Top Story of the Week: Vietnam's economy with new opportunities
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The United States will not sell lethal weapons to Vietnam until it reverses the "backward movement" in its human rights situation, US Senators including John McCain said Saturday.
Following a visit to the communist Southeast Asian nation, McCain told reporters in Bangkok that Hanoi had a "long long list" of arms it would like to buy.
But the US delegation "specifically stated to the Vietnamese that our security relationship will be directly impacted by the human rights issues", said McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Vietnam's request for a "long laundry list" of U.S. weaponry including anti-aircraft systems will be denied until it makes progress on human rights, according to Senators Joseph Lieberman and John McCain.
"There are certain weapons systems that the Vietnamese would like to buy from us or receive from us, and we'd like to be able to transfer those systems to them," Lieberman told reporters in Bangkok today. "But it's not going to happen unless they improve their human rights record."
With TPP, the tariffs imposed on the goods that Vietnam and TPP-member countries export to the US would decrease gradually before they are absolutely removed. This means that when Vietnam's garment and footwear products can be exempted from tax, it would have great competitiveness on the US market in comparison with other rivals.
However, sources have said that a new problem has arisen after the latest TPP negotiation round. The US trade representative has asked to apply the "yarn forward" principle, with which, Vietnamese garment products can only enjoy preferential tariffs when yarn and post-yarn production stages (fabric, cutting and tailoring) are done in the countries that join TPP, and only fiber could be sourced from the countries that are not the members of TPP.
Vietnam earned US$6.5 billion from exports in January 2012, down 28.5 percent against December 2011 and 11.1 percent from a year ago.The Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that major exports which saw a sharp decline in earnings include garments, seafood, electronics and spare parts, wood products and rubber.
Its membership in the dynamically developing group ASEAN will make Vietnam a partner sought after by many countries in 2012. ASEAN countries should continue to be among the world's economic recovery leaders this year. Six ASEAN members - Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines - are forecast to achieve 6 percent growth over the next five years.
Vietnam's exports, imports and trade deficit decreased dramatically in the first month of 2012, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
January's export revenues are estimated at about US$6.5 billion, a 28.5 drop from the previous month. The figure for imports stood at US$6.6 billion, meaning the trade deficit fell from US$270 million in December 2011 to about US$100 million this month.
As this year's Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday is prolonged, the time for customs clearances was actually only 15 days, a much period shorter than in previous months, which resulted in a sharp drop in trade revenues, said Le Thi Minh Thuy, an official from the GSO.PM urges accelerating enterprise restructuring, VOV, Jan. 21
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked for plans to reform, restructure and equitize State-owned enterprises (SOEs) to be approved.
The PM sent his instruction to ministries, ministerial agencies, Government subsidiaries, People's Committees, economic groups, and State corporations, urging them to step up the restructuring of SOEs.
The ministries managing economic groups and Corporation 91 must submit their restructuring plans to the Prime Minister in the first quarter of 2012.
Back in 2005, Vietnam's prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, outlined plans to boost the country's maritime industry to 50% of GDP by 2020. He proposed rolling its 200-odd shipping companies into one entity - Vinashin - with the explicit aim of creating the world's fourth largest shipbuilder.
So enthused was he by this grand scheme that he pitched up at a meeting with Standard & Poor's, exhorting them to grant the fledgling Vinashin a rating in line with the sovereign.Vietnam's economy with new opportunities, VOV, Jan. 21
Social and political stability and available resources, as well as an attractive investment environment, have helped lure foreign investment into Vietnam.
International agencies forecast that the world economy will face more difficulties in 2012 than in 2011. This year, the economy must make a turning point to change its situation and fully grasp opportunities to fulfill economic growth targets, reduce inflation and gain stability.
Kuwait National Petroleum Co. plans to build a third refinery in Asia in addition to projects in China and Vietnam, according to a company official.
The three refineries would have a total capacity of 600,000 barrels a day, Bakhit al-Rashidi, KPC's deputy managing director, said in an interview in Tokyo today. No decision has been made on where the third refinery will be located, he said.
The Obama administration, in advanced negotiations on nuclear-cooperation agreements with Jordan and Vietnam, has withdrawn a demand that these countries forgo their rights to produce nuclear fuel, senior U.S. officials said.
The policy shift, adopted after an extensive interagency review, drew criticism from some U.S. lawmakers, who charged that it could ease the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.
Vietnam has sent 70 specialists to Russia to receive nuclear technology training with costs running up to nearly US$96 million, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien informed.
During a recent scientific conference in Hanoi, Tien said that the training in Russia is estimated to cost VND2 trillion (nearly US$96 million) and last until 2020, according to Tien Phong.
The average monthly wage in Vietnam increased 19.6 percent to VND3.84 million (US$185) last year, according to the labor ministry.
Workers in the finance and insurance industries had the highest average salary of VND5.61 million, followed by those in the telecommunications sector, newswire VnExpress reported last week, citing a survey by the Ministry of Labor.
The newly-appointed Governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam, Nguyen Van Binh, discusses the past year of ups and downs for the financial market and answers questions on plans to reform the banking system this year.
Would you briefly comment on the financial market in 2011?
During the first months of the year, the banking market experienced huge pressure from the high inflation rate, improper administration and violations that unfairly manipulated the financial system. Several commercial banks faced the threat of losing all liquidity, and this also negatively affected the businesses of other banks. The forex and gold markets also experienced a 'high fever' due to global price fluctuations.
Vietnam's central bank signaled this month that it may cut rates to "more suitable" levels after the first quarter. While emerging markets from Thailand to the Philippines have reduced borrowing costs to spur growth, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said last month Vietnam must guard against loosening monetary policy too soon.
Vietnam's inflation slowed for a fifth month in January, giving the central bank more room to cut interest rates as a deteriorating global economy dims the outlook for exports.
Food & Agriculture
Robusta coffee prices in Brazil, the world's second-largest producer of the variety after Vietnam, may get a boost this year as farmers in the Asian nation slow sales, according to Cepea, a University of Sao Paulo research group.
Coffee exports from Vietnam may drop to 1.1 million metric tons in 2012 from 1.22 million tons estimated for last year, the country's agriculture ministry has said. Officially, the crop in the season started Oct. 1 has been estimated at 18.5 million bags, down from 19.467 million a year earlier, according to the International Coffee Organization.
Vietnam ready to welcome the R&D wave, Vietnamnet, Jan. 23
Samsung is considering setting up a R&D center in Hanoi. The information has been confirmed by Kim Yong Seok, Planning Director of Samsung Complex. He said that the Hanoi People's Committee has expressed its support to the project, and would introduce some places in Hanoi for Samsung to choose for the center.
Declining to reveal the total investment capital of the center, Kim said that the construction of the office alone would cost 20 million dollars. "We are trying to speed up the project, and we hope that the center may become operational by mid 2013," he said.
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. will set up two companies specialising in manufacturing silicone-based materials for high-brightness LED packaging, and refining rare earths, with total investment of ¥5 billion (US$64 million).
In its press release, the chemical producer said Shin-Etsu Magnetic Materials Vietnam Co., Ltd. that separates and refines rare earths - the main raw materials of rare earth magnets - will be built on an area of 80,000m2 at Dinh Vu Industrial Park in Hai Phong port city, about 100km from Hanoi capital.
Vietnam-Republic of Korea (RoK) relations have grown and flourished in recent years and 2012 will represent a landmark in the 20-year diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Vietnamese and Korea leaders have agreed to observe 2012 as the Year of Vietnam-RoK Friendship with a wide range of activities to celebrate the 20 anniversary the two nations' diplomatic ties.
The Vietnam government intensified its repression of activists and dissidents during 2011, and cracked down harshly on freedom of expression, association, and assembly, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2012. Bloggers, writers, human rights defenders, land rights activists, anti-corruption campaigners, and religious and democracy advocates faced harassment, intimidation, arrest, torture, and imprisonment.China warns Vietnam not to cozy up to U.S. on S. China Sea issue, The Mainichi Daily News, Jan. 21
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping warned Vietnam during his official visit here last month to keep its distance from the United States on the sensitive issue of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, according to Vietnamese Communist Party sources.
Xi, who is tipped to become China's top leader later his year, reiterated the warning during separate meetings with the Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during his Dec. 20-22 visit, the sources said.
The central province of Thua Thien Hue will organize various activities to promote its image during the 2012 National Tourism Year of the Northern Central Coastal Area.
In preparation for the National Tourism Year, the province has participated in international tourism fairs in Thailand, China, Japan, and Indonesia, and has offered special tourism products such as craft village tourism and MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) tourism.