Top Story of the week: US Trade Representative in town to discuss trade
- September 27: Roundtable discussion with Foreign Minister H.E. Pham Binh Minh during the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.
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The Customs General Department has called for temporary imports and re-exports to be tightened as the problem of smuggling through temporary imports had reached alarming levels.
According to the department's report at a conference on Wednesday, inspections at northern Hai Phong Port and some other border provinces revealed that 7,066 overdue containers, most of which were goods of temporary import, had not had their procedures conducted for re-export. The customs also found more than 600 containers being transported along the wrong routes. There were 195 containers of prohibited goods, especially industrial waste, and 125 customs declarations that were proved to be fake.
Defense & Security
Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security will sign a new cooperation agreement on combating transnational crimes. The Cooperation Arrangement in Preventing and Combating Transnational Crimes will be inked during Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean's visit to Vietnam from August 27 to 29.
Mr Teo's visit is at the invitation of Vietnam's Minister of Public Security, Senior Lieutenant General Tran Dai Quang. Deputy PM Teo will discuss cross-border crime and other law and order issues with Senior Lieutenant General Tran.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Viet Nam today signed an agreement for a US$40 million loan to support the Government's policy reforms to improve the quality, accessibility, efficiency, and competitiveness of the country's microfinance sector under the Microfinance Development Programme.
The signatories included the State Bank of Viet Nam Governor, Nguyen Van Binh, and ADB Country Director for Viet Nam, Tomoyuki Kimura.
The Minister of Industry and Trade, Vu Huy Hoang, has approved 44 projects in the second phase of the National Trade Promotion Programme that will run until the end of this year.
The programme, which aims to step up export and domestic trade promotion activities, especially in rural, mountainous, border and island areas, is estimated to cost VND35.456 billion (US$1.7 million).
The Cabinet continued its monthly meeting yesterday by discussing a project to renovate and improve the efficiency of State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
According to Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, the project will ensure the State's core role in Viet Nam's socialist-oriented market economy, in which SOEs help the State direct and regulate the economy, and provide a basis for the Government to put forward its ideas over the next 10 years. Ensuring that SOEs are under control and responsible is necessary during reforms, however. They must also be placed under a close and effective supervision mechanism.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said he is confident in the prospects for economic growth in 2013.
The Government leader made the remarks at a regular cabinet meeting on September 5, which discussed the socio-economic situation in August and measures to meet targets for the remaining months of the year.
According to cabinet members, Vietnam’s socio-economic situation in August saw various positive signs of development. The consumer price index (CPI) in August bounced back to 0.63 percent after two consecutive months of decline, bringing CPI growth in eighth months to 2.86 percent compared to 2011 and 5.04 percent to the same period last year.
President Truong Tan Sang urged the US government to grant Vietnam status as a market economy, while receiving US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk in Hanoi on September 3.
The country is seeking recognition as a market economy to benefit from the removal of trade and investment restrictions. Sang said Vietnam always attachs importance to relations with the United States and welcomes the new development in bilateral ties.
He emphasized that the two countries should bring relations to a new height on the basis of respect for independence, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of each nation, for peace, stability and cooperation across the region.
Vietnam reported that its trade balance swung to a deficit in August for the first time in three months as imports rose, signaling domestic demand may be growing after authorities eased monetary policy.
The shortfall was $150 million in August compared with a revised surplus of $579 million in July, the General Statistics Office said in Hanoi today. The median estimate of five forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey was for trade to be balanced. For the first eight months of the year, the deficit was $62 million.
Vietnam risks becoming the biggest East Asian economy to seek an International Monetary Fund rescue loan since the region’s financial crisis more than a decade ago as it moves to support a faltering banking system.
The nation may need IMF aid to recapitalize banks and must act quickly to clean up bad debt or risk “prolonged stagnation,” the National Assembly’s economic committee said in a Sept. 4 report published on its website yesterday. The financial system needs an injection of 250 trillion dong ($12 billion) to 300 trillion dong, according to the 298-page report that included recommendations to address economic risks.
It will take a long time to reduce non-performing loans in Vietnam because the problem has taken root over several years, said the International Monetary Fund, once again urging banking reform.
“The experience of many other countries coping with similar problems shows that the imbalance of the balance sheets that we have seen now is because people borrowed too much in the past,” said Sanjay Kalra, the IMF’s resident representative in Vietnam. “What is required in the current situation, first of all, we need to reform the banking sector, we need to decide what is to be done and to handle the problem of non-performing loans,” Kalra said in an interview published on the central bank’s website Friday.
The domestic monetary market has become rather stable after several CEOs of local banks and a financial tycoon were arrested due to alleged illegal activities.
On August 20, Nguyen Duc kien, one of the founders of the Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB), and also one of the richest tycoons in Vietnam’s banking industry, was arrested for conducting alleged” illegal business”. Three days after, the police also detained ACB chief executive Ly Xuan Hai on suspicion of “deliberately acting against state regulations on economic management”.
Vietnamese stocks falling into a bear market dragged valuations to a six-month low against Southeast Asian peers as the arrest of bank officials last week fueled concern of instability in the nation’s financial system.
The VN Index (VNINDEX) fell 0.1 percent to 385.78 as of the 2:15 p.m. close in Ho Chi Minh City, the lowest close since Jan. 30. The gauge has fallen 21 percent from its high this year on May 8, more than the 20 percent some investors consider a bear market. The measure traded yesterday at 9.4 times estimated profit, the lowest level since May 25 and a 33 percent discount to the 141- member MSCI South East Asia Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Vietnam’s stocks plunged, dragging the benchmark index into in a bear market, on concerns the arrest of two banking officials last week may signal further instability in the nation’s financial system.
The VN Index fell 3.4 percent to 386.19 at the close on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, extending the drop since the recent peak on May 8 to more than 20 percent, which some investors regard as a bear market. Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, the nation’s largest lender by value, slid 5 percent. Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), whose credit rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service after the arrests, plunged about 7 percent.
Food & Agriculture
The restructuring of Viet Nam's agriculture sector to become more adaptable to climate change is one of the top priorities in the country's socio-economic development plan between 2011-20, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said yesterday.
Speaking at the ongoing 2nd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, the PM re-emphasised Viet Nam's efforts in restructuring its agriculture sector. These include the application of progressive technology, integrating agricultural production with processing and discovering output markets, and environmental protection.
"We're willing to work with other countries and international agencies to implement green agricultural models so we can learn from other partners," Dung said.
All 18 Vietnamese exporting tra fish fillets to the US have been exempted from anti-dumping taxes. Among the businesses, Vinh Hoan Group has also been enjoying a zero tax rate in the US market for four consecutive years.
The decision was announced by the US Department of Commerce (DoC) following its eighth preliminary results of administrative review (POR8) for anti-dumping duties on tra fish fillets imported from Vietnam from August 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011.
Global coffee production for the season ending this month will be higher than first estimated as output expands in Vietnam, the biggest grower of robusta beans, according to the International Coffee Organization.
World production will total 132.7 million bags for the 2011-12 season, the London-based group said in a report e-mailed today. That compares with last month’s 131.4 million-bag forecast and 134.3 million bags a year earlier. “This revision is mostly attributable to better-than- expected levels of production in Vietnam, which is now estimated at 21 million bags, up 7.9 percent,” the ICO said. Each bag weighs 60 kilograms (132 pounds).
he agriculture ministry has rescinded new tighter regulations on meat safety and hygiene after they were criticized as being impractical, Vietnamnet reported Saturday.
Thus the rule that fresh meat should be sold within eight hours if not kept in deep freeze, and within three days if frozen (24 hours for offal), will not take effect on September 3 as earlier planned. Neither will a regulation requiring egg sellers to set up specific zones for sterilizing and labeling eggs.
Trung Nguyen Coffee Group Corp., Vietnam’s biggest coffee processing firm, plans to invest up to $80 million in expanding its operations in the Central Highlands.
The plan includes a new cultivation model in Eatul area and the construction of a plant with a daily processing capacity of 300 metric tons of instant coffee in Buon Ma Thuot city, in Daklak province, within the next three years, spokeswoman Pham Thi Diep Giang told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.
Health & Life Sciences
It is imperative to integrate measures to prevent and control AIDS, illegal drugs and prostitution into socio-economic development programmes.
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairman of the National Committee on AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, made this remark at the September 7 conference to review work in this field during the first half of this year and devise key tasks for the second half.
The US will provide nearly US$600,000 in non-refundable aid for Ho Chi Minh City to improve its water supply system. The aid package was signed in Ho Chi Minh City on September 7 by US Consul General Robert Ogburn and Tran Dinh Phu, Director of the Saigon Water Supply Company (SAWACO).
The technical support funded and managed by the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will help SAWACO develop plans and operate more efficiently utilizing information technology management solutions.
People must now have certification to use certain plant protection substances. This is one of the new regulations in the draft law on plant protection and quarantine.
Experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that this was the first time people using limited-use plant protection substances were required to have documentation. Plant protection substances can sometimes be necessary for agricultural production. If the substances are used properly in a limited time period, they do not have a significant effect on the environment.
Vietnam can become a big wool production centre in the world, according to the AustralianWool Innovation –AWI.
One reason cited by AWI director in charge of urban fashion, Kelly McAvoy, is that labour cost in China is high, making wool manufacturers shift their companies to other countries. AWI product development and commercialisation general manager, Jimmy Jackson, said Vietnam has a large textile industry processing cotton, polyester and acrylic products with a semi-skilled workforce and is quite capable of producing wool products on a large scale.
State President Truong Tan Sang attended the APEC CEO Summit 2012, met with foreign leaders and joined the Vietnam-Russia roundtable discussion on trade and investment in the Far East on first day of the APEC Summit Week, September 7. The CEO Summit is taking place from September 7-8 in Russia and has attracted more than 700 chief executives of major companies in the Asia-Pacific region.
Vietnam has met 102 of the 145 requirements in the first review process of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Chief Government Inspector Huynh Phong Tranh announced this at a media conference in Hanoi on September 7 to review the results of implementing the UNCAC policies.
From 2009 to 2011, Vietnam has stepped up communication of the Anti-Corruption Law and UNCAC contents to raise public awareness of combating corruption.
Marking the 67th anniversary of the August Revolution (August 19) and National Day (September 2), President Truong Tan Sang reiterated the great significance of these two historical milestones. He also used the occasion to voice the determination of the entire party, the armed forces and people to join efforts to take the country forward on the road to everlasting development. Here is the translation of his article.
National Day always brings about a special feeling in each and every Vietnamese person. Each year, I'm able to remember my feelings on this special day, regardless of the time and the place, be it in the city or the countryside, at noon or at midnight when everything lies in deep slumber. Though the one feeling that has always overwhelmed me is the sacred and great significance of this Independence Day for the Vietnamese nation. I have always wondered what would have happened to all the people, houses, street corners, trees, villages and even the sound of a pagoda's bell ringing in the night, had there been no Independent Day on September 2, 1945.