Top Story of the week: U.S. Business Keeps Focus on Vietnam Alongside Secretary Clinton Trip
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U.S. Business Keeps Focus on Vietnam Alongside Secretary Clinton Trip
(Hanoi) A delegation of senior executives from leading U.S. companies organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council concluded its annual business mission to Hanoi today. Delegation members met with senior government officials across a wide range of ministries for discussions focused on supporting Vietnam’s comprehensive economic restructuring, and supporting Vietnam’s efforts at building regional connections. The mission was co-led by Stuart Dean, CEO of ASEAN for General Electric, and Alexander Feldman, President of the US-ASEAN Business Council.
Council members are interested in continuing to build long-term partnerships with Vietnam, expand investment, and are eager to see policies that address both short term and long term economic goals. During their meetings, Council members offered strong support for Vietnam’s programs to continue economic progress in key areas, with particular focus on continuing infrastructure development and reforms in the financial and banking sectors, accountability and transparency in public spending, and continuing reform and privatization for Vietnam’s State Owned Enterprises. The delegation's visit overlapped with a U.S. government delegation which included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats.
“Vietnam’s focus on continuing its economic reform is a major factor in the strong, sustained interest from U.S. companies,” said Stuart Dean of General Electric. “During our visit in September 2011, inflation and currency stability were major concerns. We applaud the Government of Vietnam’s focus on these areas which have resulted in substantial improvement.”
“Vietnam is a key part of our agenda in Asia, and in ASEAN in particular, and we are very supportive of Vietnam’s efforts to be involved with regional initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. US-Vietnam bilateral trade surpassed $21 billion in 2011, by far the highest level ever and continuing a trend of growth,” said Alexander Feldman of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “After our discussions this week, we are confident those numbers will continue to accelerate especially when the TPP Agreement is concluded and comes into effect.”
The delegation met with a wide range of officials this week, including: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, Minister of Trade and Industry Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, PetroVietnam President & CEO Dr. Do Van Hau, and U.S. Ambassador David Shear and country team.Mission participants included ACE Group, AES, Carix/SSA Marine, Caterpillar, Chevron, Citi, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical Company, FedEx Express, General Atlantic, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline, Hanesbrands Inc, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, McDermott International, McLarty Associates, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Time Warner, and Vinataba- Philip Morris International.
Although the US has significant interests in the East Sea, it is neutral on regional disputes, Admiral Cecil D. Haney, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, told a press conference in Vietnam Friday. Disputes in the East Sea must be solved via peaceful measures and on the basis of international laws, he said when asked about recent tensions in the region.
Deputy Minister of National Defence cum Commander of the Vietnamese Navy, Admiral Nguyen Van Hien, received Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Cecil D. Haney on July 13 during the fleet's courtesy visit to Vietnam.
At the reception, Admiral Hien highly appreciated the recent cooperation, especially bilateral exchanges, between the two navies. He said he hopes that the US Commander will help strengthen relations between the two countries for peace, friendship, cooperation and development based on international law.
Trade talks with Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific countries are encouraging for Wisconsin.
Our state already exports tens of millions of dollars in products to Vietnam, including processed food, machinery and technology. Lower trade barriers will further accelerate the trend.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted a trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a visit to Vietnam last week. She said she expects the agreement between the United States, Vietnam and several other nations including Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Peru and Chile should be finished by the end of the year.
Danang seeks more US investment, VOV News, July 15
A delegation led by Chairman of the Danang Municipal People’s Committee, Van Huu Chien, has paid a working visit to US cities to promote investment and cooperative opportunities. At a conference in Houston, Texas, Chien introduced Vietnam's preferential policies to attract more investors operating in high-tech industries. Danang hopes to see more US companies invest in the city, especially in its information and technology park, he said.
The US has seen an increasing number of US groups operating efficiently in Vietnam, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting with the Vietnam-US Business Community in Hanoi on July 10.
Ms Hillary promised to further boost bilateral trade ties as the US is the leading foreign investor in Vietnam with a total FDI amount of nearly US$15 billion in 2009. The US has chosen Vietnam as one of top five emerging markets to fulfill its target for doubling export value in 2015, she said.
Ministries, branches and localities should celebrate the disbursement of nine World Bank-funded projects to bring them out of the slow-disbursement list by 2012.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai made this statement while chairing a meeting with the Ministries of Transport, Planning and Investment, Finance, Construction, Natural Resources and Environment, and Agriculture and Rural Development, in Hanoi on July 10.
The Vietnam’s Business Confidence Index (BCI) in the second quarter of this year rose seven points over the previous quarter.
According to a survey conducted by World Vest Base Financial Intelligence Services Company Vietnam (WVB FISL), the index was 20 points higher than the third quarter in 2008 when it was first compiled, showing that the country’s business community has confidence in the country's economic recovery.
Hillary Clinton met with Vietnam's top communist leaders Tuesday for talks aimed at boosting trade as the US seeks to shore up its stuttering economy with an Asia-focused export drive.
But the Secretary of State, who arrived from a trip to Mongolia, also made a strong push for improved human rights, arguing: "Democracy and prosperity go hand-in-hand. Political reform and economic growth are linked." Clinton held talks with Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and had a landmark meeting with communist party head Nguyen Phu Trong at which she pressed human rights concerns, US officials said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the United States and Vietnam will sign a new regional trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of the year.
She announced this at a joint press conference with her Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh after their meeting in Hanoi on Tuesday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would lower trade barriers while raising standards on everything from labor conditions to environmental protection to intellectual property. Economists expect that Vietnam would be among the countries to benefit the most under the pact.
The International Monetary Fund has said Vietnam’s economy will stabilize further in 2012, but cautioned against premature loosening of policies.
The economy is projected to grow at 6 percent and inflation to decline to about 10.75 percent, the IMF Executive Board said in a report released Friday, adding that both foreign exchange reserves and current account deficit could rise.
Disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to reach US$10 billion by the end of this year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Do Nhat Hoang, FIA Head, attributed the result to efforts of the Government, ministries and branches to improve the investment environment. During the first half of this year, foreign investors have committed to pump approximately US$6.4 billion into the country, down 27.3 percent over the same period last year.
Businesses are the driving force behind economic reforms at the provincial level in Vietnam, states a report from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the UK Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at a seminar in Hanoi on July 5.
According to the report, a dynamic government always recognises the role businesses play, while the private sector always looks for support from local authorities. Both domestic and foreign-invested enterprises partly form the core of economic reforms, said the report, however, smaller sized enterprises have less influence.
As tighter macroeconomic policies were having an effect and the credibility of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) was strengthening significantly, the economy began to stabilize. GDP growth for 2011 decelerated to below 6 percent and declined to 4 percent year-on-year (y/y) in the first quarter of 2012. Credit growth slowed to 14.3 percent y/y in 2011, and inflation, after peaking at 23 percent in August 2011, declined to 10.5 percent in April. The current account moved to a small surplus of 0.2 percent of GDP in 2011 from a deficit of over 4 percent in 2010. Confidence in the Vietnam dong has improved, bringing the informal interbank exchange rate back within the official trading band. Investors, both domestic and foreign, are shifting into dong assets, allowing the SBV to increase international reserves significantly in the first three months of 2012, though they remain low.
On June 1 a new kindergarten opened in Minh Phuong, a hardscrabble village about 50 miles from Hanoi. It looks like many schools in developing countries, with mustard-painted cinder block walls and tile floors. There’s something unique about the classrooms, however. Each has a silver-colored plaque near its door emblazoned with names rarely found in a textbook: “Gillette Be Your Best,” “Pampers Golden Sleep,” and “Pantene Shine.”
These are all references to brands sold in Vietnam byProcter & Gamble (PG), whose employees helped raise almost 80 percent of the school’s $100,000 cost. The world’s largest consumer-products company is using everything from good deeds to television advertising to hand-washing demonstrations to win Vietnamese customers. It’s not alone—Anglo-Dutch rival Unilever (UL), which has done business in Asian markets for more than a century, has proven to be a particularly tough competitor. And others such as Kimberly-Clark (KMB)and Germany’s Beiersdorf (BEI) have staked their claims in Vietnam as economic growth ripples through southern Asia.
They also agreed to keep the socio-economic development targets set from the beginning of the year at the Government’s online June meeting. Under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi on July 2 and 3, they reviewed the socio-economic management in the first half of the year and put forth solutions for the remaining half of the year.
At the meeting, cabinet members said positive changes were seen in socio-economic fields in the months to June of 2012, achieving comprehensive results in many fields.
The first working session of Vietnam’s national nuclear safety council kicked off on July 11 in Hanoi. Chaired over by Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, the session was attended by representatives from by the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Public Security, Defense, Public Health, and Natural Resources and Environment.
General Electric Co. signed two deals with Vietnamese companies on Tuesday as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Southeast Asian nation to promote greater economic engagement.
GE will supply one steam turbine generator for Cong Thanh, a private Vietnamese company, for its 660-megawatt thermal power plant in the Nghi Son Economic Zone, in Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam. The project includes $36 million in US export content, according to a State Department statement.
The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam or PVN) has asked foreign companies not to bid on nine offshore blocks in the East Sea offered by China because they are located in Vietnamese waters.
Do Van Hau, PVN chief executive, said in a letter (dated June 29) sent to some international oil contractors that the blocks lie deep within the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of Vietnam as regulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will loan the Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) US$10 million to help small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access credits to maintain operation in the face of the economic downturn.
The corporation said on July 13 that the loan is part of the IFC Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP) that was first joined by the OCB and the Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint-Stock Bank (Techcombank).
Food & Agriculture
Vietnam exported nearly 867,000 tonnes of rice in June, an increase of 35 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).
However, the country’s rice exports in the first half fell 12.7 percent to more than 3.4 million tonnes. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development estimates that 7 million tonnes of rice will be shipped abroad this year.
Vietnamese rice prices climbed on a government plan to boost stockpiles, though they are likely to ease as harvesting swells supply, while Thai prices remained unchanged in sluggish trade.
Export quotations for 5 per cent broken rice rose to US$410-415 (S$518-525) a tonne on free-on-board basis at Saigon Port from US$405-415 last week. Twenty-five per cent broken rice edged up to US$370-375 a tonne, FOB at the same port, versus US$365-$370 last Wednesday.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a plan to buy 500,000 tonnes of summer-autumn rice between July 10 and August 10 for temporary stock.
The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) will offer the rice to food enterprises for purchasing. The Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Vietnam will provide capital for the sales. In June, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) proposed that the government permit food firms to buy one million tonnes of summer-autumn rice.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the remarks at the 2nd EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the 19th ARF held in Phnom Penh on July 12.
He said EAS and ARF should coordinate and supplement other regional cooperation frameworks such as ASEAN plus 1, ASEAN plus 3, and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting plus (ADMM+). FM Minh affirmed that EAS continues providing a platform for leaders to discuss important strategic issues, including politics, security and development in the common interest of regional countries and on the basis of goals, principles and capacity of EAS.
Addressing the opening meeting, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that after 45 years, ASEAN had become a closely-integrated political and economic entity, an influential player in Asia and an indispensable strategic partner of several major countries and global organisations.
He said ASEAN's numerous achievements underlined the strong commitment and political will of its members to continue to work closely together.
Regarding Vietnam’s stance on disputes in the East Sea within the framework of the upcoming ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia, Nghi affirmed that peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea is an issue of common concern to ASEAN as well as other countries in the region and the world.
ASEAN’s common stance is to deal with disputes in the East Sea based on respecting international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
Health & Life Sciences
The US Government has named two contractors under a project to remove Agent Orange residue at the Da Nang Airport, the US Embassy in Hanoi said in a press release.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded an US$8.34 million contract to CDM Smith (Massachusetts) to manage construction and oversee of the entire project, which is to be coordinated with Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense.
As preparations start for the international conference AIDS 2012 later this month, in Washington, D.C., specialists in Vietnam are discussing ways to develop their own expertise as donor money becomes increasingly thin.
Vietnam’s first case of HIV was recorded in Ho Chi Minh City in the early 1990s. For the next 10 years, the most clinicians could do was provide diagnosis.
Viet Nam would likely face a shortage of graduates in the fields of science and technology within the next five to seven years due to poor salaries and incentives, experts told a recent workshop in Ha Noi.
Ha Noi National University Deputy Director Vu Minh Giang said low enrolments in the fields of science and technology showed already that students were no longer interested in the fields. "Therefore, head scientists will be unable to train skilled juniors in the future," he told the workshop.
Vietnam has been ranked 76th among 141 countries in overall innovation performance, according to the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2012 published by the business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
The report ranks 141 countries/economies on the basis of their innovation capabilities and results. According to INSEAD, the study shows that "the dynamics of innovation continue to be affected by the emergence of new successful innovators."
Vietnam’s second satellite Vinasat-2 was put into service on Wednesday after a handover ceremony in Hanoi between the Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) and the US satellite builder.
Pham Long Tran, VNPT chairman, said experts from Lockheed Martin has closely checked the satellite system since its launch on May 16, measuring its signals to guarantee stable functions before transferring the satellite to the group for operation, news websiteVietNamNet reported.
Vietnam’s Law on the Sea reaffirms the country’s consistent policy of settling disputes with neighbouring countries through peaceful means, in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and related international laws and practices.
Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son emphasized this on July 16 at a press briefing in Hanoi to announce the Law on the Sea. Son said Vietnam is willing to promote cooperation with other countries and international organizations, including cooperation in maritime affairs.
Vietnam exported US$6.5 billion worth of garments and textiles in the first six months, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent. The country now ranks second in clothing exports to the US market with a growth rate of 8.5 percent, while still retaining sustainable growth in the Republic of Korea and Japan.
The Obama administration now has a taste of the difficult diplomacy necessary to sharpen the focus of American power on Asia, seeking investment opportunities alongside reforms from rights-abusing governments and working with China while defending U.S. interests.
From democratic Mongolia to once-hostile Vietnam and long-isolated Laos, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week faced governments eager to embrace the United States as a strategic counterweight to China's expanding military and economic dominance of the region, while still lukewarm about American demands for greater democracy and rule of law.
First came the police and men in uniforms, then the beatings and the bulldozers, said Nguyen Thi Kiem. Within hours, her home and 165 others had been razed -- four generations of rice farms reduced to flattened earth.
“They came and forced us off,” said Kiem of the police and other officials who ejected residents of her village on the outskirts of Hanoi on April 24 to make way for a new suburb. “That is my home they are taking away. Now I have nothing.”
Secretary Clinton’s Visit
The two sides reached the consensus during talks between Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hanoi on July 10.
The two sides affirmed to strengthen cooperation in science-technology, education and training, health and environment, including negotiations on an agreement on the peaceful use of civil nuclear energy (called Agreement 123), educational cooperation in the framework of the Vietnam Educational Fund (VEF) and projects on cooperation in coping with climate change and rising sea water levels.
Viet Nam's top leaders yesterday received US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said she saw Viet Nam's increasingly important role in the Lower Mekong sub-Region and Southeast Asia.
Clinton is on her third visit to the country in three years as America's top diplomat, before heading to Cambodia later this week for an annual security meeting that will include foreign ministers from 25 Asia-Pacific nations and the European Union. In her meeting with Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Clinton expressed her joy to be back in Viet Nam.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 10 received visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spoke highly of Vietnam’s socio-economic development achievements.
At the meeting, Clinton said she is pleased with the developments of the two countries’ relationship in areas of bilateral cooperation as well as at regional and international forums. The US Secretary of State said that the two sides need to continue discussions on upgrading their relationship to the level of strategic partnership.
During the talks, both sides said they are delighted with the development of Vietnam-US relations and expressed their belief that there is huge potential for strengthening cooperation in the future, especially in economics, trade, science, technology, education and training.
They discussed ways to resolve the consequences of war and Ms Clinton said the US will further assist Vietnam to clear unexploded ordnance, detoxify Agent Orange (AO) /Dioxin-contaminated areas, and help AO victims in Vietnam.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said Vietnam has to improve the rule of law to ensure its economy continues to grow.
Clinton is in Vietnam to increase US economic engagement that has grown from “practically nothing,” as she described it, when relations were normalized in 1995, to more than $22 billion in annual trade between the two nations today.
US State Secretary Hillary Clinton started her journey Thursday to the Southeast Asian security forum and is expected to make her fourth trip to Vietnam on July 10 and 11, the US State Department announced.
An AFP report cited department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as saying that Clinton would travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia upon leaving Washington on July 5.