Vietnam Update: U.S. Senate Confirms New Ambassador to Vietnam

Vietnam Update | November 6, 2017
Authors: Hai Pham, Jade Hoang
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Nov 5-10: APEC Economic Leaders’ Week (Vietnam)

This week kicks off the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week hosted by Vietnam in Danang, this year under the theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future” with four priorities: sustainable and innovative growth, regional economic integration, modernization of SMEs, and food security in the context of climate change. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang will host key events including the 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Dialogue with APEC Economic Leaders, and the APEC – ASEAN Informal Dialogue. The Vietnam Business Summit will also be held on November 7, followed by the APEC CEO Summit on November 8-10. The series of events is expected to gather 10,000 delegates including leaders from 21 of the world's largest economies and international organizations, global CEOs, as well as major media agencies.

As confirmed by the White House on October 16, U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to Danang on November 10 to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and deliver a speech at the APEC CEO Summit on his vision for a free and open trade network in the region. He will then travel to Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, on November 11 for an official visit and bilateral dialogues with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior representatives.

Council members part of the U.S. delegation are invited to attend official APEC events and a number of side events organized by the U.S. APEC Business Coalition, including a series of meetings with APEC leaders and ministers from APEC economies and senior U.S. government officials. The Coalition has so far confirmed meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. For more information, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org.

Nov 16-17: 10th Lower Mekong Initiative Regional Working Group Meeting (Laos)

The LMI Regional Working Group is hosting a director-level meeting in Vientiane, Laos to discuss the Lower Mekong Initiative’s priorities for future policy engagement and programs implemented in the region. The focus will be on increasing private sector engagement, restructuring the current pillar structure for better engagement and streamlined activities, and mapping the next steps of the Mekong Water Data Initiative announced by Secretary Tillerson at the LMI Ministerial meeting in August. The meeting will gather official delegations across different Ministries from each of the five Lower Mekong countries and a US delegation consisting of policy officers and technical program implementers. For details on the draft meeting agenda, interested members should contact Jonathan Thompson at ThompsonJ4@state.gov or Jocelyn Roberts at RobertsJD2@state.gov.

Dec 6-8: Business Mission to Myanmar

Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's annual business mission to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, Myanmar on December 6-8, 2017. Official invitation with registration details to follow. Requested meetings include: President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Key Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament including Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) U Win Myint, Myanmar Investment Comissioner and the UMFCCI. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org for any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

U.S. Senate Confirms New Ambassador to Vietnam

On October 26, the U.S. Senate officially confirmed Daniel Kritenbrink to be the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, succeeding current Ambassador Ted Osius. He will assume his post in Hanoi just before President Donald Trump arrives for the APEC Summit and a bilateral engagement with the Vietnamese government. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Kritenbrink has two decades of experience overseas and in Washington working on Asian affairs as a policy maker, analyst, and practitioner. He served as senior director for Asian affairs for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council and is currently the Senior Advisor for North Korea Policy at the State Department. Kritenbrink has been praised by Ambassador Osius and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska as someone capable of taking diplomatic relations with Vietnam to a new high.

Ambassador Kritenbrink pledged to promote ties with Vietnam in various fields at a recent reception hosted by Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Pham Quang Vinh. The two ambassadors agreed to coordinate closely for the success of President Trump's upcoming visit to Vietnam and strengthen comprehensive partnership between the two countries. 

National Assembly Discusses Socio-Economic Goals and Challenges

On October 31, Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA) began a two-and-a-half day discussion about the country’s current socio-economic development and budget estimates for 2018. NA delegates raised concern over abnormal GDP growth statistics and serious public debt at 62.2 percent, with ongoing inefficient public investment. A total of VND80 trillion (US$3.5 billion) allocated to major national project failed to be disbursed during the past three years, and public debt was forecast to reach VND4.2 quadrillion by 2020. There is tense debt repayment pressure for the country in the coming years, estimated at 8 percent of total budget spending. “The fiscal policies must be adjusted towards increasing collections, reducing expenses, and prioritizing paying debts,” said delegate Hoang Quang Ham. Delegate Duong Xuan Hoa of Lang Son province recommended that the government establish mechanisms for comprehensive evaluation and accountability regarding the implementation of public investment projects.

Delegates also expressed concern about the country’s undue dependence on low-quality FDI, which now accounts for 25 percent of gross capital formation. According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency, Vietnam’s FDI inflow in 2017 is estimated at $16 billion and FDI pledges for new projects hit an all high $28.24 billion, a significant increase from last year. Although foreign enterprises receive a number of preferential land and tax incentives, their contribution to the economy remains limited. According to delegate Pham Trong Nhan, 50 percent of FDI companies reported losses but many kept expanding investments, citing Oxfam’s statistics that the developing countries including Vietnam failed to collect $170 billion annually due to transfer pricing. Nhan called on the government to review policies that can help increase the competitiveness of local private firms and improve the quality of FDI projects. “Policies to boost the private economic sector must be enhanced to enable them to become drivers of growth… In attracting FDI, there must also be strict regulations about technology transfer, local procurement rates and environment protection.”

Lastly, delegates raised the need to strengthen the country’s forecasting capacity and natural disaster prevention to minimize damage to economic activities, especially in the agriculture sector. Delegate Ma Thi Thuy from Tuyen Quang urged that natural disaster prevention and forest protection be integrated into current socio-economic development plan, and more efforts be put into improving transport infrastructure in critical regions such as the Mekong Delta and other mountainous provinces.

 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
New US Ambassador pledges to promote ties with Vietnam
Vietnam, China jointly prepare for Chinese Party leader's Vietnam visit
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomes AB InBev CEO
Vietnam, RoK share experience in policy communication
Vietnam wishes to develop partnership with Bangladesh
China’s General Secretary Xi welcomes Vietnamese Party chief’s special envoy in Beijing
Forum promotes Vietnam-Canada trade ties
​US Senate confirms new ambassador to Vietnam

National Affairs
Typhoon Damrey leaves 63 dead and missing
​Vietnam rejoices over government’s decision to scrap residence book
New Vietnamese chief inspector of government vows to fight corruption

APEC
Vietnam gains prestige in APEC Economic Leaders’ Week
APEC Vietnam 2017: Fostering a shared future in a changing world
Press conference for APEC summit week convened in Da Nang
APEC Summit: A "golden chance"

ASEAN
PM Phuc to attend ASEAN summits in Philippines

Customs
Vietnam Customs uses equipment and machinery to inspect imported and exported goods
The implementation of Decision 15/ 2017 /QD–TTg will be summarized to amend and supplement
24/7 e-tax payments and customs clearance to begin this month
Taxation authorities propose delaying e invoices till July 2019

Defense & Security
Beijing says it peacefully resolved a South China Sea dispute with Vietnam
Vietnam, Australia hold first defence policy dialogue

Economics
Government leader calls for combined efforts to fulfill this year's target
NA discusses growth goals, budget estimates
Lawmakers call for shake-up of FDI incentives
New board to boost private sector
Vietnam moves up 14 places in business climate: WB report
Vietnam to ‘pull down wall which hinders business development’
Foreign investment hit over US$28 billion in 10 months

Energy
HCM City looks to expand solar power network
Foreign heavyweights enter race for BSR
Lam Dong solicits green investment at conference

Financial Services
Retail modernisation and e-commerce aiding FMCG
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomes Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma
Forum promotes Vietnam's E-payment
Banking assets rise to more than $407 billion
Moody's raises outlook for banking sector
Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment for anything

Food & Agriculture
Vietnam's coffee belt braces for more rains as storm looms
Farm exporters warned on pesticides
Agriculture leads all exports
Vietnam officials and CGIAR agree joint research priorities for the rest of the decade
Cashew nut exports expected to exceed US$3 billion
Agro-forestry SOEs to be audited in 2019: Deputy PM
SCIC announces initial price of Vinamilk’s share auction
Saline fields leave Quảng Bình farmers worried
Wholesalers caught in Da Lat produce fraud
Mekong Delta region faces storm risk
Vietnam nutrition market to be worth 6b by 2020
Lawmakers urge strong boost to fruit & vegie export, logistics sector
Dong Thap Muoi develops flood-adapted agriculture
Vietnam exports sugar to 28 markets
Food poisoning fatalities surge in Vietnam in January-October period
​Vietnamese province ceases free Nestlé chocolate drink program following suspected mass poisoning
​Vietnam's Jan-Oct coffee exports down, rice up
Rainfall could affect coffee harvest in Vietnam

Health & Life Sciences
1,000 babies born by IVF at Huế Hospital
Drugstore chains expand as competition heats up
Vietnamese cancer mortality rate higher than traffic accidents
HCM City suffers shortage of nursing homes
Drug market bounces back with M&A deals
​Drug administration responsible for VN Pharma’s import of substandard cancer medicine: court
Việt Nam sets 2025 health targets

ICT
Conference looks to promote online exports in digital era
Vietnam-Laos ICT cooperation forum held in Vientiane
Draft law requires Facebook, Google to open data centers in Vietnam
Digital content firms want Google, Facebook to set up legal entities in VN
Tech Fest to link start-ups, investors

Infrastructure
​ADB to lend Vietnam $170mn for urban infrastructure upgrade
Ho Chi Minh City approves $51.67mn advance from budget to pay metro contractors

Manufacturing
Vietnam’s iconic enterprises of old struggle past 60
VN’s manufacturing PMI dips to 51.6 in October
Vietnam police poised to investigate Khaisilk’s ‘Made in China’ scandal
Export businesses need to meet stringent US standards
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

New US Ambassador pledges to promote ties with Vietnam VOV 6th Nov 2017
New US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink asserted that he will make efforts to promote ties with Vietnam in various fields, prioritising trade, investment, maritime security, people-to-people exchange, humanitarian aid and post-war recovery efforts. At a reception hosted by Ambassador of Vietnam to US Pham Quang Vinh, Kritenbrink lauded cooperative relations between the two countries in the past years and expressed his strong belief in a strong impetus for their comprehensive partnership in the coming time. He hailed contributions made by the Embassy of Vietnam in the US and Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh to the sound bilateral ties and thanked Vietnam’s relevant authorities for supporting him to take the office soon. He said he is learning Vietnamese in preparation for his mission in the Southeast Asian nation.

Vietnam, China jointly prepare for Chinese Party leader's Vietnam visit VOV 2nd Nov 2017
Both nations have agreed to make thorough preparations for the General Secretary and President of China, Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Vietnam and his attendance at the APEC 2017 Economic Leaders' Week in the central city of Da Nang. Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh had talks on November 2 in Hanoi with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during which, Minh affirmed the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and Government's desire to develop comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China and support the country in making positive contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the region and the world.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomes AB InBev CEO VOV 1st Nov 2017
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hosted a reception in Hanoi on October 31 for AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito, during which he said Vietnam wants Belgian businesses to invest more in the Southeast Asian country. PM Phuc said the traditional friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium are developing in a positive, diverse and practical manner, adding that companies of Vietnam and the European Union (EU), including Belgium, have very close relations. The Vietnamese Government is making efforts to speed up economic restructuring, create a more transparent and favourable business climate and accelerate the equitisation of State-owned enterprises, he said.

Vietnam, RoK share experience in policy communication VOV 1st Nov 2017
More than 100 scientists, policy makers, researchers, lecturers and press experts from Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) were brought together at a workshop in Hanoi on November 1 to share experience in communicating public policy to promote social consensus in specific arenas. The panels emphasised on the crucial role of policy communication in creating social consensus and pointed out challenges in the field, especially in the era of information boom. They said the application of modern technologies to build the e-government is a key solution to improving the efficiency of public policy, increasing the accountability of ministries and departments, and ensuring the public right of information access.

Vietnam wishes to develop partnership with Bangladesh VOV 31st Oct 2017
Vietnam always pays heed to developing partnership with Bangladesh, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at an October 31 reception in Hanoi for new Bangladeshi Ambassador to Vietnam Samina Naz. He expressed delight at the flourishing bilateral ties over the past 44 years, while congratulating Bangladeshi people on their remarkable achievements in socio-economic development, poverty reduction and living condition improvements. Both nations have given each other fine sentiments and offered mutual support during their past struggles for independence as well as current national construction and development, Phuc said.

China’s General Secretary Xi welcomes Vietnamese Party chief’s special envoy in Beijing Tuoi Tre News 31st Oct 2017
A special envoy of Vietnamese Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong has arrived in Beijing to congratulate General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping on his appointment, the Vietnam News Agency reported. General Secretary Xi received Hoang Binh Quan, head of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations and special envoy of General Secretary Trong, in the Chinese capital on Monday. During the meeting, Quan conveyed the Vietnamese Party chief’s congratulations on the success of the CPC’s 19th Congress and Xi’s re-election as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee for its 19th tenure.

Forum promotes Vietnam-Canada trade ties VOV 27th Oct 2017
Initiatives for promoting investment and trade ties between Vietnam and Canada were discussed at a Vietnam business forum held on October 26 in Toronto, Canada. At the forum, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne highlighted Vietnam’s economic growth and sound development of bilateral relations between the two countries and Canadian businesses' effective operations in Vietnam. Ontario has welcomed numerous Vietnamese business delegations seeking investment and cooperation opportunities in health care, infrastructure, and aviation. She expressed her hope that bilateral cooperation will expand to many other fields in the future.

​US Senate confirms new ambassador to Vietnam Tuoi Tre News 27th Oct 2017
The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Daniel Kritenbrink, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, to be the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. The nomination was made at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday morning (local time), according to an agenda posted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. More than two dozen nominations for U.S. ambassador posts in other countries were made at the same meeting. Kritenbrink, a professional diplomat with experience working in Asia, will succeed current Ambassador Ted Osius.

National Affairs

Typhoon Damrey leaves 63 dead and missing VietnamNet 6th Nov 2017
Typhoon Damrey, the 12th storm to hit Vietnam this year, killed 44 people and left 19 others unaccounted for as of November 6 morning. Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung visited the central coastal province of Quang Nam – one of the hardest hit localities - to direct the flood response The typhoon levelled 1,358 houses, damaged 114,866 homes and flooded 5,296 hectares of rice and 14,849 hectares of vegetables. More than 1,200 fishing vessels were either sunk or ruined while over 24,400 aquatic breeding cages were damaged.

​Vietnam rejoices over government’s decision to scrap residence book Tuoi Tre News 5th Nov 2017
The Vietnamese government has made a landmark decision to part with residence books and national ID cards in favor of an online database of citizens’ information retrievable with a personal identification number unique to each person. The decision came in a government resolution signed into effect on October 30 by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, which seeks to streamline administrative procedures and citizens’ documents. The resolution, based on an earlier plan submitted by the Ministry of Public Security, spells the end of Vietnam’s citizen management through permanent residence books, which ties a person to a permanent address.

New Vietnamese chief inspector of government vows to fight corruption Tuoi Tre News 26th Oct 2017
Vietnam’s newly-appointed chief government inspector has pledged to fulfill all missions to combat corruption in the country. Le Minh Khai became the inspector-general of the Vietnamese government after receiving a 94.5 percent approval rate from the lawmaking National Assembly on Thursday afternoon. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday recommended him for the position and requested approval from the National Assembly. Khai has replaced Phan Van Sau, who had handed in a letter of resignation over health and family issues and the NA passed it on Wednesday.

APEC

Vietnam gains prestige in APEC Economic Leaders’ Week VOV 6th Nov 2017
The APEC 2017 Economic Leaders’ Week provides an opportune occasion for Asia-Pacific member economies to propose and discuss major political and economic policies and solutions to turn challenges into opportunities and a powerful driver of global growth. On the theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week officially opened on November 6 in the central city of Da Nang. This is the second time Vietnam has hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which shows how the status of Vietnam’s dynamism, prestige, and position has been exalted at international forums.

APEC Vietnam 2017: Fostering a shared future in a changing world Tuoi Tre News 6th Nov 2017
State Presidents Tran Dai Quang addresses the APEC summit and its vision as chair of the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, when the event takes place in Da Nang, located in central Vietnam: "Twenty eight years ago, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum came into being. Ever since, APEC has been growing vigorously, living up to the role as the region’s premier economic forum. In a globalized and changing world and a dynamic Asia-Pacific, APEC is facing both new opportunities and challenges. As the host of APEC 2017, it is Vietnam's mandate to work with other member economies to transform the APEC Economic Leaders’ commitments into tangible results and bring APEC closer to the people and business community, thereby realizing the strategic vision for an Asia-Pacific of sustainable and inclusive development in the 21st century."

Press conference for APEC summit week convened in Da Nang Tuoi Tre News 3rd Nov 2017
A press conference was convened on Thursday in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang to highlight the important features of next week’s Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Hundreds of Vietnamese and foreign reporters were present as Bui Thanh Son, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and APEC 2017 SOM Chair, announced that leaders of all 21 member economies have confirmed their participation in the summit. Over 2,000 Vietnamese and foreign businesses have also signed up for the event.

APEC Summit: A "golden chance" Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
The 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit is a crucial opportunity for businesses throughout central Việt Nam to seek trade partners and export markets as representatives of foreign firms flock to the business forums at APEC from November 5-11, Đà Nẵng business people and officials say. Nearly 2,000 CEOs will attend the CEO Summit in the city. Vice chairman of the city’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Association (DANASME), Nguyễn Văn Lý, told Việt Nam News that this would represent a rare opportunity for local firms to show off their capacity.

ASEAN

PM Phuc to attend ASEAN summits in Philippines VOV 6th Nov 2017
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his delegation will attend the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, the Philippines, from November 12-14 at the invitation of his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte, the Foreign Ministry announced on November 6. The Vietnamese delegation will attend the 20th ASEAN 3 Summit with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK); the ASEAN 1 Summit with China, Japan, the RoK, India, the US, Canada, the European Union and the United Nations; and the 12th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Customs

Vietnam Customs uses equipment and machinery to inspect imported and exported goods Customs News 3rd Nov 2017
Mr. Au Anh Tuan, Acting Director Acting Director General of Customs Control and Supervision Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) said that the GDVC has invested in equipment systems to inspect and supervise imported and exported goods at ports. Thus, the inspection is done not only by manual but also by modern equipment. At the 4th session of the XIV National Assembly on 1 October 2017, the deputy Ha Thi Minh Tam (Ha Nam province) said: Customs inspection of imports and exports at ports had been completely implemented by manual but not by machine. The management of temporarily imported goods for re-export, particularly, loose management of temporary import for re-export of foodstuff caused the imported food spreading over the market. Talking to a Customs Newspaper’s reporter on this issue, Mr. Au Anh Tuan said that according to data of the GDVC, shipments subject to physical inspection in Customs clearance only accounted for 5.08% of the total Customs declaration.

The implementation of Decision 15/ 2017 /QD–TTg will be summarized to amend and supplement Customs News 2nd Nov 2017
After 4 months of implementation, the Government’s Decision 15/2017/QD-TTg has met the target of reducing the trade deficit and strictly controlling high-risk commodities affecting the environment, security, defense and public health. However, the implementation of Decision 15/2017/QD-TTg still faces some obstacles related to Customs procedures at ICDs and  Investment/ Processing Customs Branches. Mr. Au Anh Tuan, Acting Director of Customs Control and Supervision Department (GDVC) stated that after 6 months of implementation, the GDVC planned to assess and summarize the implementation of Decision 15 to consider, amend, supplement and report the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister for handling. According to the Government’s Decision 15/2017/QD-TTg dated 12th May 2017 promulgating the list of imported goods required to follow Customs procedures at entry border gate, taking effect from July 1, 2017, the goods in this list includes: Imported goods with high risk of Tax management need to be controlled strictly(including commodities subject to Special Consumption Tax, Safeguard Tariff and Anti-dumping Duty); Goods with risk and required for specialized management such as goods subject to animal quarantine, aquatic quarantine or phytosanitary; Explosive substances, explosives; Goods affecting security and defense; Goods affecting the environment such as scrap.

24/7 e-tax payments and customs clearance to begin this month VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The General Department of Customs (GDC) has approved a project on 24/7 e-tax payments through authorised banks and 24/7 customs clearance which will take effect from November this year. Luu Manh Tuong, director of the GDC's Import-Export Duty Department, announced the information at the GDC's press brief held in Hanoi on October 31. Tuong noted that the tax payments made through banks signing collection agreements with the GDC has yet to serve cut off time payments or payments on holidays and at the weekend, adding that the new project will create the maximum favourable conditions for enterprises to make payments at anytime and anywhere.

Taxation authorities propose delaying e invoices till July 2019 Customs News 31st Oct 2017
The General Department of Taxation GDT is considering asking the Ministry of Finance to postpone the compulsory application of e invoices until July 2019 instead of early next year Nguyen Dai Tri, GDT Deputy General Director, announced this at a press conference on e-tax services, held in Hanoi late last week. Specifically, except firms that are already using e-bills and are small or micro-scale, GDT proposes that all other companies will have to use e-invoices from July 1, 2019, instead of January 1, 2018, as stated under the Ministry of Finance’s draft.

Defense & Security

Beijing says it peacefully resolved a South China Sea dispute with Vietnam CNBC 3rd Nov 2017
China and Vietnam have reached an agreement on managing their dispute in the South China Sea through friendly talks, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday, following an ugly spat over the summer between the two communist neighbors. The countries have long been at loggerheads over the strategic waterway, through which more than $3 trillion in cargo passes every year, with Vietnam having emerged as the most vocal opponent of China's claims to the majority of the regional sea.

Vietnam, Australia hold first defence policy dialogue VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Vietnam and Australia held the first national defence policy dialogue in the Australian capital city of Canberra on November 3. The dialogue was chaired by Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh and First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defence of Australia Marc Ablong. Vinh underscored the significance of the dialogue which took place for the first time since the establishment of bilateral defence ties in 1998 and in the context of the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. He affirmed that Vietnam highly treasures its defence ties with Australia. Over the past nearly two decades, the two countries have reached consensus on practical cooperative areas and created mutual trust.

Economics

Government leader calls for combined efforts to fulfill this year's target VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc outlined the 4 major tasks for the government to achieve this year’s socio-economic targets for the rest of the year at a cabinet meeting on November 3 in Hanoi. They include recovery from natural disasters, fulfillment of this year’s set plans, ensuring security for the APEC Economic Leader’s Week, and working for the 4th meeting of the 14th National Assembly. He asked the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam to closely follow and flexibly manage inflation, foreign exchange and bank interest rates, the restructuring of poor credit organizations, and bad debt.

NA discusses growth goals, budget estimates VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday started a two-and-a-half day discussion about the socio-economic development and budget estimates for 2018. Workers produce automobile parts at Viet Nam Standley Electricity Co. Ltd - a Japan-Viet Nam joint venture based in Ha Noi. Seventy-two countries and territories have invested in the capital city so far, with 3,600 projects worth US$28 billion. Burning issues such as public debts, disbursement of public investment and solutions to boost growth were also brought to the table.

Lawmakers call for shake-up of FDI incentives VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
Vietnam offers many land and tax incentives to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) but the sector’s contribution to the economy is still limited, National Assembly (NA) delegates have said. Despite accounting for more than 70 per cent of total export revenue, the sector’s contribution to State coffers is estimated at 15-17 per cent, delegate Mr. Pham Trong Nhan told the ongoing NA session on October 31. He was also concerned about transfer pricing by foreign enterprises, which hurts the State budget. Even though business is booming in Vietnam, up to half of foreign-invested enterprises announced losses between 2007 and 2015.

New board to boost private sector Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
A board comprising senior executives of major national corporations and industry associations has been launched with the aim of understanding and removing hurdles to a greater private sector role in the national economy. Announcing the board’s establishment on Monday night, Minister and chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng said the “IV board” will function under the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform (ACAPR). The board will be chaired by Trương Gia Bình, president of Việt Nam Software and IT Services Association and deputy chairman of ACAPR.

Vietnam moves up 14 places in business climate: WB report VOV 1st Nov 2017
Vietnam and Indonesia have implemented the most reforms in the past 15 years, with 39 reforms each, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Doing Business report. The report released on October 31 monitors the ease of doing business for small and medium enterprises around the world. Business reforms continued at speed in East Asia and Pacific, with regional economies adopting 45 reforms during the past year, bringing to 371 the total number of private sector reforms enacted in the region over the past 15 years, it said.

Vietnam to ‘pull down wall which hinders business development’ VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
Under the Investment Law, there are seven prohibited business fields and 243 conditional business fields. However, according to the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM), it found 4,284 business conditions set by ministries and branches as of August 10, 2017. The economics institute believes that this is not the final figure, because business conditions and licenses are ‘born’ every day and in different forms. Business conditions include requirements on the number of workers, production capacity, the way workshops are located or financial capability. The requirements on businesses’ capacity account for the largest proportion (1,336), followed by requirements on workforce (1,100).

Foreign investment hit over US$28 billion in 10 months VOV 26th Oct 2017
As of October 20, Vietnam has attracted US$28.24 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) capital, a year-on-year increase of 37.4%, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Of the figure, US$16.3 billion was put into 2,070 new projects (up 32.9%), US$7.27 billion (up 35.9%), into 1,001 operational projects that demand additionally increased investment capital and US$4.67 billion into 4,156 capital contribution and share buying projects.

Energy

HCM City looks to expand solar power network VOV 1st Nov 2017
Sun power output in Ho Chi Minh City was estimated to grow an average of 2.5 times on an annual basis since 2014. In 2014, the output was recorded at 400 kilowatt peak. In 2016, it increased to 4 megawatt peak in comparison to the national figure of 7 megawatt peak. Official surveys showed that more than 300,000 roofs are suitable to solar battery installation for the generation of more than 6.4 green watt power. Sun energy in Vietnam is consumed through grid-tied and off-grid systems, with price being at VND2,086 per kilowatt hour (excluded VAT tax). A household or business using grid-tied solar power can reduce energy costs and even sell excess power back to the utility for money.

Foreign heavyweights enter race for BSR VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The race to become strategic partner to Binh Son Refinery and Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (BSR), the operator of Vietnam’s first oil refinery Dung Quat, has become hotter as heavyweights are gradually expressing interest. Dung Quat Refinery, Vietnam's first oil refinery, one of the most coveted assets in BSR's portfolio According to newswire Vnexpress, Tran Ngoc Nguyen, general director of BSR, said that after announcing its intention to find strategic partners, BSR has received replies from 17 investment funds and five large-scale groups. BSR has worked with two of the interested investors, namely World Petro from the US and Macron Petro Petroleum from Africa, which expressed interest in buying the entire 49 per cent stake offered.

Lam Dong solicits green investment at conference VOV 27th Oct 2017
Lam Dong province would like to attract investment in green energy and technology, a conference on investment promotion held by the Central Highlands province in Ho Chi Minh City on October 26 heard. Nguyen Van Yen, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said: “This is a good chance for provincial enterprises to meet, share information, introduce their strengths and the investment incentives offered by Lam Dong to international and local investors. “We would like to seek business partners to promote sales of our speciality products throughout the nation and even export.”

Financial Services

Retail modernisation and e-commerce aiding FMCG VietnamNet 6th Nov 2017
Vietnam’s fast-moving consumer goods segment is gaining new momentum thanks to the expansion of modern retail and e-commerce. Hirohisa Yamanouchi, general manager of the Merchandise and Marketing Department at FamilyMart Vietnam,  told VIR that FamilyMart’s average sales per store in Vietnam have been growing at stable, double-digit figures in recent years. “As more Japanese convenience stores spring up in Vietnam, modern retail has changed Vietnamese consumers’ shopping habits,” he said. Almost 70% of FamilyMart’s products are sourced locally, 10 per cent are made in Japan, and 20 per cent come from other countries.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomes Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma VOV 6th Nov 2017
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hosted a reception in Hanoi on November 6 for Executive Chairman of the Chinese Alibaba Group Jack Ma who is in Vietnam to attend the Vietnam E-Payment Forum. Jack Ma said that his visit aims to study Vietnam’s e-commerce along with cooperative opportunities with Vietnamese partners in this field. He said the opportunity for e-commerce development of Vietnam remains huge as the country has a young and active population.

Forum promotes Vietnam's E-payment VOV 6th Nov 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has highlighted mobile payments as the key factor in boosting a non-cash economy, creating new business models, and helping users directly benefit from the fourth industrial revolution. He made the remarks at the Vietnam E-Payment Forum 2017, which transpired on November 6 in Hanoi. "Vietnam has devised a number of policies and projects to encourage non-cash payment in general, and mobile payment in particular, to help the eople better benefit from numerous emerging e-services. We’re in the making of a national financial inclusion strategy and mobile payments will be a crucial part to realize this goal. The Vietnamese government pledges to create favorable conditions to boost e-payment in Vietnam,"Hue said.

Banking assets rise to more than $407 billion Vietnamnews 3rd Nov 2017
Total assets of Việt Nam’s banking system reached more than VNĐ9.25 quadrillion (US$407.5 billion) by the end of August, an increase of 8.79 per cent over the beginning of this year, statistics from the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) show. Assets of seven State-owned banks rose 8.69 per cent to nearly VNĐ4.2 quadrillion, accounting for 45.4 per cent of the total number. State-owned banks where the State holds the majority stake include Agribank, Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Bank for Investment and Development of Việt Nam (BIDV), Việt Nam Construction Bank, GPBank and Ocean Bank.

Moody's raises outlook for banking sector VOV 1st Nov 2017
Moody’s Investors Service has changed its outlook for Vietnam’s banking system to positive for the next 12-18 months from stable, reflecting the country’s strong economic prospects and the positive outlook for most rated banks. “The change in outlook, which expresses our expectations of how bank creditworthiness will evolve in the system over the next 12-18 months, reflects Vietnam’s robust economic growth, supported by domestic demand, healthy exports, and public sector investment,” said Mr. Eugene Tarzimanov, Moody’s Vice President and Senior Credit Officer. “We forecast that Vietnam’s real GDP will grow 6.1% in 2017 and 6.0% in 2018; faster than the 5.9% average for the previous five years,” he added. “Strong economic growth translates into positive conditions for banks’ asset quality, but rapid credit growth, aided by accommodative monetary policy, can raise asset risks again.”

Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment for anything The Register 30th Oct 2017
The State Bank of Vietman has issued “Information related to the use of virtual currency” that bans use of the cryptocurrency for payments. It won't say why, and doesn't explicitly ban mining or blockchain. The Bank lists conventional payment mechanisms like cheques, payment orders and credit cards as permitted, but then adds (after translation) that “Bitcoin virtual currency and other similar is not lawful means of payment in Vietnam; The issuance, supply, use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency as a means of payment is prohibited in Vietnam.”

Food & Agriculture

Vietnam's coffee belt braces for more rains as storm looms Tuoi Tre News 3rd Nov 2017
Rains are expected to continue for the next few days in Vietnam, affecting the harvest in the world's top producer of robusta coffee, while Indonesia remained quiet, traders said on Thursday. A storm heading to the central and southern Vietnam is likely to cause rains in several parts of the Central Highlands, Vietnam's main coffee belt, during the weekend, preventing farmers from harvesting and drying coffee beans. "It's been rainy for three to four days but turns sunny this morning; farmers are not harvesting ... beans are not ripe yet," said Le Duc Huy, vice general director of Simexco, a top exporter in Daklak, Vietnam's largest coffee growing province.

Farm exporters warned on pesticides VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Vietnamese exporters of farm produce must learn more about food-safety requirements and maximum residue limits (MRL) of importing countries, experts said at a workshop held in HCM City on November 2. Farm produce exports have greatly contributed to total export revenue, with exports reaching an average growth rate of 2.4% per year in the past five years, according to Chu Van Chuong, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of International Co-operation. In the first 10 months of the year, the country earned US$15.62 billion from exports of farm produce, a year-on-year increase of 15.2%.

Agriculture leads all exports Vietnamnews 3rd Nov 2017
Việt Nam’s agricultural production not only met domestic demand, but was exported to 180 countries, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cườngng told the National Assembly in Hà Nội yesterday. Cường said that in 2016, agricultural exports amounted to US$30 billion, and were expected to reach $35 billion this year. He said while climate change brought many challenges for agricultural production, they could be tackled by reforms in the sector, citing the fact that the Mekong Delta region had shifted from growing rice, fish and fruit to producing more fish and fruit.

Vietnam officials and CGIAR agree joint research priorities for the rest of the decade Far Eastern Agriculture 3rd Nov 2017
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam, representatives of the 10 CGIAR centres operating in the country and key national and international partners met on 18 October 2017 in the second coordination meeting between MARD and CGIAR in Hanoi. MARD’s vice minister Le Quoc Doanh opened the event and said that despite the agricultural sector providing the country with US$32bn worth of exports earning in 2016, it faced the challenge of coping with a changing climate and global market competition which requires sector restructuring to add more value to producers and ensure its sustainability. He lauded the contribution of the CGIAR centres role in the development of agriculture sector in Vietnam, and said CGIAR could contribute to addressing the current challenges in the sector.

Cashew nut exports expected to exceed US$3 billion Customs News 2nd Nov 2017
Vietnam's cashew nut exports are forecast to surpass the 3 billion USD benchmark for the first time in 2017 thanks to increasing shipments in the first ten months of the year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, cashew nuts raked in US$2.87 billion from 289,000 tonnes, down 0.4% in volume but up 23.1% in value. With this growth, the country’s export revenue of cashew nuts is likely to hit some US$3.4-US$3.5 billion in 2017. The result is spurred by a surge in both prices and demands. Vietnam experienced a poor cashew crop during 2016-2017 with productivity of 250,000 tonnes, thus cashew nuts has been sold at higher prices, average US$9,909 per tonnes in nine-month period ending in September, an increase of 25.1% year on year.

Agro-forestry SOEs to be audited in 2019: Deputy PM Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
A thorough audit of all State-owned agricultural businesses will be carried out in 2019 following next year’s concentrated restructuring efforts, so as to identify underperforming firms and other issues facing the sector. The findings will be reported to the National Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ said at a conference last weekend. The conference aimed to review the progress of restructuring, renewing, and improving the operational effectiveness of State-owned agribusinesses in the 2015-2017 period.

SCIC announces initial price of Vinamilk’s share auction Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
The State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) has announced the initial selling price of the competitive tender for Vinamilk’s shares, scheduled on November 10 on the HCM Stock Exchange. The starting price is set at VNĐ150,000 (US$6.61) per share, higher than the initial price of VNĐ144,000 a piece in the first sale that took place in December last year.

Saline fields leave Quảng Bình farmers worried Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
Farmers in central Quảng Bình Province are facing a dilemma as their paddy fields have been affected by salty water following the typhoon Doksuri last September. The salinity has impacted 110ha of land in the province’s Bắc Trạch Commune in Bố Trạch District, leaving local farmers hesitant about sowing rice for winter-spring crops because of the fear of loss of crops. However, no start for the crops means poverty in the next year. Nguyễn Thị Xoan, head of a village in the commune, said salty water has inundated local fields for a month now, but the villagers have failed to get it to flow out.

Wholesalers caught in Da Lat produce fraud Tuoi Tre News 1st Nov 2017
A large volume of dried vegetables and fruits of unknown origin have been discovered being disguised as specialties in Da Lat, a popular tourist city in Lan Dong Province, located in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Officers from the provincial Department of Police carried out a sudden inspection at a facility on Ho Tung Mau Street in the city at around 9:00 am on Tuesday. At the venue owned by 50-year-old Tu Bo Linh, several dried food products were being packaged and labeled as “Da Lat specialties.”

Mekong Delta region faces storm risk VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The Mekong Delta region is facing two tropical low pressures with one at high risk of turning into a storm, according to the Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Control. The Mekong Delta region is facing two tropical low pressures with one of at high risk of turning into a storm The committee on November 1 held an urgent meeting in response to two tropical low pressures which are forecasted to hit the Mekong Delta region. One of them has become stronger on the East Sea and is likely to become a storm.  

Vietnam nutrition market to be worth 6b by 2020 VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
Following double-digit growth in the past five years the in-home fast-moving consumer goods nutrition market in Viet Nam reached $4.1 billion last year and is forecast to reach US$6 billion in 2020, offering great prospects for the sector, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The in-home fast-moving consumer goods nutrition market in Viet Nam is forecast to reach US$6 billion in 2020. The in-home FMCG nutrition market includes dairy and products from dairy, soya milk, tonic food drinks, noodles and soups, biscuits and cakes, canned foods, processed foods, and frozen foods.

Lawmakers urge strong boost to fruit & vegie export, logistics sector VOV 1st Nov 2017
Some lawmakers have underscored major benefits to be gained from fruit, vegetables and flower export and logistics services, asking for more attention to boost the development of these sectors. They continued to discuss the country’s socio-economic and State budget situation on November 1, part of the ongoing fourth session of the 14th National Assembly in Hanoi. Deputy Nguyen Thien Nhan of Ho Chi Minh City said in 2016, Vietnam exported US$2.4 billion worth of crude oil and US$2.45 billion worth of fruit, vegetables and flower. This was the first time fruit, vegetables and flower exports had surpassed crude oil shipments. Meanwhile, crude oil exports were 31 times higher than fruit and vegetables exports in 2005, US$7.3 billion compared to US$235 million.

Dong Thap Muoi develops flood-adapted agriculture VOV 1st Nov 2017
Dong Thap Muoi wetland stretching across the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap, Long An and Tien Giang, formerly a solid revolutionary base during the war against French and US invaders, has sustainably developed agriculture in adaptation with flooding. The wetland covers a site of over 697,000ha, accounting for 17.7% of the region’s total coverage. Nguyen Van Man, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tan Phuoc district – the only lying in Dong Thap Muoi in Tien Giang province, said since the Dong Thap Muoi reclamation scheme began in the late 1980s, the State has unearthed and dredged nearly 680km of major canals and over 1,100km of interior field canals to drain flood water and improve soil.

Vietnam exports sugar to 28 markets VOV 31st Oct 2017
Vietnam exported 43,000 tons of sugar to 28 markets, earning more than US$20.6 million to the end of September, said Pham Quoc Doanh, President of Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association. Major consumers of Vietnamese sugar products included China, Russia, the US, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The largest domestic exporter is Bien Hoa Sugar JSC which shipped nearly 23,000 tons of sugar to Myanmar, China, Singapore, and India with an export value of more than US$12 million.

Food poisoning fatalities surge in Vietnam in January-October period Xinhua 30th Oct 2017
Vietnam faced 93 food poisoning cases from January to October, which killed 20 people and sickened 2,854 others, the Preventive Health Department said Monday. In October, the country witnessed nine food poisoning cases which affected 392 local people, including three fatalities. Vietnam saw 111 food poisoning cases which sickened 3,283 people and claimed nine lives in the first 10 months of last year.

​Vietnamese province ceases free Nestlé chocolate drink program following suspected mass poisoning Tuoi Tre News 29th Oct 2017
A program, sponsored by Nestlé, providing free malted chocolate drinks for elementary students in Hau Giang Province, located in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, has been halted following a recent suspected mass food poisoning. Leaders of the provincial People’s Committee have put the brakes on the program, which offered Nestlé’s Milo gratis to students at elementary schools across the province. Milo is a chocolate and malt powder that is often mixed with hot or cold water or milk to produce a beverage. The decision to cease the program was made after nearly 500 students of two elementary schools in Nga Bay Town had been admitted to a local hospital after having the drink on Friday morning.

​Vietnam's Jan-Oct coffee exports down, rice up Tuoi Tre News 29th Oct 2017
Vietnam's coffee exports are expected to have fallen an estimated 22 percent in the first 10 months of this year from a year earlier, while rice shipments are set to have risen 21.6 percent, the General Statistics Office said in a report on Sunday.

Rainfall could affect coffee harvest in Vietnam Tuoi Tre News 27th Oct 2017
Vietnam is expected to see intermittent rainfall over the next 10 days, which together with recent crop-friendly rains may affect harvesting in the second biggest coffee producer, while Indonesia's market was quiet, traders said. Vietnam's main coffee belt, the Central Highlands, is likely to see a mix of rain and sunny weather in the next 10 days, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Center forecast. Recent rainfall has prevented beans from turning ripe and ready for harvest, traders said. "Beans need about two to three weeks of sunny days to be fully grown...It looks like new beans might not be available until the second half of November," said a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader on Thursday.

Health & Life Sciences

1,000 babies born by IVF at Huế Hospital Vietnamnews 6th Nov 2017
A total of 1,000 babies have been born by the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) method at Huế Central General Hospital, associate professor Nguyễn Duy Thăng, deputy director of the hospital, said. The first six babies were born in July 2008, marking the success of this treatment at the hospital. Since then, the hospital had applied different important techniques to the treatment, Thăng said.

Drugstore chains expand as competition heats up VietnamNet 6th Nov 2017
Drug distributors have been expanding their networks by opening new drugstores and taking over other chains.  Recently, the Vista drug store on Hai Ba Trung street did not have popular drugs available for some customers on one evening. According to the manager, the company is in a hand-over process. The manager is one of hundreds of workers who passed an exam to obtain a job in the Vista chain after Century Healthcare, Indonesia’s biggest healthcare product distributor, took over Vista. Century is a pioneer in the Vietnamese market, but it is not the only foreign drug distribution chain to enter Vietnam. An analyst predicted that the number of drug chains will be increasing rapidly as the market has become attractive enough for investors. 

Vietnamese cancer mortality rate higher than traffic accidents VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Vietnam records an additional 126,000 cases of cancer, and more than 94,000 deaths from the disease each year, said Tran Van Tuan, director of K Hospital, at an international conference on November 3. Mr. Tuan noted that the number of deaths due to cancer is 9 times higher than from traffic accidents. He attributed the higher mortality rate to the late examination, detection, and treatment (accounting for more than 70%). He emphasised that the survival rate of cancer patients is about 40%, mostly from early detected diseases such as breast cancer, adding that this rate might reach 60% thanks to early detection. Meanwhile, the survival rate for lung cancer remains low, with 80% of patients diagnosed late.

HCM City suffers shortage of nursing homes Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
An ageing population is posing mounting challenges to providing care for elderly people in Việt Nam. However, in a country where most families look after old parents in their own homes, the idea of a ‘nursing home’ or geriatric centre remains an alien concept. HCM City, the bustling economic centre of Việt Nam, is not an exemption to the rule, leading to a lack of quality geriatric care facilities for those most in need.

Drug market bounces back with M&A deals VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The Vietnamese drug and medical instrument market is expected to have value estimated to exceed $10 billion per annum by 2020. Completing the deal of purchasing 1 million shares of J&V Medical Instrument JSC (JVC) in late September, PYN Elite (Non-Ucits), an investment fund, has just bought another 193,000 JVC. While big investment funds fleeing from JVC because of the financial scandal in 2015, PYN Elite has been purchasing JVC, raising its ownership ratio from 5 percent in 2015 to 10.06 percent.

​Drug administration responsible for VN Pharma’s import of substandard cancer medicine: court Tuoi Tre News 31st Oct 2017
A superior court in Ho Chi Minh City has laid responsibility for the importation of substandard cancer medicine by local pharmaceutical firm VN Pharma, at the feet of the Drug Administration of Vietnam. It found that the drug administration under the Ministry of Health had committed violations in the VN Pharma case, the Superior People’s Court said on Monday, adding that the individuals responsible should be sanctioned. According to the case file, Nguyen Minh Hung, former chairman of the management board and general director of VN Pharma JSC, and his five co-accused imported a type of cancer medicine called H-Capita 500mg, of unknown origin.

Việt Nam sets 2025 health targets Vietnam News 31st Oct 2017
By 2025 about 95 per cent of the Vietnamese population will be covered by the national health insurance, according to a target set by a resolution of the 6th Plenum of Communist Party of Việt Nam, which concluded on October 11. The resolution states that by 2025 the life expectancy of the Vietnamese people will be about 74.5 years old, of which they will enjoy at least 67 years of healthy life. It also aims that by 2025, the direct health cost on each household will be 35 percent lower than the current cost.

ICT

Conference looks to promote online exports in digital era VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Overall solutions to bolster online exports were introduced for the first time in Vietnam at a conference held in Hanoi on November 2. The conference was jointly held by Novaon Internet Group and E-commerce Giant Alibaba to support the programme “1,000 pioneers in online exports”. Experts at the conference said that although e-commerce has been well developing in Vietnam, many exporters hesitate to use e-commerce websites to sell their products overseas. Vietnam’s export revenue captured the lion’s share of national gross domestic product, 93.6% as compared with the world’s average of 30%. This shows exports’ crucial role to the economic development.

Vietnam-Laos ICT cooperation forum held in Vientiane VietnamNet 3rd Nov 2017
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Lao Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) jointly held a forum in Vientiane on November 2 to seek measures to foster bilateral cooperation in information and communication technology (ICT). The signing of a cooperation deal between the Vietnam Academy of Post and Telecommunications and Laos’ University of Information Technology and Communications. Addressing the event, MIC Deputy Minister Hoang Vinh Bao and MPT Deputy Minister Thongsay Xanexaya agreed that the forum is a good chance for Vietnamese post, telecommunications and information technology firms to access new projects of Laos to expand their investment, while giving a platform for ICT firms of both sides to discuss future partnership.

Draft law requires Facebook, Google to open data centers in Vietnam Tuoi Tre News 3rd Nov 2017
A draft law on cyber security is looking to require all foreign providers of Internet-related services to open data centers in Vietnam in order to continue offering their services to local users. The proposed piece of legislation is expected to improve Vietnam’s cyber security, but has experts worrying that it may violate the country’s international commitments to unrestricted access. If passed by the lawmaking National Assembly, the law would force popular companies like Facebook, Google, Viber, Skype, and Uber to obtain an operating license, open a representative office in Vietnam, and operate servers within the country on which all Vietnamese user data must be stored.

Digital content firms want Google, Facebook to set up legal entities in VN VietNamNet Bridge 1st Nov 2017
Vietnamese digital firms have urged the government to take necessary measures to force cross-border service providers to set up legal entities in Vietnam and fulfill tax obligations.

Tech Fest to link start-ups, investors Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
More than 4,000 people, 200 start-ups, 130 international investors and investment funds and 80 big firms are expected to participate in one of the largest annual events for Vietnamese start-up community: Tech Fest 2017 at Grand Plaza Hotel in Hà Nội on November 14 and 15. Tech Fest 2017, hosted by Ministry of Science and Technology with the theme “Ecosystem connects”, aims to create connections for domestic and foreign stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem to share useful information. According to the ministry, investment matching activities will take place before, during and after Tech Fest so that start-ups can access potential customers, investors, leading tech experts and organizations supporting entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, the event enables big and medium enterprises to find innovative solutions from start-ups.

Infrastructure

​ADB to lend Vietnam $170mn for urban infrastructure upgrade Tuoi Tre News 3rd Nov 2017
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved US$170 million in loans to aid the Vietnamese government in upgrading urban infrastructure and addressing climate change as part of its Secondary Green Cities Development Project. Projects funded by these loans will benefit about 116,000 households in the cities of Hue, Vinh Yen, and Ha Giang, ADB said in a press release on Thursday. These are the respective provincial capitals of Thua Thien-Hue in central Vietnam, and Vinh Phuc and Ha Giang in the northern part of the country.

Ho Chi Minh City approves $51.67mn advance from budget to pay metro contractors Tuoi Tre News 26th Oct 2017
The chairman of Ho Chi Minh City has approved the disbursement of over US$51 million from the city’s budget to pay metro contractors while official development assistance (ODA) provided by Japan for the project continues to remain inaccessible. Though Japan has supplied ODA loans for Vietnam to afford the massive metro project underway in its southern metropolis, red tape from the central government is keeping the city from accessing the crucial funds. To cope with the slow capital allocation, city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong recently approved a VND1,173 billion ($51.67 million) budget advance while it awaits the central government’s allocation of the ODA loans, according to a dispatch by the municipal People’s Committee.

Manufacturing

Vietnam’s iconic enterprises of old struggle past 60 VietnamNet 3rd Nov 2017
Living through more than 60 years of history, many famous Vietnamese brands are now struggling to retain their market share and expand business activities. Once Vietnam's foremost shoe manufacturer, Thuong Dinh Footwear now struggles to retain its few loyal customers At the end of 2016, Thuy Ta Ice-Cream had contributed more than half of the total revenue of Thuy Ta JSC. The business saw a growth rate of 6.3 per cent in revenue and grew by 19 per cent in profitability compared to the previous year. However, against the business results of five years ago, Thuy Ta Ice-Cream has achieved no growth.

VN’s manufacturing PMI dips to 51.6 in October VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dipped to 51.6 in October, from 53.3 in September, with weaker increases in output, new orders and employment, according to Nikkei’s IHS Markit report. According to the report, released on Wednesday, this signaled a modest improvement in business conditions that was the least marked in five months. That said, the health of the sector has strengthened continuously since December 2015. Central to the weak improvement in operating conditions was a much slower rise in manufacturing output. Production increased at a marginal pace that was the weakest in the current 12-month sequence of expansion. Where output rose, panellists linked this to higher new orders. On the other hand, some respondents mentioned signs of softer demand.

Vietnam police poised to investigate Khaisilk’s ‘Made in China’ scandal VOV 1st Nov 2017
Police are set to step in to probe a scandal that has rocked the Vietnamese silk industry as the owner of a premier silk brand had admitted that half of its high-end ‘Made in Vietnam’ scarf stock comes from China. Following a closed-door meeting on October 30, the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced on its official website that it had ordered the transfer of the scandal’s documents to the criminal police division under the Hanoi Department of Police. All documents have been sent to the police ever since.

Export businesses need to meet stringent US standards VOV 1st Nov 2017
For Vietnamese export businesses, the key to entering the US market is to obey the set standards and requirements, experts have said at a recent seminar held by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and Amcham Vietnam in HCM City. Product safety, responsible sourcing, adherence to all regulations and transparency are all key factors for a successful and trusted supply chain. Jon Fee, a senior trade consultant at Alston & Bird LPP, said that Vietnam remains the second largest apparel and footwear exporter for the US market second only to China Vietnam’s export growth to the US has continued to surpass other rivals in the US clothing market although the country has not benefited from any trade preferences or any free trade agreement. In the 12 months leading up to August 31, 2017, the US imports of apparel and footwear from Vietnam increased 8.74% and 11.83%, respectively.