule, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has said.

There must be "no mistakes" made during the course of the six-day summit, which opens on November 6 in Da Nang, the government's news portal quoted Minh as saying at a meeting of the APEC 2017 National Committee on Wednesday.

Da Nang will host world leaders, possibly including U.S. President Donald Trump, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin at the summit. Roads, meeting halls and a new airport terminal have been built in preparation for the event. That will be the second time Vietnam has host the summit after 2006.

The instructi…

Vietnam to cap foreign ownership at 30 pct for real estate projects in new special economic zones

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‘The limit is to guarantee security and prevent acquisitions by foreigners.’
Foreign investors will be restricted to 30 percent ownership of real estate projects in Vietnam's future special economic zones if a new draft law is approved, despite government promises of added incentives to attract overseas investment.

The cap is the same as the one currently imposed across the country. 

The Law on Special Economic and Administrative Units, which is being drafted at the moment, would grant foreign investors 99-year leaseholds on properties in new investment areas, almost twice the 50-year terms granted elsewhere in Vietnam.

But a major barrier remains as the law would only allow foreigners to buy up to 30 percent of an apartment building or resort project in these areas, said Tran Huy Dong, director of the Economic Zones Management Department at the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

“The limit is to guarantee security and prevent acquisitions by foreigners in special economic zones,” D…

Top Vietnamese lawmaker calls for setting up 'red-light areas' in special economic zones

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'Life has such realistic demands. We’ve got to go with the flow and work out an appropriate management mechanism.'

Red-light areas, which are still banned in Vietnam, should become legal to boost business in the country’s special economic zones alongside casinos, a vice house speaker said Monday.

Phung Quoc Hien, the vice chairman of the legislative National Assembly, said at a meeting of the Assembly's Standing Committee that Vietnam should consider establishing regulated red-light districts in certain special economic zones where the ban on local gamblers has been lifted on a trial basis.

Authorities in Vietnam's economic hubs have proposed the pilot establishment of such areas like those in Singapore, where prostitution would be regulated.

“Life has such realistic demands,” Hien told Monday's parliamentary meeting, which was convened to debate draft regulations on Vietnam’s special economic zones.

“We’ve got to go with the flow and work out an appropriate management …

Vietnam on red alert as worst storm in years bears down

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Doksuri is forecast to hit Vietnam on Friday night with wind speeds of at least 118kph.

Vietnam has been put on red alert as it braces for a giant tropical storm that is forecast to hit the country this week with wind speeds of at least 118 kilometers per hour.

Officials said at a meeting on Wednesday that Doksuri, the 10th storm to form in the South China Sea (which Vietnam calls the East Sea) this year, is also the strongest and there’s a very high chance it will hit Vietnam.

Nguyen Duc Cuong, director of the National Center for Hydrometeorology Forecasting, said that the hurricane has been growing in strength for a week as it moves towards Vietnam.

“This will be the strongest and most dangerous storm to hit Vietnam in recent years,” Cuong said.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Vietnam between Friday night and Saturday morning. Cuong said when it does, its destruction might be the worst the country has ever seen.

This is the first time the agency has raised the alert level to…

Storm Doksuri, most fierce in decade, strengthens en route to north-central Vietnam

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Tropical Storm Doksuri is picking up strength as it nears north-central Vietnam and is expected to make landfall this weekend.

During an online conference on Thursday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said that it is the strongest storm to have hit Vietnam during the past 10 years.

Doksuri was just140 kilometers southeast of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago at 4:00 am on Thursday, carrying winds of 90 to 100km per hour and squalls at up to 149km per hour.

The storm is forecast to travel southwestward at a velocity of 15 to 20km an hour over the next 24 hours, according to the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.

By 4:00 am on Friday, Doksuri is forecast to reach 190 kilometers east of the coastline from Nghe An to Quang Tri Provinces in north-central Vietnam, with even stronger wind speeds of 135 and 150km an hour and gusts topping 183km per hour.

Waves in the northern part of the East Vietnam Sea will stretch a towering 10 meters high during this …

Thai VietJet Air barred from operating int'l flights, awaits re-certification in Thailand

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Thai VietJet Air, a subsidiary of budget carrier VietJet Air, is suspended from operating international flights until new operator certificates are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), the Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday.

The airline is among 12 small carriers – together accounting for just two percent of Thailand’s air market – affected by an order issued late Tuesday by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the English-language newspaper said.

The airlines are still permitted to fly domestic routes, but all international flights operated by the affected carriers are to be put on hold, according to the article.

The affected airlines include Thai VietJet Air, Orient Thai Airlines, Mjets, K-Mile, Jet Asia Airways, AC Aviation, Siam Land Flying, Asia Atlantic, VIP Jets, HS Aviation, Advance Aviation and Skyview Airways.

A VietJet Air representative confirmed the suspension to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday evening, though it stressed that the suspension of…

Vietnam’s graft trial: Defense lawyer blames ousted Party bigwig for sanctioning backyard banking services

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The lawyer says Dinh La Thang enabled scandal-hit OceanBank to function as the de facto internal institution for PetroVietnam.

The defense lawyer of a former PetroVietnam chairman facing the death sentence in a massive graft trial has said his client just enforced the executive orders already sanctioned by a recently dismissed high-ranking official who then headed the state energy giant.

Prosecutors on Thursday sought the death penalty for Nguyen Xuan Son, who was Petro Vietnam’s chairman from 2014 until he was arrested in 2015, on charges of embezzlement. Son was also charged with abuse of power and economic mismanagement.

The proposed sentence came as the OceanBank trial, with 51 bankers and businessmen in the dock, was halfway through its expected 20-day duration, opening a can of worms in one of Vietnam’s toughest corruption crackdowns of which PetroVietnam and the banking sector have been at the center.

Son was the CEO of OceanBank between 2008 and 2010, during which time PetroVietna…

Mobile game challenges players to survive traffic in Vietnam

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If you still cannot muster enough courage to attempt traffic in Vietnam, do it virtually with an addictive mobile game made by two young Vietnamese.

Available on both the iOS and Android app stores, Coi To Cho Vuot, literally translated as “you can cross if your honking is big enough,” is a 2D game allowing users to guide its main character through the busy streets of Vietnam.

Players must avoid several obstacles, from possible collisions from behind by speedy motorbikes to commuters who cross the streets carelessly. The longer they survive, the more points users gain to unlock new game characters.

Users only need to touch their device screen to swerve left or right or slow down to avoid the obstacles.

Players can choose from a wide range of characters, from the notorious ‘Ninja LEAD,’ a term used mostly to describe female Honda LEAD scooter drivers who cover their body from head to toe to avoid the sun, to the ‘big carcass transporter’.

The field of game play is displayed from a bird ey…

Super-thin model triggers health debate in Vietnam

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A contestant in the latest edition of Vietnam’s Next Top Model television series has sparked a health debate after she appeared on live TV looking extremely thin.
Cao Ngan, who made it to the top five of the reality show for aspiring models, made her return on Saturday along with other contestants to perform on the competition’s finale.

Ngan’s appearance stole the spotlight from the night’s winners, as the model – known for her fun-loving and humorous nature – strode down the runway to roaring applause from fans in the audience.

However, she became an Internet sensation shortly after the show’s conclusion, with social media users pointing out her super-thin appearance, which was broadcast live.

Many left body-shaming comments on the model’s look, calling her “a walking skeleton” and “lifeless."

Others expressed their concern that her appearance on national TV, intended for general viewers, would encourage children to adopt the unhealthy look as their own beauty standard.

Ngan later t…

'Kong: Skull Island' director hospitalized after argument in Saigon club

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Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has been hospitalized after being involved in a fight inside a club in Ho Chi Minh City, local police confirmed on Monday.

The American filmmaker said in a petition to the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam that he was assaulted at the XOXO Club & Lounge on Le Thi Hong Gam Street in Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1 at 2:15 am on Saturday.

Nguyen Thai Binh police said at 3:00 pm on Monday that they had been briefed on Vogt-Roberts’ complaint, adding that the filmmaker had been taken to a hospital in District 1.

District 1 police confirmed that at 2:15 am on Saturday, two groups of foreigners and overseas Vietnamese were involved in a fight at the XOXO and one foreigner was hospitalized following the incident.

Officers said they are working with relevant agencies, conducting a site inspection and will summon the individuals involved for investigation.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts touched down in Vietnam last week to attend the 2017 VTV Awards in Hanoi on Thur…

​Samsung, Panasonic face $21mn in back taxes in Vietnam

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Samsung Vina Electronics and Panasonic AVC Vietnam may have to pay a combined total of over US$21 million in back taxes for incorrectly declaring imported liquid crystal (LC) films.

The possibility is being considered by the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, which recently requested consultation with the General Department of Vietnam Customs in a dispatch discussing the issue.

According to the dispatch, the two companies imported LC films worth a total taxable amount of VND16,056 billion (US$707.31 million).

LC film is used in the production of liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens as well as LED displays, yet both firms declared it as zero-rated goods, attracting a favorable tax rate of zero percent.

However, according to the municipal customs department, citing an earlier guideline by the General Department of Vietnam Customs, LC screens are listed in a three-percent tax category.

Using this rate of tariff, both Samsung and Panasonic would have been taxed VND481.68 billion ($21.18 mill…

Apple launches $999 iPhone X in bid to regain innovation lead

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Apple Inc on Tuesday rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a glass and stainless steel device with an edge-to-edge display that Chief Executive Tim Cook called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone.”

The launch contained few surprises, with leaked details on the phone and other products including an updated Apple Watch proving largely accurate. But the iPhone X’s $999 price still raised eyebrows, and its Nov. 3 ship date prompted questions about possible supply constraints ahead of the holiday season.

Investors and fans have viewed the 10th-anniversary iPhone launch as an opportunity for Apple to refresh a smartphone lineup that had lagged the competition in new features. Last year the company’s revenue declined when many consumers rejected the iPhone 7 as being too similar to the iPhone 6.

The new Apple Watch for the first time will be able to make calls and access the internet without the customer carrying an iPhone -- a major upgrade that one analyst predicted would …

State Bank: criminal investigation on ex-leader does not affect Vietnam's monetary policy

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A criminal investigation launched Friday into a former deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam will leave no impact on the country’s monetary policy, the central bank said later the same day.

The State Bank of Vietnam said the investigation on charges of neglect of duty into Dang Thanh Binh, who served as the institution’s deputy governor for nearly ten years, will not “affect the central bank’s operations and the management of the country’s monetary policy.”

Vietnamese police announced in a statement Friday afternoon that the ex-deputy governor has been placed under investigation for his role in multimillion-dollar financial damages to the state budget from wrongdoings at the erstwhile Vietnam Construction Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VNCB).

The 63-year-old was not taken into custody, but is restricted from leaving his place of residence.

In a statement later the same day, the State bank of Vietnam said it will closely cooperate with investigative police if requested, and will give …

​Vietnamese province halts entertainment project over repeat violations

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The construction of the Nha Trang Star entertainment complex in south-central Khanh Hoa Province has been indefinitely terminated for investigation into the violations of its developer.

The decision was made by the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, its director Tran Hoa Nam said on Saturday.

The project, spanning over 103,000 square meters along Nha Trang Bay on the seaside Pham Van Dong Street, was approved in March 2012 and had the first sod turned in October 2014.

The entertainment complex would have included a theme park, a sporting venue, a seaport and hotels.

In December 2015, Nha Trang Star’s namesake developer was found to have encroached on over 22,000 square meters of bay area near the protected national scenic site of Hon Do Island.

The administration of Khanh Hoa at the time fined the company VND225 million (US$9,900) for multiple offenses, including infringement upon a national scenic site and lack of environment monitoring and protection plans.

Its developer, N…

Vietnam named most affordable country in the world for foreigners

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Nearly one in five said they have far more money at their disposal than their lifestyles require.

The Expat Insider 2017 survey released on Thursday has put Vietnam in the spotlight as the cheapest place to live for expats.

The country has jumped five places from the previous year to top the 2017 table, confirming how affordable it is for foreigners to live and work here.

The survey was developed by asking 12,519 respondents, representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries around the world, how they felt about their financial situation, and whether their disposable income was sufficient to cover their expenses.

The cost of living in each country was compiled from the global cost of living database Numbeo. All amounts are in U.S. dollars and current as of September 2017.

Mexico and Colombia round off the top three most affordable locations, while expats living in Switzerland and Israel find it the hardest to get by on the money they make.

Lower living costs help expats to balance…

Vietnam's government steps in to suspend sweeping new tax hikes

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The proposed increases would make it harder for the country to hit its ambitious economic growth target this year.
The Vietnamese government has instructed the Ministry of Finance to put on hold a series of proposed tax hikes to make life easier for local businesses and the growth target more achievable.

The ministry is planning to increase a number of different taxes and fees, including raising value-added tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 12 percent.

It insists that raising indirect taxes such as VAT is essential and an international norm, according to the ministry. The higher taxes were designed to make up for an inevitable shortfall that would occur when Vietnam fulfils its commitments to free trade agreements and removes import tariffs, and will also help tackle rising public debt, the ministry said.

However, the government has said that in order for the country to reach its economic growth target of 6.7 percent this year, a goal that some experts say is unrealistic, taxes should remain …

Stocks gain for sixth straight day

The local stock market extended gains to the sixth consecutive session on September 7 but trading remained dismal due to investor caution. The VN-Index added 3.17 points, or 0.14%, against the day earlier at 796.72.

Vietnam’s top brewer SAB continued making the biggest positive movement, jumping 3.1% at VND271,200 a share with matching volume rising to nearly 110,000 shares. Oil and gas stocks advanced nicely, in which GAS rallied 2% at VND66,400 per share with over one million shares changing hands.

In contrast, the steel sector encountered high profit taking pressure. HPG ended its 11-session rising streak with a 1.4% decline, standing at VND35,500 a share while HSG lost 2.9% at VND28,650 per share.

However, the two steelmakers were among the top five for liquidity on the HCMC market with each reporting volume of over 5.2 million shares. Notably, foreigners net sold over one million HSG shares after net buying HSG shares for 12 sessions in a row.

Among small and medium stocks, property …

SBV says interest rates now reasonable

HANOI - Interest rates of 6-11% per year for Vietnam dong loans and 3-4% for those in foreign currency are reasonable, according to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

Delivering a report at a meeting between the Prime Minister and private business in Hanoi on May 17, SBV governor Le Minh Hung said that compared to regional countries, those rates are acceptable as the rate is 13% in Myanmar, 11.9% in Indonesia, 6.3% in Thailand and 5.4% in Singapore.

The central bank received a total of 29 proposals from businesses in the run up to the meeting, he noted.

Regarding a proposal for lending rate cuts, Hung said interest rates had stayed stable since 2016. In late September 2016, a number of banks lowered deposit rates by 30 to 50 basis points and lending rates by 50 to 100 basis points for priority production and business areas. The current interest rates are much lower than in 2011.

In regard to Resolution 24/2016/QH14 of the National Assembly on the goal of making the average domestic lending …

Capital cost ebbs to three-month low

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HANOI – The capital cost on the primary monetary market has ebbed to the lowest level in three months, at below 3.6% a year for interbank offers in Vietnam dong of all short tenors.

The rates offered by credit institutions on the interbank market on May 29 shed 20 to 30 basis points for all short terms, from overnight to one-month loans. The week earlier, these rates had already lost 0.4 to 1.2 percentage points.

Specifically, the overnight to one-week rate on May 29 stood at 2.8% a year while two-week, three-week and one-month rates were 3.1%, 3.5% and 3.6% respectively.

Participating banks said market liquidity remained ample, and money supply from major banks was strong. Meanwhile, capital demand of smaller banks showed signs of waning, and focused on short tenors.

The amount of capital supplied by the central State Bank of Vietnam via open market operations also eased, with a net value of VND2,175 billion.

Bankers predicted the demand may rise slightly this week – which is the final we…

Vietnam's benchmark index hits ten-year high on back of blue chip gains

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Investors have been spending big on the stock market so far this year.
Ho Chi Minh City's VN-Index broke the 800-point barrier on Friday for the first time since February 2008.

The index finished up 4.48 percent at 801.5 points.

Growth was driven by blue chips, including brewery giant Sabeco, Masan Group, insurance firm Baoviet and Vietcombank.

The benchmark index hit an all-time high of 1,170.67 in March 2007, before a sharp sell-off in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The average transaction value reached about VND3 trillion ($132 million) per session last year, but it has been hitting up to VND7.5 trillion at some points this year.
By vnexpress

Vietnamese official clutches at East vs. West argument to justify ban on jeans in public offices

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The official behind the ban says jeans are for cowboys, not civil servants.
A ban on jeans in government offices and state-run firms in Can Tho City has drawn so much public ire that the official behind the decision has been forced to come up with an explanation, which could end up raising more eyebrows.

“They do not suit Vietnamese customs,” said Nguyen Hoang Ba, director of Can Tho’s home affairs department, which floated the idea to the city’s government. The proposal was made following extensive cultural research and consideration, he added.

Ba told local media on Thursday that he'd discovered jeans originated from Western countries and were originally made for people who worked in factories or grazed cows and sheep.

Banning public workers from wearing jeans to work is an appropriate regulation for a first-class city like Can Tho, he added.

The Mekong Delta city is one of five classified as central government metropolises in Vietnam, together with Da Nang, Hai Phong, Hanoi and Sai…

Vietnam’s trade ministry asks gov't to pay more for wind power

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'The biggest problem about investing in wind farms is the low buying prices and the time it takes to recover the investment.'

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the government to raise the buying price for wind power in an effort to help investors cover high input costs.

The ministry suggested that the price should be lifted to 8.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for wind energy projects on land and 9.95 cents per kWh for offshore plants.

Since 2011, the buying price for wind energy has stood at 7.8 cents for all land-based projects in Vietnam, with 6.8 cents paid by State-run power monopoly Vietnam Electricity (EVN), and the rest coming from the country's Environment Protection Fund.

For the country's only offshore plant in the southern province of Bac Lieu, the current price is 9.8 cents per kWh.

The trade ministry has calculated that this price adjustment would raise EVN's production costs just slightly by VND0.08 per kWh this year and VND0.23 per kWh i…