Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vietnam's apparel exports to US to hit US $6.1 billion this year, AmCham

The US Chamber of Commerce Vietnam forecasts that Vietnam will take Mexico and India to rank second, only after China, in terms of apparel exports to the US, with export turnover hitting US $6.1 billion, if the present trend continues.

Vietnam’s market share is predicted to growth rapidly from 3.2% (fifth place) in 2005 to about 6% and second place in 2008.

In 2007, Vietnam ranked fourth as a supplier to the US apparel market, up from fifth position in 2006, behind China, Mexico, India.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Vietnam’s exports of apparel products to the US reached US $4.5 billion last year, exceeding crude oil export turnover, despite US’s application of a program to monitor imports of apparel from Vietnam, thus, Vietnam has had to work out an export monitoring programme to cope with this.

This year, Vietnam targets to earn US $9.5 billion from exports of apparel products, up 21.8% against 2007. (VnExpress)

Germany’s Schaeffler group invests US $117 in Vietnam

Nhan Dan Online - Total investment in Vietnam by Schaeffler, a leading bearings manufacturing group from Germany, will hit US $117 million within the next two to three years when construction of Schaeffler plant in Amata Industrial Zone in southern province of Dong Nai, said Mr Phan Thanh Minh Tam (photo), head of Schaeffler Vietnam Co., Ltd.

Upon its completion in 2010, the factory will be able to produce over 160 million rolling and plain bearings a year and provide jobs for 1,000 workers.

A majority of the products will be for exports and part will be for domestic consumption.

According to Mr Tam, two months after receiving a business license in July 2007, the first shipment of machinery was imported. While waiting to be allocated land to build their plant, Schaeffler Vietnam decided to lease two ready build factories, installing machines and the first tapered roller bearing was produced in December 2007.

Products of Schaeffler.

The Germany group established its representative in Vietnam in 2001. Six years later, it decided to expand its investment in Vietnam by building a plant in the country.

Mr Tam said Vietnam’s increasing attractiveness to foreign investors, socio-political stability, high economic growth and workers are quick to master professional skills are the explanations for this decision.

At a seminar held last week in Hanoi on Bearings and Technical Services of Schaeffler Group for the Cement Industry, domestic cement producers showed their interest in Schaeffler Bearings.

Schaeffler Vietnam was also committed to strengthen co-ordination with the Vietnamese Cement Association to provide members of the association with the latest information on bearings for cement industry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ayala electronics firm eyes expansion in Vietnam

By Lawrence CasirayaINQUIRER.netFirst Posted 12:52:00 02/25/2008
MANILA, Philippines--Integrated Microelectronic Inc. (IMI) has said it is planning to set up operations in Vietnam. IMI, the electronics manufacturing subsidiary of the Ayala Group, already has manufacturing operations in four locations in China and also in Singapore. Locally, it has five facilities located in Laguna, Cavite and Cebu. The company provides design and manufacturing services for Japanese electronics firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. "It is always an open opportunity. Hopefully, this year," said Emmanuel Barcelon, IMI senior managing director for manufacturing and custom business operations, when asked about Vietnam expansion plans in an interview.Vietnam has become a hotbed for investments in the high-tech industry, attracting the likes of chipmaker Intel."The challenge for us is to continue being competitive through cost," Barcelon said.However, he acknowledged that Vietnam still needs to work on certain aspects such as English language fluency and a bureaucratic government.In the Philippines, IMI is subcontracting assembly services to EMS Components Assembly Inc., also a Filipino-owned company."We are looking to replicate this 'captive' model in China and Vietnam," Barcelon said, referring to the Japanese model of developing local capability in electronics by subcontracting work to service providers.

Vietnam to Invest $1Billion USD on Internet Broadband

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam's largest telecommunications company plans to invest US$1 billion (euro670 million) to upgrade the country's broadband Internet network and keep pace with economic growth.
Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group will expand and improve the network over the next two years, said Bui Quoc Viet, spokesman for the state-owned firm.
The improved network will provide faster connections for Vietnam's nearly 19 million Internet users, he said. Roughly one-fifth of the country's 85 million people use the Internet.
"Vietnam is developing very quickly, and the number of Internet users is rising," Viet said. "We have to build a better Internet infrastructure."
The Vietnamese government wants to expand the country's broadband network into previously unserved regions of the country and link public high schools and government offices to the network.

Vietnam urged to improve infrastructure

Hanoi - Singapore President Sellapan Rama Nathan, arriving in Vietnam on an official visit, urged his hosts to take advantage of Singaporean expertise to unclog the country's congested ports and transportation infrastructure. "One of your problems is infrastructure," Nathan said in a meeting with his counterpart, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet. "You need to address the problem of containers moving in and out of your main ports."
Vietnam's economy, which grew more than 8 per cent in 2007, has begun to run into bottlenecks as its transportation infrastructure proves inadequate to rising volumes of exports.
A report delivered last December by Paul Hoogwaerts of the shipping firm Maersk International warned that Vietnam needed immediate investment in roads and container ports near the southern economic capital of Ho Chi Minh City.
The report said failure to meet road construction deadlines in the next two years would have a "serious impact on Vietnam's long-term economic growth and development."
Nathan also warned of the need for greater economic integration among South-East Asian countries in order to compete with the vast markets of India and China. "Unless we develop ASEAN as an area of 500 million people and an integrated society, foreign investment will move away from us," Nathan said.
Triet said Singapore's high level of economic development served as a model for Vietnam.
"Singapore's development is very important in encouraging many other economies to develop, including Vietnam."
Vietnamese government officials regularly travel to the city-state for study tours on economic management and anti-corruption efforts.
Singapore is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment in Vietnam after South Korea, with 10.6 billion dollars. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached 8.6 billion dollars in 2007. Trade between Vietnam and the US, its largest export market, was 12.2 billion dollars.
Nathan said Singaporean firm CapitaLand, the largest real estate developer in Southeast Asia, planned to sign deals with Vietnamese investors during his trip.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A day in the life of a Vietnam oil executive

A day in the life of: Simon Lockett
The chief executive of Premier Oil spends much of his time in Asia, nurturing partnerships to develop the region's reserves. By James Moore
Premier Oil has operations in 13 countries but no matter which one he happens to be in, chief executive Simon Lockett sets his alarm clock at the same time. "I am a creature of habit in the morning," he says. While he admits to occasionally resorting to sleeping tablets to beat jet-lag, running a company with such far-flung operations has meant he has learned to sleep well on aeroplanes.
"As long as I get a reasonable amount of sleep on the plane, I am usually OK," he explains. "It is really important to do that. I have seen business people nodding off during meetings and it is not good. People don't get to see you for very long and so you owe it to them to give your best when you are with them."
Perhaps his strict morning routine is what helps him adjust well to new time zones – he says it never changes. He is diabetic so he first checks his blood sugar level, eats a breakfast of cereal and toast and spends 45 minutes in the gym before the working day begins. "I spend probably 30 or 40 per cent of my time travelling but I do the same thing wherever I am."
Today, Mr Lockett, 43, is in Hanoi, Vietnam. A lot is riding on what is a hugely important market for Premier. The British gas and oil production and exploration group, which began life in 1934 as the Trinidad-based Caribbean Oil Company, is investing heavily and plans to spend $1bn over the next few years.
The first job of Mr Lockett's day is to meet the local team after the short drive to Premier's offices, where they will together carry out reviews of existing projects before moving on to more forward-looking exploration work. Premier is developing offshore fields to the south of the country. "Vietnam is becoming increasingly important to us," he says. "Out of our medium-term production target of 50,000 barrels a day, it represents 20 per cent and it should be running at 15 to 20 per cent by 2010."
It's back in the car and a battle with the increasingly congested streets of downtown Hanoi, a testament to the Vietnamese capital's phenomenal recent growth. "Vietnam is booming, and you see the signs of this development everywhere," says Mr Lockett. "People talk about China and India but it is not just about them. Vietnam is a fantastic example of what is going on in Asia too. There is a lot of investment going into the country, particularly from Japan. All the big names are here – Canon, Sony, Toshiba."
Mr Lockett is heading out for a meeting with PetroVietnam, the state-run oil company which is a co-investor with Premier in its Vietnamese projects. He says he has established productive relationships with the company. These businesses are an important part of the industry in most oil-producing nations. "These sort of relationships are what keeps us ahead. It is not just me. It is important that our local business managers and everybody else makes sure we have the right relationships," says Mr Lockett. The get-together is, inevitably, followed by a lunch where the discussionscontinue.
Mr Lockett manages to clear a couple of minutes to make a good morning telephone call to his family back home. He says he tries to do this from whichever of the company's far-flung operating regions he happens to be in. "It's a brief call but I like to be able to say good morning to my wife and children before they head off to school," he adds. "There is a brief window when you can do that. It doesn't always work but I like to do that if I can."
The call is followed by talks with the company's joint-venture partner Santos, an Australian oil exploration company. One of the features of the oil industry is that most new developments tend to involve a number of businesses working in partnership, usually with a state-owned group. "We all compete like hell but we are all in bed together," admits Mr Lockett. "This enables us to pool experts, geologists and the financial risks associated with a project. There are one or two companies that do everything themselves 100 per cent but that is very unusual. For the most part, companies prefer to work in partnership."
With Premier, however, partnership has not yet turned into marriage. The company has grown at a breakneck pace and is now valued at more than £1bn. It sits in the FTSE 250 index of second-tier companies but Mr Lockett has ambitions to see Premier in the FTSE 100 before too long. With the price of oil smashing through the $100 a barrel barrier and the world's continuing – and worrying – thirst for the black stuff, thisambition is probably one the company will achieve if it stays independent.
However, Premier's growth has attracted the attention of predators. The company is a favourite of market gossips, is regularly the subject of takeover rumours and has occasionally looked as though it would walk up the aisle with a suitor. Such a marriage has never been consummated, however, and Mr Lockett does not appear keen for it to happen.
"We don't really need to at the moment," he says. "We are not in a position where we need to merge because we need another company's pipeline. We have projects in development for the next two to three years and we have a good outlook after that. On my next trip I might be drinking coffee in the Middle East. I think our future looks bright."
Mr Lockett returns to his hotel to shower and freshen up before dinner. He admits that he has a passion for Far Eastern food, having worked in the region for several years. "My team will take me somewhere different every time I am here," he says. "I love the combination of different flavours. I have spent a lot of time in this part of the world and South-east Asia has beencentral not just to me, but also to the rest of my team. Three members of our board have lived in Jakarta, Indonesia or Singapore, so it goes to the core ofour business."
After dinner, he will try to make another call home before hooking up to the internet to deal with email correspondence and catch up on events at his beloved Manchester City FC. Like many fans of football teams outside the Premiership's "big four", he has a sense of impending doom about the club's prospects. "It is great that we've got Sven [Goran Eriksson[ as manager, and I'd like to think that we will at least get into Europe, but I can't help thinking that it's all about to go wrong," he says. He once listened to commentary of City's play-off final with Gillingham during the club's unhappy spell in the old Second Division (now League One) over the internet at Singapore airport. However, weekends out of Britain are very unusual. "It doesn't matter where I have been," he says, "on Friday nights I will be on a plane home. I spend my weekends with my family and I am very strict about that. You need something to keep you grounded."
The CV
Name: Simon LockettAge: 43
Job: Chief executive of Premier Oil
Previous jobs: Lab technician, then quality assurance manager at Berwin Polymer Processing, Manchester (1986); business analyst, Shell International Chemicals (1990); commercial analyst, Shell Expo (1992).
Career at Premier Oil: Joined asbusiness development executive in 1994. Was instrumental in Premier's merger with PICT Petroleum and acquisition of Chevron interests in Indonesia. Appointed commercial manager for Indonesia in 1997 and successfully completed cross-border sale of $8bn of natural gas from the West Natuna Fields in Singapore. Became Indonesia commercialdirector in 1998. Appointed manager for Albania 2001, then operations director for whole group in 2004. Appointed chief executive in 2005.
Family life: Married with a sonand daughter.
Education: Sheffield University; Manchester Business School.

Gold most attractive investment in Vietnam

With local gold prices below global rates, they look set to keep rising.
Local gold prices have risen recently to hit VND17.95 million (US$1,125) a tael Friday.
The global price Friday reached $946 an ounce, or $1,135 a tael.
The global price now looks set to break $950 an ounce.
Analysts said oil prices, which currently exceed $101 a barrel, were one of the main causes of the gold price surge.
The surge also came after the US sub prime mortgage crisis dented the financial market, sent the economy towards a recession and weakened the US dollar.
Despite the US Federal Reserve’s four interest rate cuts and $150 billion in government spending to repay taxes to local businesses, the economy remains in turmoil.
Moreover, the US inflation rate climbed 5.1 percent in January.
In Vietnam, gold remains the most attractive and safest investment channel as the central bank has tightened its monetary policy to cool the hot property market and limit the amount of money flowing into the stock market.

Vietnam starts building biggest oil tanker ever

Dung Quat starts building largest tonne oil tanker
Dung Quat Shipbuilding Company began the building of a 105,000 tonne oil tanker in Binh Dong commune, Binh Son district, central Quang Ngai province, on February 22.
This is the first of three oil tankers that will be built by Dung Quat shipbuilder under a contract with PetroVietnam Transportation Company (PV Trans).
It is also the largest oil tanker in Vietnam and the second over 100,000 tonne oil tanker built by the company.
The 243.8 m long and 42 m wide ship, which was designed by RoK KOMAC company, will be equipped with a 13,560 KW engine.
The ship will be built in 21 months and will be handed over to PV Trans in November 2009. (VNA)

Vietnam's students flock into high demand jobs

Students flock to pertinent programmes
11:18' 22/02/2008 (GMT+7)
VietNamNet Bridge – University courses that train people for positions in high demand attract far more students than those that lead to less prestigious jobs also vital to the functioning of society.

Unfortunately, information about less popular courses is often in short supply, including the fact that they often pay handsomely.
Finance-banking, biological technology and information technology are the most sought after university degrees. To pass entrance exams for these studies, students have to gain 24 points, two or three more than for other courses.
Before applying to study for a degree, students need to know what they will really achieve from them and what career is most suitable for them.
"For these three majors, it is easy for students to satisfy themselves they are taking the right direction because there is plenty of information about them," said Nguyen Minh Huan, a teacher in information technology.
A favourable studying environment and plentiful employment opportunities encourage students to rush to these courses.
"Before studying finance-banking, I was able to find which subjects I would be taught and where I could work after graduating," said Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, a second-year student at the National Economics University.
"Compared to other majors, finance-banking seems to be more advantageous. In addition, since I took up studies, I have received three scholarships from the Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT), ICCI and invitations to co-operate with private banks through job fairs and competitions for finance-banking students.
"The starting salary when I graduate is expected not to be less than VND4mil (US$250)."
As for information technology, every company in every field, from supermarkets to stock centres, had a high demand for information technology people, said Nguyen Huu Hung, a student at the Genetic Information Technology College, which has its headquarters in Singapore.
In addition, most of the information-technology colleges, especially foreign ones, such as India’s NIIT and Genetic have high standards of teaching, up-to-the-minute and practical lessons - and modern equipment.
"I can clearly see my future after graduating," he said. "I can either work for international information companies or in Vietnam by helping establish website services," said Hung.
Hung said he knows his starting salary will be about VND3.5mil ($218) a month when he graduates, rising eventually to VND10mil ($625).
Another degree that attracts many students is biological technology, which has been taught in Vietnam for several years.
"We now have knowledge of cell technology, environmental biology and gene technology, all of which are very important in Vietnam," said Nguyen Thu Hien, a student at Ha Noi Open University.
Under the radar
University courses in energy, material technology, forestry production, agricultural trading, oceanography and hydrometeorology are also vital for the functioning of Vietnam’s society, but generally accept students qualifying at lower entrance levels.
"In the latest examination, the floor point for these majors was 15, much lower than for other courses, even though companies are looking for these engineering graduates," said Nguyen Kim Quang, Deputy Head of Training at the Natural Sciences University.
More than 10 companies in HCM City have tried in vain to attract graduates, offering starting salaries of VND4mil ($312) a month, said Tran Dinh Ly, Director of the Student Support Centre in HCM City’s Agriculture and Forestry University.
"I have little information about these majors and whether I am taking a risk in applying for this type of study," said Hung. "I am not brave enough to apply for agricultural trading, knowing that I will have to work in the fields and open air every day," said Hien.
"Student and parental prejudices keep these majors in oblivion," said Quang. Students and parents have few chances of finding information on these courses so they can evaluate studying for them.
"However, students of finance-banking and information technology have their own competitions and job fairs, even television game shows," Lan said. "It seems there are few similar opportunities for students of hydrometeorology or agriculture product processing."
"If we knew there were great job opportunities in these areas and salaries as high as VND4mil ($250), many of us would rush into them," said Hung.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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Additional VND1,000 billion in student loans provided (19/02/2008)

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1.6 million square meters of housing for teachers to be built (17/02/2008)

Arousing students’ passion for scientific research (15/02/2008)

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Educators brush up on history lessons (13/02/2008)

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Young mathematic talent talks of career future in homeland (10/02/2008)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vietnam's PTSC launches a 1,420 ton oil rig

Joint Stock Company successfully launches another oil-rig

Petroleum Technical Service Joint Stock CompanyThe Petroleum Technical Service Joint Stock Company (PTSC) successfully launched an oil-rig weighing around 1,420 tonnes on February 18.

The Bunga Orkid C (BO-C) is one of the three oil rigs built by PTSC for the development of BO oil field worth 100 million USD in total with investment from the Talisman Malaysia Limited.

PTSC handed over the 800 tonne BO-B, the first in its contract, last October.

Earlier, PTSC designed and built the Bunga Tulip A oil-rig, accommodation facility and oil rig bridge for Talisman Malaysia Ltd.

US$1.299b project in Ba Ria Vung Tau licensed

20-FEB-2008 Intellasia | 18/Feb/2008 Thoi Bao Kinh Te Vietnam page 2
Feb 20, 2008 - 7:00:00 AM

Eight domestic and foreign investment projects were licensed on February 15 by the People Committee of the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau. Of which, notably the Vung Tau Wonderful Theme Park project invested by the US-Vietnam Good Choice Ltd Co has the total investment capital of up to US$1.299 billion.

The project covers on an area of 155 hectares in Bau Trung area, Nguyen An Ninh ward in the southern city of Vung Tau including a five-star hotel with 2,500 rooms and four four-star hotels with 4,000 rooms together with other entertainment areas.

Vietnam to cut coal exports to China by 19%

Feb. 20, 2008 (China Knowledge) - Vietnam, China's largest coal supplier, will cut the coal exports to China by 19% this year, in a bid to meet the domestic power producer's demand, according to sources. This year, the coal exports of Vietnam to China are predicted to drop 13 million tons, sources said.

Offshore oil rig WilBoss heading for Vietnam

Awilco jackup WilBoss, built by KFELS

SINGAPORE/VIETNAM: Awilco Offshore's newbuild jackup WilBoss is being anchored off Singapore while the rig is waiting to be transported to Vietnam for its first drilling assignment with Premier Oil.

The rig is scheduled to embark on an exploration and development drilling program in the Blackbird field from March 2008. WilBoss will first drill on the Chim Sao North development well, which is expected to be suspended as a future oil producer. After completing Chim Sao North, the rig will move on to drill exploration wells in the block, including the Chim Ung or Falcon well, which will test a prospect on trend with Chim Sao and other high impact and near-field exploration prospects. The entire drilling program will target reserves in excess of 200 million barrels.

South Korea to help build Vietnam's Quang Nam hospital in June

South Korea will start to build an US$35 million international standard hospital in Quang Nam Province in June, according to the Health Ministry’s website.

The project, which is the country’s largest non-refundable aid project from South Korea, was signed at the end of 2006 to respond to Vietnam’s hospital proposal at the 2004 Asia - Europe Summit in Hanoi.

Covering 35 ha in the Chu Lai open economic zone of Quang Nam Province, 100 km south of Da Nang, the 500-bed Quang Nam Central General Hospital will take four years to build.

South Korea will also provide equipment, technology and train specialists for the hospital.

Reported by Phuong Anh

Vietnam faces shipping manpower shortage

HANOI, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam annually completes training of around 3,000 people for the domestic shipbuilding industry, meeting around 50 percent of its manpower demand, according to a local education agency on Wednesday.

Specialized schools, colleges and universities in Vietnam annually turn out 600-700 engineers and 2,000-3,000 workers in shipbuilding-related fields, meeting 40-60 percent of the industry's demand for human resources, said the Higher Education Department under the Ministry of Education and Training.

Old teaching methods and facilities, shortage of qualified lecturers, and lack of close ordination between educational establishments and shipbuilding enterprises are mainly contributed to the manpower shortage.

Vietnam is striving to have at least two local shipbuilding-related universities which will have training connections with foreign entities this year, the department said.

1.3 billion USD park licensed in Ba Ria-Vung Tau

VNECONOMY updated: 21/02/2008

A project to build a park named Wonderful World in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has got license from the local authority.

The provincial People’s Committee granted the investment certificate to the Good Choice USA – Viet Nam to carry out the 1.3 billion USD project, which will cover 155 ha in Bau Trung, Nguyen An Ninh ward, Vung Tau city.

The project will include a five-star hotel with 2,500 rooms, four four-star hotels with 4,000 rooms, exhibition and conventional centres, an entertainment area with a Ferris wheel, a water palace and a cluster of Viet miniature landscapes of the Viet Nam and the world.

Infrastructure construction of the project is expected to be completed in 2010 and its entertainment items, as from 2011.

Vietnam's corporate news

VUNG TAU - Good Choice USA – Vietnam has been licensed to develop the Vung Tau Wonderful World Theme Park in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province at total invested capital of US$1.3 billion. The 155-ha park will include four- and five-star hotels with 6,500 rooms in total, and many other entertainment facilities, Sai Gon Giai Phong reports.

HCMC - Pacific Airlines as from March 1 will introduce new airfares, at VND1.45-1.55 million for HCMC-Hanoi service, while the fare for transport from Hanoi or HCMC to Danang and Hue is VND980,000. Its budget airfares, however, will start from VND15,000 as previously depending on the booking time, according to Sai Gon Giai Phong.

DONG THAP - Dong Thap Housing and Industrial Park Development Co. has just started work on a wastewater treatment plant in A1 Sadec Industrial Park in the Mekong Delta province, Lao Dong reports. The bio-technology facility, with a daily treatment capacity of 1,500 cubic meters, requires total investment of VND8 billion.

HA TINH - Power Company No. 1 is building a 110kV power transformer station in Vung Anh in the northern province of Ha Tinh to ensure stable power supply for manufacturers in Vung Anh Economic Zone, Nhan Dan reports.

HANOI - The fast food giant KFC will soon open a KFC restaurant in Hanoi in a ceremony to be attended by KFC president David Novak, who will arrive in Vietnam tomorrow for the event, according to 12H. KFC has so far opened 41 fast food restaurants in Vietnam since it first presence in 1997, and the group plans to raise the number to 100 by 2010.

HCMC - Agribank will take out a loan of US$50 million from the World Bank to finance a project of the HCMC Investment Fund for Urban Development, according to Nguoi Lao Dong. The loan will be provided to the HCMC government in Vietnam dong with a term of 25 years.

HA TINH - Van Loi Steel will today break ground for an iron ore grinding and screening plant in Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province, Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam reports. The factory, with a capacity of 500,000 tons a year, costs VND185 billion, and will be commissioned in June this year.

HCMC – REE Corp. reported a decline in profit in January due to a fall in its financial investment. The company obtained VND89.7 billion in revenue and VND17.5 billion in pre-tax profit, or equivalent to 115.4% and 19.28% of the respective figures in the same period last year. REE targets VND1.1 trillion in revenue and VND420 billion in profit this year.

* PEB Steel has completed the last rafter beam of stage 1 of Doosan Vina project in Dung Quat Industrial Zone in central Quang Ngai Province. The pre-engineered steel building project, costing US$17 million, is considered the biggest pre-engineered steel buildings project ever awarded in Vietnam. The building will be the Korean-invested Doosan Vina’s factory for heavy-industry production.

* Dung Quat Shipbuilding Industry Corporation will late this month start building the first of three oil tankers with a capacity of 105,000 tons each under an order worth US$60 million placed by Vietnam Transport Corporation, Tuoi Tre reports.

* Vietnam’s Kova Paint has just commissioned a paint factory in the neighboring country of Cambodia. Kova Cambodia Paint is a joint venture between Kova and a Singapore partner, and has a daily output of 60 tons of paint, according to Sai Gon Giai Phong.

Vietnam Focuses On Building Infrastructure With Laos, Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Feb 21 (Bernama) -- Vietnam will continue developing infrastructure at the Development Triangle region and foster human resources training cooperation with Laos and Cambodia, Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said.

Quoting Vo, the Vietnam news agency (VNA) reported that Vietnam will build a boarding school in Cambodia's eastern province of Mondulkiri and provide vocational training for Cambodian and Laos students.

The Development Triangle, which covers 10 border provinces of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, is an area with huge potential for the development of hydro-electric power and mining, the cultivation of industrial crops and tourism.

During the conference, representatives from the three countries affirmed their determination to make the Development Triangle an area with high economic growth.

More efforts should be made to quickly turn the area into an economic hub, linking the three countries based on the production of exports, they said.

They agreed to quickly introduce policies with preferential treatment for the Development Triangle and put forth a roadmap for promoting cooperation with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

They decided to organise their third conference in Laos early next year.


Taiwanese firm to produce notebook computers in Vietnam

HANOI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Compal Electronics of China's Taiwanis investing some 500 million U.S. dollars in building a notebook personal computer plant in Vietnam, local newspaper Vietnam Economic Times reported Friday.

The plant is scheduled to start trial operation in the third quarter of 2008, and monthly assemble one million notebooks starting late 2009.

Compal is one of the world's leading manufacturers of notebooks and computer monitor products. It has established branches in China's mainland, England and the United States.

PetroVietnam nears deal for KPI, Idemitsu refinery JV

PetroVietnam nears deal for KPI, Idemitsu refinery JV

State oil group PetroVietnam is moving closer to an agreement with Idemitsu and Kuwait Petroleum International to form a joint venture to build Vietnam’s second refinery, the 170,000 bpd Nghi Son plant.

“Talks with Idemitsu and KPI are underway and some significant progress has been reached, including some special treatment granted to the foreign investors,” an official from PetroVietnam said Wednesday.

PetroVietnam has said it would grant investors in Nghi Son refinery the right to sell directly to the domestic retail market, which up untill now, remains closed to foreign companies.

Crude oil imports for use in the refinery will be exempt from taxes, and so will exports of oil products, the group has said.

It was unclear what shares each investor would hold in the US$6 billion refinery, which will use 100 percent foreign crude oil when it is put into operation in 2013.

PetroVietnam is currently the sole investor in Vietnam’s first oil refinery, the 140,000 bpd Dung Quat refinery, which is scheduled to go on-stream early next year.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Siemens to Sell Equipment to Vietnam Steel Plant, Thoi Bao Says

By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Siemens AG will sell equipment to a new Viet Steel plant in southern Vietnam, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam reported, citing Siemens' local unit.

The German company will provide electronic and other equipment to the steel plant, which is scheduled to be operational by the middle of 2009, according to the report that didn't give a value for the contract.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen in Hanoi at .

Vietnam's largest city starts building 1.1 billion US dollar urban rail system

HANOI (Thomson Financial) - Vietnam's largest city started construction Thursday of the country's first urban railway system, a project worth nearly 1.1 billion dollars and financed mostly with Japanese loans, officials said.

Workers in Ho Chi Minh City broke ground on the system set to carry 526,000 people per day by 2014 along 19.7 kilometers (12.2 miles) of above and below-ground rail lines in the traffic-choked city of about 7 million. -read more-

Vietnam's auto market to grow 30% in 2008

Auto market to grow 30% at least in 2008: VAMA
15:48' 21/02/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Dr Udo Loersch, Chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA), believes that the domestic car market will witness the impressive growth rate of 30% at least in 2008 following a successful year 2007.

VietNamNet Bridge briefs you on the conversation between Mr Udo Loersch and VnMedia’s reporter.

2007 is really a successful year for domestic automobile manufacturers. What do you think are the main reasons behind the success?

Dr Udo Loersch, Chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA)

With 80,392 units sold in 2007, the market grew by 97% over 2006, of which cars and commercial vehicles saw the biggest growth rates at 128% and 129% respectively over 2006, while SUV/MPV also saw satisfactory growth rate at 46%.

There are many reasons that supported the market development: Vietnam’s national economy grew well by 8,5% in 2007, which helped the sales of commercial vehicles increase sharply. As the income of Vietnamese people has been increasing, cars have become affordable for many Vietnamese people, which has led to the high growth rate of car sales.

How do you think the automobile market will perform in 2008 and what kind of vehicles, MPV, sedans or pick-ups will sell the best?

We forecast the 30% growth rate in 2008 for cars, and 50% for commercial vehicles. However, the forecasts will only become true if we have stable tax policies, I mean the stable tax rates on CKD (complete knock down) and CBU (complete built unit) imports.

Mercedes Benz Vietnam has lowered the sale price of the C-Class. Do you think that the move will badly affect the brand name of Mercedes Benz, which has been known for luxury models?

There won’t be any effect on our brand name. We have been good in the management and successfully cut the production costs, which allows us to cut the sale price. We want to bring our luxury cars to more Vietnamese consumers, while still maintaining our position as the leading luxury car manufacturer in Vietnam. E-Class remains the highest-grade sedan model manufactured in Vietnam, while C-Class the best selling luxury model.

What would you say about the future of super cars, which have been imported massively into Vietnam in 2007 and early 2008, including Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari or Lotus?

I don’t think that the sales will be high. You won’t feel wonderful if you have a Ferrari but you can only drive it at the speed of 30-40 km/h on crowded roads. You can’t even drive fast on Highway No 1.

Mercedes Benz Vietnam has been granted the license to import cars to sell domestically, and other manufacturers are likely to be licensed in the time to come. What would you say about the competition between locally made cars and imported models?

Locally made cars under the form of CKD have the same quality as imported cars under the mode of CBU, but they are superior to imports because they have softer prices.

I think most of VAMA”s members will keep producing cars under the form of CKD as the main business. As for Mercedes Benz, we will increase the production capacity of E-Class, C-Class and Sprinters, and we may introduce some new models.

As for imports, we will introduce a wide range of products with S-Class, M-Class, GL-Class, CLS-Class, SLK-Class and R-Class.

Finland pledges continued support to Vietnam

Finnish Prime Minister Tarja Halonen pledged to continue to support and assist Vietnam as her country always treasures Vietnam ’s position in the region and the world at large.

The visiting PM made the statement at a reception given by Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh in Hanoi on February 21.

She also expected Vietnam-Finland friendship and cooperation would further develop.

Being the first Finland’s state leader to pay an official visit to Vietnam , the PM spoke highly of Vietnam ’s achievements in the renovation process, especially in economic development, hunger eradication and poverty reduction.

Meanwhile, Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh stressed that under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam the country is boosting the on-going renewal process, and trying its best to build a socialism-oriented market economy.

The Party leader also expected more Finland’s support to Vietnam in the international arena and effective assistance in economic development, particularly in energy, afforestration, education and training. (VNA)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Vietnam attracts foreign banks

by Richard Kilner
Story link: Vietnam attracts foreign banks
Industry analysts are predicting that Vietnam will see a plethora of foreign banks flocking to the country.

The forecasts come as Vietnam enjoys strong rates of growth in exports and foreign capital investment.

ANZ has revealed its intention to open between 10 and 12 branches by the end of 2008, once it has been granted approval to become an entirely foreign invested institution.
The firm’s general director, Dam Bich Thuy, has said that the grounds for its expansion plans are rooted in the nation’s unexploited potential.

ANZ first took a foothold in Vietnam fifteen years ago, when it opened an office in Hanoi.
It is not the only foreign bank intending to expand its Vietnamese operations, with both Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC aiming to create a number of urban branches in the near future.

The State Bank of Vietnam has acted to further entice overseas banks by its promise to permit wholly foreign owned banks to operate from 1 April last year.

The move enables foreign banks to compete on a level playing field with domestic banks, with rights such as issuing unlimited credit cards and opening new branches.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia , the IBK of the Republic of Korea and the Fubon bank of Taiwan have all recently been given the go ahead to open new branches by the State Bank of Vietnam.

Vietnam highlight: Hanging out in serene, scenic Ha Long Bay

Molly Selvin, Los Angeles Times
Friday, February 8, 2008
(02-08) 04:00 PST Ha Long Bay , Vietnam --
Even if we hadn't already spent a week in the bustle and hustle of Hanoi, the mist-shrouded limestone peaks of Ha Long Bay, echoing birdcalls and the water lapping our ship would have been enchanting.

But by the time we arrived at this UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin, we badly needed a break from the mad motor-scooter traffic of the nation's second-largest city, the swarming pineapple vendors and the ceaseless capitalist hustle.
Three days of swimming, kayaking and just chilling on the deck of the Dragon's Pearl, with drink in hand, were the ideal respite and one of the high points of our two-week trip to Vietnam in October.

You can see similar limestone towers in other parts of Vietnam; in Guilin, China; and in Thailand. But their number here - nearly 2,000 of these mini-peaks dot the bay's 621 square miles - makes this place astonishing. On the bay, the towers, which some call the eighth natural wonder of the world, are all you can see in any direction.

Legend has it that long ago a celestial dragon appeared to protect the Vietnamese from foreign invaders, spitting out great quantities of pearls to form the islands and the razor-edged mountains that stopped enemy fleets.

In reality, the islands - from mammoth Dao Hang Trai, honeycombed with grottoes, to islets no bigger than boulders - are the work of wind and saltwater on porous limestone.
The bay was home to some of Vietnam's earliest cultures, including Soi Nhu, Cai Beo and Ha Long peoples, and a key defense point. Several times over the centuries, Vietnamese warriors sank steel-tipped wooden stakes among the labyrinth of channels and caves, repelling would-be invaders from China and elsewhere.

Tiny isolated fishing communities still lie against some peaks; you'll see wooden homes painted bright turquoise and orange that appear to float on the water.

My husband Dave and I chose the cruise of Ha Long Bay because of its proximity to Hanoi and its World Heritage designation. Still, the 105-mile van trip takes almost half a day - Vietnam's highway system is still a work in progress and buses and trucks share the road with darting motor scooters, bicycles and plodding water buffalo.

Some users on and other travel websites have complained about the slow ride, but I found the drive through this fast-changing agricultural and industrial region fascinating. We drove through villages where farmers had spread out rice to dry by the side of the road and young men were lashing just-killed hogs to the backs of their scooters. Along the way, we also passed brick kilns, factories and coal mines.

Ha Long City's harbor, a gateway shipping port supplying this fast-developing region, is on the dreary side. In fact, I was having second thoughts about this trip as we dragged our suitcases along a rutted path past rusting, crumbling buildings to the ship, a deluxe junk.
But once we were headed into the bay, the breeze and the view from the motorized Dragon Pearl's top deck, along with our "welcome" glasses of iced tea, lifted my spirits.
So did our cabin. Our room - like the 17 others on the junk - was small but contained plenty of amenities, including a king-sized bed, a minute bathroom complete with terrycloth bathrobes and rubber flip-flops, and air conditioning, necessary to cut through the withering heat and humidity.

The first afternoon, our ship and several others dropped anchor at a deserted beach on the tiny island of Soi Sim, where we swam and lounged away the rest of the day. The water was calm and warm, but apart from the setting, this was the least memorable outing of our cruise.
Escalating tourism in the region, perhaps because of its World Heritage designation, has generated litter and pollution. So, here, miles from anywhere, plastic drink bottles and candy wrappers floated in the water and washed up on the sand.

A couple of hours later, we were back on board. With a school of silvery jumping fish as our escort, our ship headed northeast toward the Hang Luon grotto, where the Dragon Pearl dropped anchor for the night in the company of several other junks.

Before dinner, we hung out on the chaise lounges arrayed on the ship's deck, watching as the peaks surrounding us turned a dusky blue and lights on the neighboring junks twinkled on. The scene reminded me of a cross between Hawaii's Na Pali Cliffs and Washington's Puget Sound.
We were lucky to have gotten Tran Van Bien, a 27-year-old with disarming charm and deep knowledge of the area's geology and culture, as our guide. He was never far away and always eager for the chance to improve his English.

The booming tourism industry has become a magnet for university-educated, ambitious young Vietnamese like Bien, who has earned enough to move his parents off their rice paddy and into Hanoi. He hopes one day to visit his relatives in Orange County, an all-but-impossible dream even with his middle-class earnings.

Like other young Vietnamese we met, Bien hastened to tell us that he held no hard feelings because of the Vietnam War. That fight was between the two governments, he said, not their people.

We were also lucky in our fellow cruisers, an amiable bunch that included a French refugee worker and his Croatian girlfriend, a Canadian family newly posted to Singapore, and a young American teaching in Hong Kong, plus our German friends, Reinhardt and Inglelore.
Our two evenings out on the top deck, trading stories and watching night fall, were among the few times I relished being outdoors in Vietnam's blistering heat.

But the highlight of the trip was a kayaking tour on the second day. I had been dubious about this - I had never squeezed into a kayak before, and we were far out in the bay, close to the open waters of the gulf. I feared capsizing, not being able to keep up with the group and getting drenched if the threatening skies opened up.

It was nothing like that. Bien led the five kayaks in and around cliffs and through grottoes, pointing out birds, plants and the cliffs where monkeys nest (although we didn't see any). The skies held, and when we beached the boats at noon on an uninhabited island, the sun came out in time for a swim.

As for lunch, think "Fantasy Island," that kitschy late-'70s TV series. Our table already was set on the sand when we pulled up - with white tablecloths and napkins - and although the white-suited Mr. Roarke was nowhere in sight, the ship's kitchen crew was busy barbecuing fish and peeling dragon fruit, a dramatic red cactus fruit with mildly sweet white flesh, for another magnificent meal.

In fact, all our meals were extraordinary. Lunch and dinner aboard the ship were multiple-course, white-tablecloth affairs that usually included soup, locally caught prawns and fish, chicken, stir-fried vegetables and terrific tofu dishes. Breakfast was a buffet of fresh fruit and baked goods served outdoors on the ship's middle deck.

That afternoon, we paddled some more, at one point passing a lone fisherman casting his net. His wooden rowboat rocked gently. A teapot perched on the stern. One large fish, Bien told us, would net him about $10, a good day's pay.

The next morning, our ship steamed to Sung Sot Cave, one of the area's largest and most impressive limestone caverns, spanning 12,000 square yards inside. The entrance required a short hike up several flights of stone steps to a spot high above the bay. More steps led into receding chambers, past humongous stalactites and stalagmites that resembled giant sandcastles. Here, you can see water at work, dripping from the ceiling and pooling on the floor in ponds so still and mirror-like that it left me disoriented.

That afternoon, we headed to Ha Long Harbor for the return trip to Hanoi. Back in our French Quarter hotel, as the horns of a thousand motor scooters honked outside our window, I realized the cruise had given me a different impression of Vietnam.

If Hanoi is like 4 million people on Red Bull, Ha Long Bay is where time stops, where the old ways of doing things endure and where it's quiet enough to breathe deeply and hear fish leap from the water.

If you go
Many Hanoi tour agents offer guided excursions to Ha Long Bay, with prices running from $35 to $400 per person, depending on the group size, facilities on the boat and whether you sleep on board or camp on a beach.
Handspan Adventure Travel, 011-84-4-926-28-28, We booked our trip with this company, one of Vietnam's large tour operators. Handspan operates three luxury wooden junks on Ha Long Bay, available for one-, two- and three- night tours from about $160 per person, double occupancy, which includes transportation to and from the company's Hanoi office, a group guide (the company can provide a private guide for other excursions with less than a day's notice) and all meals and activities. You pay for all beverages onboard.
Footprint Vietnam Travel, 011-84-4-933-2844, This is another reputable company that runs Ha Long Bay trips. Three-day, two-night cruises start at $250 per person, double occupancy, which includes a private car to and from Hanoi, cruise, onboard meals and kayak rentals.
For more information
Embassy of Vietnam, (202) 861-0737,

Vietnam one year after joining the WTO

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam’s socio-economic achievements over the past year have been attributed to the country’s reform process, in which its WTO membership plays an important role. Vietnam has made many economic achievements after only one year of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership thanks to the strong development of enterprises and the dynamism of provinces in developing their economies.

In the year since joining the WTO, Vietnam has welcomed many high-ranking delegations to discuss cooperative issues. Many foreign investors, enterprises and tourists have come to Vietnam to seek investment opportunities. As of January 11, 2007, under its WTO commitments in the services sector, Vietnam had to open up 11 of its industries. Due to these commitments, some sectors are facing fierce competition, including finance, banking, and telecommunications.
However, the competition has also brought a lot of benefits as Vietnamese goods will more easily penetrate foreign markets, benefiting many local manufacturers. So far, Vietnam has opened almost all areas to foreign investors.

The country’s export turnover in 2007 reached US$48 billion, up US$8.2 billion from 2006 and surpassing the 3.1 percent growth target set by the government. Vietnam’s key exports have posted high turnover, including seafood, rice, coffee, vegetables, rubber, cashew nuts and pepper.

Other products have also taken advantage of the opportunities of WTO membership, including garments and textiles, electronics, and computer components. General Director of Viet Tien garment and textile company, Nguyen Dinh Truong, said WTO membership has created many good conditions for Vietnam.

There are more advantages than challenges for the garment and textile sector, as around 150 countries have reduced taxes and there is no limit on export volumes. More and more advanced technologies from foreign countries have also been imported into the country. As of January 11, 2007, Vietnam is committed to reducing 10,689 tax lines and the export tax rate was reduced by 23 percent on average compared to the current preferential tax rate. The roadmap for implementing the reductions will last 5-7 years.

Many sectors have already reduced their tax rates including garments and textiles, seafood, equipment and machines, automobiles and components. Besides, under WTO commitments, the reduction in import tax has also greatly affected budget revenue.

Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of the northern province of Quang Ninh, Nhu Thi Hong Lien, said that although some tax rates were reduced after joining the WTO, the province’s budget has gone up considerably, reaching VND9,300 billion. By approving the Law on Investment and Enterprise Law, Vietnam is making great efforts to eradicate discrimination between state and private enterprises, especially between foreign and local businesses, and to create an equal investment environment for all economic sectors.

The State has shifted from direct to indirect management, set up policies and laid out criteria for enterprises. This has led to great changes in management methods, providing impetus for enterprises to be more active in the market. Business environment opens up to foreign investors Vietnam has become prominent in attracting foreign investment with registered capital of more than US$20 billion, surpassing 53.2 percent of the yearly plan. Indirect capital sources pouring into the country have also increased remarkably, contributing to a rapid increase in the capital volume of the stock market. According to Vu Bang, Chairman of the State Securities Commission (SSC), over the past year the domestic securities market has developed well in both scope and scale. The increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) capital has also played an important role in the market.

Many foreign markets have kept a close watch on the local market and are always eager to enter an attractive market like Vietnam. Therefore, it is essential to maintain and promote the flow of FDI into the Vietnamese market. Vietnam will open up its doors allowing the establishment of wholly foreign-owned banks in Vietnam from April 1, 2007. However, these banks are bound by regulations not allowing them to set up branches or mobilize capital sources in Vietnamese dong within five years of joining WTO in 2007. Nevertheless, to sharpen their competitive edge, Vietnamese banks have made thorough preparations, such as increasing financial capacity, developing human resources, upgrading technology, renewing designs and diversifying product types.

Furthermore, local banks have also increased the quality of their banking services and simplified credit procedures. One year after Vietnam became a WTO member, Vietnamese retailers still hold a major share in the local market despite the active participation of foreign rivals in the same playground. They have also developed many different competition strategies to attract more customers.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Nguyen Cam Tu, said that Vietnamese retailers cannot rest on their laurels. They are striving for bigger achievements in various fields despite tough competition from foreign businesses. In 20007 the country recorded GDP growth of nearly 8.5 percent and also reduced the poverty rate to 14.7 percent. Many challenges remain ahead Pressure from the open market has posed big challenges for the national economy, especially to domestic businesses due to their limited competitiveness and small-scale production. Moreover, there has been ineffective use of foreign capital and the progress of foreign investment disbursement is still slow. Despite its overall positive results, Vietnam’s economy still shows some weaknesses and shortcomings. The national economy has not yet grasped many new opportunities or properly dealt with a number of challenges in order to secure rapid and sustainable development. Hence, to make full use of advantages from Vietnam’s WTO admission and its fast economic growth in 2007, it is necessary to develop a healthy competitive environment and strictly implement commitments to create good conditions for businesses.
Apart from preferential policies, businesses should put themselves in a global integration context and set up cooperative networks to increase competitiveness.

Furthermore, the State should create better conditions to boost national economic development by mobilizing investment capital to improve infrastructure construction and develop human resources, as well as improving the business environment.
These are decisive factors in boosting national economic growth and successfully integrating into the global economy.

Great opportunities for Vietnam in 2008 (08/02/2008)

Vietnam’s Titanium industry gets international help (08/02/2008)

Foreign investment keeps flowing into Vietnam (08/02/2008)

Vietnam world’s number 1 cashew exporter (07/02/2008)

Vietnamese agriculture: One year after WTO admission (07/02/2008)

A new direction for Vietnamese science and technology (06/02/2008)

Vietnamese fashion grows with young designers (05/02/2008)

Infrastructure needs work (05/02/2008)

HCM City’s economy continues to grow high (04/02/2008)

Top ten sports people in 2007 (04/02/2008)

State-owned corporations struggle to hire qualified CEOs (04/02/2008)

Da Nang – the intellectual hub (01/02/2008)

The wealthy go on Tet spending spree (01/02/2008)

Tet bonuses have some smiling; others crying (31/01/2008)

Real estate market booms, more firms pop up (31/01/2008)

Vietnam’s Titanium industry gets international help

VietNamNet Bridge – Titaniumium is considered the material of the future. Where is the fledgling titaniumium industry of Vietnam on the world map?

At the global titaniumium conference held in late 2007 in Singapore, there were two delegations from Vietnam. One is from the Ha Tinh Minerals and Trade Corporation and the other from the Dat Quang – Chu Lai Company.

The conference attracted 260 titanium researchers, developers and processors from 29 countries and territories. Vietnamese delegates were dazzled by a “forest’ of books about titanium, which were displayed and sold at the conference. And these books were very expensive. A 100-pager costs $10,000 on average. A whole set of books is worth approximately $1 million.

As the titanium processing industry in Vietnam is very young, Vietnamese delegates didn’t speak at the conference, but listened to presentations and exchanged ideas with others to learn experience and knowledge to develop this industry domestically.

Previously, in early 2007, the Ministry of Industry and Trade submitted to the government a master plan to develop the titanium industry in 2007-2015 and the vision to 2025. In July 2007, the Prime Minister approved the plan.

Under this plan, Vietnam’s titanium ore deposits are estimated at around 34.5 million tons. The Government permits the exploration and exploitation of titanium ore in the provinces of Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien – Hue, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Binh Thuan, and Ba Ria – Vung Tau. Titanium exploiting projects are licensed in eight provinces, totaling VND64 billion of capital.

Tai H. Do, a Vietnamese American, who is now an aviation and space technology advisor to the US’s Alcoa Group, who suggested eight measures to develop titanium in a sustainable way in Vietnam, was very glad to know about the master plan and the participation of Vietnamese delegates in the global titanium conference. According to him, these moves show that Vietnam is beginning to integrate into the world titanium map.

According to Nguyen Thuong Dat, Chairman of the Executive Board of Dat Quang Company, Vietnam accounts for around 5% of the total titanium deposits around the world, ranking behind Canada, the US, Norway, India and Australia.

In recent years, the need for titanium is rising quickly in Vietnam and the country has to spend around $40 million to import the metal. “We have to exploit and process titanium to ensure economic development, natural resource saving and sustainable development,” Dat said.

Exploiting technology

After two trips back to Vietnam to work as a consultant for titan exploiting companies Tai H. Do said: “It is good for Vietnam to have titanium and Vietnam should consider it a strategic weapon in terms of technology and economics. Vietnam should invest properly in industries manufacturing titanium-based products so one day Vietnam can use local materials to make aircraft and spacecraft”.

Local companies are using local technologies to exploit titanium and one is a technology that won second prize at the Vietnam Sci-tech Creativity Awards 2002 (Vifotech) and the State Sci-tech Awards 2005.

Prior to 2002, Vietnamese companies used electromagnetic equipment to dress titanium ore, which consumed a lot of power and only produced semi-pure titanium. Since 2003, a new technology has been implemented, using a special kind of magnet. This new technology helps save power worth VND90 million/machine/year.

This machine is manufactured by the Institute for Material Sciences and its introduction was considered a revolution in the titanium exploiting and processing industry. Within 5 years, big companies bought 65 machines of this kind, including 21 at the Ha Tinh Minerals and Trade Corporation and 12 at Binh Dinh Mineral JS Company.

Along with the new equipment, Vietnamese scientists developed some titanium processing technology. The best produces Zircon 65% ZrO2 material, which was developed by engineer Nguyen Hoanh Son; it allows Vietnam to produce super-silky zircon using local materials. Son received several awards for his work.

Currently up to one half of the total titanium output of Vietnam is processed by the new technology and equipment. The Ha Tinh Mineral and Trade Corporation sells titanium products to Dupont, a famous American TiO2 Pigment producer. However, Vietnam is unable to produce certain titanium-based products yet, which require more advanced technology and equipment.

Foreign customers began to buy Vietnam’s pure titanium ore in 1990 and the demand is increasing. Vietnam plans to invest more in this industry to be able to process high-value products from titanium for export.

Domestic titanium production needs to enter new age

The Vietnam Titanium Association has 20 members, 10 of which specialize in exploiting titanium. These members paid taxes worth more than VND60 billion in 2006.

Since the association was established, the titanium industry has seen a new order take shape and not all the problems have been worked out yet.

The licensing of titanium exploration and exploitation in some provinces is unorganized, Quang Nam is a typical example. This province has remarkable titanium reserves. So far it has licensed ten titanium developers, including some companies that didn’t meet conditions. Some companies employ unhealthy competition methods to impede others and recently a company sued local authorities.

Other provinces like Ha Tinh, Binh Thuan, Thua Thien – Hue and Binh Dinh went through a similar period but have now restored order.

Tai H. Do hopes that one day Vietnamese refined titanium will be used to manufacture component parts of Boeings, Airbus and spacecraft. He is willing to work as an advisor for the central province of Quang Nam in designing a sustainable titanium development strategy.

Engineer Nguyen Xuan Chau, a Vietnamese Australian with 25 years of experience in designing mines and ore processors said: “Australia is constructing many titanium processing plants. Vietnam needs to protect this rare natural resource by building similar plants. If you want, I and Australian friends will help design factories in Vietnam”.

Nguyen Thuong Dat, Chairman of Dat Quang Company said many Asian countries have implemented titanium manufacturing and exploiting strategies for decades, like China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

At the international titanium conference in Singapore, an expert commented: “You (Vietnam) are selling cheap crude titanium and importing most of the products processed from your crude titanium from Dupont (USA), ISK (Japan), Cosmo (South Korea), Hutsman (Malaysia), and Johnson Matthey (Brazil). Vietnam can learn big lessons from regional countries. From now on, titanium ore producers must focus on processing titanium. Under the Government’s support, in the next 4-5 years, the titanium industry will be able to contribute remarkably to the GDP structure of Vietnam’s processing industry. If you exploit and export crude titanium, your titanium resources will be exhausted in the next seven years”.

(Source: TNO)

Great opportunities for Vietnam in 2008

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam is having many opportunities to achieve rapid and sustainable growth in the coming years. However, it is not easy for the country to become the new “star” or “tiger” in Asia. “Vietnam – Asia’s rising star” was the main theme of a business roundtable held recently in Hanoi with the participation of nearly 130 chief executive officers and more than 600 representatives from leading domestic and international businesses.

While attending the event, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had direct talks with the business community. Great advantages “Vietnam has great advantages.” This view was shared by all investors and businesses at the conference. Charles Goddard, Editorial Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Asia-Pacific Region, said Vietnam is emerging as a rising star. He said that the Vietnamese economy has developed steadily in recent years to become a phenomenon in Southeast Asia.

The country has gradually shifted from an agriculture-based economy into an industry-driven economy. The shifting has created numerous opportunities for the country to seize, such as investment projects, profitable business deals and jobs for the people. Justin Wood, director of the Corporate Network and Southeast Asia expert for the Economist Intelligence Unit, said “The economic outlook for Vietnam is highly positive, with a growth of over 8 per cent in 2007 and a similar rate forecast for the next couple of years."

In the long term, he said that Vietnam has many positive advantages in maintaining a high growth in the coming years thanks to its young, cheap and rapidly expanding workforce as well as being increasingly technologically savvy. He said that the Government’s commitment to liberalising the economy and introducing more market-based reforms “will underpin this positive outlook."

HSBC Vietnam president Thomas Tobin (left) Thomas Tobin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) expressed his optimism about Vietnam’s future prospects and forecast that Vietnam would achieve a GDP growth rate of 8.5 percent in 2008 thanks to increasing consumption and foreign investment inflows.

According to him, Vietnam is accelerating financial reforms in 2008 in line with its WTO commitments, which will lead to a vigorous development in the banking sector. Stuart Dean, President of General Electric (GE) South East Asia regarded Vietnam as the new tiger in Asia and said that the country is attracting investors thanks to abundant workforce and efficient operations. He said that GE, which came to Vietnam in 1993, will build a plant in Hai Phong port city and increase its employees to 1,000 from 500 at present. Besides power development, the group also plans to lure other investors to pour money into the aviation and oil industries. Challenges ahead However, leading businesses said that it is not easy for Vietnam to become a “rising star” or a “new tiger” in Asia because there are many challenges lying ahead. Charles Goddard said, “Inflation is worryingly high…. The regulatory environment is still embryonic and can create big headaches. Another problem is a lack of technicians and managers.” According to him, although the Government is working hard to reduce the prevalence of corruption, investors and businesses in Vietnam express concerns about this negative effect. Meanwhile, Justin Wood said that Vietnam’s legal system is incomplete, citing the fact that it takes foreign businesses too much time to explore and be integrated into the country’s legal system, particularly in taxation. Administrative procedures remain more cumbersome than in neighbouring countries. Though Vietnam has a young and abundant workforce, it lacks highly qualified workers with professional skills. In addition, these workers require higher salaries than those in other regional countries. Thomas Tobin said that the banking sector is in dire need of high-quality personnel and that it takes a lot of time and money to train specialists that are adaptable to rapid development of the sector. He forecast that Vietnam will continue to lack these human resources for several more years. Many investors and businesses, however, were interested in the infrastructure development, saying poor infrastructure will hamper the country’s development. They suggested that Vietnam pay more attention to improving the infrastructure, particularly in the transport and power sectors. Determination Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that despite many achievements over the past few years, Vietnam remains a developing and low-income economy and is coping with big challenges. To overcome these challenges, he said the Vietnamese Government has worked out several major solutions as follows: (i) Striving to achieve a GDP growth rate of 9 percent, along with implementing the targets for social progress, poverty reduction, environmental protection and especially efficient price control and the stabilisation of the macro economy; (ii) Improving the living conditions of the people, especially those living in flood-hit and remote areas and those inhabited by ethnic groups; Reducing the rate of poor households to 11-12 percent; (iii) Improving the socio-economic infrastructure and personnel training to meet development requirements; (iv) Accelerating administrative reforms, with a focus on building and perfecting legal institutions and administrative procedures; and (v) Continuing the fight against corruption and wastefulness and encouraging the practice of thrift. The PM delivered the Government’s strong commitments to equitising State-owned enterprises, combating corruption, reforming administrative procedures and improving the business environment. He assured the business community that corruption will be cleaned up because “for Vietnam, nothing can thwart our determination”.
(Source: VOV)
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Read on >>

Vietnam’s Titanium industry gets international help (08/02/2008)

Foreign investment keeps flowing into Vietnam (08/02/2008)

Vietnam world’s number 1 cashew exporter (07/02/2008)

Vietnamese agriculture: One year after WTO admission (07/02/2008)

A new direction for Vietnamese science and technology (06/02/2008)

Vietnamese fashion grows with young designers (05/02/2008)

Infrastructure needs work (05/02/2008)

HCM City’s economy continues to grow high (04/02/2008)

Top ten sports people in 2007 (04/02/2008)

State-owned corporations struggle to hire qualified CEOs (04/02/2008)

Da Nang – the intellectual hub (01/02/2008)

The wealthy go on Tet spending spree (01/02/2008)

Tet bonuses have some smiling; others crying (31/01/2008)

Real estate market booms, more firms pop up (31/01/2008)

Professionals misused, neglected and mismanaged (30/01/2008)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Broadband makes connections in Vietnam

By Raphael Minder

Sitting next to an open hearth, Le Anh Phuong is updating her internet blog, which she has called “girl with a changing star”, as well as downloading music from Super Junior, a Korean boy band.
The 14-year-old blogger spends about two hours a day on one of the 11 computers that have been installed with a Wi-Max internet connection in Ta Van, a remote mountain village in north-western Vietnam.

One might expect such an initiative to be driven by philanthropic motives. But Intel, the US chip maker, together with VDC, a state-controlled domestic telecommunications operator, are hoping to demonstrate not only that broadband can be a profitable business but also a way for Vietnam’s most remote regions to leapfrog straight to the most advanced form of telecommunications.

Five months after its launch, the Ta Van pilot project – which is free to the villager’s users – still faces challenges. For a start, Ms Phuong’s enthusiasm for the internet does not seem to have spread like wildfire in Ta Van, which is home to about 3,000 people from three Vietnamese ethnic minorities. Many seem to be still adjusting to much more basic technology in a village where the first fixed phone was installed at the post office in 2004 and which was only hooked up to the regional electricity grid in 2005.

“My parents have no idea or interest in the internet, but I guess that’s normal because they’re just old people,” says Ms Phuong.

Still, Intel says that it selected Ta Van precisely because it wanted to test the technology in a difficult location as well as gauge interest among remote users. And such is Intel’s conviction that broadband can be turned into a rural success story that it plans to install high-speed internet in several other remote communities across the country this year.

It is also looking to team up with local operators on similar projects in several other Asian countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines and India.

Andrew Allison, an Intel executive, says: “Some of this technology really sounds like a James Bond movie and would not have been possible 10 to 15 years ago. With something like Wi-Max, you can aggregate demand over a wide area from multiple stakeholders, which makes the operating cost a lot more manageable. We are now finally down to the level where this is affordable.”

Intel is not alone in its conclusions. “We expect markets like Vietnam to be booming this year,’’ says Nicolas Van Den Abeele, president for south and south-east Asia of Alcatel-Lucent, the Franco-American equipment provider. “And broadband connectivity to rural areas is going to be key.”

Hanoi is expected to hold auctions for both third-generation and Wi-Max licences this year. While foreign companies are not expected to be allowed to take part directly, Mr Van Den Abeele predicts that “some overseas operators or investment groups” will get involved as partners or backers of local bids.

Wi-Max is not the only broadband technology suited to rural areas, with most executives predicting that countries such as Vietnam will end up with a mix of wireless and fixed infrastructure. But wireless offers some advantages, not least the ability to reach mountainous terrain such as Ta Van by beaming straight from IPStar, the Asia-Pacific satellite controlled by Shin Corp of Thailand.

About 5 per cent of Vietnam’s population of 85m has access to fixed lines, while mobile coverage has climbed to almost 30 per cent. For broadband, coverage is about 2 per cent, but the number of high-speed ADSL subscribers tripled last year to 1.2m.

Furthermore, the existing copper infrastructure is often of poor quality or corroded because of the humid weather. The loops used in Vietnam are also often excessively long to support DSL technology.

“In most of these countries, you have a sub-critical coverage of copper and the copper is not of very good quality, so that’s also why we expect a major shift to mobile technologies,” says Mr Van Den Abeele. “They can leapfrog directly to mobile, or from the broadband point of view to Wi-Max, and not put more copper in the ground.”

More than 70 per cent of Vietnamese live outside urban centres, according to the World Bank. But with a population bigger than Germany’s and an average age of 26 (about six years below that of neighbouring China), Vietnam combines the size and youth required to make rural broadband a success, argue telecom executives.

A literacy rate above 90 per cent is another advantage, as are the family ties that link urban and rural dwellers, as well as overseas Vietnamese who send back about $6bn (€4bn, £3bn) in remittances a year. Finally, an Alcatel-led survey last year identified 650,000 micro-businesses that were interested in internet access, most of them in the countryside. Their average expenditure on communications is about twice that of households. “This makes the business case definitely a lot more appealing for both operators and vendors,’’ says Mr Van Den Abeele.

David Brunell, economic growth programme manager in Vietnam for USAid, the American development agency, which has been backing the Ta Van project, says: “There is a real opportunity to turn these first-time internet users in rural areas into paying participants in the telecom sector.’’

In a communist country such as Vietnam, telecom companies can only proceed with full government backing. Recently, Hanoi not only indicated it would proceed with the sale of licences but said it would also divert more state subsidies to broadband, with the goal of extending coverage to about a quarter of the population.

There is also awareness in Hanoi that local operators need to embrace broadband before an opening of the country’s telecom sector, in line with commitments made when Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation.

Tran Manh Dung, a director in the ministry of information and communications, says: “Competition is not top of my mind now. But eventually we will be ready to open our doors wide open to [foreign operators].”