Vietnam Update: Prime Minister Phuc Completes Successful U.S. Visit

Vietnam Update | June 12, 2017
Authors: Matt Solomon, Hai Pham, and Brian Ong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 21-22, Hanoi - US-Vietnam Smart Cities Workshop: The Council is supporting the USTDA-organized U.S.-Vietnam Smart Cities Workshop to promote a discussion on the approaches, solutions, and applications for smart, efficient urban infrastructure in Vietnam. Please contact Vu Tu Thanh at tvu@usasean.org with any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Prime Minister Phuc Completes Successful U.S. Visit

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Washington, DC on May 30-31, the first ASEAN leader to come to the U.S. under President Trump. The Council, alongside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the Prime Minister for a roundtable, reception, and dinner on May 30, featuring keynote remarks from the Prime Minister and newly-confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. The latter’s participation sent a strong signal on the continued importance of U.S.-Vietnam trade and investment under the new U.S. administration. His remarks also mentioned the goods trade deficit with Vietnam, which totals $32 billion, up $7 billion in the past decade—a concern also raised by President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The May 31 meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Phuc indicated further commitment to strengthening bilateral political, economic, and strategic ties between the two nations. The resulting Joint Statement highlighted commitments on “cooperation in the areas of science and technology, national defense and security, education, people-to-people exchange, humanitarian and war legacy issues, as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern.” More specifically, in the economic realm, the leaders pledged to address concerns relating to “intellectual property, advertising and financial services, information-security products, white offal, distiller’s dried grains, siluriformes, shrimp, mangos, and other issues,” many of which track the Council’s ongoing work in Vietnam. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the signing of 13 deals valued at $8 billion, including $3 billion going towards American-produced content. The successful visit was an encouraging lead-in to President Trump’s planned trip to Vietnam and the Philippines in November for the APEC, East Asia, and US-ASEAN Summits.

An archived livestream of the Council and U.S. Chamber’s dinner, featuring remarks from Ambassador Lighthizer and Prime Minister Phuc (in Vietnamese), can be viewed  here.
 

Vietnam Plans to Open “Outstanding” Special Economic Zones

Vietnam will look to further incentivize foreign investment with its proposed opening of three special economic zones in the northern Quang Ninh province, central Khanh Hoa province, and southern Phu Quoc province. With each zone, free from local regulations, the nation seeks to attract more businesses from high tech and clean sectors, and to draw in at least $10 billion a year for the next five years from direct foreign investment. Foreign investors poured $15.8 billion into Vietnam in 2016, which has been a key contributor to its economic growth. Proposals such as this were meant to keep Vietnam on pace to meet its projected 6.7 percent annual economic growth rate. The law for the proposed zones will go before a vote by the end of 2017. Vietnam currently has 18 economic zones and 325 state-supported industrial parks. Incentives for investors include free tariffs for selected items; lower individual income tax; reduced rent and fees; and ease of customs clearance.
 

Vietnam Pushing for TPP Continuation

Vietnam, along with support from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore will look to lead a renegotiation of terms of TPP such that it will "balance and harmonize the interests of the signatories." Should TPP-11 process culminate in reaching an agreement to bring the TPP into force without the US in November when the remaining TPP-11 signatories meet for the APEC summit, Vietnam will also continue to engage the US to explore ways of expanding bilateral economic relations. Vietnam’s commitment to seeing TPP through illustrates the nation’s stance on openness and promoting strong economic and political ties in the region.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Call for Input: Import Licensing Requirements Under Vietnam's Law on Network Information Security (LONIS)

Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) recently agreed to delay implementation of import licensing requirements for cyber information security (CIS) products under the Law on Network Information Security (LONIS), which were set to go into effect this month. The Council had previously submitted comments on MIC's draft Circular "Detailing the Procedures and Documents for Granting Import Licenses for Cyber Information Security (CIS) Products." While subsequent draftss eased some the onerous licensing requirements, the Council welcomes MIC's decision to postpone implementation.

Now, MIC is requesting specific input on the list of products that are covered by the Circular. The list is currently organized by HS code, commodity description, and core function (unofficial translation of updated list  here), but there may be cases of overlapping or vague descriptions, so that the list is unclear and/or over-inclusive, or cases where the HS code doesn't align with the core-function description. If you have technical guidance on how this list should be structured, and what precisely it should cover, please email comments to Matt Solomon at msolomon@usasean.org.

Additionally, officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will travel to Hanoi on June 22-23 for meetings with MIC. If you have specific clarifying questions relating to the draft Circular, let us know.

The Council, along with partner associations SIA, BSA, and ITI, hosted a call with Marta Prado and Sushan Demirjian from USTR on June 7 to offer a readout of their recent meetings with Vietnam government officials, and to discuss this and other developments in Vietnam's ICT regulatory landscape. Notes from the call are available here.

The most current version of the Circular can be viewed here (in Vietnamese).

The list of products covered by the Circular can be viewed  here (unofficial English translation)
 

Draft Decree on Compulsory Social Insurance for Foreign Workers

The Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) recently released the Draft Decree regarding the Law on Social Insurance. If adopted, the Draft Decree would go into effect on January 1, 2018, and require foreign workers to contribute 8% of their salary for compulsory social insurance, and for their employers to make contributions of 18% on their behalf, which is the current rate for Vietnamese employees. Click here for more information.

The deadline for public comment is June 12. If members have recommendations for changes to the draft law, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements
Vietnam's premier touts ‘Asian dreams,’ hints at new trade pact with US
Why Vietnam is all in for TPP11

Regional Affairs
Vietnam, Japan sign deals worth $22 billion - VnExpress International
Japan media: Vietnam wants to deepen strategic partnership with Japan
President receives Special Envoy of RoK President
Vietnam Trying to Understand US Policy on South China Sea
PM meets with Vietnamese investors in Laos
Deputy FM suggests ASEAN-US priorities

National Affairs
Vietnam's White House lobbying coup secures strategic gains
Trump promises Vietnam trade deals will create jobs for Americans
Vietnam Aims to Invade America (with Stocks)
Vietnam to sign deals for up to $17 billion in US goods, services
Pivotal Vietnam balances U.S. and China amid Trump uncertainty

Customs
Vietnam boosts institutional reforms to lure Japanese investment
Vietnam to waive visas for 5 European countries' citizens
Tightly inspect and control of importing aluminium profile item from China
Vietnam, US look for signing of customs assistance agreement
Strengthen to inspect origin of import cars from ASEAN and India
Smuggling transformed through goods in transit: Part 1: Recklessly break seals and transport goods to the inland
No overlapping specialized inspections for the same commodity
Customs to cut clearance time
How does the list of goods subject to Customs procedures at border gates impact local Customs?
Vietnam, Laos sign protocol on adjustment of good transit deal
Committees work to facilitate Vietnamese, Lao enterprises

Defense & Security
Japan, Vietnam to bolster maritime security cooperation
U.S. Delivers Patrol Boats to Vietnam to Deepen Security Ties
Vietnam-Linked Hackers Likely Targeting Philippine Intel on South China Sea Dispute: FireEye
Vietnam, US want to further defense partnership
US Pacific Partnership 2017 Disaster Response Training Underway in Vietnam

Economics
Vietnam's rising middle class drives car market forward amid regional slowdown - VnExpress International
Changes to compulsory insurance contributions in Vietnam | Lexology
US investment flow into Vietnam opens up new opportunities - News VietNamNet
Disasters a threat to Vietnam's development - News VietNamNet

Energy
Vietnam solar PPA is ‘non-bankable’
No plan to hike power tariff: MoIT
GE Signs 800 MW Wind Deal In Vietnam
Mainstream signs $2bn deal to build windfarms in Vietnam
Vietnam set to approve coal-fired power plants worth US$7.5 bil
EVN commissions 600 MW Thai Binh-1 coal-fired power plant
Vietnam faces shaky energy future as coal-fired power remains dominant
Wind projects offer promising future

Financial Services
Banking sector sees 6.53 percent in credit growth
Experts Warn Risky Loans In Vietnam Could Seriously Threaten Its Booming Economy
Vietnam to launch derivative stock market, targeting more investments
Five firms get permits to trade in derivatives market
Vietinbank becomes settlement unit in derivatives market
Compulsory social insurance required of foreign workers in Việt Nam starting from 2018
More Vietnamese SMEs expected to benefit from ADB’s trade finance program
How One Fintech Company Created Lifestyle Banking In Vietnam
Deputies aim to clarify law on State assets
Regulations drafted for non-banking financial companies
Vietnam looks to private sector to fund infrastructure
Foreign capital dominates insurance sector - News VietNamNet
Bank security lacking: State Bank of Vietnam
Vietnam proposes four initiatives to enhance APEC financial cooperation

Food & Agriculture
U.S.-Vietnam meeting yields progress on key U.S. pork trade issues
Can Tho prepares for APEC week on food security
Vietnam's agriculture needs sustainable solutions - News VietNamNet
Vietnam’s response to climate change? A shrimp and mangrove cocktail
Vietnam maintains ban on deep-water fishing in polluted area
Vietnam strives to raise forest coverage to 45 percent
Big investors pour money into agriculture, organic food
US recalls frozen tuna from PH, Vietnam after testing showed hepatitis A virus
Asia Rice-Vietnam prices hit 13-month high; Thailand up on lower supply
Vietnam: IFC invests $10.2m in PAN Farm to pick 10.4% stake
Vietnam looks for shrimp farming to save the Mekong Delta

Health & Life Sciences
Việt Nam eyes more healthcare PPPs
Seven die while undergoing hemodialysis: police works with medical device supplier - News VietNamNet
Vietnam, Japan step up cooperation in health care
Vietnam dialysis: Seven patients die in hospital
Unsafe food remains a grave concern
Hospitals told to update guidelines
Health insurance database shared with MoH
Central hospitals still ignore local medicines
Govt boost awareness of dengue fever and Zika prevention
Vietnam has burden of non communicable diseases
VN threatened by new strain of bird flu

ICT
Vietnam online gaming firm VNG says eyeing U.S. IPO
Ho Chi Minh City tax department to monitor social media businesses
Asia-Pacific upgrading internet connectivity-
Southeast Asian censors test mettle of social media groups

Infrastructure
How Vietnam is embracing Architecture and Urbanisation
Vietnam plans to open 'outstanding' special economic zones
ASEAN infrastructure gap turns negatives into positives

Manufacturing
Vietnam manufacturing PMI slips to 14-month low
Vietjet signs multi-billion USD deals during PM’s official trip to US
Vietnam to impose duty on Chinese, South Korean and Taiwanese steel sheets
Frenemies make Vietnam steel megaproject tick
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

Vietnam's premier touts ‘Asian dreams,’ hints at new trade pact with US VNExpress International News 5th Jun 2017
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said his government would negotiate a bilateral agreement with the U.S., calling Asian countries not to let the fear of protectionism deter them from strengthening economic ties, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Phuc mentioned the trade deal plan with one of Vietnam’s largest trade partners on Monday during his speech at the 23rd International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, organized by Nikkei Inc. The U.S. and Vietnam were both meant to enter a Pacific-rim pact, but President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the deal early this year.

Why Vietnam is all in for TPP11 Nikkei Asian Review 24th May 2017
Trade ministers from the 11 remaining countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after the U.S. withdrew, agreed in Hanoi on Sunday to promote the so-called TPP 11 trade liberalization deal. Vietnamese Trade and Industry Minister Tran Tuan Anh, who chaired the meeting, declared that the 11 countries will continue their efforts in the lead up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum which convenes in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang in November. While Vietnam broadcasts to the world that it is all in for the TPP 11, its true interest lies elsewhere.

Regional Affairs

Vietnam, Japan sign deals worth $22 billion - VnExpress International VnExpress International – Latest news, business, travel and analysis from Vietnam 6th Jun 2017
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe witnessed the signing of business deals worth $22 billion between the two countries at a conference in Tokyo on Monday.

Japan media: Vietnam wants to deepen strategic partnership with Japan vietnamplus.vn 4th Jun 2017
Vietnam wishes to deepen strategic partnership with Japan for peace and prosperity in the region, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has told Japanese media agencies.

President receives Special Envoy of RoK President vietnamplus.vn 25th May 2017
Vietnam always attaches importance to and wishes to bolster the strategic cooperative partnership with the Republic of Korea, for the sake of the two people, and peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and the world, President Tran Dai Quang said.

Vietnam Trying to Understand US Policy on South China Sea VOA 23rd May 2017
The prime minister of Vietnam will become the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House since Donald Trump became president in January. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is expected to ask for answers about United States policy toward Chinese expansion in the disputed South China Sea.

PM meets with Vietnamese investors in Laos Vietnamnews 17th May 2017
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc met in Vientiane on Thursday with Vietnamese investors to hear about their difficulties in a bid to help create favourable conditions for Vietnamese investments in Laos. Phúc praised the efforts and results achieved by Vietnamese firms doing businesses in Laos, which he said contributed significantly to enhancing socio-economic co-operation between the two countries. Phúc also urged firms to study the market and investment policies carefully before investing in Laos

Deputy FM suggests ASEAN-US priorities vietnamnews.vn 9th May 2017
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng proposed several priorities in ASEAN-US co-operation in his speech to the ASEAN-US Special Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Washington DC on Thursday, the first such meeting since US President Donald Trump took office. The priorities include developing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, promoting innovation, digital economy and marine co-operation, people-to-people exchanges and responding to non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism and cyber attacks. Dũng underscored the need to protect Mekong River water resources and respond to climate change. The Deputy FM said continued US support for ASEAN’s central role in the regional architecture is significant to peace, stability and connectivity. Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/375906/deputy-fm-suggests-asean-us-p...

National Affairs

Vietnam's White House lobbying coup secures strategic gains Reuters 4th Jun 2017
When Vietnam's prime minister sat down with President Donald Trump at the White House last week, it reflected a concerted Vietnamese lobbying effort unmatched by most Asian peers. It also underlined the strategic importance the one-time enemy has secured under Trump in the face of China's increasing regional weight and despite a growing surplus that frustrates U.S. trade hawks.

Trump promises Vietnam trade deals will create jobs for Americans Newsweek 1st Jun 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump talked trade with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during a White House visit on Wednesday and welcomed the signing of business deals worth billions of dollars and the jobs he said they would create.

Vietnam Aims to Invade America (with Stocks) TheStreet 31st May 2017
China's economic emergence has been electric, and its tech company listings are a magnetic draw for investors. Is now Vietnam the new China? Although not much is made of Vietnam's high-tech sector, that may be the source of its first company to go public on a foreign exchange. Meanwhile, its main airline wants to use Vietnam's moment in the sun as its prime minister visits Washington to talk up its chances of listing overseas.

Vietnam to sign deals for up to $17 billion in US goods, services CNBC 31st May 2017
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Tuesday he would sign deals for U.S. goods and services worth $15 billion to $17 billion during his visit to Washington, D.C., mainly for high technology products and for services.

Pivotal Vietnam balances U.S. and China amid Trump uncertainty Reuters 26th May 2017
All are signs of a U.S. commitment which Vietnam had feared was waning under President Donald Trump just as the Southeast Asian country has emerged as the most forceful opponent of China's claim to one of the world's most important seaways.

Customs

Vietnam boosts institutional reforms to lure Japanese investment vietnamplus.vn 7th Jun 2017
Vietnam will push ahead with institutional and legal reforms and increase its transparency in line with international practices to attract Japanese investment in the coming time, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen The Phuong in a recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency. The move is expected to help Vietnam promote its advantages of a dynamic growing economy, a potential consumption market, a strategic manufacturing location, and an important link in the global value chain, he said. Implementing the policy of active international economic integration, Vietnam has signed 12 new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) and is undertaking negotiations to ink other important deals in the time ahead, he added. This creates favourable conditions for foreign investors, including those from Japan, to carry out major projects in Vietnam, especially in the fields of their strength such as high technology and infrastructure.

Vietnam to waive visas for 5 European countries' citizens Zee News 6th Jun 2017
Hanoi: The Vietnamese government has decided to continue waiving visas for citizens of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for one year starting July 1, Vietnam`s tourism watchdog said on Tuesday.

Tightly inspect and control of importing aluminium profile item from China Customs News 5th Jun 2017
General Department of Customs has issued a document to request provincial Customs Departments to strengthen the work of inspection, pre-clearance and post clearance audit for the aluminium profile item imported from China. According to General Department of Customs, in recent time, the unit received information that some business that imported aluminium profile, have signs of violation in the incorrect declaration of the item name and HS code in order to enjoy low tax rate under preferential import tariff.

Vietnam, US look for signing of customs assistance agreement vietnamplus.vn 1st Jun 2017
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam and the US have signed a letter of intention on accelerating and completing negotiations for the signing of a customs mutual assistance agreement between the two countries.

Strengthen to inspect origin of import cars from ASEAN and India Customs News 8th Jun 2017
The General Department of Customs has issued a document to direct provincial Customs Department in strengthening the origin inspection for import cars from ASEAN  that are applied preferential tariff in the framework of FTA done by Vietnam. Specifically, the General Department of Customs requested that when doing customs clearance for importing completed cars from ASEAN and India which apply preferential tariff rates, Customs units need to strengthen the origin inspection in accordance with the provisions of Circular 38/2015 / TT-BTC; the Circulars issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade guiding C / O entitled to preferential tariff rates; Process of verification of origin that issued together with Decision No. 4286 / QD-TCHQ of the General Department of Customs and guidance documents the Ministry of Finance.

Smuggling transformed through goods in transit: Part 1: Recklessly break seals and transport goods to the inland Customs News 6th Jun 2017
Vietnam - Instead of transporting goods in the form of transit to export border gates to carry out the export procedures as prescribed, some enterprises have deliberately broken customs seals and transporting goods to the inland for consumption and tax evasion. From the end of 2016 to now, the Southern Customs Agencies have coordinated with competent authorities to detect and seize many goods in transit cases of deliberately breaking Customs seals to transport goods to the domestic market. By the end of 2016, the Customs Department of Ho Chi Minh City discovered many shipments of transit, which have cleared procedures from the border gate but not transported to export border gate.

No overlapping specialized inspections for the same commodity Customs News 6th Jun 2017
The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue has assigned the relevant ministries to coordinate with competent agencies to review and unify the list of goods subject to specialized inspections towards non-overlapping. Specifically, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue has assigned the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to their assigned functions and tasks, to coordinate with relevant agencies to unify the list goods subject to specialized inspections towards non-overlapping for the same commodity which must be inspected by various agencies.

Customs to cut clearance time Vietnamnews 5th Jun 2017
The customs authority has striven to shorten the time for carrying out customs clearance of goods across borders to 70 hours for export goods and 90 hours for import goods by the end of this year. The General Department of Customs (GDC) on Wednesday said in its report that the authority would continue its renewal and modernisation process while reducing paperwork and cost of administrative procedures to follow Government’s Resolution No 19-2017/NQ-CP on improving the business environment and enhancing national competitiveness in 2017 and orientation to 2020. Accordingly, the time for customs clearance of goods across the border would be shortened to 60 hours for export goods and 80 hours for import goods by 2020.

How does the list of goods subject to Customs procedures at border gates impact local Customs? Customs News 31st May 2017
According to the Prime Minister’s Decision 15 / QD-TTg, from 1st July 2017, there will be 17 imported commodity groups subject to Customs procedures at border gates. For some Customs Branches at the border, how will this decision affect Customs management as well as State budget revenues?

Vietnam, Laos sign protocol on adjustment of good transit deal Vietnamnet 29th May 2017
A protocol adjusting the goods transit agreement between Vietnam and Laos has been signed, creating favourable conditions for transit of goods between the two countries.

Committees work to facilitate Vietnamese, Lao enterprises VietnamPlus 24th May 2017
Representatives from the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Committee have worked with their counterparts from the Laos-Vietnam Cooperation Committee on the implementation of the Hanoi Agreement 2017 and the “one-stop-shop” customs model at the pair of Lao Bao-Densavan border gates.

Defense & Security

Japan, Vietnam to bolster maritime security cooperation sacbee 6th Jun 2017
Japan and Vietnam agreed Tuesday to bolster their security ties through Japanese-funded projects including the upgrading of Vietnamese coastal patrol capabilities, defense equipment and technology transfer amid concerns about China's increasingly assertive activity in regional seas.

U.S. Delivers Patrol Boats to Vietnam to Deepen Security Ties USNews.com 23rd May 2017
HANOI (Reuters) - The United States has transferred six patrol boats to the Vietnam coast guard, to help build security cooperation between the two countries, U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement on Tuesday.

Vietnam-Linked Hackers Likely Targeting Philippine Intel on South China Sea Dispute: FireEye US News & World Report 25th May 2017
Hackers linked with the Vietnamese government are likely targeting Philippine government agencies to gather intelligence related to the maritime dispute in the South China Sea, cybersecurity company FireEye said on Thursday.

Vietnam, US want to further defense partnership Vietnam Net 17th May 2017
Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of National Defence, hosted a reception for Senior Vice President of the US-ASEAN Business Council Michael Michalak in Hanoi on May 17.The two sides spoke highly of the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US, including the effective defense cooperation. They expressed their hope to push ahead with efforts to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on the bilateral defense cooperation, which was signed in 2011, and jointly address post-war consequences in Vietnam.

US Pacific Partnership 2017 Disaster Response Training Underway in Vietnam Sputnik 8th May 2017
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Da Nang province is known in military history as being the place where the US Marine Corps 9th Expeditionary Forces landed in March 1965. They Marine Corps were the first US combat troops to arrive in Vietnam during the US military agression against that country. "Pacific Partnership includes the traditional humanitarian aid and disaster relief, medical, engineering and community relation projects," US officer in charge of the mission Lt. Cmdr. Greg Dusetzina said. The training was officially kicked off when the Navy’s fast transport ship Fall River arrived, the statement noted. This year marks the fourth consecutive year in which Vietnam has participated in the Pacific Partnership exercise. "Natural disasters don't recognize borders, so Vietnam, the United States and other Pacific nations must be prepared to respond quickly," US Ambassador to Vietnam Tedd Osius said.

Economics

Vietnam's rising middle class drives car market forward amid regional slowdown - VnExpress International VnExpress International – Latest news, business, travel and analysis from Vietnam 5th Jun 2017
Vietnam’s car market has been growing at the fastest rate in Southeast Asia, boosted by the rapid growth of middle-income earners yearning for a status symbol, according to marketing and consulting firm Solidiance.

Changes to compulsory insurance contributions in Vietnam | Lexology Lexology 1st Jun 2017
From 1 July 2017, Vietnam’s common based minimum salary will increase from VND 1,210,000 to VND 1,300,000 per month, write TMF Group experts.

US investment flow into Vietnam opens up new opportunities - News VietNamNet VietnamNet 31st May 2017
US investment flow into Vietnam opens up new opportunities The capital flow from the US is expected to open up a new chapter in investment cooperation with Vietnam, according to Dau tu (Investment) newspaper.

Disasters a threat to Vietnam's development - News VietNamNet VIETNAMNET 23rd May 2017
VietNamNet Bridge – The increasing intensity and devastation caused by natural disasters continues to pose an “enormous challenge” to the nation, causing severe losses of assets and human life, and threatens to derail Viet Nam’s development, President Tran Dai Quang said in a letter penned for the 71st celebration of the Traditional Day on Natural Disaster Prevention (May 22, 1946 – May 22, 2017).

Energy

Vietnam solar PPA is ‘non-bankable’ PV Tech 5th Jun 2017
A consortium of international chambers of commerce has advised the Vietnamese government that its draft solar PPA template is “non-bankable” and cannot attract financing for PV in Vietnam, particularly for medium and utility-scale projects, according to documents seen by PV Tech.

No plan to hike power tariff: MoIT Vietnamnews 5th Jun 2017
HÀ NỘI — The Government is not considering a hike in power tariffs, said Đỗ Thắng Hải, deputy minister of Industry and Trade (MoIT). Hải told the National Assembly session on Saturday that electricity and petroleum are key items that affect all sectors, production and people’s lives. So any change in the rate of these items, especially a price hike, should be calculated carefully, he said. If the Electricity of Việt Nam (EVN), which is under the MoIT, proposes a tariff hike, the ministry will review the proposal thoroughly before submitting it to the Prime Minister for approval.

GE Signs 800 MW Wind Deal In Vietnam North American Windpower 1st Jun 2017
GE Renewable Energy, global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power, and Vietnamese partner the Phu Cuong Group have formalized a $2 billion agreement to develop, build and operate the 800 MW Phu Cuong Wind Farm, located in the Soc Trang province of Vietnam.

Mainstream signs $2bn deal to build windfarms in Vietnam The Irish Times 31st May 2017
Mainstream Renewable Energy, the firm founded by businessman Eddie O’Connor, has signed a $2 billion investment deal with US utilities giant GE to build an 800mw wind project in Vietnam.

Vietnam set to approve coal-fired power plants worth US$7.5 bil The Edge Markets 24th May 2017
HANOI (May 24): Vietnam expects to grant investment licences for three coal-fired power plants worth a combined US$7.5 billion in early June, the country's investment minister said.

GE signs $5.58 billion in power, aviation deals in Vietnam TODAYonline 31st May 2017
General Electric Co said on Wednesday it had signed deals in Vietnam worth about $5.58 billion for power generation, aircraft engines and services, its largest single combined sale with the country in GE's history.

EVN commissions 600 MW Thai Binh-1 coal-fired power plant Asian Power 30th May 2017
The two 300MW units will generate 3.3TWh/year. Vietnamese national power utility Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) has connected the 600 MW Thai Binh-1 coal-fired power plant to the national grid. The project consists of two 300 MW units that are expected to generate 3.3 TWh/year, according to Enerdata.

Vietnam faces shaky energy future as coal-fired power remains dominant VnExpress International 18th May 2017
As hydropower reaches its maximum capacity, the renewable energy sector remains immature and nuclear power seems out of reach. Thermal power will be the mainstay of Vietnam's electricity supply over the next two decades and possibly longer, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a message to the power industry during a recent event, the government's online news portal reported. Dung's statement came as a confirmation of Vietnam's continued reliance on coal-fired power to keep up with its growth demand, which will pose a number of challenges to mitigating the power sector's environmental impacts while increasing the country's dependence on coal imports. Vietnam's energy demand is expected to grow 13 percent annually over the next four years. Energy sources such as hydropower have reached their maximum capacity while the renewable energy sector remains in its infancy and nuclear power's steep price tag is too high for a country which public debt is approaching 65 percent. Coal-fired power, despite its environmental impacts, is still the dominant power source for Vietnam. By 2030, over half of the country’s power will come from coal, adding 55,300MW to the national grid with 83 plants across the country, according to the revised government Power Development Master Plan VII. Historically, the country has been self-sufficient in coal, but this has changed. More than $400 million was spent during the first quarter of this year on importing coal, based on recently published figures from the Vietnam Industry and Trade Information Center (VITIC). Australia remained the largest supplier with nearly 1.3 million tons worth $157.2 million shipped in the first three months of 2017, up 11.6 percent and 136.8 percent respectively on-year. It was followed by Indonesia with nearly 1.1 million tons worth $77.2 million, up 127 percent and 260 percent. Another combined 800,000 tons of coal was also imported from Russia, China and Malaysia.

Wind projects offer promising future Vietnam Investment Review 15th May 2017
With growing innovation in the sector, experts and investors note that wind power projects in Vietnam will be feasible with an 8-9 US cent per kWh feed-in-tariff. Vu Chi Mai, senior project officer at Geman Technical Cooperation (GIZ), highlighted at a wind power forum hosted by the Asia Wind Energy Association last week that experts are now more optimistic regarding the foreseeable cost reductions in the industry. The newfound optimism, Mai noted, may be coming as a result of technological advancements that have yet to be implemented. The forthcoming advances suggest that wind energy is not as mature a technology as was previously thought, Mai added. “Wind power technology and its advancing development is cutting costs and time for developers,” Mai said, highlighting that developers see a 9 US cent feed-in-tariff (FiT) as bankable. Late last year, GIZ sent a proposal to the government stating that the best way to make projects feasible is to offer a FiT of 10.4 US cents. The Vietnamese government has approved several programmes to encourage the development of renewable energy in the country, including the Renewable Energy Development Strategy to 2030, with a vision to 2050. The strategy aims to increase the production of electricity from wind sources to 2.5 billion kilowatts by 2020, 16 billion kilowatts by 2030.

Financial Services

Banking sector sees 6.53 percent in credit growth vietnamplus.vn 5th Jun 2017
Vietnam’s total loans by May 25 grew 6.53 percent from the end of 2016, which supported domestic production and business in the context of slow public investment disbursement since the beginning of the year.

Experts Warn Risky Loans In Vietnam Could Seriously Threaten Its Booming Economy Forbes 23rd May 2017
Vietnam’s economy keeps expanding around 6% per year. The government sustains that enviable momentum by making Vietnam attractive to high-value export manufacturers. Their investments in turn sprout local firms that support exporters and employ more people. The cycle contributes heavily to fast growth of a middle class in the nation of more than 90 million people.

Vietnam to launch derivative stock market, targeting more investments Xinhua 5th Jun 2017
Vietnamese derivative market will start operating on June 2 with the Future Contract of Share Indexes set to launch first, according to the Vietnam State Securities Commission (SSC) on Thursday.

Five firms get permits to trade in derivatives market vietnamnews.vn 5th Jun 2017
Five brokerage firms have obtained permits from the State Securities Commission (SSC) to operate in the derivatives market. The companies are Sài Gòn Securities (SSI), VPBank Securities (VPBS), BIDV Securities (BSC), VNDirect Securities (VNDirect) and MB Securities (MBS).

Vietinbank becomes settlement unit in derivatives market vietnamnews.vn 5th Jun 2017
The Việt Nam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) has been made the exclusive financial institution to carry out settlements for derivatives trading transactions.

Compulsory social insurance required of foreign workers in Việt Nam starting from 2018 vietnamnews.vn 1st Jun 2017
Social insurance authorities in Việt Nam are developing a compulsory social insurance scheme for foreign workers in the country, citing the need to follow international practices as the country deepens integration.

More Vietnamese SMEs expected to benefit from ADB’s trade finance program Enterprise Innovation 31st May 2017
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Trade Finance Program (TFP) and two Vietnamese banks — An Binh Joint-Stock Bank (ABBANK) and Tien Phong Commercial Joint-Stock Bank (TPBank) — have signed agreements enabling the program to provide guarantees of up to $50 million annually to support trade finance in Vietnam.

How One Fintech Company Created Lifestyle Banking In Vietnam Forbes 31st May 2017
If you’re a young professional in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, the last thing you want to do is wait in long lines to sign up for a bank account or transfer money. You’ve got work to do, children to care for, and social responsibilities to which you need to attend. Getting tangled in old school banking bureaucracy only throws a wrench into your busy schedule.

Deputies aim to clarify law on State assets Vietnam News 30th May 2017
National Assembly deputies on Monday devoted most of their time discussing proposed changes to the draft Law on the Management and Use of the State assets.

Regulations drafted for non-banking financial companies Viet Nam News 29th May 2017
Non-banking financial companies (NBFC) may be allowed to set up a maximum of three branches in a fiscal year. It was drafted in a circular released last week by the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) asking for comment. The draft circular states that NBFCs with operation duration of less than 12 months (from the date of inauguration to the time of proposal) are allowed to set up two branches at maximum while the number for NBFCs with operation duration of more than 12 months is three in a fiscal year. One branch cannot be managed by more than three transaction offices.

Vietnam looks to private sector to fund infrastructure Oxford Business Group 26th May 2017
A need to fund infrastructure projects vital to expanding Vietnam’s economy and boosting connectivity is pushing its government to turn to the private sector for support. Vietnam has made a strong commitment to infrastructure spending in recent years, with investments averaging 5.7% of GDP, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – a figure second only to China’s in the region and triple the outlays of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. This commitment is set to continue in the medium term: according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam needs some $480bn to fund urgent infrastructure investments by 2020, with more projects in the pipeline in the following decade.

Foreign capital dominates insurance sector - News VietNamNet Vietnam net 25th May 2017
Through merger & acquisitions (M&A), the world’s leading insurance conglomerates have been buying Vietnamese companies, which has helped the former hasten their entry into the Vietnamese market.

Bank security lacking: State Bank of Vietnam VietNamNet 19th May 2017
In light of recent widely reported cases of banking fraud related to automatic teller machine (ATM) transactions, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) has advised the public to remain calm and adhere to banks’ regulations, while urging the banks to plug security holes. The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) has advised the public to remain calm and adhere to banks’ regulations, while urging the banks to plug security holes. 

Vietnam proposes four initiatives to enhance APEC financial cooperation VietNamNet 17th May 2017
An official of the Ministry of Finance has detailed four financial cooperation initiatives proposed by Vietnam in the APEC Year 2017, ahead of the Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting slated for May 18-19 in Ninh Binh province. The initiative on finance for infrastructure is among the four financial cooperation initiatives proposed by Vietnam in the APEC Year 2017

Food & Agriculture

U.S.-Vietnam meeting yields progress on key U.S. pork trade issues National Hog Farmer 2nd Jun 2017
Following a meeting between President Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, the two countries on May 31 announced plans to enhance political, diplomatic, economic and trade relations.

Can Tho prepares for APEC week on food security vietnamplus.vn 1st Jun 2017
The Mekong city of Can Tho has finalised a coordination plan on the hosting of the APEC week on food security and high-level dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture development in response to climate change.

Vietnam's agriculture needs sustainable solutions - News VietNamNet VietnamNet 25th May 2017
Vietnam's agriculture needs sustainable solutions To achieve sustainable development, Viet Nam’s agriculture sector needs to improve productivity and quality as well as define the market structure for each farming product, experts said at the Viet Nam agricultural outlook conference in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

Vietnam’s response to climate change? A shrimp and mangrove cocktail IRIN 23rd May 2017
Like other shrimp farmers here in this lush, canal-lined province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Nguyen Van A can instantly rattle off the precise percentage of saltwater in which crustaceans grow best. And at the moment, he insists with a smile, everybody knows that Ben Tre Province has the best brackish water in the world.

Vietnam maintains ban on deep-water fishing in polluted area The Seattle Times 17th May 2017
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam is maintaining a ban on deep-water fishing in four central provinces one year after a Taiwanese-owned steel plant discharged toxins into the sea and caused the country’s worst environmental disaster.

Vietnam strives to raise forest coverage to 45 percent News VietNamNet 9th May 2017
Vietnam strives to raise forest coverage to 45 percent The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on May 4 announced the National REDD Action Programme, which aims to increase forest cover to 45 percent of national territory and contribute to an 8 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The programme is to trim greenhouse gas emissions by stemmig deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable management of forest resources, conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks by 2030. It also targets improved quality of natural and planted forests to increase carbon stock. Another goal is job creation to improve living conditions and ensure security and national defence.

Big investors pour money into agriculture, organic food News VietNamNet 9th May 2017
Big investors pour money into agriculture, organic food VietNamNet Bridge - The repeated alarms about unsafe food has brought great opportunity to several big investors, who have been pouring money into organic food projects.  In mid-March, Vinamilk, the nation’s leading dairy producer, inaugurated Vinamilk Organic Da Lat, the first organic milk cow farm in Vietnam that meets European standards. With initial investment capital of VND200 billion, the farm will raise 500 milk cows.

US recalls frozen tuna from PH, Vietnam after testing showed hepatitis A virus Inquirer.net 3rd Jun 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Hawaii-based Hilo Fish Company told the agency in May it had recalled yellowfin tuna that tested positive for the virus. Hilo says the fish was sourced from Sustainable Seafood Company in Vietnam and Santa Cruz Seafood Inc. in the Philippines.

Asia Rice-Vietnam prices hit 13-month high; Thailand up on lower supply Reuters India 25th May 2017
Vietnam rice hit its highest level in over a year this week on potential export deals and prices in Thailand firmed up as supply eased, while the Indian variety gained on growing demand from Africa, traders said. Expectations of strong demand from top importing countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines are fuelling the uptrend in Vietnam and Thailand rice prices. Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 was quoted at a level unseen since April last year, at $360-$380 a tonne, FOB Saigon, up from $365-$370 last week, as suppliers eyed export deals, traders said. Bangladesh said on Tuesday it will buy 250,000-300,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice immediately and planned to increase rice imports from Vietnam to 500,000 tonnes by end-2017. It will also buy one million tonne of Vietnamese rice annually until 2022.

Vietnam: IFC invests $10.2m in PAN Farm to pick 10.4% stake DealStreetAsia 9th May 2017
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the capital lending arm of the World Bank Group, has funnelled an amount of VND230 billion ($10.2 million) in Vietnam-based agribusiness PAN Farm JSC. IFC takes approximately 10.4 per cent equity in the farming company with this financing. DEALSTREETASIA had reported IFC’s proposal to invest in the firm in February this year. The investment will facilitate the expansion of PAN Farm’s existing seed business and new export-quality flower, fruit and vegetable operations, IFC said in a Thursday statement.

Vietnam looks for shrimp farming to save the Mekong Delta News VietNamNet 9th May 2017
Vietnam looks for shrimp farming to save the Mekong Delta About 700 000 hectares of rice and other agriculture crops in Vietnam were destroyed by climate-induced natural disasters in 2016, reports the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Consequently, rice production, which was hit the hardest, fell by some 800,000 tons, which has forced the Ministry to fast track implementation of remedial climate change adaption measures. Under one initiative, rice cultivation in several Mekong Delta provinces has been converted to growing fruit trees and grapes that require less water yet provide suitable alternative sources of income for farmers. Vietnam is the third largest exporter of rice, behind India and Thailand. Nicknamed the ‘rice bowl’, the Mekong Delta region comprises 12% of the arable land of the country and is responsible for nearly 50% of the rice production. This past paddy season, the culprit was salt water intruding upstream from the coast, said Mekong wetlands ecologist Nguyen Huu Thien.

Health & Life Sciences

Việt Nam eyes more healthcare PPPs vietnamnews.vn 6th Jun 2017
More public-private partnerships (PPPs) are needed in the private healthcare sector as public hospitals and clinics cannot meet the demand across the country, experts have said.

Seven die while undergoing hemodialysis: police works with medical device supplier - News VietNamNet VietnamNet 5th Jun 2017
Seven die while undergoing hemodialysis: police works with medical device supplier Functional forces worked with involved parties to find out the origin of 7 deaths at Hoa Binh General Hospital. The first involved party that has been aimed at is Thien Son Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company, the medical device supplier of the hospital.

Vietnam, Japan step up cooperation in health care vietnamplus.vn 5th Jun 2017
Tokyo (VNA) – International Medical Development JSC of Vietnam’s TH Group will join hands with Japan’s International Total Engineering Corporation (ITEC) to build a high-tech health care complex in Hanoi. 

Vietnam dialysis: Seven patients die in hospital BBC News 30th May 2017
Seven people have died and a woman is in intensive care after undergoing kidney dialysis treatment at a hospital in northern Vietnam.

Unsafe food remains a grave concern vietnamnews.vn 6th Jun 2017
Measures to ensure food safety were a hot debate topic in the National Assembly yesterday, as NA deputies spent the whole day reviewing the implementation of food safety laws and regulations from 2011-2016.

Hospitals told to update guidelines Viet Nam News 18th May 2017
Experts have urged hospitals to update their treatment guidelines in obstetrics and pediatrics to help reduce the number of maternal deaths and medical errors. Dr Nguyễn Bá Mỹ Nhi from Từ Dũ Obstetrics Hospital said her hospital periodically updates their own guidelines and also uses those created by the Ministry of Health. Speaking at a conference on the national action plan for maternal, infant and child health held yesterday in HCM City, she said that medical errors in obstetrics leading to maternal mortalities could be due to outdated guidelines and negligence in following the standard steps of patient care. She said that hospitals should not wait for the ministry to update treatment guidelines and should do it themselves, as the process at the ministry level takes too much time.

Health insurance database shared with MoH vietnamnews.vn 18th May 2017
Việt Nam Social Insurance (VSI) has agreed to share with the Ministry of Health (MoH) personal database of more than 24 million households. The move which was confirmed at a signing ceremony held this week with representatives of the two sides, was aimed to improve the country’s heath insurance management as well as boost the entire national health care system. The VSI agreed to hand over of 92 million personal records of such 24 million households to the MoH. The ministry will be responsible for managing, using and securing the database.

Central hospitals still ignore local medicines Viet Nam News 17th May 2017
Half of all medicine used in Việt Nam is locally manufactured, however, it has been largely unused in central hospitals, PhD Trương Quốc Cường, Deputy Minister of Health has said. To increase the rate of local medicine use, doctors could even be required to commit to prescribing domestic products, according to Cường. Speaking at a conference reviewing the campaign ‘Vietnamese People Use Việt Nam’s medicines’ held last Friday, Cường said the use of domestically-produced medicine increased during the four years of the campaign.

Govt boost awareness of dengue fever and Zika prevention vietnamnews.vn 15th May 2017
HCM City Department of Health on Saturday launched a campaign calling on the community to take part in the prevention of dengue fever and Zika as part of ASEAN Dengue Day. At the launching, the department’s head, Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, said that the campaign aims to improving awareness of the community in the prevention of the diseases in the city. As of now, many people still fail to destroy mosquitos and their larva at their work and homes, Bỉnh said.

Vietnam has burden of non communicable diseases vietnam.net 15th May 2017
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), usually chronic diseases, are becoming a burden for the society because it causes disabilities and premature deaths. Many of the risk factors for non-communicable diseases are due to unhealthy lifestyle including physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco abuse and can be prevented.  Lately, in a meeting about non-communicable disease prevention held in Ho Chi Minh City, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said chronic diseases are most common causes of deaths in Vietnam. Of every ten deaths, seven are caused by cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic pulmonary diseases. 

VN threatened by new strain of bird flu Viet Nam News 12th May 2017
The Prime Minister and ministries of Health and Agriculture and Rural Development are calling for intensive measures to curb the trafficking, trade and consumption of unknown poultry, especially birds smuggled from China, where avian influenza A (H7N9) continues to spread. The Preventive Medicine Department under the health ministry announced Wednesday that the avian influenza A (H7N9) is spreading rapidly south and southeast China, including Yunnan and Guangxi provinces--which both share borders with Việt Nam. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) detected changes of H7N9 virus from low pathogenicity to high pathogenicity in poultry and humans.

ICT

Vietnam online gaming firm VNG says eyeing U.S. IPO Reuters 30th May 2017
The agreement, which could see Nasdaq help VNG prepare for the listing, was signed on the sidelines of Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's visit to the United States, the first by a Southeast Asian leader since Donald Trump became U.S. president.

Ho Chi Minh City tax department to monitor social media businesses Vietnam Economic Times 30th May 2017
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Taxation has said recently that its data center is checking Facebook accounts used for conducting business, with a view to determining any tax obligations. Not all individual Facebook accounts, however, have to pay tax on their business. Those that are conducting “non-professional” business on an irregular basis and with low turnover will not have to pay tax. Only those with large sales and unpaid taxes are targeted, according to the head of the city’s tax department.

Asia-Pacific upgrading internet connectivity- Nikkei Asian Review 6th Jun 2017
Asia-Pacific already boasts some of the fastest internet connectivity in the world and continues to improve as its economies digitize, according to a report by Akamai, a U.S.-based content delivery network and cloud provider.

Vietnam says Google will cooperate in removal of 'toxic' content Reuters 26th May 2017
Google Inc's parent firm, Alphabet, will work with Vietnam's communist government to stamp out "toxic" and illegal information on its platform, the Southeast Asian nation said on Friday.

Southeast Asian censors test mettle of social media groups Financial Times 24th May 2017
Big social media companies are under siege in Southeast Asia, where Thailand’s new king, Vietnam’s communist government and religious tensions in Indonesia are feeding a clampdown on content.

Infrastructure

How Vietnam is embracing Architecture and Urbanisation Study International 25th May 2017
Vietnam has seen exponential growth in its urban development over the past 30 years. According to figures cited in Vietnam Plus, national urban growth is drastically evolving; in 2009, the rate of progression was 19.6 percent with 629 urban areas, while in 2016, the rate soared to around 36.6 percent, with a total of 802 citified settlements.

Vietnam plans to open 'outstanding' special economic zones Reuters 24th May 2017
Vietnam's Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung speaks during an interview with Reuters in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2017. The ministry is drafting a law for the zones in northern Quang Ninh province, central Khanh Hoa province and southern Phu Quoc province. Approval from lawmakers in the communist state is expected by the end of 2017. Dung said the zones would be free from local regulations to make them competitive internationally.

ASEAN infrastructure gap turns negatives into positives Times of Malta 23rd May 2017
If a spending deficit of $1.2 trillion in six key Asian economies and a rising tide of protectionist rhetoric in Europe don’t seem the most promising combination of business prospects, think again.

Manufacturing

Vietnam manufacturing PMI slips to 14-month low Financial Times 1st Jun 2017
Vietnam’s manufacturing sector last month saw its weakest growth since March 2016 as companies reported slower rises in output and new orders.

Vietjet signs multi-billion USD deals during PM’s official trip to US vietnamplus.vn 1st Jun 2017
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company signed with CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric (GE) and Safran Aircraft Engines, an agreement on May 31 on supporting 215 engines to power the airline’s fleet.

Vietnam to impose duty on Chinese, South Korean and Taiwanese steel sheets Reuters 31st May 2017
Imports of painted-galvanised steel sheets into Vietnam surged more than 70 percent last year, hurting the market share of domestic producers, the ministry said in an online statement.

Frenemies make Vietnam steel megaproject tick Financial Times 22nd May 2017
A project to build a blast furnace in Vietnam has some East Asia watchers scratching their heads. With participation from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea — all involved in diplomatic spats with at least one of the other — it is an unlikely undertaking.