Friday, November 30, 2007

Vietnam to get first private airline-VietJetAir

Hanoi (dpa) - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has given the go-ahead to issue a licence to the country's first private airline, VietJetAir, Transportation Ministry officials confirmed Friday.

"The prime minister has agreed in principle" to allow the company to operate, and assigned the Transportation Ministry to prepare the legal documents, senior ministry official Nguyen Van Cong said.

Domestic flights are currently provided exclusively by the government-owned flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Pacific Airlines. Tour operators and travelers have long complained about the absence of alternatives.

VietJetAir public relations' officer Robert Hugh said the company expected to launch operations within about one year. He said the delay would be due to a shortage of available aircraft to lease.

Hugh said the company would be a low-cost, short-haul carrier, serving domestic and some regional routes.

"Our strategy will be to go after overpriced or under-served routes, and there are quite a few available," Hugh said. "Hanoi to Siem Reap is very expensive. Hanoi to Hong Kong is both overpriced and under-served."

Tourism industry experts say there are too few operators in Vietnam to meet rising demand on domestic routes.

"Tour operators in Vietnam often have to book tickets very long in advance due to the limited number of planes," said Vu The Binh, head of the Travel Department in Vietnam's Administration of Tourism. "Vietnam needs as many more domestic airlines as possible."

The new company will have a licensed capital of 600 billion Vietnamese dong, about $38 million.

Vietnam's Climate and Weather

Overview Climate
Vietnam is located in both a tropical and a temperate zone. It is characterized by strong monsoon influences, but has a considerable amount of sun, a high rate of rainfall, and high humidity. Regions located near the tropics and in the mountainous regions are endowed with a temperate climate.
The monsoon climate also influences to the changes of the tropical humidity. In general, in Vietnam there are two seasons, the cold season occurs from November toApril and the hot season from May to October.The difference in temperature between the two seasons in southern is almost unnoticeable, averaging 3ºC. The most noticeable variations are found in the northern where differences of 12ºC have been observed. There are essentially four distinct seasons, which are most evident in the northern provinces(from Hai Van Pass toward to the north): Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Every year there are 100 rainy days and the average rainfall is 1,500 to 2,000mm. The humidity ranges around 80%. The sunny hours are 1,500 to 2,000 and the average solar radiation of 100kcal/cm2 in a year.
Because Vietnam is affected by the monsoon, that why the average temperature is lower than the other countries which are located in the same longitude in Asia. The annual average temperatures range from 22oC to 27oC.
In comparing with these countries, the temperature in winter is colder and in summer is less hotter in Vietnam.
Under influence of monsoon, and further because of the complicated topography, the climate in Vietnam always changes in one year, between the years, or between the areas (from North to South and from low to high). The climate in Vietnam is also under disadvantage of weather, such as typhoons (advantage there are 6-10 storms and tropical low atmosphere in year, floods and droughts are threaten the life and the agriculture of Vietnam).

In Hanoi there are four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. But it is able to be divided into two main seasons: the rainy season from May to September (it’s hot, heavy rain), and the dry season from October to April (it’s cold, little rainfall). The annual average temperature is 23.2oC, but in winter the average temperature is 17.2oC. The lowest temperature ever recorded was 2.7oC in 1955. The average summer temperature is 29.2oC, with the highest ever recorded being 42.8oC in 1926. On average, there are 114 rainy days a year with around 1,800mm of rainfall.

It's one province in the North then Haiphong is influenced by a tropical monsoon climate too. There are 4 seasons and the annual average temperature is between 23oC and 24oC. Rainfall total is between 1,600 and 1,800mm. The weather is warm throughout the year.

Quang Ninh
The climate is symbolic of the climate of North Vietnam; featuring all four seasons. In summer (from May to September), it's hot, humid and rainy, while monsoons flourish. In winter (from October to April), it's cold, dry, and sees little rainfall.The average temperature is over 25oC. Annual rainfall totals between 1,700 and 2,400mm.

Thua Thien Hue
It features a tropical monsoon climate, featuring all four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The spring is cool and warm, the summer is hot, the autumn is cool and the winter is cold. Average temperature is 25oC. The best time for tourists is from November to April next year.
It features a tropical monsoon climate, featuring all four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The spring is cool and warm, the summer is hot, the autumn is cool and the winter is cold. Average temperature is 25oC. The best time for tourists is from November to April next year.

Its climate is tropical, with two distinct rainy and dry seasons. The average annual temperature is between 28oC and 29oC, and storms hit the area every year in September and October.

Khanh Hoa
The climate here is oceanic tropical monsoon, but is quite mild. The average annual temperature is 26.5oC. Annual rainfall totals over 1,200mm.
Lam Dong
The climate here is cold, with an average annual temperature of 18oC. Dalat is a city town, the climate is temperature and there are the beautiful natural landscapes with the waterfalls, lakes and pine groves, and is well known as Vietnam’s flower city.

Ho Chi Minh City
The climate is divided into two seasons, with the rainy season lasting from May to November. The average annual temperature is 27.5oC without winter, and yearly rainfall totals 1,979mm. Tourism is convenient for all 12 months of the year.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau
The climate here is tropical monsoon. The average annual temperature is 27oC, rarely stormy, rich in sunshine. Vung Tau is without winter so resorts can active throughout the year.

Vietnam has a variety of mineral resources. Located beneath the subsoil are precious stones, coal and valuable minerals such as tin, zinc, silver, gold and antimony. Vietnam also has large deposits of oil and gas on its offshore islands and on the mainland.
Vietnam also has abundant subterranean mineral water sources. These are found at Quang Hanh in Quang Ninh, Hoi Van in Binh Dinh, Vinh Hao in Binh Thuan, Duc My in Nha Trang, Kim Boi in Hoa Binh, and Binh Chau in Ba Ria -Vung Tau.

Three quarters of Vietnam's territory consists of mountains and hills. Vietnam is divided into four distinct mountainous zones.
The Northeasten Zone ( Viet Bac )
This zone stretches from the Red River Valley to the Gulf of Tonkin. The mountainous area of Viet Bac is scattered with famous sights: Dong Nhat Grotto, Dong Nhi Grotto, and Tam Thanh Grotto in Lang Son Province; Pac Bo Grotto and Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang; Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan; Yen Tu Mountain and Halong Bay in Quang Ninh; and Tay Con Linh, the highest mountain peak in the region reaching 2,341 meters above sea level.

The Northwestern Zone
This zone is comprised of mountains that run from the north of the Sino-Vietnamese border to the west of Thanh Hoa Province. This magnificent mountain range is nationally known for its resort town of Sapa in Lao Cai Province, which is perched 1500 meters above sea level. Several ethnic groups, such as the H'mong, Dao, Kinh, Tay, Giay, Hoa, and Xa Pho, still reside in this region.
The northwestern zone is also famous for the historical site of Dien Bien Phu and Fansipan Mountain, which measures 3,143 meters above sea level at the peak.

The North Truong Son Zone
This zone runs from the western part of Thanh Hoa Province to the Quang Nam-Da Nang Mountains. This region is known locally for its picturesque Phong Nha Grotto and its two breathtaking passes, the Ngang Pass and the Hai Van Pass. It is also known worldwide for being the location of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail constructed during the second great resistance war.
The South Truong Son Zone
This zone is located to the west of the south central coast provinces.Behind these huge mountains is a vast area of red soil known locally as "Tay Nguyen" (the Central Highlands).There are numerous legendary accounts of the flora and fauna and of the lives of several different ethnic minorities living in the Central Highlands. Dalat, established during the 19th century, is a popular resort town in this part of Vietnam.
Vietnam has two major deltas, including the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River Delta in the south.

The Red river delta
This region stretches for15,000 sq. km. Over time, deposits of alluvium carried from the Red River and Thai Binh River have accumulated to form the delta. The ancient Viet people settled at the junction of the two rivers . At that time, the wet rice civilization was established

The Mekong River Delta, or Southern Delta
This region is approximately 40,000 sq. km. The land is very fertile and has favorable climate conditions for agriculture. As a result, it is the largest rice growing region in Vietnam.Vietnam is crisscrossed by thousands of streams and rivers. There is a river discharging every 20 kilometers along Vietnam's coastline. The waterways are a very convenient means of transport with major rivers like the Red River in the north and theMekong River in the south.

Vietnam's coastline is 3,260km long. If you have a chance to travel along the coast of Vietnam, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tra Co, Sam Son, Lang Co, Non Nuoc, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, and Ha Tien. In some places, you will see mountains jutting out to the sea. One such magnificent site is Halong Bay, which has recently been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Vietnam's coast has been awarded a series of large seaports, such as the ones at Haiphong, Danang, Qui Nhon, Cam Ranh, Vung Tau, and Saigon. There are thousands of islands and islets scattered offshore from north to south. Among the most popular tourist destinations are the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa Archipelagos.

The forests of Vietnam account for most of the total land area. National parks are preserved by the state and follow a steady development plan. Some of the more famous national parks located throughout the country include Ba Vi in Ha Tay, Cat Ba in Haiphong, Cuc Phuong in Ninh Binh, Bach Ma in Hue, and Cat Tien in Dong Nai.

For other information , Please visit at : WWW.HANOIPEACETOUR.VN

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Czech labour shortage forces Skoda to recruit workers from Vietnam

Skoda has begun to recruit workers from Vietnam for its factories in the Czech Republic as it struggles with a labour shortage.

The Czech carmaker is having to search further afield for employees amid increased migration of Eastern European workers and a booming domestic automotive industry.

Skoda, which is owned by VW, has used an employment agency to recruit several hundred workers from Vietnam, whom it regards as disciplined and attentive to detail.

A spokesman said: “We have a shortage of labour so we are using employment agencies to bring in staff. Vietnam is one of the areas we are bringing people from. We would rather find people close to home and it is a long way for them to come, but until we can find the right people nearer home this is what we will have to do.”

It is not the first time that workers from Vietnam have moved to the Czech Republic. When the country was under communist rule as Czechoslovakia, Vietnam, also under communist control, and Cuba sent workers in return for arms and heavy engineering goods.

Many stayed in Czechoslovakia after the overthrow of communism in 1989 and set up small businesses. Now the Vietnamese are the third-largest immigrant group in the Czech Republic, behind Ukrainians and Slovaks.

Skoda, which has been steadily repositioning itself in the car market as more of a value brand, is one of the Czech Republic’s biggest employers. It has more than 27,000 workers in its three factories.

The open-borders policy of the European Union means that it is suffering recruitment problems. Many Czech workers have left for better paid jobs in Western Europe. Additionally, those from the neighbouring countries of Poland and Slovakia, which traditionally have made up the majority of foreign workers in the Czech car industry, are also choosing to go further or to take jobs in their own growing automotive industries.

The Czech Republic’s automotive industry employs more than 120,000 people, an increase of 40 per cent on 15 years ago. A number of Western carmakers have built factories in the country in recent years because of its lower labour costs and its central location in Europe.

Skoda’s own production, which includes some output from a factory in China, is set to exceed 640,000 vehicles this year. In 1994, the Czech company, which is more than 100 years old, produced only 173,000 vehicles. The carmaker believes that it can make one million cars in the forseeable future.

The Czech Republic is trying to make it easier for more migrant workers to settle in the country so that it can maintain a decent labour pool. It intends to issue green cards for workers outside the European Union that will combine rights for residency and work permits.

Vietnam’s emerging automotive industry and its broader economy are being closely watched for evidence that the country could be the next China in terms of rapid industrial growth. This year it became the 150th member of the World Trade Organisation. Its car industry is still young because traditionally Vietnam imported virtually all of its vehicles from communist Eastern Europe.

However, Japanese carmakers, such as Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi, began to move into the country in the mid-1990s, producing cars in partnership with Vietnamese businesses.

Facts to boot

–– Skoda was founded in what is now the Czech Republic in 1895 and started to produce cars in 1905 and lorries in 1924

–– It was bought by the Volkswagen Group in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union

–– Skoda had revenues of € 6.64 billion (£4.73 billion) and a workforce of nearly 27,000 in 2006

Vietnam officially chosen to host Miss Universe 2008

HANOI, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam has been officially chosen to host the 57th Miss Universe in central Nha Trang city of Khanh Hoa province next July, local newspaper Youth reported Wednesday.

The contract on holding the event was signed Tuesday between the Vietnamese main partner, the Hoan Vu company, and the pageant's organizer under the witness of representatives of the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the provincial People's Committee, Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori and Miss Vietnam 2007 Mai Phuong Thuy.

The event's final round will be organized at the Diamond Bay Resort in the coastal city.

U.S. billionaire Donald Triumph, owner of Miss Universe contests, will attend the final of Miss Universe 2008.

To host the event, Vietnam is estimated to spend some 15 million U.S. dollars covering the pageant's royalty, and manpower and infrastructure expenses.

Vietnam will focus on constructing a 7,500-seat stage, upgrading the Cam Ranh airport and some hotels in Khanh Hoa, and beautifying the sea city.

Vietnam attracts $15 Billion in foreign investment in 2007

Hanoi (dpa) - Vietnam has attracted a record $15 billion in foreign direct investment so far this year, up nearly 40 per cent from the same period last year, an official said Tuesday.

The amount strengthened booming Vietnam's reputation as the new Asian magnet for investment, thanks to low wages, high literacy and a youthful population.

Of the fresh capital, more than $13 billion come from 1,283 newly licensed projects and the remainder from the expansions of existing projects, said Phan Huu Thang, director of the Foreign Investment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

"Most of the new projects invest in services and technologies," Thang said, adding that investors from Asia make up most of the fresh investment capital.

South Korea took the lead with $3.68 billion, or 24.5 per cent of the total of newly registered capital, followed by the British Virgins Islands with $3.5 billion, Singapore with $1.55 billion and Taiwan with $1.14 billion.

"The figures show that Vietnam is becoming a more attractive destination in Asia for foreign investors," Thang said.

Thang forecast that the total inflow into Vietnam would exceed $16 billion this year, a substantial jump over the initial target of $13 billion.

Escaping to Binh An Village in Vung Tau

A view of Binh An Village Vung Tau from the beach. On clear days, the windows of the village’s restaurant (R) will open for guests to enjoy the sea breeze

At first glance, there is noth-ing special about Binh An Village in Vung Tau City. A wooden sign emblazoned with the resort’s name and a green fence that camouflages the resort is all one initially sees upon entering. However, what lies beyond the gates is much more interesting.

Binh An is nestled close to the versant for protection on one side, while the other is contiguous to the beach.

Inspired by the ancient Vietnamese style of external architecture, the resort features wooden houses, stone steps and green space filled with grass and trees. Some of Binh An’s buildings are constructed onto rocky cliffs close to the beach.

The resort’s ambiance is peaceful and quiet with nothing to keep visitors from enjoying the sunshine, the sounds of crashing waves and the constant sea breeze.

The resort’s rooms located on the versant are given special Vietnamese names with special meanings such as Hoi An, Phu An, Long An, Nam An and Dong An.

Hoi An, Phu An and Long An are villas with views of the sea that are priced at US$250 per night. The other rooms are less expensive.

On clear days, visitors can enjoy a beachside massage or catch small oysters as the tide ebbs away.

Address: 1 Tran Phu Street, Vung Tau City, Baria-Vung Tau Province. Tel: (064) 510 016.

Minh Duy

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hong Kong, Vietnam stock regulators to ink deal next year

Professor K. C. Chan (C), Secretary for Financial Services and the reasury of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, tours Vietnam’s southern bourse as part of his visit to establish ties between the securities markets of Vietnam and Hong Kong


(SGT-HCMC) Securities regulators of Hong Kong and Vietnam expect to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) early next year with the primary goal of enabling Vietnam companies to float shares on Hong Kong’s market.

Vu Bang, chairman of the State Securities Commission, told a press briefing last Friday that the Hochiminh Stock Exchange would submit this plan to the Ministry of Finance before signing the MOU, expected for January next year.

The agreement between the two securities regulators will create a legal foundation for Vietnamese companies to launch initial public offerings in Hong Kong Stock Exchange, he said.

The press briefing was held on the occasion of the visit by Professor K. C. Chan, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Chan said that his visit’s purpose was to promote mutual understanding between Hong Kong’s financial services sector and Vietnam companies.

Chan highly appreciated Vietnam’s economical growth as well as the development of the financial market, and added Hong Kong could share experiences with Vietnamese companies and banks in this sector.

Ronald Arculli, chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, said that Hong Kong’s securities market in its course of development also had faced a lot of troubles, and the exchange would help the Vietnam market to develop faster by avoiding those mistakes made by Hong Kong in the past.

Chan also said that Hong Kong succeeded to be a fund raising center for Mainland enterprises and it would be capable of providing quality services to Vietnamese enterprises seeking to tap the China market.

Nguyen Ngoc Canh, director of SSC’s International Cooperation Division, said that the commission would have a meeting soon with enterprises, who want to list overseas, to provide information and support them to carry out listing in foreign countries.

As of late October, the market capitalization of Hong Kong had amounted to over US$2,960 billion, the seventh largest in the world and the third largest in Asia.

Earlier, many stock exchanges in the world have shown keen interest in attracting Vietnamese enterprises to list abroad such as Singapore Stock Exchange, Korea Stock Exchange, and London Stock Exchange.

Vietnam has room for new real estate entrants

Enough room for new market entrants

GuocoLand Binh Duong CEO Lawrence Peh

Singapore’s GuocoLand last week started building a residential complex called The Canary in HCMC’s neighboring province of Binh Duong. The Saigon Times Daily talked with GuocoLand Binh Duong general director Lawrence Peh over the prospects of the domestic property market. Excerpts:

The SGT Daily: What is your view about the outlook of Vietnam’s property market?

- Lawrence Peh: Over the past year, Vietnam has seen several important diplomatic, economic and cultural events. Vietnam has attracted huge capital inflows and the trend will remain positive in the years to come. As foreign investors are exploring investment opportunities in Vietnam, the realty market should be developed to meet their demand.

But the realty market is still risky. What do you think?

- We are very optimistic about the market. We have a strong financial position, management expertise and a long-term investment strategy, so our views are based on the development potential of the economy in the future.

Many corporations focus on HCMC, Danang and Hanoi realty markets while GuocoLand invests in Binh Duong. Could you explain this?

- Binh Duong stands out among its peers given its highest ranking in the Provincial Competitiveness Index and its fastest economic growth. Its per capita income is increasing rapidly as well. Binh Duong is also among the provinces that offer investors the most incentive policies. In the urbanization aspect, Binh Duong is seen as a young city. It has not had any urban projects with international standards but in reality, demand for such projects has already existed. Actually, the market potential of the central region has been foreseen by GuocoLand and we intend to develop projects there in the coming time. We’re also seeking opportunities for investment in HCMC and Hanoi.

Who are The Canary’s target customers?

- We target young and successful families or high-income people as a whole. The number of high-income earners is swelling. Besides, more foreign investors and white-collar workers are coming to industrial parks and new urban areas and they demand accommodation and services provided by professional property managers.

What market segments is GuocoLand interested in?

- It depends on the development potential of each locality. The center of major cities will be suitable for high-end condo, office, restaurant and shopping mall projects. In those localities undergoing urbanization, we’ll consider such urban complex projects as The Canary. We forecast the average urbanization rate in Vietnam will be 30% by 2010 and some 50% by 2020. So, the potential is huge, especially that of the housing market. We think housing supply of all segments in Vietnam is short and the imbalance between supply and demand will continue in the next few years.

Reported by Thanh Phuong

Reconstruction transforms Vietnam

Doi Moi transforms Vietnam

DECADES of hard work, commitment and continued reformation upon the launch of Doi Moi (meaning “reconstruction”) programme by the Vietnamese Government since 1986 has transformed Vietnam into one of the most dynamic emerging markets in the world.

Vietnam’s growth domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to reach 8.5% in 2007, making it the second fastest growing economy in Asia after China. Government officials have forecast GDP growth at 8.5% -10% in 2008.

Vietnam is also one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world relative to the size of its GDP in recent years. The US, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong are its largest FDI providers.

At a time when China and India have been dominating the spotlight on the international front coupled with potential US economic slowdown, some sceptics are questioning whether Vietnam will sustain its economic growth and transform itself into a late coming Asian tiger. I will briefly highlight the key transformation factors.

  • Favourable demographics: One of the key drivers of Vietnam’s economic growth is the availability of a young and literate labour force. Vietnam ranks 13th in the world in terms of population with 85 million people.

    The baby boom after 1975 has created an incredibly young population with a median age of just around 25. My working experience with the local Vietnamese has shown that they are eager to work, hungry for knowledge and open to changes. Furthermore, the younger generation are generally quite entrepreneurial. There are many that I have come across who want to set up their own firms in the next few years.

    China plus 1: The availability of young and low cost labour, coupled with government incentives to attract FDI, has made Vietnam an attractive manufacturing centre in the region. With increased political pressure from the US and European Union over cheap Chinese exports, many manufacturers - already well established in China - are engaging in a “China-plus-one” strategy by looking at Vietnam as a way to diversify.

  • Benefiting from the commodity boom: Unlike some of the emerging economies, Vietnam is benefiting from the upcycle in crude oil price, being the third largest oil producer in Asia. The country is also the largest exporter of pepper and the second largest exporter of rice and coffee in the world. These major resource-based exports have witnessed impressive growth over the recent years as a result of the overall commodity boom.

  • In 2006, commodity and fishery products continue to be the top export products for the country, with the combined value equivalent to 26.7% of the country’s GDP (see table).

  • Non-resource-based exports to gain momentum: With increased FDI and a “China plus 1” strategy by manufacturers as mentioned above, non-resource-based exports such as textiles, footwear and furniture are dominating as top foreign exchange earners with the country’s clear shift from agriculture to manufacturing.

    The country’s accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January this year is expected to accelerate FDI inflows to the country and provide room for the country’s exports to grow. Furthermore, ever-cozy ties with the US and China will continue to support its booming trade performance.

  • Equitisation of SOE boosting the equity market: The equity market of the country has experienced a strong rally since 2005 due to the ongoing restructuring and the gradual equitisation of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This reform path is very similar to the privatisation of government-linked companies (GLCs) in Malaysia in the early 1990s. The stated goal is to eventually prepare the SOEs to be equitised through initial public offerings.

    The equitisation of some of the SOEs since 2005 has attracted strong foreign investors’ interests.

    Not all is rosy: History has shown us how the economies of Asian tigers overheated 10 years ago and the ultimately went through some painful corrections. Although Vietnam’s prospects look promising, there are potential risks that could adversely impact its economy going forward. Stay tuned.

    Cheah is conducting investment research in Vietnam. He was formerly head of investment research in a domestic broking firm. He welcomes feedback at

  • Vietnam has infrastructure need of $53 billion USD

    Viet Nam must strive for constructive development

    HA NOI — The Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Nguyen Bich Dat said that Viet Nam must continue to pursue the development of comprehensive infrastructure at an international construction trade fair, Con-Build, on Wednesday.

    "Analysis of the National Project List, which was released in September to attract foreign investment, further highlights this country’s need for more infrastructure systems," Dat said.

    According to the list, as many as 109 of 163 planned projects, costing US$53 billion were planned for large-scale public systems, services and facilities.

    Huge projects with investment capital of $5-6 billion each include the Nghi Son Oil Refinery Complex in Thanh Hoa, Oil Refinery No 3 in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai.

    A number of port, petrochemistry and railway projects, worth $1-2 billion each are also in the pipelines.

    To maintain economic growth over 8 per cent, spending on infrastructure must increase by about 11-12 per cent of GDP, instead of the current 9-10 per cent, the deputy minister said.

    "The economy seems to be outgrowing its infrastructure, particularly roading, telecommunications and electricity systems," he said.

    To counter the negative effects of such rapid growth the Government has moved to mobilise [investment] sources. However, funds drawn from the State budget and ODA (Official Development Assistance) are insufficient to satisfy identified shortcomings.

    Government officials are looking for additional capital of about $2.5 billion a year from the private sector due to budget restrictions and the approaching deadlines of preferential financing. It is hoped that increased private investment, together with co-operation with foreign enterprises will meet the requirements of the nation’s limited infrastructure.

    Private investors have funded around 60 BOT (Build Operate Transfer) projects worth $44 trillion; 43 of which are traffic works. To the detriment of infrastructure development such investors have overlooked electricity, water, post and telecommunications projects.

    It has been suggested that the slow clearing of sites for construction and ineffective Government planning have further stalled the development of adequate infrastructure systems. — VNS

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Hanoi to have world-class horse track

    VietNamNet Bridge – After many years of delay as foreign partners two times gave up the game, the project on the biggest horse track in Vietnam will be resumed.

    In 1999, the project on the horse race field in Hanoi was licenced. The project investor was the Vietnam Sports and Horse Race Club Company. The Hanoi People’s Committee allowed them to build a 439,731 sq m horse track in the areas of Dai Kim and Thanh Liet communes of Hoang Mai and Thanh Liet districts. However, in 2005, the foreign partner in the joint venture gave up, because Vietnam did not allow horse race betting.

    At that time, Hanoitourism decided to merge with the said company, and then join forces with a British partner to set up a joint venture to continue the project.

    However, the Hanoi People’s Committee decided that a horse track on the previously chosen land plot in Hoang Mai and Thanh Liet districts would not mesh with the development programme of Hanoi and asked them to relocate the field to Tan Minh commune in Soc Son district.

    When the Hanoi People’s Committee was going to sign the decision on allocating land for the project, the foreign partner, once again, withdrew from the project. The main reason for the British investor’s withdrawal was that horse race betting was considered legal only if it was carried out within the horse track complex.

    The Ministry of Planning and Investment then threatened to revoke the licence for the project. However, the Hanoi People’s Committee proposed the retention of the licence after finding a new investor, US-based Global Consultant Network L.L.C.

    Nguyen Manh Hung, Director General of Hanoutourism, said that his company would sign the contract on setting up a joint venture to develop the project on the biggest horse track in Vietnam next week with the US partner. He said that the US partner had accepted the in-house gambling restriction, which makes the project feasible.

    “What we need to do now is to fulfill administrative procedures. We will kick-start the project as soon as we can,” said Mr Hung.

    The parties of the joint venture have estimated that the total investment capital will be $500mil-1bil. The horse track will cover an area of 235 ha, and the project will be undertaken in two phases. In the first phase, $120mil will be injected to build the track, while in the second phase, other items will be built, including 5-star hotels, trade centres, a golf course, water park, apartments and a resort.

    According to Mr Hung, Vietnam will contribute capital to the joint venture in brand name and prestige, while the foreign partner, cash, equipment, technologies and thoroughbreds.

    Once operational, this will be a world-class horse track.

    The project will include a horse training centre to cover an area of 125 ha. In the first phase of the project, right after the field becomes operational, horse race activities will be organised two days a week, while other days it will be open for other entertainment and sports activities.

    The horse race field will be 6km from Noi Bai Airport and link directly to the centre of Hanoi. The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs.

    Oil refinery complex planned for Ba Ria-Vung Tau

    A US $3.7 billion project to build Long Son oil refinery complex in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province is awaiting investment licence, according to the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group (Petro Vietnam).

    Nguyen Viet Son, Director of Petro Vietnam’s Oil Processing Department said that his group and the Viet Nam Chemical Corporation (Vinachem) will contribute 29 percent of the total investment. The remaining 71% will be provided by two Thai partners, the Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Thailand Plastic Company (TPC).

    “We are working hard with the partners on the project,” Son added.

    If licensed, the project’s first phase is scheduled to complete in 2011 and the whole project, in 2013.

    Once operational, the refinery is expected to employ 5,000 skilled workers.

    Long Son complex will be the third large oil refinery projects in Vietnam. The two others are Dung Quat oil refinery in central Quang Ngai province and Nghi Son in central Thanh Hoa province. (VNA)

    Vietnam raises retail fuel prices by nearly 15 percent

    HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam hiked fuel prices at the pump by almost 15 percent Thursday, raising fears of worsening inflation, to cope with world oil prices that are nearing 100 dollars per barrel.

    The price per litre of petrol rose 1,700 dong (0.11 dollars) to a 13,000-13,300 dong (0.80-0.82 dollars) band under a decision by the finance, and trade and industry ministries, the government said on its official website.

    Without the price hike, losses of trading enterprises would have spiralled to 12,000 billion dong (740 million dollars) for the year, Deputy Finance Minister Tran Van Ta was quoted as saying by the VNExpress online newspaper.

    “The trading enterprises and the government could not stand (the losses) anymore. Therefore, consumers need to share the burden,” he said.

    Fuel trading enterprises in Vietnam were allowed in April to set their own retail prices to better compete and respond to market changes, but the communist government reserved the right to intervene when necessary.

    Oil retreated below 98 US dollars in Asian trade Thursday after rising to a new peak of 99.29 dollars per barrel on Wednesday.

    Experts in Vietnam worry that the increase in retail oil prices will help raise the consumer price index, which the government wants to keep below the targeted 8.5 percent annual economic growth for 2007.

    In October, consumer prices rose 9.34 percent year-on-year, the General Statistics Office said. The increasing cost of living has sparked public anger and criticism in the national assembly.

    Vietnam has vast oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea and is a major exporter of crude oil, but the country currently lacks major operating refineries and must import all petroleum products.

    Chu Lai calls investment for seven mammoth projects

    VietNamNet Bridge – The authority of Chu Lai Open Economic one in the central province of Quang Nam just brought out a list of seven huge projects worth a combined US$5.47bil waiting for investors, an official said.

    The projects include building Chu Lai international airport, Ky Ha sea port and Chu Lai free trade zone, one to manufacture assemble observatory equipment, wastewater and exhaust fumes treatment facilities, a project for building a high-class seaside town, and the Tam Hai entertainment project among others.

    The official said that the authority expected to call for ODA funds for the first three projects, while the others should be developed under the Build-Operate-Transfer form.

    "The first three projects relate to infrastructure development and environment protection and need huge investment, so ODA funds will be more suitable," he said.

    Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung agreed to a proposal by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and Quang Nam Province to make a list of priority projects in Chu Lai to call for ODA funding. The source said the Government's decision was a booster for the economic zone.

    "We welcome the decision as it allows us to call for big funds to develop infrastructure projects," he said.

    He also added that the authority had met with many investors interested in these projects but it has not yet found the right developers.

    "Chu Lai international airport is an example. Some investors have shown keen interest in developing the airport but we cannot find an investor with strong financial capacity to develop this billion-dollar project," he said.

    The open economic zone was established in 2003 under a decision by the central Government. The zone covering 27,000 hectares in Nui Thanh District and Tam Ky Town is envisaged to become a financial, banking, commercial, tourism, telecoms and service center in central Vietnam.

    In the beginning, many investors have registered to develop projects there but the authority has lately cancelled many inactive projects in an effort to speed up construction in the zone.

    As of September, the zone had seen 58 projects licensed, with total pledged capital of US$937.3mil (compared with 139 projects worth around US$1.5bil before the axe fell on idle projects.

    The Government has also urged speedier construction of the important economic zone. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in a document signed in November last year demanded that development be accelerated so that Chu Lai and Dung Quat zones would become the nucleus for growth of the central region.

    However, after four years in operation, up to this September only 23 of the licensed projects have started operations.

    Work on highest tower in Vung Tau starts


    Ba Ria Vung Tau province's general Trading Joint Stock Co and Surprise (Ngac Nhien) Ltd Co yesterday started work on the Silver Sea Tower 20-storey multifunctional building.

    The project with a total cost of more than 110 billion dong comprises three floors for trade area, six floors for offices and nine floors of high class apartments.

    The building is expected to be put into operation by the end of 2009.

    Vietnamese businesses invest more than 1.3 billion USD abroad

    17:07' 23/11/2007 (GMT+7)

    VietNamNet Bridge - By the end of October, Vietnamese businesses had poured 1.35 billion USD in 241 investment projects in 35 countries and territories, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Department.

    Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where attracts many projects of Vietnam.
    The projects mainly focus on oil and gas exploration and exploitation, household goods production, construction materials, agro-forestry and fisheries and service.

    Laos attracted the largest number of Viet Nam ’s investment projects with 84 totalling 580 million USD. It was followed by Cambodia with 27 projects capitalised at 88.5 million USD. Algeria was an exceptional case as Viet Nam ’s only investment project in its oil and gas sector, was valued at 243 million USD.

    According to the department, encouraging results obtained by Viet Nam ’s overseas investment projects have prompted more businesses to mull similar schemes so as to expand their markets.

    Besides the traditional markets of Laos and Cambodia, Vietnamese businesses are eyeing potential markets in the Middle East, the Africa, the US and Japan, focusing on the consumer goods industry, textiles and apparels, footwear and trade service.

    In particular, a number of Vietnamese businesses are targeting the hi-tech market with the Financing and Promoting Technology Corporation (FPT) already launching a project in Japan .

    Improvements in the legal system and simplified procedures have encouraged Vietnamese businesses to invest overseas, said economists.

    Experts forecast that Viet Nam ’s investment capital abroad may reach 350 million USD this year.

    Storm disrupts Vietnam coffee and oil production

    NHA TRANG, Vietnam (Reuters) - A tropical storm dumped rain on several south-central Vietnam provinces, disrupting coffee and oil production and endangering fishermen, officials said on Saturday.

    The streets of the coastal resort of Nha Trang were quiet after a night of rain, wind and waves from Tropical Storm Hagibis, downgraded from a typhoon on Friday as it changed direction in the South China Sea after hitting the Philippines.

    The government's flood and storm committee said nearly 31,000 people had been moved away from the coast in four provinces.

    Vietnam sent a diplomatic note to China about four vessels with 36 fishermen requesting shelter in Chinese territory. Authorities alerted 245,000 fishermen and most sailed out of the danger zone, government reports said.

    Officials in the main coffee-growing province of Daklak said light rain had kept farmers from resuming the harvest. The disruption since Thursday at the peak of the harvest threatens to delay deliveries from the world's top robusta producer.

    "The rains have been light but enough to keep farmers from their harvest because even when they can pick cherries they are not able to dry them outdoors," Van Thanh Huy, chairman of the Vietnam Coffee and Cocoa Association, told Reuters.

    Vietsovpetro, operator of Vietnam's biggest oil field Bach Ho, said the storm was causing a production decline of 10,000 tonnes of crude oil, Saturday's Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.

    The Vietnam-Russia oil and gas venture has taken 245 Russian and Vietnamese experts and workers from offshore facilities and temporarily shut crude production at Rong (Dragon) oilfield.

    Vietnam is Southeast Asia's third-largest crude producer.

    Historically, storms rarely strike in late November, the usual start of a six-month dry season.

    Vietnam's long coastline is battered every year by up to 10 storms, killing hundreds, even thousands of people. Since August, some central provinces have been hit by a series of storms, raising floodwater to the highest levels in decades.

    So far this year, storms and floods have killed 368, injured 515 and left 30 unaccounted for, according to government reports. Total property damage was 7.2 trillion dong ($441 million).

    Guide Foreign Investor How To Invest In Vietnam Stock Market

    1. For private investors, it is necessary to fly to Ho Chi Minh City. As a foreign investor, you can completely exchange on the Vietnamese stock market under Securities Law and other relating laws.
    Foreign ownership of shares in companies listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange is limited to 49% of the company’s issued share capital(except for bank and other special industries). For bonds, foreign investors can hold 100% ownership of a particular issuer’s bonds.

    Foreign investors who wish to purchase shares through the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange are required to register through a custodian licensed to hold securities on behalf of foreigners – of which there are currently three: The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Deutsche Bank AG and Standard Chartered Bank. Beside these three, securities companies can play role of custodian unit to hold stocks for foreigners as well. Once registered, a Securities Transaction Code is issued to the foreign investor who may then open a Trading Account with one or more of the twelve licensed Securities Companies.

    Basic documents required include:
    * For individuals: registration form, applicant information sheet, judicial record.
    * For institutions: registration form, applicant information sheet, Certificate of Incorporation, and Decision/Board resolution appointing authorized signatories.

    The Investor's information need to be notified by the notary public of the home country and the Vietnamese embassy.

    Then the sealed hardcopy must be sent to the securities broker, who applies for a trading code.
    Fill out the application for a trading account, which you will receive from your securities broker. And send back a hardcopy.

    2. Investors must open a transaction/trading account in VND with a depository member or securities company.

    3. The selected depository member or securities company then opens a foreign currency demand deposit for the foreign investor, along with a special VND demand deposit into which the foreign currency that will be used to purchase stock is transferred.

    After all account applications are complete, funds are deposited into the VND deposit account according to rules. Buying and trading stock is in VND.

    Investors may place orders in person at the office of the selected securities company, by telephone, by fax, or online, depending upon securities company. Trading at the HOSE is conducted daily with two matching sessions at 09:20am and 10:30am local time. Securities companies normally accept orders ten minutes before matching time. If the order is matched, the investor receives the security or deposit in their account after one trading day

    World Bank says Vietnam's Stock Market Enters Stable Phase

    The World Bank in its updated report on the economic development in the Asia-Pacific region has forecast Vietnam’s economy will grow at sustainable level of over 8 per cent this year and 2008 and its stock market has entered a stable period, state media reported recently.

    As of September, the local market had 206 listed companies with the market capitalization of US$22 billion, or 32.4 per cent of the country’s GDP, much lower than India (45 per cent) and China 70 per cent. The listed companies recently released remarkably good earnings reports, which dissolved concerns over the collapse.

    However, Vietnamese shares, which were much inflated by exaggerated earnings news, will likely deflate by listing of big names including Vietcombank, the report said. Local market watchdogs must ensure transparency in providing news to protect investors, the press said.

    With sustainable economic growth fuelled by industrial production and exports and lower-risk foreign debts accounting for 31 per cent of GDP, a growing indirect foreign investment inflow will pour into Vietnam, particularly in the stock market, it noted.

    Vietnam’s leading securities broker, Saigon Securities Incorporation forecast that VN-Index will likely to remain flat in November and to be bullish in December.

    “The market will likely be bullish thanks to market-boosted news as listed companies will release full-year earning report and plans for 2008,” a SSI expert said.

    In October, VN-Index remained flat, up only 2 per cent over late September, and 17.6 per cent from early August, while HASTC Index strongly rose by 20 per cent and 46.5 per cent, respectively.

    Vu Bang, Chairman of State Securities Commission said the local stock market now has 210 listed companies with the market capitalization accounting for 40 per cent of the country’s GDP [50 per cent if government bonds included]

    So far listed companies have raised VND60 trillion (US$3.75 billion), tripling last year, and 300,000 accounts opened, tripling 2005, Band said.

    At least 50 new stocks will debut on both two bourses by the end of 2007, including shares of big groups in transport, aquiculture, oil and gas, construction materials and chemicals sectors. (Dau Tu Chung Khoan)

    French firms say $80m deals done in Vietnam

    HANOI: Two French companies said they had signed deals worth a total of about $80 million in the telecom and urban railway sectors at a business forum in Vietnam that ended Friday.

    Alcatel-Lucent and International Consulting Engineers for Rail and Urban Transport (Systra) announced the contracts at a meeting in the capital of the fast-emerging economy, where officials pledged to further boost commerce.

    “France will develop commerce, investment and financial cooperation with Vietnam,” Herve Novelli, France’s secretary of state for enterprises and foreign trade, said at the end of the two-day Forum ASEAN in Hanoi. “Economic and trade relations need to match bilateral historical and political ties,” he told media at the meeting of 200 businessmen and experts from France and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    “Vietnam’s WTO (World Trade Organisation) membership is important for bilateral ties, and France is on Vietnam’s side to help the country modernise its economy,” he said.

    International Consulting Engineers for Rail and Urban Transport (Systra) signed a 33-million-euro (48.8-million-dollar) consultation contract for an urban railway in Hanoi, the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

    The 12.5-kilometre (7.7-mile) route from downtown Hanoi to suburban Nhon will have both elevated and underground sections and 15 stations.

    The project has an investment capital of 511.6 million euros, 280 million euros of which is funded by the French government, said the VNA report. The contract signed this week includes construction design and supervision, equipment supply and installation and project management.

    Alcatel-Lucent, meanwhile, said it had signed contracts worth around 31 million dollars to provide telecoms equipment to improve landline, mobile telephone and Internet access in the country of 84 million people.

    Under one deal, worth 22 million dollars with an investment corporation of Vietnam Post and Telecommunications (VNPT), it said it will provide high-tech switching equipment that will provide more than one million lines. afp

    Taiwan company to build LCD plant in Vietnam

    Chi Mei to open plant in Vietnam

    By Lisa Wang
    Saturday, Nov 24, 2007, Page 11

    Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), the nation's second-biggest liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panel maker, yesterday confirmed that it plans to build a multibillion dollar television and computer panel assembly line in Vietnam.

    The new investment comes amid growing fears of panel shortages next year.

    The Tainan-based manufacturer already has two LCD plants in Ningbo and Nanhai in China.

    "We plan to build a LCM [liquid-crystal module] plant in northern Vietnam to meet increasing demand," said Loreta Chen (陳靜燕), a Chi Mei public relations official.

    No firm agreement has been made yet, she said.

    Chen made the remarks after the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday that Chi Mei planned to invest several billion NT dollars in an assembly line in Vietnam next year, citing company president Ho Jau-yang (何昭陽).

    Chi Mei said it needed the new facility to meet demand for panels from customers including the world's No. 2 laptop computer maker, Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶), and the nation's top electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), according to the report.

    Compal said in August that the board approved the proposed NT$989 million (US$30.6 million) investment in Vietnam via a fully owned subsidiary.

    Last month, Chi Mei told investors that capital spending would fall by 10 percent to 20 percent next year from as much as NT$75 billion (US$2.3 billion) this year.

    By the end of next year, Chi Mei said it planned to more than double production of TV panel modules at its Nanhai plant to 1 million units a month from 200,000 units and to boost production of PC panel modules at its Ninbgo factory to 5 million units from 2.8 million.

    Vietnam's open sky private airlines

    Private airlines to get off the ground?
    13:37' 24/11/2007 (GMT+7)

    VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam’s private airline industry may get off the ground after a licensing proposal from Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company won approval from transportation authorities.

    A recent decision may help the private aviation industry take off
    A number of local companies have recently announced plans to establish private airlines, but Vietjet is the first to file and win approval from the Ministry of Transport (MoT).

    The ministry is now proposing that the Prime Minister make the final decision on licensing the airline, which has a chartered capital of $30.8 million.

    The move fits into the country’s commitment to “opening the skies” of Vietnam as of 2010.

    Under the amended Civil Aviation Law and Decree 76/2007/ND-CP on aviation transport and general aviation activities, businesses which are qualified in terms of chartered capital, professional experience, organisation, business plan and strategy will be licensed for aviation.

    Sources from the MoT’s Civil Aviation Administration said the agency has proposed the establishment of two to three private aviation firms from now to 2010.

    According to Nguyen Dinh Cung, head of the Macro-economic Policy Research Board under the Central Institute for Economic Management, Vietnam’s domestic aviation market is small and riddled with complicated procedures that heavily favour local firms.

    “The restriction on licensing new aviation firms is a reasonable policy so as to ensure an economy of scale and investment efficiency. What investors really need is transparency on this policy,” Cung said.

    “To the state, their biggest role is to ensure that licensing conditions are satisfied in order to supervise the licensed business’ operations in line with their business plan and international standards.”

    Cung’s view partly shed some light on a recent decision by the Prime Minister to turn down a proposal from the Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group.

    In August, the corporation reached an initial agreement with AirAsia to establish a $30 million joint venture to operate a budget airline.

    Cung said it was totally reasonable that Vinashin was not permitted to join the aviation sector as its key business was shipping.

    “As a result, if the State wanted to invest more in this sector, investment should be focused on the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines instead of a new business,” he added.

    Pacific Airlines is the only joint stock company at present but its shares are held by state-owned companies and Qantas Airways.

    Vietnam's domestic gold sales

    How will domestic gold fluctuate?

    Some financial experts have predicted that the domestic gold price, which slid from VND1.62 million to VND1.53 million per tael from Nov. 7-20, will keep decreasing as investors continue selling off gold for profits.

    This is inaccurate considering market trends and investor reactions.

    In terms of market trends, when the New York market closed on Tuesday, its gold price had increased to US$790.30 per ounce.

    When the Hong Kong stock exchange opened yesterday, the gold price per ounce had reached about $802.50.

    When the gold price increases overseas, the domestic price in Vietnam rises accordingly.

    At 9:30 a.m. yesterday, the price at the Hanoi Bank of Agriculture was VND1.564 million ($97.47) per tael and VND1.56 million ($97.22) per tael at Ngoc Tin Jewelry Company.

    In fact, the floor price for gold reached VND1.53 million per tael and will not sink lower any time soon.

    In terms of investor response, the US economy did not cause the domestic gold price to decrease.

    It was instead investor concerns that pushed up the gold price.

    The US Federal Reserve has recently slashed its forecast for US economy growth in 2008, citing as reasons a tighter market and a real estate slump.

    Fed policy makers predicted that the world's largest economy will grow by only 1.8 to 2.5 percent, compared to 2.5 to 2.75 percent in a June prediction.

    Following the forecast, the US dollar had decreased to its lowest recorded level against the euro.

    In contrast, the crude oil price rose to $98.62 per barrel, partly because of the weak US dollar and the concern over the world's oil supply.

    The increase in the gold price could be caused by several reasons, including alterations in each country's foreign exchange reserves, especially in those countries with assets more than $100 billion such as China, Germany, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and Singapore.

    The gold price therefore could fluctuate and would generally follow the changes in the world's crude oil price and the US market.

    As long as investors still consider the buying and selling of gold as profitable, the gold price could surpass the current record of VND1.65 million per tael domestically and $850 per ounce in international markets.

    By Ngoc Minh

    Vietnam’s plastic surgery catching up

    The world wide trend of surgical facial enhancements and body adjustments has taken a firm hold in Vietnam.

    According to the Ho Chi Minh City health department, the burgeoning plastic surgery industry has grown rapidly with 53 licensed plastic surgeries in HCMC.

    Forty-five are specialized clinics and eight are hospitals offering plastic surgery services.

    “Vietnamese plastic surgeons at the moment are able to carry out most types of plastic surgery offered elsewhere in the world like nose jobs, scar removal, breast implants, or liposuction,” said Vietnam’s leading plastic surgeon, Tran Thi Anh Tu, from HCMC-based Dr.Tu Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Care Clinic.

    The latest technology including CT3, VBeam and pixel laser skin tightening is available locally, she said.

    Recently Tu’s clinic hosted a training session offered by Israeli experts on Ultrashape Contour 1, a new fat-blasting technology which focuses ultra-sound beams.

    The session attracted attention from several local doctors.

    Doctor Tu said private plastic surgery clinics in HCMC took particular pains to keep up with new technical advances.

    Vietnamese plastic surgeons attend international conferences, trained for international certificates and worked with foreign doctors.

    Phan Van Nghiem, head of the HCMC Department of Health, Medical Affairs Department said the plastic surgery sector in Vietnam enjoys two major advantages.

    “Vietnamese plastic surgeons are generally capable and devoted to their profession,” he said.

    “Plastic surgery costs in Vietnam are also 70 percent lower than in developed plastic surgery markets like the US or Israel.”

    In Vietnam, nose or eyelid surgery costs around US$250 while the price for the same services in the US ranges from $1,000 to $2,500.

    Hair transplants in Vietnam cost up to $1,500, and inthe US the price averages $6,000.

    At the moment, Thailand is leading other Southeast Asian countries in plastic surgery.

    Dr. Tu Comestic Surgery and Skin Care Clinic’s CEO, Tran Thien My, said Vietnam’s plastic surgery industry is full of potential.

    “If we can make the best of our advantages in this field, including low prices and Vietnamese plastic surgeons’ competence, we can become a popular destination for foreigners seeking plastic surgery services,” he said.

    Song Du Hee from the South Korea said, “I came to Vietnam for a noselift since I heard that Vietnamese doctors are very careful.”

    “I had had other plastic surgery in the US. Plastic surgery equipment in Vietnam is even more advanced than in some American businesses.”

    But a former health official warned the plastic surgery sector in Vietnam faces some problems.

    Former head of HCMC Health, Nguyen The Dung, said despite regular inspections from local health officials, many plastic surgery businesses were of questionable quality and operating without licenses.

    In the first two months of 2006, for instance, 2 female patients died after under going plastic surgery at unauthorized clinics in the city.

    Dung said a major setback was the lack of punishment for violators. The heaviest penalty at present is only a warning.

    Reported by Linh Chi

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Vietnam defends $2 billion Spratly gas project

    HANOI: Vietnam said Thursday that a BP-led $2 billion natural gas field and pipeline project in the South China Sea was within the bounds of its sovereignty, after Beijing accused Hanoi of infringing on China’s territory.

    China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim all of the Spratly Islands, a string of rocky outcrops in the South China Sea, possibly containing large oil and gas deposits, while Malaysia and the Philippines claim parts of them.

    A spokesman for the Vietnamese government said that the division of its islands and territorial waters “into blocks for oil and gas exploration and exploitation is completely normal” and conforms with international laws.

    “The cooperation project between Petrovietnam and BP of Britain has been implemented since 2000 and is within the bounds of Vietnam’s exclusive zones and continental shelf, completely under the sovereignty of Vietnam,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Le Dung, said in a statement.

    The planned $2 billion gas field and pipeline project, about 370 kilometers, or 230 miles, southeast off Vung Tau on the southern coast, is adjacent to the BP-led Lan Tay-Lan Do gas fields that have been producing gas for power generation since 2002.

    According to maps of the region, the Lan Tay-Lan Do gas fields are not within an ongoing joint seismic exploration effort in the Spratlys between the national oil companies of China, the Philippines and Vietnam.

    The U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips and Petrovietnam are also partners in the new venture, which is pending final agreement. Neither China nor the other countries that contest the Spratlys had made any public statements about the BP project before Tuesday, when China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, was asked to comment on the pipeline venture, and about Vietnam’s plan to hold local elections on the islands.

    Vietnam’s series of new actions infringing on China’s sovereignty, sovereign power and administrative rights in the Spratly Islands, goes against the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on the maritime issue,” he told a news conference in Beijing, in response to a question from a local reporter.

    A BP spokesman in London declined to comment. Vietnam has traditionally been wary of its larger Asian neighbor. In 1979, the two countries fought a short border war after Vietnam occupied it neighbor, Cambodia, and overthrew the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, which was backed by Beijing.

    In 1988, China and Vietnam fought a brief naval battle near one of the Spratly Island reefs, in which more than 70 Vietnamese sailors died.

    Beijing and Hanoi normalized relations in 1991 and tensions have eased considerably in recent years.