Friday, September 28, 2007

Vietnam and Cambodia seek Brunei oil and gas expertise

By Azlan Othman

Mr Nan Sy, Cambodian Ambassador (R) and Mr Pham Binh Man (L), Vietnam Ambassador. - AZLAN OTHMAN
Vietnam and Cambodia could cooperate with Brunei on technical expertise on oil and gas exploration, said the newly-appointed Vietnamese Ambassador to the country, Mr Pham Binh Man, and Mr Nan Sy, Cambodian Ambassador to the country, after their meeting at the Cambodian Ambassador's Residence in Jln Bengkurong yesterday.

After they met to enhance the two diplomats' cooperation, Mr Pham told Bulletin that during the recent visit by Vietnam's Prime Minister to Brunei last month, three MoUs were signed on the avoidance of double taxation, petroleum and sports cooperation.

The newly-appointed Vietnamese Ambassador said as Vietnam is developing, the country can learn from Brunei's expertise in oil and gas exploration. "We have to put into practice the action on the recent MoU signing on petroleum cooperation," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Nan Sy said Brunei's technical expertise in oil and gas would be valuable in assisting Cambodia. He also proposed to the Brunei government the possibility of direct flights between the two countries to further enhance trade and tourism.

"Brunei could be a hub for visitors from Sarawak who wish to go to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh in Cambodia which is also popular for its Angkor Wat," he added.

Vietnam's 9-month trade gap at record $7.6 billion

Vietnam's trade deficit in the first nine months is estimated to reach a record US$7.6 billion due to a surge in imports of machinery for big infrastructure projects, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Nguoi Lao Dong quoted the Industry and Trade Ministry as saying imports of machinery jumped 55 percent from the same period last year to $7.2 billion.

The report said steel and feed imports jumped 66.5 percent and 51 percent to $2.65 billion and $897 million respectively.

The government is expected to release full trade statistics for the January-September period this week.

State media reported this week that exports would rise nearly 20 percent to $35.6 billion in the first nine months, with textiles surpassing crude oil as the largest export item.

Textiles would earn $5.8 billion, a rise of 31 percent from a year earlier, while crude oil would generate $5.78 billion.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast exports this year of between $48 billion and $50 billion and imports of between $57 billion and $58 billion, meaning the deficit could be double the $4.81 billion logged in 2006.

The country is the world's top exporter of black pepper and cashew nuts and ranks second in sales of coffee and rice.

Vietnam's dollar deposits drops to 25-35%

The dollarisation in Vietnam’s national economy seems to be eased recently, but it remains the big challenge for Vietnam’s banking system to integrate the currency into the world.

The dollar – everywhere and at all times

In 1992, the dollarisiation in Vietnam was described as ‘serious’ with 41% of deposits at banks being in dollar. The figure now is 25-35%, which shows that Vietnam has been successful in combating dollarisation. However, no one can deny that dollars are being used everywhere and are present in all transactions.

Under the current regulations on forex management, only the institutions and individuals which are allowed to collect money in foreign currencies in Vietnam’s territories can place advertisement pieces and quote goods’ and services’ prices in foreign currencies. However, in fact, price quotations in foreign currencies can be seen everywhere in big cities like Hanoi and HCM City.

Nguyen Thi Thu, the owner of a luxury jewellery shop at Diamond Plaza, said that she knew the regulations on quoting prices in VND. However, her customers are mainly international guests, therefore, the price quotation should be in dollars for better understanding. Other trade centres and hotels in Hanoi and HCM City all calculate hotel room rates and other fees in foreign currencies. In order to avoid punishment, they quote prices in both VND and US$.

Computer trading firms have been found as the entities most often violating the regulations on price quotation. Even a quotation in both VND and US$ is considered as violating laws.

Dim role of management authorities

In HCM City, there are 800 operational transaction points serving money exchange, most of which are gold shops. According to the HCM City Branch of the State Bank of Vietnam, if banks want to provide money exchange services, they have to be licenced by the state bank. Meanwhile, gold shops only need to fulfill procedures to become bank agents to be eligible to provide the services.

Under the current laws, violators of the regulations on price quotation and illegal money exchange have to pay a fine of between VND5-12mil. However, the HCM City branch of the state bank has discovered and imposed a fine on only one case so far this year: a home appliance centre in the city.

Explaining this, Nguyen Thi Minh Lan, Head of the Forex Management Division under the HCM City branch of the central bank, said that the thin labour force of the division did now allow it to punish all violators, especially as violations have become spread out.

Le Xuan Nghia, Head of the Banking Development Strategy Department under the State Bank of Vietnam: It is necessary to limit transactions in foreign currencies

The dollarisation has made monetary policies more complicated as there always exist two kinds of interest rates, the rates for foreign currency deposits and loans, and for local currency, which do not always go in the same direction.

A dollarised economy would cause exchange risks for enterprises and commercial banks. The international exchange market always fluctuates as nations all float the exchange rates.

The dollarisation has generated the habit of using foreign currencies in transactions. Therefore, the important measure in order to curb the dollarisation is not to accept deposits in foreign currencies. Most countries in the world do not accept deposits in foreign currencies. In the immediate time, it is necessary to reconsider the licencing of foreign currency trading, strictly ban advertisement and price quotation in foreign currencies. The central bank should raise the required compulsory reserve ratio of foreign currency deposits, a preparatory step to prohibiting foreign currency deposits in the future.

However, all the above mentioned measures need to be carried out on the basis of the controlled inflation. It is very important if Vietnamese people have confidence in the local currency and use VND in payment and savings.

Dao Hong Chau, Deputy Director General of Eximbank: Vietnam needs to build up the prestige of the local currency

The dollarisation will continue if people do not believe in the stability of the VND. Banks now still provide inconvenient services, and as a result, people don’t make foreign currency transactions via banks. A Can Tho-based company has to make payments to a HCM-City based company, and it takes cash to HCM City instead of using banks’ services because it believes that this takes less time.

In fact, the dollarisation not only originates from the demand and habits of the public, but from credit institutions as well. You may see that the information about the VND/US$ exchange rate is always put on the top of thelectronic boards at banks’ transaction points.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vietnam to offer air taxis to island tourist resorts

Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:47am IST

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI (Reuters) - A Vietnamese firm plans to offer Vietnam's first air taxi service to several popular resorts to further boost tourism, a company executive said on Monday.

State media and company officials said the firm would negotiate with Boeing Co to buy four new Boeing 787s to lease to national carrier Vietnam Airlines.

Small planes and helicopters would fly to the former U.S. military base of Cam Ranh in central Vietnam near Nha Trang beach resort; Phu Quoc island near Cambodia; the central highland town of Dalat, and the northern world heritage site of Halong Bay.

"We will seek government approval to operate night flights to Cam Ranh and Phu Quoc island," Vietindebank Chief Executive Tran Bac Ha told a news conference.

Unlisted Vietindebank, the country's second-largest lender, formed an aircraft leasing firm this month with four other state-run companies. The firm will hold a majority of shares in the air taxi subsidiary, Ha said.

Vietnam Airlines flies to Cam Ranh but it has few small planes for short-distance routes and can only operate daytime flights because the airport has an insufficient lighting system. Ha said the aircraft leasing firm would invest in the equipment for night flights.

The number of foreign visitors to Vietnam has risen 16.9 percent to more than 2.8 million in the first eight months of this year, according to industry reports.

The government is aiming to double tourism revenues to between $4 billion and $4.5 billion by 2010 from $2.2 billion in 2006.

Vietindebank, Vietnam Airlines, state oil group Petrovietnam, shipbuider Vinashin and Phong Phu textile corporation will investment $200 million between now and 2014 in the project.

Total state ownership would be 79 percent, leaving 21 percent for Vietnamese non-state investors, Ha said.

The leasing firm would raise its registered capital to $1 billion between 2015 and 2025 and look for foreign investors.

Cam Ranh was used by American B-52 bombers during the U.S. war in Vietnam that ended in 1975. Four years later, Vietnam leased the base to the Soviet Union, which turned it into its largest overseas naval base and its biggest military station outside of the Warsaw Pact.

Military cutbacks prompted Russia to vacate the base in May 2002.

Phu Quoc island is known for its clean beach, fish sauce and black pepper production. It has attracted increasing interest of property investors and domestic and foreign travellers.

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Deutsche Bank builds Vietnam team

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The German bank transfers Tom Nguyen from London to Ho Chi Minh City to head the equities business in Vietnam.
Deutsche Bank announced yesterday that it has appointed Tom Nguyen as director and head of equities in Vietnam, effective immediately.

He will be responsible for building Deutsche Bank’s Vietnamese equity markets platform by strengthening the bank’s local equity research, trading support and investment services.

Nguyen transfers from Deutsche Bank in London, where he was formerly head of United States equity sales in Europe. In this new role, Nguyen will be based in Ho Chi Minh City and report to Colin Fan, head of global markets equities in Asia.

"Tom’s extensive experience in US and European equity markets will provide valuable insight and perspective for our local clients and the growing number of investors participating in the Vietnamese stockmarket," says Fan.

Before moving to London with Deutsche Bank, Nguyen managed a number of large US institutional investor accounts as a regional equity sales manager at Deutsche Bank in Chicago. Prior to this, Nguyen was a vice president in equity sales at Merrill Lynch in Chicago and held senior sales positions at Hewlett Packard.

He began his career in strategy consulting, where he focused on conducting primary research for US companies looking to invest in Vietnam.

Hanoi has1.9 million motorcycles and nearly 200,000 cars

The first six months of this year saw an extra 233,000 motorcycles and 21,399 cars registered in Hanoi, bringing the total to 1.9 million and 193,932 respectively. (Thanh Nien)


President and General Director of the Manulife Financial Dominic D'Alessandro praised the potential of Vietnam's real estate market, revealing that this sector will be one of his group's prime areas in the near future. "The strong growth of Vietnam's economy and its real estate market was the reason for Manulife Financial, the world's fourth largest financial investment group, to make its decision," Dominic D' Alessandro told Lao Dong (Labour) daily. According to the group leader, Manulife Financial made its first move by opening its office in Phu My Hung urban area in Ho Chi Minh City and plans to expand to other cities and provinces.

Vietnam creates new low cost airline

Hanoi-based Vina AirAsia will become the fifth carrier in the fast-expanding Malaysia-based low-cost carrier group

Malaysian low-cost airline group AirAsia is to further expand its reach in the Asia-Pacific through the establishment of an associate carrier in the fast-growing Vietnamese market.

AirAsia has signed a letter of intent with state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Corp (Vinashin) to establish a new low-cost carrier that will be known as Vina AirAsia. Malaysia's AirAsia intends to have a 30% stake in the new Hanoi-based airline, which is the maximum it will be allowed to control.

Vietnam's government last year announced it would ease ownership restrictions to allow foreign groups to control up to 49% of local carriers, but it would cap at 30% the shareholding that a single foreign group could have. Vina AirAsia plans to launch with domestic services using Boeing 737-300s before expanding into the international market. "They're looking at having nine aircraft within two years," says AirAsia. A launch date has not yet been disclosed.

Vinashin will be responsible for securing government approvals while AirAsia will procure aircraft, provide management expertise and set up the main airline infrastructure. AirAsia already has 49%-owned low-cost associate carriers in Indonesia and Thailand that operate both domestic and short-haul international services. The main ­Malaysian operation also operates domestic and short-haul services while a new long-haul sister carrier, AirAsia X, plans to launch services in October.

There are currently two main airlines operating in Vietnam, both of them controlled by the government. National carrier Vietnam Airlines is a full-service operator while Pacific Airlines is a small low-cost carrier which recently became 18%-owned by Australia's Qantas Airways.

Vietnam has been recording strong growth in passenger traffic in recent years, in part on the back of new low-cost airline services by foreign carriers such as AirAsia, and Singapore's Tiger Airways and Jetstar Asia.

France's EDF to invest $4 billion USD in Veitnam power plant

PARIS (Thomson Financial) - EDF plans to invest 4 bln usd in a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, state-run newspaper Tien Phong reported.

The government has approved the project and EDF is studying a site at Song Hau industrial park, it quoted EDF country director Yves Desbazeille as saying.

The plant will have a total capacity of 3,600 MW.

Vietnam banks to lend $1.08 billion to Son La power

Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:55am BST

HANOI, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Vietnam's four largest banks will lend a combined 17.5 trillion dong ($1.08 billion) over 15 years to finance the $2.3-billion Son La hydro power plant project, state media reported on Tuesday.

Vietcombank would provide credit of 6 trillion dong, Vietincombank would lend 5 trillion dong and Vietindebank 3 trillion dong, the Lao Dong newspaper said.

Agribank, Vietnam's top lender by assets, would provide 3.5 trillion dong and manage the disbursement, Lao Dong said without giving details of interest rates on a loan it said included a five-year grace period.

Dominant state utility Vietnam Electricity plans to put the the 2,400-megawatt plant on line in December 2010. ($1=16,164 dong)

Vietnam's Mobifone IPO excites foreigners

Mobifone’s IPO excites foreign eyes
09:03' 25/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge - MobiFone is proceeding with its equitisition process with large global mobile operators looking to be strategic partners. MobiFone submitted its equitisation financial consultant bidding document to its parent VNPT Group in late August to start the bidding.

Its equitisation process has lagged behind schedule, however, it is likely to meet its final deadline to make an initial public offering (IPO) later this year.

Comvik International AB, a former part of MobiFone operator’s Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services company (VMS), has talked up its contribution to MobiFone’s healthy market position.

“The exact mechanism for the sale of equity and the selection of the eventual foreign partner for VMS is currently being considered, but we believe that there is no other company that can be ahead of Comvik as the preferred partner because of our history, our proven record of success and our unwavering support to Vietnam in the past, present and future,” said Jeffrey Noble, Comvik chief representative and CEO.

Its advantages from its parent Kinnevik Group and its sister companies in Cambodia and Laos are expected to make MobiFone a regional player.

“Quite simply, there is no other company that can match what Comvik has to offer to Mobifone and its customers,” said Noble.

The world’s tenth biggest GSM operator Telenor has been active in Vietnam for more than two years and is looking for a long-term investment in Vietnam.

“Our target and only objective is to become a sole foreign strategic investor to the local operator in order for Telenor to be able to contribute our competence, expertise and technologies into the company we invest in,” said Nguyen Dinh Hung, Telenor country director. From Europe, France Telecom also expressed its willingness to purchase stake in MobiFone in the frame of the competitive process decided by the government. If it succeeds, France Telecom will act as a strategic partner, providing expertise in management, finance, technology, services, training and R&D labs.

“France Telecom will be eager to have a broader partnership with VNPT Group in order to develop cooperation in mobile, internet and integrated services,” said Jean Pierre Achouche, general manager of France Telecom Vietnam.

Vodafone is still investigating the market after opening its Vietnam representative office in June.
“We announced the opening of our representative office in Vietnam only in June, this year and the government has yet to announce Mobifone’s equitisation plan, so it is too early to comment on a potential transaction,” said Jonathan Kriegel, Vodafone country chief representative.

Singapore Technologies Telemedia has demonstrated its capabilities by supporting the successful StarHub, Singapore’s premier converged information, communications and entertainment company. Since ST Telemedias’ investment in Indonesia’s Indosat less than five years ago, Indosat has grown its subscriber base by more than 400 per cent from about 3.5 million in 2002 to more than 20 million this year. Its net income surged by approximately 310 per cent to Rp1,410.1 billion ($1.36 billion) and network coverage has more than tripled to 8,200 base transceiver stations across the country.

Asian Development Bank lends Vietnam $1 billion for power plant

ADB Lends Vietnam Nearly $1 bln For Power Plant

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to lend Vietnam $931 million to build a 1,000-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant to help meet soaring energy demand, a bank official said Friday.

The 25-year loan will help finance 84 percent of the Mong Duong power plant in the northern coal hub province of Quang Ninh. The remainder will be invested by dominant utility Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), said ADB project officer Anthony Jude in Manila.

Construction of the plant will begin next year with completion scheduled for 2012, he said.

A second plant with similar capacity will be built in the second phase of the project in Mong Duong by private investors, ultimately adding 2,200 megawatts of generating capacity to Vietnam's electricity system, the bank said.

Energy demand is expected to grow about 17-18 percent annually in Vietnam in the next several years as the economy expands at more than 8 percent. Energy experts say Vietnam needs to diversify its energy resources to support its ambitious development plans.

EVN has said it would need to invest an average $3 billion to $4 billion annually in new electricity generation capacity to meet demand.

Around 60 percent of Vietnam's 12,000 MW capacity comes from coal, gas fire and fuel oil while hydro provides about 40 percent. The country plans to start building a nuclear power plant in 2015.

ADB said a prerequisite of its support for the Mong Duong project was a detailed environmental impact study and the plant would use technology aimed at significantly reducing emissions.

Petrovietnam Finance Company plans $188 mln IPO

The finance arm of state-owned Petrovietnam oil group plans to raise more than $188 million through a sale of shares to the public next month, part of its plans to fund investment in the energy sector.

Petrovietnam Finance Company will sell 11.93 percent of its shares at an initial public offering on Oct. 19, the over-the-counter Hanoi stock exchange said in a statement on Tuesday.

Crude oil is the largest export earner for Vietnam, Southeast Asia's third-largest exporter of the fuel. The country sees investment of $20 billion in the oil and gas industry by 2015 and another $21 billion by 2025.

Petrovietnam plans to contribute at least 30 percent in its oil and gas projects, with foreign investment covering the remainder, which requires its financial arm to seek huge funding from domestic and foreign markets.

PVFC would be valued at $1.58 billion based on the starting price it set for bidding at 51,000 dong .

PVFC, which has been licensed to raise deposits and provide loans as well as several other financial services, is among Vietnam's few corporate bond issuers.

It has said it would focus on raising funds, investing in various projects as well as offering financial services. By 2010 financial investment and the provision of financial services would each contribute 30 percent to its profit.

Crude oil is the largest export earner for Vietnam, Southeast Asia's third-largest exporter of the fuel. The country sees investment of $20 billion in the oil and gas industry by 2015 and another $21 billion by 2025.

PVFC's registered capital has risen to 5 trillion dong ($309 million), from 300 billion dong in December 2004.

The company has projected revenues this year to rise 27 percent from 2006 to 1.3 trillion dong ($80 million).

PVFC did not provide a net profit figure but said its total assets at the end of June nearly doubled the value at the end of 2006 to 35 trillion dong ($2.2 billion).

Vietnam among fastest-growing U.S. trade partners over five-year period

September 25th, 2007

Algeria and Vietnam might not come to mind immediately as the fastest-growing Top 50 U.S. trade partners over the last five years, but they are, according to WorldCity analysis of the most recent Census statistics.

On a percentage basis, Algeria’s trade with the United States is up 458 percent when comparing January through July of 2007 to the same period in 2002, while Vietnam’s has increased 398 percent. Nigeria is third, with 385 percent growth over the same five-year period.

The United States has large trade deficits with all three, with Algeria and Nigeria leading oil-producing nations and Vietnam a developing manufacturing powerhouse that is often cited as a less expensive alternative to China. The U.S. deficit with Algeria has grown 1,186 percent since 2002, while Vietnam’s has increased 542 percent and Nigeria’s 526 percent.

Rank Total Trade July 2007 YTD July 2002 YTD 5 Year Dollar Change 5 Year Percent Change
28 Algeria $11,087,792,648 $1,987,113,191 $9,100,679,457 457.98%
37 Vietnam $6,557,485,209 $1,315,713,110 $5,241,772,099 398.40%
22 Nigeria $18,067,926,016 $3,722,175,851 $14,345,750,165 385.41%
35 Angola $7,804,974,487 $1,962,187,633 $5,842,786,854 297.77%
41 Trinidad and Tobago $6,283,337,384 $1,722,830,971 $4,560,506,413 264.71%
26 Russia $14,727,466,771 $4,899,592,764 $9,827,874,007 200.59%
2 China $211,956,470,604 $76,671,681,588 $135,284,789,016 176.45%
39 United Arab Emirates $6,545,765,562 $2,508,135,485 $4,037,630,077 160.98%
38 Iraq $6,546,010,725 $2,518,424,014 $4,027,586,711 159.92%
31 Chile $10,006,071,611 $3,872,495,311 $6,133,576,300 158.39%
19 India $22,121,636,129 $8,799,962,926 $13,321,673,203 151.38%
13 Venezuela $26,137,962,275 $10,403,845,268 $15,734,117,007 151.23%
48 Peru $4,807,191,437 $1,923,410,207 $2,883,781,230 149.93%

Although China gets most of the attention, and while its deficit is the United States’ largest, its total trade has grown a less substantial 176 percent during the same year-to-date periods. In fact, six nations have grown faster than China, including not only Algeria, Vietnam and Nigeria but also Angola (298 percent), Trinidad and Tobago (265 percent), and Russia (201 percent).

Four of the six are oil-rich nations benefiting from sharply higher oil prices, the exceptions being Trinidad and Tobago, which is a natural gas supplier to the United States, and Vietnam.

Nevertheless, China will continue to capture most of the headlines, whether the issue is lead-tainted toys, the trade deficit or poisonous dog food.

Through the first seven months of 2007, China’s trade with the United States increased $28.9 billion over the same period in 2006, almost three times the next largest increase, for Canada, the No. 1 U.S. trade partner.

The next highest dollar increase belonged to Germany, which saw its overall U.S. trade increase $7.4 billion. Overall, Germany ranks as the No. 5 U.S. trade partner.

In fact, when viewed in dollar terms, the largest gain over the five-year period does, in fact, belong to China, which saw its trade increase $135.3 billion, followed closely by Canada, with an increase of $107 billion. Mexico is third, with an increase of $63.4 billion and Germany, fourth, at $32 billion. Japan, the No. 4 ranked U.S. trade partner, has seen its trade grow $22 billion over the five-year period.

When viewed by Customs district, the five-year trends have obviously benefited those that handle energy Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Great Falls, Mont. or Asian manufactured goods Savannah, in particular. Four of the five saw their trade more than double in the five-year period, the exception being New Orleans, which narrowly missed its trade increased 96.3 percent over that time period.

July 2007 YTD
July 2007 YTD July 2002 YTD 5 Year Dollar change 5 Yr Percent change
4 Houston $101,130,409,210 $38,273,379,158 $62,857,030,052 164.23%
22 Great Falls, Mont. $25,142,238,798 $10,981,233,778 $14,161,005,020 128.96%
10 Savannah $52,586,404,010 $24,604,777,719 $27,981,626,291 113.72%
14 Philadelphia $40,882,662,581 $20,242,501,029 $20,640,161,552 101.96%
5 New Orleans $96,172,787,362 $48,997,157,289 $47,175,630,073 96.28%
15 Dallas $33,889,632,464 $17,524,414,519 $16,365,217,945 93.39%
21 Baltimore $26,126,944,326 $13,729,530,364 $12,397,413,962 90.30%
16 Charleston $32,403,913,846 $17,097,241,147 $15,306,672,699 89.53%
19 Norfolk $27,479,918,089 $14,608,294,939 $12,871,623,150 88.11%
8 Chicago $72,807,482,001 $39,842,032,782 $32,965,449,219 82.74%
1 Los Angeles $196,022,504,985 $120,723,691,458 $75,298,813,527 62.37%

Houston’s trade grew the fastest in percentage terms, at 164 percent, followed by Great Falls, Mont, which imports natural gas and oil from Canada, at 129 percent; Savannah, with five Asian nations among its top 10 trade partners, at 114 percent; and Philadelphia, a leading oil importer from Nigeria, among others, at 102 percent.

Los Angles, which handled the lion’s share of China imports, saw its two-way trade increase by 62 percent over the five-year January through July period. In dollar terms, however, it was No. 1, with an increase of $75.3 billion, putting strain on the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach as well as Los Angeles International Airport.

Through the first seven months of the year, it remains the nation’s No. 1 Customs district, though its lead over No. 2 New York narrowed slightly. New York’s trade increased $16.6 compared to $12 billion for Los Angeles.

Among the Top 10, the only four registering double-digit growth were Houston, New Orleans, Seattle and Savannah. Seattle’s trade is growing rapidly not because of Asian imports or energy but because of exports Boeing’s jets leave from the Seattle Customs district, and Boeing’s jets are selling well on the global stage.

Overall, the U.S. trade growth through the first seven month was below 10 percent for the first time in five years, since 2002. In July of 2006, the growth was 13.7 percent; the year before it had been 12.3 percent.

Thai shipper to buy 3 ships for US$123.8m from Vietnam;s Vinashin

25-SEP-2007 Intellasia | Bloomberg
Sep 25, 2007 - 7:01:00 AM

Thoresen Thai Agencies Pcl, Thailand's second-biggest shipping company, plans to buy three vessels for US$123.8 million to expand its fleet.

The company's wholly owned unit Thoresen Shipping Singapore Ltd has signed a contract with Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group to build three bulk carriers. The first ship will be delivered in October, 2010, while the second and third will be delivered in February, 2011 and June, 2011, the company said in a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Vietnam's Vung Tau hopes to attract $3 billion in foreign investment in 2007

Sonadezi to develop big IP in Ba Ria-Vung Tau
15:19' 25/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Industrial property developer Sonadezi in Dong Nai Province will soon get approval for a project to develop a major industrial and service zone in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

The developer said Ba Ria-Vung Tau authorities had agreed on the Chau Duc zone project and would issued an investment certificate soon so that Sonadezi would start work on the 2,200-hectare zone.

In July, the Prime Minister already agreed in principle to the project.

The zone will include a 1,550-hectare industrial park, while the remaining space will house commercial, residential and service facilities.

The developer said it would make the zone a model industrial area with entertainment parks, a school, a hospital, houses, villas and apartments.

Sonadezi is operating eight industrial parks in Dong Nai Province, six of them having been leased out to investors to set up shop. The other two industrial parks are 30 to 40% full.

Among developers of nearly 150 industrial parks countrywide, Sonadezi is considered one of the most successful developer in attracting capital, technology and environmental protection.

Chau Duc project if approved will take to ten the number of IPs in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Previously, the coastal province had plans to set up six new IPs as well as to expand Phu My II industrial park to accommodate new tenants now that existing industrial estates there have been nearly full.

The six new industrial parks on the tentative list are Phu My III, Chau Duc, Long Son, Dat Do, Kim Dinh and Cai Mep Ha.

Operational industrial parks have so far attracted 140 projects with total pledged capital of some US$6.7bil. Half of the projects are foreign-invested ones with pledged capital of US$4.3bil and the rest are local ones capitalized at US$2.45bil.

In 2006, IPs in the province attracted 12 fresh foreign investment projects worth nearly US$1.36bil, making the province the top destination for investment last year with US$2.26bil in committed investment.

Many investors prefer Ba Ria-Vung Tau as an ideal place for heavy-industry projects thanks to its convenient location and the availability of many ports.

The province hopes that it will be able to attract US$2.5 to US$3bil in FDI inflow this year. Therefore, the establishment of more industrial parks is becoming more urgent.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vietnam to Become Amongst the World’s Preferred Tourist Destinations

/PRZOOM - Newswire/ - International tourist arrivals to Vietnam rose by 23.4% in 2007 as compared to 2006 according to recent report by the government of Vietnam.

Delhi, New Delhi, India, 07/20/2007The total number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in June rose by 23.4% in 2007 over 2006 and by 4.6% in June 2007 over June 2006 totaling 335,000, according to a recent report by Vietnamese government.

As per the Government Statistical Office, during the period of January-June, the majority of visitors came form South Korea and China. Total number of visitors from China totaled 275,718, a decrease of 11.4% compared to 2006 and visitors from South Korea totaled 262,910, up 26.5% over 2006.

The report further indicated 52,471 business arrivals to Vietnam, an increase of 8.3% over 2006 and 43,452 numbers of people visiting their family members, a decrease of 14.8% over 2006.

Vietnam has emerged as a fascinating tourists destination for various types of visitors. The country’s entry into WTO as well as successful organization of APEC summit 2006 has increased the number of tourist arrival to the country.

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism is targeting countries like Russia, Japan, and South Korea to develop new markets as these countries are considered high-potential markets having wealthy travelers.

By 2010, foreign tourist arrivals in Vietnam are expected to reach 5.5-6 million and domestic to 26 million thereby generating a revenue of US$4- US$4.5 Billion.

A recent report by RNCOS "Opportunities in Vietnam Tourism Industry (2007-2009)”, also predicted Vietnam’s tourist industry to grow. As per the report, by 2011, international arrivals are expected to reach 6.74 Million, 88.27% up from a 3.58 Million in 2006. Similarly, domestic tourist arrivals would also rise due to the growing ease of travel within the country as well as rising disposable incomes.

The report also identified China as Vietnam's largest tourist market, accounting for 14.4% of international visitors in 2006. South Korea remained the second largest, accounting for 11.77% of visitors.

Likewise, report stated Russia as the Vietnam’s potential market citing the steady and rapid increase in number of Russian tourist visiting the country in recent years. Report further attributed Vietnam’s entry into WTO to boost the arrival of business travelers as well as foreign investment to the country.

The research report also addresses some other interesting issues critical for success in Vietnam’s tourism industry like the emerging trends in the Vietnamese tourism sector, future Outlook and Key driving forces as well as opportunities and challenges faced by the Vietnamese tourist industry.

About RNCOS E-Services Pvt Ltd.

RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. It has a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. They provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today's globally competitive environment.

WiMax and Satellite unwire Vietnam

A combination of WiMax and satellite will beam wireless broadband to one of the most remote corners of Vietnam, reports EE Times.

Working with the state-owned Vietnam Data Communication Company and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Intel said it had delivered Internet access to Ta Van, a village in mountainous northern Vietnam near the border with China. It receives a spot beam from the IPSTAR satellite and distributes it throughout the village via an omni-directional antenna using a 3.3GHz WiMax base station from Airspan Networks.

The pilot project has blanketed Ta Van which has what could be “the worst communications infrastructure in the country”. The 2Mbps downlink and a 512Kps uplink Internet access, should pave the way for voice-over-Internet protocol and other data services.

The IPSTAR satellite, operated by Thailand’s Shin Satellite, is the world’s largest broadband satellite.

It currently has a footprint covering 14 Asia-Pacific countries, including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Australia and New Zealand.

Users in Ta Van are now enjoying Internet services free, but its backers believe the WiMax/satellite technique is commercially feasible even for relatively cash-strapped regions. According to Intel’s, calculations, the service could be offered for about $25 per end user connection per month, and could also bring in revenues by allowing communities to set up businesses, such as Internet cafes for tourists.

Another WiMAX deployment in Vietnam was set up in Lao Cai, located in a mountainous area of northern Vietnam, abutting the Chinese border. An Alvarion BreezeMAX base station and some 20 WiMAX fixed-access client devices were scattered around the city. The BreezeMAX antenna was installed 70 meters above the ground on a local tower, with the base station connected to a fiber-optic backhaul service.

The second-phase WiMAX rollout will link the WiMAX base station to an IPStar satellite. The second phase is expected to be completed in October. The new IPSTAR maXX allows IPSTAR to be efficiently deployed in multiple-user broadband environments such as for Community Internet Centers, Multi-dwelling Units (MDU), Internet Cafes, university campuses and corporate offices.

The hope is that traditional industries such as agriculture and forestry can use the new telecoms infrastructure to grow their business and perhaps attract more cross-border trade with China. Another hope is to attract foreign investment to the region.

Related DailyWireless stories on Space and Satellites include; Inmarsat F2 Launched, IPSTAR Spotbeam Sat Launched, Intelsat & Panamsat to Merge, Global Satellite Providers Now Three, NGO Emergency Response, Hurricane/Tsuanmi Satellite Access, Ring of Fire Earthquake, and iPSTAR-1 & The Global HotSpot.

Booming Vietnam's nouveaux riches indulge a taste for luxury

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam: In a country whose peasant army once marched on flip-flops cut from old tires, Gucci beach sandals priced at US$365 (€260) can come as a shock.

But the luxury market is booming in Vietnam, where Ho Chi Minh's communist revolution exalted equality and the common man just a generation ago.

As the country begins to embrace private enterprise, its nouveaux riches are snapping up shoes at Gucci, handbags at Louis Vuitton and watches at Cartier, offering proof of how much the country has changed after decades of war.

"I sold a US$4,000 (nearly €3,000) leather jacket recently," said Do Huong Ly, a stylish young saleswoman at the Roberto Cavalli shop in Hanoi. "Our customers want people to know that they are high-class." more...

Construction of Vietnam's Dung Quat oil refinery nears the finish line

Chairman of central Quang Ngai Province People’s Committee, Dr Nguyen Kim Hieu, discussed the Dung Quat Industrial Zone’s conversion into an economic zone with Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) newspaper.

Can you tell me how close the Oil Refinery No 1 project in Dung Quat is to completion?

The project was approved by the Prime Minister seven years ago in July 1997.

The oil refinery should have been completed and put into operation by now. But this is the first large scale oil refinery project in Viet Nam, and we have little experience in carrying out such a project. Because of our lack of experience, we faced problems managing a joint-venture investment scheme that was part of the project.

Currently, the Government, ministries, and related offices are trying to solve such problems to assure the oil refinery gets completed, which is expected to be in 2007.

With the oil refinery as its centre, the Dung Quat Industrial Zone will be home to many large scale industries. How many investment projects are licensed to operate in Dung Quat and what is their status?

So far, 37 projects have been allowed to operate in Dung Quat Industrial Zone (IZ), not including the oil refinery, with a total registered capital of VND11.4 trillion (US$735 million). Of them, 12 projects have been put into operation; 11 are being constructed; and the others are still being prepared.

It is expected that 20 other projects will be licensed this year, with a total capital of VND3 trillion($191million).

Among these projects, some are very big, such as a shipyard to build and repair marine vessels up to 400,000 dead weight tonnes (DWT). It will lie on 110ha of land and cost VND4.8 trillion. A similar large project will be a steel laminating factory, with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year; and two wharves.

Other large scaled projects include: a coal processing factory, a car tire factory, and two electricity generating stations.

What about the construction of ports for Dung Quat?

Dung Quat’s wharf No 1 has been designed for vessels up to 10,000 DWT. However, because the local enterprises need to have a port for ships up to 15,000 DWT to enter, the province has widened the wharf’s marine passage. This has increased the cargo volume transported through the port, from 50,000 tonnes in 2002 to 200,000 tonnes last year. We expect it to receive 400,000 tonnes this year and 1 million tonnes next year.

As for the deep-sea port of Dung Quat, the Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (VINALINES), and the GEMADEPT (a transport joint-stock company) were given permission from the Ministry of Transport to invest in building two new wharves. Some marine port construction groups from Japan and Singapore are also surveying the area.

With its scale, features, and development direction, Dung Quat seems to be an economic zone (EZ), which is better than an IZ. Its management board and the provincial People’s Committee have proposed the State to turn Dung Quat in to an EZ. What about this conversion?

We believe that the plan to change Dung Quat IZ to be an EZ will be considered and approved by the Party and the Government. In this case, the zone’s development speed will be accelerated. Along with the Chu Lai open economic zone in the nearby Quang Nam Province, Dung Quat will be a leader in central Viet Nam’s development. It will become the third economic area of the country. — VNS

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Uranium pulled from Vietnamese reactor

A trade for fuel rods not containing the bomb-grade element is part of a U.S.-Russian program to keep such material out of the hands of terrorists.
By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 16, 2007
DA LAT, VIETNAM -- -- About 10 pounds of highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for a nuclear bomb, was removed Saturday from a research reactor in Vietnam, part of a joint U.S.-Russian program to keep such material out of the hands of international terrorists.

The secret operation began Tuesday, when a U.S. team led by officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration arrived at the research reactor here in Da Lat, about 150 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

Under a complex agreement, Vietnam gave up 35 unused fuel rods containing the bomb-grade material in exchange for new fuel rods from Russia made with low-enriched uranium that would allow the reactor to continue operating.

Commercial power plants and research reactors can operate on uranium enriched to low levels, but that fuel is useless for nuclear weapons.

The Da Lat reactor was built under the Eisenhower administration's Atoms for Peace program and went into service in 1963. In the closing days of the Vietnam War, U.S. officials hastily shut down the reactor and removed unused fuel at the site. But the reactor was restarted in the 1980s with Russian assistance and a new load of fuel.

The end of the Cold War and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks created a sense of urgency in the United States and Russia to consolidate and better protect highly enriched uranium. The two nations signed an agreement 2 1/2 years ago to cooperate more closely to stop nuclear proliferation.

The Vietnam mission was set in motion when President Bush signed a statement with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in Hanoi in November, pledging to increase nonproliferation cooperation and specifically to replace the fuel at the Da Lat reactor.

Andrew Bieniawski, head of a U.S. team that oversaw the transfer, said it was the 13th mission to remove highly enriched uranium from reactor sites that had been supplied by the Soviet Union.

"We are going after the most vulnerable material," said Bieniawski, assistant deputy administrator for the Office of Global Threat Reduction.

So far, the United States has relocated or secured more than half of the potential fissile material that could be used to make a bomb, Bieniawski said.

The operation was overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency inspector Syed N. Syed Hussin Shabuddin, who verified the serial numbers of all the fuel rods and that they contained highly enriched uranium.

The 35 fuel rods removed from the Da Lat reactor were then packaged in two heavy steel shipping casks and shipped out by military convoy through the lush Central Highlands to a nearby airport, where they were loaded onto a Vietnamese military helicopter.

The material was flown to Ho Chi Minh City, where it was transferred to a Russian cargo plane, which took the fuel rods to Dimitrovgrad, Russia.

There, a nuclear fuel processing plant will convert the material to low-enriched uranium for future use in nuclear power plants.


ADB predicts Viet Nam’s economy to expand rapidly

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that Viet Nam’s economy will continue to expand rapidly. In the Asian Development Outlook 2007 Update (ADO Update), which was released in Ha Noi on September 17, the bank said that the Southeast Asian nation’s growth accelerated in the January-June period at 7.9 percent, which is a half percentage point faster than a year ago.

ADB Deputy Country Director to Viet Nam, Dr. Omkar Shrestha, said that Viet Nam’s economic growth for all 2007 is forecast to reach 8.3 percent, unchanged from the ADO 2007 projection, which was released in March of this year.

According to the ADB, nearly all the economic expansion in Viet Nam came from industry and services, and the dynamism of private sector is noted with expansion of 20.5 percent, more than double the pace of state enterprises.

The bank also said assuming that Viet Nam’s WTO accession will help further integrate the economy into global business networks, encourage foreign direct investment and maintain the momentum for domestic reforms; Viet Nam’s economic expansion is expected to accelerate to 8.5 percent in 2008.

Regarding the country’s inflation, the bank said the inflation rate has shown upward tendency, with 8.3 percent in 2005, 7.5 percent in 2006 and 7.3 percent in August 2007. The bank said that the inflation rate is a concern but not alarming. The inflation level is expected to be contained at 7.8 percent for 2007 and is expected to be reduced further to 6.8 percent in 2008.

According to ADB Country Director to Viet Nam Ayumi Konishi, the situation is considered to be under control, although the relatively high level of inflation calls for the Vietnamese Government’s close attention.

“What is most important for Viet Nam continues to be the acceleration of reforms and faster implementation of development projects through simplification of procedures,” he said.

Vietnam auto imports rise dramatically

More imports cool HCM City auto market down
16:45' 19/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – The increased number of car imports, both brand new and used, has helped cool the market down.

The HCM City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau customs agencies have reported a considerable increase in the number of imported cars recently, which shows the positive impact of the Ministry of Finance’s decision to cut the tax on imported cars.

According to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA), the number of units sold by the association has increased by 80% so far this year compared to the same period last year. In August 2007 alone, VAMA members sold 6,559 units, which reflected the overly hot market.

However, the market has cooled a little since the decision on tax cuts became effective on August 8, 2007. The Phu My Port Customs Sub-agency under the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Agency said that it had cleared nearly 400 imported cars of different kinds, valued at nearly $6mil, nearly double the figure of the same period last year.

HCM City has also witnessed a considerable increase of used and brand new imports (less than 16-seat cars). Over 700 units have gone through the Saigon Port No 1 Customs Sub-agency so far this year, and most of the imports came in July and August, when the market seriously lacked cars. The Saigon Port No 3 Customs Sub-agency has cleared 44 imported cars worth more than $1mil.

Analysts say that the demand for imported brand new models, namely Lexus, BMW and Mercedes, has been increasing sharply recently. The Tan Son Nhat Airport Customs Sub-agency said that by the end of August it had cleared 310 units. The importers of the cars said that they made the import deals under orders placed by individual clients. Analysts have forecast the trend of favouring brand new imports over used imports.

Car dealers these days are talking much about the recent appearance of two more super-aristocratic Rolls Royce Phantoms in Vietnam.

The first one, white, manufactured in 2006, a used car, was imported by N.M.H, who declared that the car was imported as a non-merchant article. According to the HCM City Customs Agency, the car is valued at $216,000, and the total tax sum the importer has to pay is VND3bil ($187,500).

The second one is dark blue, manufactured in 2005, a used car, was imported by Chanh Loc Trade and Import-Export Company Ltd. The importer declared that the import price was $118,000, but the declared price has not been accepted by customs agencies. The two said Phantoms are still being kept at the VICT store.

In the latest news about super cars, car dealers have whispered in each others’ ears that an Audi R8 just arrived at Tan Son Nhat Airport on September 18.

The super Audi R8 came from Germany with the basic price of $109,000, being the direct rivals to big names like Porsche 911, Carrera 4S, Aston Martin V8 or BMW M6.

After the first super car Maybach 62 appeared in Vietnam at the end of 2006, Vietnam’s market has been witnessing the appearance of many other super models. It is estimated that some 10 super models are present in Vietnam, each of which has the value of VND10bil ($0.62mil).

Bentley is the name which has been mentioned most, and experts say that not less than three Bentleys are rolling in HCM City and one in Hanoi. They say that more and more luxurious models will come to Vietnam despite the poor infrastructure.

Vietnam expects $4.5 billion to be invested in ports in the next five years

Big port investment seen in Vietnam to ease logjam

Some US$4.5 billion may be invested in port building in Vietnam and a similar amount in related infrastructure by 2012 to ease congestion as cargo volume is forecast to rise 25 percent annually, an official said.

Vietnam, whose economy is growing at a robust 8 percent a year, joined the World Trade Organization in January and investors say it now needs to improve its infrastructure, especially in the transport and energy sectors.

"We expect $4.5 billion to be invested in ports in the next five years and corresponding investment in landside infrastructure," Tan Hua Joo, APL Vietnam managing director, told an international conference on Vietnam's ports and logistics.

APL is a subsidiary of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, the world's eighth-biggest container shipping firm.

Exports and imports in Vietnam of $84 billion last year were equivalent to 140 percent of gross domestic product.

Containerized volume growth of 19.8 percent per year in 1995-2006 would accelerate to 25 percent in coming years, Tan said. Last year the country handled 3.71 million twenty foot equivalent units, 21.6 percent more than in 2005.

Vietnam faces problems with shortages of modern equipment, low productivity, poor road quality and shallow draft conditions at ports, Tan said at the conference.

"Congestion in Ho Chi Minh City is a major concern during the period of 2007-2009," he told officials from foreign and local shipping lines and port operators.

Ports in Ho Chi Minh City handled 72 percent of Vietnam's container volume last year and 22 percent went through the northern city of Hai Phong.

Better planning needed

Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the country was opening up for the private sector to invest in building infrastructure such as ports and roads, an area previously covered by the state budget.

But industry officials say Vietnam also needs better strategic planning in the sector, in addition to funds.

"New port developments must be focused on the key cargo origins of Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong," APL Vietnam's Tan said.

He said a government plan to invest $3.5 billion by 2020 to turn Van Phong Bay in the central province of Khanh Hoa into a transhipment hub might lead to inefficiency as Vietnam's central region would not be a major area for cargo movements.

Da Nang Port and Quy Nhon Port in central Vietnam now handle less than 3 percent of the country's total cargo volume, he said.

He also said the berth and draft at Cai Mep container port now being built in the south would not be able to handle large vessels.

"Port infrastructure must be built to serve needs up to 20 years ahead," he said.

Vietnam's central region sets goals on growth

Planning in store for central region
13:43' 19/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – An overall masterplan needs to be drawn up so central provinces can make the most of their advantages to tackle poverty, experts have said.

Pipes are installed during construction of the Dung Quat Oil Refinery.
Pipes are installed during construction of the Dung Quat Oil Refinery.
Stretching across 14 provinces from Thanh Hoa to Binh Thuan, the central region accounts for 29.1% of the country's territory and about 23.3% of the national population.

But local residents' annual income languishes well below the national average with 2006 figures recording only US$499 per capita, about 68.4% of the rest of the country.

But the area isn't missing out on development projects.

Under a government development plan, there is a key economic zone in the region, embracing Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces.

The region is also home to 21 industrial parks and industrial processing zones; seven economic parks, including national project Dung Quat Oil Refinery.

Added to this, there are 345 foreign invested projects with a total registered capital of $3.95bil operating in the region, accounting for 4.9% of the total number of foreign invested projects nationwide with 6.23% of the registered capital.

But the absence of a comprehensive masterplan for the whole region means each only works for itself: each province has its own airport for example, but every one is on a small scale, except in Da Nang, Phu Bai and Cam Ranh, with planes only taking off twice a week on average.

There is one deep sea port for every 30 km of the coastal line; Ky Ha port in Da Nang; Chan May port in Thua Thien Hue, Ha Tinh's Vung Ang port, Chu Lai port in Quang Nam, and Vung Ro port in Phu Yen amongst others.

In all there are 17 sea ports far more than the northern region, but they can handle only up to 13% of the country's total volume of cargo.

Unco-ordinated growth

One factor hindering better co-operation is infrastructure because although recent years have seen improvements, it still remains poor and is not synchronous, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said.

Investment ear-marked for infrastructure development is limited and scattered.

Despite the many infrastructure development projects going on in the region at the moment, they lack a co-ordinator to link them together to make best use of the limited investment money.

Good alignment of these projects would help save a lot of resources both in capital and human resources.

Human resources

One of the biggest challenges development in the central region faces is a lack of human resources.

Despite being renowned for many quality universities, they do not work together for the greater good.

The medical university in Hue has a 50-year strong reputation and attracts students from across the nation to study and work at the city's 1,500-bed Hue Central hospital established more than 110 years ago.

However, neighbouring Da Nang has recently asked the Ministry of Education and Training if it can open a university of medicine, thus creating needless competition and a potential surplus of resources.

This lack of co-operation is a seriously pressing issue in term of development and one which will be best addressed if all provinces combine their strengths to find a solution together.

Vietnam launches the 22,500 ton VTC Dragon

22,500-tonne vessel christened

Bach Dang Shipyard Corporation, an affiliate of the Viet Nam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin), on September 18 christened the 22,500-tonne VTC Dragon and later handed it over to the Viet Nam Sea Transport and Chartering Company.

The ship, 153.2m long and 26m wide, is equipped with a 6,253 KW engine imported from Japan and was built under the supervision of Japan's NK company.

VTC Dragon is the third of its kind built to date under a contract of eight such vessels for subsidiaries of the Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines).

So far, the ships are the largest to be built by the Bach Dang Shipyard. The shipyard is also carrying out a contract to build ships of 4,900 tonnes for an Italian owner and a 17,500-tonne ship for a Republic of Korea owned company.

Continuing viloence at Vietnam's 1st oil refinery project

More mayhem at Vietnam’s oil refinery project

Some 30 workers at Vietnams’ major oil refinery project assaulted security guards and vandalized their office on Monday after being caught stealing.

Thien Long Security employees, hired to patrol the Dung Quat Industrial Zone oil refinery in Quang Ngai province, said they caught a group of workers from the Bach Dang construction company stealing iron and stopped them from doing so.

But as private employees, the guards could only put a halt to the illegal activity and had no authority to detain the crooks.

Police were not called.

Around 15 minutes later, the group of would-be thieves returned and pelted the guards with rocks, according to the security employees.

Later that night, a group of 30 Bach Dang workers allegedly stormed the security office and attacked the guards with knives, shovels and sticks.

The enraged hoodlums injured three guards and destroyed desks, telephones and security company cars.

When police finally arrived on the scene, all the workers had fled. The police seized a knife, two shovels, four iron bars, and several sticks believed to have been used by the suspects as weapons at the scene.

The Thien Long firm told Thanh Nien that the workers may have held previous grudges against the guards for preventing earlier robberies.

Thien Long echoed the common sentiment that the looting of construction materials had become all too rife at the site recently.

The police said they were working to track down the riotous workers.

For months, there have been reports of violent looting and robberies at the Dung Quat project.

Such theft and hooliganism is a source of major concern for authorities as much of Vietnam’s development strategy hinges on the success of the refinery.

One of Southeast Asia’s largest petroleum producers, Vietnam still imports all its oil products due to lack of such a refinery.

Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stepped in and ordered authorities to beef up security at the site. But little progress has been made.

Korean firm building oil city in Vietnam

GS Stretching Out Overseas
GS Engineering & Construction is building a satellite town in Nha Be, Vietnam.
GS Group, founded just three years ago, is now putting the spurs to its global business strategies.

In order to reduce its dependency on domestic markets in oil, construction and retailing, the group is now trying to find growth engines in overseas markets.

"The common task for all our subsidiaries is to develop new markets and new businesses for future growth," said GS Group CEO Huh Chang-soo at the company's strategic conference at the beginning of this month.

Huh met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the prime minister's office in Hanoi on Tuesday, where they exchanged views on economic issues including a satellite town development project by GS Group in Nha Be, Vietnam, and on developing deeper relations.

"We want to actively participate in construction projects such as building oil and petrochemical plants, expanding power facilities and improving the environment," Huh said.

GS Engineering & Construction took over the 1 million-sq.m. satellite town project in Nha Be in May, making it the first Korean company to acquire an exclusive development project in Vietnam. The company recently received an order for an Egyptian oil plant valued at $1.8 billion, the biggest overseas construction project ever by a Korean company.

GS is also building up its oil fields. In the offshore Cambodian block A, which is GS Caltex's first overseas oil field, good quality crude oil and gas were found in all five test wells during a preliminary exploration in March 2005. Now the company is working on a second exploration in the field.

GS Caltex joined an equity exploration of onshore test wells in Thailand, and GS Holdings, GS Caltex's parent company, is expanding its oil business by purchasing equity in fields in Indonesia, Yemen, Kazakhstan and elsewhere.

"We plan to break from our existing business structure which leans heavily upon domestic markets, and raise the proportion of sales in foreign countries up to more than 10 percent by 2010," Huh said.

( )

American Giant GE to make big investment in Vietnam

16:29' 19/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Colin Low, GE National Executive for Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, has not admitted anything, except the news about the working visit by GE’s Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey R. Immelt on September 28, during which he will meet government representatives and announce an important investment deal in infrastructure.

Colin Low, GE National Executive for Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam
Vietnam’s media guess that the important investment deal Mr Low has mentioned is a project of many millions of dollars, following the heavy investment of other giants in the world, including Intel and Foxconn.

GE is a well-known US-based technology, telecommunication and financial service group, which has been present in Vietnam since 1993, even before the US lifted the embargo against Vietnam in 1994. In 2003, GE established GE Vietnam Company Ltd, 100% foreign owned, specialising in providing post sales services in health care, electric equipment and power. At the end of 2006, GE opened a representative office of GE Consumer Finance in Hanoi.

Mr Low said that four GE subsidiaries were present in Vietnam: GE Infrastructure (power, aviation, water), GE Industry (electricity, high-grade materials), GE Healthcare and GE Consumer Finance.

GE’s main clients in Vietnam include Vietnam Airlines (air carrier), the Electricity of Vietnam, Vietnam Railway Corporation, PetroVietnam (oil and gas), public and private owned hospitals.

When asked why GE decided to invest in Vietnam, Mr Colin Low said that the main reason was that Vietnam’s Investment Law had become open and protected the benefit of investors.

In fact, South Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese investors all eye Vietnam as an investment address because they want another non-China destination to set up their projects, because investors do not put all eggs into one basket in order to disperse risks. In general, foreign investors see Vietnam as a potential market for outward investment.

With the achievements of the four GEs in Vietnam, the group has every reason to be optimistic about its future performance in the country. GE’s total turnover was $62mil in 2006, and the average growth rate is at 20% per annum, or 3-fold higher than the GDP growth rate. Vietnam is now described as a market with great potential, which is now taking off.

Mr Low also highly praised the quality of the Vietnamese labour force. In Hai Phong city, which has developed industries, labourers there have been well trained to fit industrial production projects.

GE is considering the demand for chartering aircrafts from the national air carrier Vietnam Airlines in order to negotiate a contract on aircraft chartering, Mr Colin Low told the press on September 18.

He said that Vietnam Airlines needed to charter long-distance aircrafts for the direct flights from Vietnam to the US to be launched soon, and needs Boeings. Meanwhile, GE has 1,400 aircraft for lease.

GE once leased three aircrafts to Vietnam Airlines, and 16 of Vietnam Airlines’ operational aircrafts (Boeing 777 and Airbus 320) use GE engines.

(Source: Tuoi tre)