Home » Business » BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/3

Printing company forced to shut up shop

Dien Hong Printing Co (DHI) will dissolve this year, the company announced on Thursday.

The decision was made in February at a company shareholder meeting after 94 per cent of the board approved the dissolution.

Last year, Dien Hong earned VND8.8 billion (US$419,000) in revenue, accounting for only 56.8 percent of its 2011 figure, but its losses reached VND2.7 billion ($128,500).

Meanwhile, in 2011 the company also lost VND4 billion ($190,400).

Since the beginning of this year, DHI shares have traded at around VND5,000-8,000 ($0.23-0.38).

Tech firm shares suspended after losses

The HCM City Stock Exchange yesterday announced that trading on the shares of Do Thanh Technology Corp (DTT) will be temporarily suspended from March 19.

Earlier, the company announced losses totalling VND3.35 billion ($159,500) over the previous two years.

DTT shares finished yesterday’s session at just VND6,700 ($0.3).

Company reprimanded for late disclosure

Binh Thuan Mineral Industry Company (KSA) has announced a VND130.5 billion (US$6.2 million) project in the Can Gio Eco-urban Tourism Area, which kicked off on January 27 and will be completed within six months.

However, it is regulated that extraordinary disclosures must be made within 24 hours of a project being green-lit, while in this case it took the company nearly two months.

During this time, KSA shares increased sharply with many sessions hitting the ceiling price. It closed yesterday at VND11,600 ($0.55), rising more than 22 per cent in comparison with January 27.

Rubber firm breaks VND3 trillion mark

Da Nang Rubber Co (DRC) – a blue chip on the HCM City Stock Exchange – said it would join the exclusive group of enterprises earning an annual revenue of VND3 trillion (US$142.8 million) this year.

Preparing for the upcoming shareholder meeting, the company announced its expected revenue of VND3.02 trillion, up 8 per cent compared to last year.

Industrial production value is also expected to rise 11 per cent to VND3.16 trillion ($150.4 million), while the company hopes that exports will reach $20 million.

However, expected profit remains similar to last year’s figure of VND417 billion ($19.8 million).

The company said both the domestic and world economy face many risks and challenges this year and warned that businesses would not easily overcome their difficulties.

Land price evaluation needs support

Consultancy agencies should help determine compensation amounts for land, said Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee Vu Hong Khanh.

He added that this would speed up land clearance and make the process more transparent.

These price evaluations must also be supervised by the Department of Finance, said Khanh.

He asked the construction department to ensure that the city’s relocation fund would remain resilient despite the expected budget shortage in the 2013-15 period.

MoF promotes ETF establishment

The Ministry of Finance has issued Circular 229/2012/TT-BTC guiding the establishment of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which will take effect from September 1.

The move was announced yesterday by HCM City Stock Exchange board member Le Hai Tra and is largely similar to the previously issued draft.

The circular regulates that to build ETFs with fund management companies, fund managers must include securities firms with brokerage and self-trading operations, along with the minimum capital adequacy ratio of 220 per cent.

Stock exchanges will be the only agencies able to make and manage the base indices for ETFs – a move seen as bringing more restrictive regulation than the draft, which also mentioned “reputable foreign institutions.”

Duong Ngoc Tuan, deputy general director of the Viet Nam Securities Depository, said: “We are working to ensure the system functions well before the effectiveness of the circular.”

Meanwhile, a source from the State Securities Commission said that as ETFs held large amounts of stocks over a certain period of time, risks would increase.

“When ETFs are in operation in the future, authorities will certainly study the implementation of derivative securities to reduce risks,” the source said, adding that derivative products would only serve as a risk management tool instead of speculation.

Salt-making park could see further investment

An additional investment of VND1 trillion (US$47.6 million) has been proposed for the Quan The salt-making industrial park in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

This amount increases the investment capital to VND1.341 trillion, including VND812 billion from the State budget and VND531 billion from the current investor, Ha Long Investment and Development Company.

This would help resolve problems related to land clearance and resettlement, salt-water intrusion on agricultural land and residential areas and implementation of other sub-projects of the park in Thuan Nam District’s Phuoc Minh Commune.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also petitioned the Prime Minister to reduce the park area from 3,000ha to 2,549ha.

In 1999, the Government approved a project to build the park, the country’s largest of its kind with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes of industrial salt a year.

The project aim is to ensure a sufficient supply of high-quality salt as the country must import this kind of salt for industrial production and the healthcare sector.

The Ministry initially assigned the Viet Nam National Salt Corporation to carry out the project but later transferred it to Ha Long as the salt corporation had experienced financial difficulties after completing construction of the park’s water drainage, flood prevention and control, and sea-water supply systems.

However, problems occurred when Ha Long began producing salt in 2009. Salt-water intrusion polluted the air, land and fresh-water sources in five Quan The hamlets and Lac Tien hamlet.

In July last year, hundreds of local residents came to Ha Long and the park management board offices to protest the severe pollution caused by the park. Hundreds of water wells and agricultural land had been severely affected by salt-water intrusion.

By that time, the project still had 293ha of land owned by 73 households that had not been cleared and compensated.

To solve these problems, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai last year ordered that the park project be modified and called for the park to be expanded by 564ha west of the north-south railway route.

The State budget would be used for land clearance and compensation for the park’s remaining 447 ha, which has not been cleared, completing the Quan The 2 hamlet’s resettlement area. Support of VND100 million per hectare would be given to households.

The deputy prime minister also allowed the Ninh Thuan People’s Committee to set up a project to build resettlement areas for more than 200 households in low-lying areas affected by salt-water intrusion. The project is funded by the Government budget.

Based on instructions, the ministry and the Ninh Thuan People’s Committee have evaluated the investment capital amount and scale of the park and sent a petition to the Prime Minister.

Firms to voice on EU Free Trade deal

Vietnamese enterprises were urged to contribute their opinions about the upcoming EU -Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that is under negotiation, a workshop heard yesterday in HCM City.

The EU is one of Viet Nam’s leading trade and investment partners.

Last year, it emerged as the largest importer of Vietnamese products with total value of US$20.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 22.5 per cent, accounting for 17.7 per cent of the country’s total exports.

Currently, Viet Nam and the EU are negotiating an FTA, with two negotiation rounds completed and the third negotiation round planned for next month, said Jean Jacques Bouflet, minister counsellor of the EU delegation to Viet Nam.

The two sides are expected to conclude the FTA by the end of 2014, Bouflet spoke at the Viet Nam-EU Free Trade Agreement workshop co-organised by the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCM City branch co-organised by the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s HCM City branch.

The event provided information about the impacts of the FTA on key sectors, and described the opportunities and challenges that enterprises may encounter once it enters into force.

Bouflet said the FTA would help reduce up to 90 per cent of tariff lines on Vietnamese exports to the EU to zero, including those for some important key commodities such as garments and textiles, leather, footwear and food, which are currently still high for Viet Nam, even though the country enjoys benefits from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Import tax reductions in line with the FTA would facilitate Vietnamese exporters and help them increase exports to the EU, especially products facing fierce competition from foreign rivals like China and others that have yet to sign an FTA with EU, according to Bouflet.

In turn, the FTA would enable Viet Nam to benefit from high-quality imports and increase technological transfer, according to Claudio Dordi, Technical Assistance Team Leader of the EU-MUTRAP Project.

Increased high-quality imports would in return help raise the quality of Viet Nam’s exports, and improve companies’ competitiveness in the long-term, he said.

In addition, he said participating in the FTA would increase EU investment in Viet Nam.

Besides such advantages, the Viet Nam–EU FTA would also present challenges, including requirements on rules of origin and technical barriers, for Viet Nam companies, delegates said.

Le Trieu Dung, deputy head of the Department of Multi-lateral Trade Policy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said “to enjoy tax incentives, local companies must meet strict rules of origin of raw materials and accessories required by the EU.”

However, this is a big hurdle for enterprises since they still relied on material imports.

“There are some technical issues that could be a big challenge for Vietnamese enterprises,” Bouflet said. “If Vietnamese companies want to sell products to the EU market, they must have updated technical and health standards and the expectation of EU consumers.”

Dung as well as other delegates called on local enterprises to keep track and provide input on FTA negotiations.

They have also urged domestic enterprises to change the structure of their product lines exported to the EU market so they can enjoy more benefits when the FTA goes into effect.

Independence in raw-material sourcing, improvement of governance capacity and competitive capacity are among issues that Vietnamese enterprises should take into account, according to Nguyen Van Tuan, deputy secretary general of the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association.

Property market still paralysed

The property market remains gloomy and requires combined efforts by relevant players, including a restructure of investments by developers to recover, analysts said.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said the large inventory and bad debts by property companies are the most serious problems.

“To resolve them, developers must first of all have an overview of their projects and restructure their investments and products to match market needs.”

They should be willing to make bold decisions like scuttling a project if necessary.

“They should apply to change the nature of their projects as well as apartment sizes according to demand and their financial capacity.

“Lowering prices, even accepting losses, to avoid further losses will help address the two problems.”

The Government had to consider buying projects with apartments of 70sq.m or less for resettlement purposes or sales under the social housing programme. It had to make buying apartments easier for overseas Vietnamese and foreigners. Earlier this year the Government decided on a stimulation package, which includes a credit programme of VND20 – 40 trillion (US$1-2 billion) at an interest rate of 6 per cent to help low-income earners buy apartments.

Dr Tran Du Lich, member of the National Financial and Monetary Policy Advisory Council, said the programme would only have a positive impact on the market in the medium- and long-terms and not immediately.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam recently signed a circular on the conversion of commercial residential projects into social housing ones. The conversion of projects, whether yet to begin or under construction, requires approval from authorities. If the developers have signed contracts with buyers, the conversion must be agreed to by all parties.

Sam Cuccurullo, executive managing director of CBRE’s asset services APAC, said that in a situation where supply greatly exceeds demand developers should make sure their project stands out among the crowd, manage well, and add value to the assets. The National Assembly’s Economic Committee said in a recent bulletin that many developers have not cut their prices and are waiting to be rescued by the Government.

Local firms in distress over gold bar trading rule

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has issued a circular ruling it will initially trade in SJC-labeled gold bars only while corporate traders express their anxieties about the dark side of the rule.

As per Circular 06/2013/TT-NHNN signed by the central bank’s governor on Tuesday and taking effective from Wednesday, gold bars to be traded are one-tael gold bars with 99.99% purity that the central allows for production.

The circular clarifies that SJC gold bars traded by SBV from now on are SJC products processed upon the central bank’s permission. SBV may consider trading other types of gold bars that it previously allowed for production.

The information on gold bar products eligible for trading has been announced to local credit institutions and companies via the circular.

The law provides guidelines for gold bar trading regulations provided for in the Prime Minister’s Decision 16/2013/QD-TTg dated March 4, 2013 regarding SBV’s gold bar trading in the domestic market. However, there is no information in the decision that only SJC gold bars are accepted for trading.

According to the circular, gold bars will be traded between SBV and credit institutions and enterprises via two processes-either direct trading or auction.

An SBV official said the auction introduction is to ensure the transparency of gold bar trading between the monetary authority and corporate buyers/sellers.

With gold bar auction, those companies offering better prices will win the bidding, meaning no priority for certain agencies, the official told the Daily. The central bank opts for this way to avoid the fact that many entities cast doubts on unfair gold trading as seen before, he added.

In fact, several firms are concerned about the troublesome process, citing pricing risks owing to time-consuming bidding and gold delivery.

Most of gold bar traders said they prefer direct gold bar trading, explaining that this kind of trading helps them take proactive actions to arrange gold supply instead of handling troubled bidding procedures.

FPT School to train 10,000 business administrators

FPT School of Business (FSB) under FPT University has announced the project of training 10,000 administrators which will be carried from this year until 2015 with a total cost of VND300 billion.

Those joining the project will receive a scholarship of VND30 million each, with the cost taken from FPT Group’s fund for business support and mobilized from some local and foreign business development funds.

According to a source from FPT, the project aims to develop a team equipped with management knowledge and skills, helping enterprises overcome difficulties. Vietnam currently has hundreds of thousands of operational companies, but a large number of companies go bankrupt due to inability to confront challenges of the market.

To be part the project and receive the scholarships, applicants must be businessmen, business owners, members of management boards of managerial executives or those wanting to start up business and aged 25-45.

The project will offer three-stage training, with new thinking in business in the first stage, modern management knowledge and skills in the second stage and advanced training in the last stage.

In addition, those joining the project will be provided with consultation and solutions to difficulties of their own businesses.

After being accepted to join the project, learners will be given full scholarships in the first stage and half of the scholarships in the following stages.

The project has started to receive applications, and the first training is scheduled to be offered in HCMC this Saturday.

FPT sets up joint venture with Japanese partner

FPT Software Company and Japan’s AGREX Inc. have just established the joint venture F-AGREX which provides Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services and is the first BPO joint venture of AGREX in Southeast Asia.

Katsunori Yamaguchi, president of AGREX, said upon the announcement of establishment on Tuesday that the firm chose a Vietnamese partner to set up the joint venture as Vietnam had young and skillful human resources suitable with what BPO needed. Besides, the labor cost in Vietnam accounts for only one third of that in some Chinese cities, he added.

Despite the recognized skill of Vietnam’s information technology human resources, a big barrier is that the number of people fluent in Japanese is small, according to Yamaguchi.

The capital contribution ratio in the joint venture is 50-50, but the total investment capital was not revealed. The joint venture will go into operation in July with around 500 employees in the first year of operation.

According to Hoang Nam Tien, chairman of FPT Software, the joint venture’s scale will depend on the number of employees recruited, trained and able to use Japanese as the BPO demand in Japan is quite high. However, this is not an easy task.

To prepare human resources for the joint venture, FPT has sent many employees to Japan for training. Besides, the joint venture will spend three months to one year to train its employees.

Tien said that Vietnam’s young BPO sector would benefit from the cooperation between FPT and the leading firm in Japan.

The establishment of the joint venture also marks the beginning of the plan which provides BPO services of Japanese quality and Vietnamese price.

Steel plants menaced with reduced power supply

Steel and cement plants will be among heavy power consumers to face reduced power supply, according to Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) in a document just sent to the HCMC Power Corporation and Southern Power Corp.

According to EVN, the power allocation will be checked to reduce the power consumption of cement and steel production facilities with high consumption and avoid the supply-demand imbalance of the southern power system in this year’s dry season.

Speaking to the Daily, Do Duy Thai, general director of Viet Steel Corporation, said that the power use reduction needed to be announced clearly, or else the steel production would be affected as steel furnaces needed an uninterrupted power supply and the production of steel billet cannot be interrupted.

Steel plants of Viet Steel in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province currently have a total capacity of 1.5 million tons of steel billet per year, accounting for 30% of the country’s steel billet production.

The total power volume EVN expects to supply this year is 118.2 billion kWh.

The power supply and consumption in HCMC are high in the dry season, with a consumption volume of 1.7 billion kWh this month compared to 1.2 billion kWh consumed in January.

Meanwhile, the consumption of 21 southern provinces is also high, rising from 3 billion kWh in January to an estimated 3.5-3.7 billion kWh in each month of March, April and May.

Besides, EVN has assigned the National Load Dispatch Center to run coal-fired thermal power plants in northeast provinces at their maximum capacities and import power from China. Vietnam will buy an estimate of around 3.6 billion kWh from China this year.

The power supply for southern provinces will not be sufficient this year as there is no new power generation plant put into operation in these provinces. It is estimated that EVN will need to generate around 1.11 billion kWh by using diesel oil in this year’s dry season with a production cost much higher than that using coal and gas.

Regarding the solution to the power shortage in southern provinces, EVN said that there would be an additional 3,000 MW from new power generation, transmission and distribution projects having a total investment of around VND106 trillion.

Tourism stimulation program launched

The General Department of Tourism has launched the Tourism Stimulation Program for 2013 to further tap foreign and home markets.

The Tourism Stimulation Program for 2013 targets to cater for 7 million of foreign visitors and 35 million of domestic visitors.

Domestic tourism services will be boosted in the country’s major holidays and festivals.

Meanwhile, live tourism promotion campaigns will be held in the peak season and tour discount sales will be offered in the off season.

The program is expected to see the participation of a large number of transport enterprises, airlines, travel agents, hotels and restaurants in an effort to reduce tour costs in Viet Nam to a level equaling to that of regional countries, thus improving the country’s tourism industry’s competitiveness and stimulating both inbound and outbound tourism.

According to the General Department of Tourism, over 570,000 foreign tourists arrived in Viet Nam in February, down 11.2% against the previous month and posting a year-on-year decline of 18.3%.

Steering Committee set up to restructure credit institutions

An inter-sectoral steering committee will be set up to implement a scheme on restructuring the system of credit institutions for the 2011-2015 period.

Under the Prime Minister’s decision signed on March 13, the committee will be headed by Deputy PM Vu Van Ninh while the State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Binh is standing vice chairman. Members include officials from the Government Office, relevant ministries, the Government Inspectorate, and the People’s Committees of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City .

The committee is tasked with assisting the Prime Minister in guiding the implementation of measures to deal with important issues during the implementation of the scheme.

It will also advise the PM in dealing with arising issues in implementing the credit restructuring scheme.-

Vietnamese firm invests 152 m USD in Thakhek

Hong Quang Co. of Vietnam has signed a 14-ha land concession agreement with authorities of Laos ’ Khammouane province to implement its 152 million USD project in the Thakhek Special Economic Zone, the Laos news agency KPL reported on March 14.

The agreement, with a 75-year term, was signed on March 11 at the Thakhek Specific Economic Zone Office, Khammouane province.

The investment project involves the building of a shopping centre, a five-star hotel, an entertainment complex, and a restaurant.

The company has presented over 360,000 USD to the Executive Board of Thakhek Special Economic Zone to compensate local people who are affected by the project.-

Lao Cai has new hydropower plant

The Northern Power Cooperation of Vietnam and China ’s Yunnan Power Grid Company on March 14 put on operation the Seo Chong Ho hydropower plant in Ban Ho commune, Sa Pa district, the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai .

Construction of the 21 MW facility began in 2008 at a cost of over 700 billion VND.

The plant has two turbines, which produce nearly 100 million kWh of electricity for the national grid annually.

It is the second largest of its kind built in Sa Pa district, following the 34.5 MW Su Pan 2 hydropower plan, which was put into service in early 2011.

The disparity of water levels between the plant and its main dam stands at 833 metres, the largest one measured in Southeast Asia .

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Secretary of the Lao Cai Party Committee Nguyen Huu Van said the province holds a great potential for hydroelectricity development.

Lao Cai always creates favourable conditions for businesses both at home and abroad to invest in the locality in various areas, including the building of small and medium-scaled hydropower plants, he affirmed.

Van highlighted the Seo Chong Ho hydropower plant’s contributions to the province’s socio-economic development and boosting the friendship between Lao Cai and Yunnan.

QTSC: A hothouse for software

When American technology giant Hewlett-Packard decided in late 2010 to build another overseas  research centre for software solutions development, it selected Vietnam’s Quang Trung Software City, located in Ho Chi Minh City.

HP’s investment is regarded as one of the software park’s breakthroughs in 2011-2020.

This HP investment illustrates how Vietnam is becoming a more interesting destination for IT research and development activities. It is the giant’s third R&D centre in the world, following previous such investments in China and India.

This year, Japan’s KDDI, another company in the Forbes Top 500, is investing into QTSC, following IBM, HP and some other globally prestigious names.

Quang Trung Software City, better known as QTSC, has built a successful model of software park, creating a convenient business environment for local and foreign IT enterprises and contributing to human resources development for the sector.

It was conceptualised by Ho Chi Minh City Computer Association members for providing adequate facilities for the development of the industry in the city. Its history dates to late 1999 when city leaders approved a proposal to turn the Saigon Software Park in District 3 into a centre to support the development of the software industry. The place was previously an office of the city administration.

As the number of software companies rapidly increased, Ho Chi Minh City needed a larger software park that could meet the requirements of software firms.

In 2000, with a decision made by the administration, QTSC was established on 43 hectares, 15 kilometres from the city’s downtown. It is run by QTSC Development Company, under the administrative management of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.

QTSC Development Company chairman Chu Tien Dung says it was really tough to convince investors coming to QTSC on its early days. There were only 21 enterprises with 250 workers on the day of groundbreaking in 2001. But the park has now welcomed 106 enterprises investing in QTSC, including 56 foreign-invested companies such as HP, IBM, KDDI, Luxoft, TMA, GCS and GHP.

The park boasts seven IT training schools: SaigonTech (with an agreement with Houston Community College in the U.S. to offer certificates and Associate of Applied Science degrees related to computer science technology to college students attending SaigonTech), NIIT (an Indian-Vietnamese partnership), Hoa Sen University, FPT University’s Ho Chi Minh City Campus, Ho Chi Minh City Information Technology Training Centre, Soongsil University, and the Research Institute for Administration Training.

Dung adds QTSC is seeking to attract more investments from big international software companies that can make QTSC’s brand spread out regionally and worldwide. “Each year, we try to attract at least one leading IT firm in the Fortune 500 list.”

Le Thai Hy, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications, says, “QTSC has built a successful model of software park, creating a convenient business environment for local and foreign ICT enterprises and contributing to human resources development for the industry.”

QTSC chairman Dung says the past 10 years generally achieved the first part of the 20-year road map of Vietnam’s software development for 2000-2020.

“The biggest achievement we got in the past 10 years was that we have software management at international standards trusted by investors,” Dung said. “Vietnam plans to become by the end of the next decade a strong country in ICT and possibly send well-trained software workforce abroad.”

To make the software park model more successful, first of all, he says, the management and technical staff must be trained and improved through practical activities and exchanges.

In addition, investment promotion, market exploration and infrastructure improvement should not be ignored.

At present, QTSC is working out a scheme for the Ho Chi Minh City administration’s approval to build QTSC 2. In addition, QTSC is consulting on the development of other software parks in other provinces.

Dung also mentions QTSC’s most important strategies in the coming years. The top strategy is to forge cooperation with key partners in win-win partnerships. “We will persuade big IT firms in Vietnam and abroad to invest in Quang Trung Software City in order to incubate and care for start-ups so that they will become the mainstay of the local domestic software force.

“We’ll focus on IT activities to the park a hub of ICT in Vietnam and the region. This will be the key to investment attraction and market development.”

QTSC is moving to a new stage, where it puts focus on quality development. The software park give top priorities to supporting its existing tenants to continue growing, assisting them in media activities, brand development, community activities and networking. Plans include organising CEO clubs, human resources development clubs and seminars.

The software park’s business assistance is also conducted through personnel training, which is backed by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Information and Communications. Recently, QTSC commenced cooperation with as the Korean International Cooperation agency (KOICA).

QTSC is seeking to attract more big international IT companies to be able to build a global supply chain. In addition, given with the presence of the HP R&D centre, it encourages companies to go deeper into research activities.

Nguyen Huu Le, chairman of TMA Solutions, a QTSC tenant, says the global IT sector is going well now with strong outsourcing demand.

There are more orders from abroad than at home. “So, I may say that QTSC is a place where many clients want to come to see how it works and how it is run, or to see how Vietnam can house a world class software park which is able to accommodate software firms that serve the needs of software development and perform outsourcing orders from overseas.”

Ngo Van Toan, vice president of GCS, another firm in QTSC, says he appreciates the park’s continual efforts to support its tenants.

“There are regular networking meetings. There are also monthly CEO meetings,” Toan said.

“QTSC is not just a place for companies to hire. It’s really a hub with two main groups of support. The first is to provide timely and effective assistance in infrastructure-related issues. The second is a hub for companies to network.”

Vietnam helps Laos develop transport infrastructure

Vietnam’s Civil Engineering Construction Joint Stock Company No. 525 on March 15 signed a contract to build seven bridges on National Highway 6A in the Lao northern province of Houaphan.

The company, which is an affiliate of the Ministry of Transport’s Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 5, will build the bridges with 5.3 million USD from the World Bank.

On the same day, Chitchareun – a company operated by Overseas Vietnamese in Laos – and Houaphan Transport Department signed a contract to build road No. 3204 in the province with an investment of 52 million USD.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Houaphan Party Secretary and Governor Khamhung Huongvongsi expressed his gratitude to the Party and Government of Vietnam, the Civil Engineering Construction Joint Stock Company No. 525 and Chitchareun for their support in building important infrastructure projects in his province.
Vietnam Airlines to launch Moscow-Cam Ranh route

Vietnam Airlines has completed preparations for the official launch of a direct service between Cam Ranh International Airport in the central coastal Khanh Hoa province and Moscow .

According to Luong Van Thanh, Director of the Cam Ranh International Airport , this is the first direct international route to Cam Ranh since the airport was upgraded to international level four years ago.

The route will be launched on April 5. Vietnam Airlines plans to operate one flight every Friday, using Boeing 777s.

Charter flights from Russia ’s Far East to Cam Ranh airport have continuously increased over the past three years, with an average 7-8 flights per week in winter and 1-2 during other seasons of the year, Thanh said.

The Moscow-Cam Ranh air route is expected to help draw more Russian tourists to Vietnam ’s central coastal localities.

GmB milk taken off shelves over origin scandal

Milk shops around Ho Chi Minh City Thursday began to pull the infamous GmB goat milk product off shelves following news reports unearthing its dubious origins and the dishonest business of the distributor.

Dai Hung Tinh Co. Ltd., which distributes the milk in the city, has been found to dupe consumers with misleading information about the milk’s origin and manufacturer, while also providing false expiry dates.

A GmB dealer in Phu Nhuan District said it has stopped selling the product, as well as removing all of the “US goat milk GmB” ads it posted online.

GmB used to be on sale in some 30 dealers, two major supermarket chains, a beauty care supermarket, and a number of online stores. But most of these vendors have taken the product off shelves.

Dai Hung Tinh Co marketed the product as a “made-in-the-USA product with Dutch origins,” while the company in fact imported milk powder from the Netherlands, and packed it at a facility in District 9.

The distributor has also been found to commit another dishonest act — manipulating the product’s expiry date.

Specifically, while the batch of milk powder Dai Hung Tinh imported from the Netherlands has an expiry date of March 16, the canned GmB milk available in the market bears labels stating that the product is safe for consumption until 2014.

The HCMC food safety and market watchdog agencies have launched a large-scale check on Dai Hung Tinh and 10 other milk producing facilities in the city, starting Thursday.

“We will review everything and will strictly penalize all dishonest activities such as providing false information all product labels or selling products different from the advertisement,” a food safety official said.

Lao Cai has new hydropower plant

The Northern Power Cooperation of Vietnam and China ’s Yunnan Power Grid Company on March 14 put on operation the Seo Chong Ho hydropower plant in Ban Ho commune, Sa Pa district, the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai .

Seo Chong Ho hydropower plant in Ban Ho commune, Sa Pa district, the northern mountainous Lao Cai province

Construction of the 21 MW facility began in 2008 at a cost of over VND700 billion.

The plant has two turbines, which produce nearly 100 million kWh of electricity for the national grid annually.

It is the second largest of its kind built in Sa Pa district, following the 34.5 MW Su Pan 2 hydropower plan, which was put into service in early 2011.

The disparity of water levels between the plant and its main dam stands at 833 metres, the largest one measured in Southeast Asia .

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Secretary of the Lao Cai Party Committee Nguyen Huu Van said the province holds a great potential for hydroelectricity development.

Lao Cai always creates favourable conditions for businesses both at home and abroad to invest in the locality in various areas, including the building of small and medium-scaled hydropower plants, he affirmed.

Van highlighted the Seo Chong Ho hydropower plant’s contributions to the province’s socio-economic development and boosting the friendship between Lao Cai and Yunnan.

Can Tho City to host Mekong Expo

The International Mekong Expo with the theme “Mekong Delta’s investment, development cooperation, and further trade promotion” will take place in the southern city of Can Tho from 26 April- 2 May.

The organising board expects to have about 400 booths of domestic and foreign joint venture enterprises which will be arranged in areas of trade promotion, traditional and regional specialities, enterprises’ products, goods for children and green products.

In addition, several cities and provinces will host trade and tourism promotion activities, while enterprises will take the opportunities to introduce their new products, thus seeking trade partners from other areas.

Besides activities for exhibitors, there will also be entertaining events for visitors, including a traditional cake making contest and games for children.

Vietnamese group helps build another airport in Laos

Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group has started the construction of Nong Khang International Airport in Huaphan Province, Laos with the investment of $80 million.

This is the second airport built by the Group in Laos, after the international airport in Attapeu Province.

The 183 hectare airport will be built in two stages. The first stage is expected to be finished by 2015 with a terminal that could accommodate 100,000 passengers per year, and a runaway with 2,400 meters in length and 30 meters in width, suitable for small planes such as ATR72 and Fokker 70.

The airport will be upgraded in the second stage to serve larger planes like Airbus A320 and Airbus A321.

Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group has lent the Lao Government the sum at no interest for 5 years and the Lao Government will pay the loan in deducting taxes and fees that the Vietnamese group has to send to Lao’s budget.

Austrian investors retain high hopes for Vietnamese market

Vietnam continued to be an attractive destination for foreign investors, including those from Austria, said Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vice Chairman Doan Duy Khuong during a business conference in Hanoi on March 15.

During the conference, Khuong vowed to create favourable conditions for Austrian businesses to expand operations in Vietnam.

With more than 80 million people, the country is also close to other large markets operating in the ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Japan and ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Areas.

Khuong said the Government is making great efforts to complete the legal framework for a market economy and improve infrastructure while encouraging the development of the private economic sector.

For his part, Austrian Ambassador in Vietnam Georg Heindl said Austria saw strong growth in many sectors in Vietnam and planned to increase investment and trade co-operation with the country.

Encouragingly, bilateral trade between the two nations has increased from $175 million in 2007 to $1.3 billion in 2012, said deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s European Market Department Tran Ngoc Quan.

In term of investment, Austrian businesses invested $9.4 million in two projects in Vietnam in 2012, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

The latest addition brought Austrian investment registered in Vietnam to over $60.16 million, it noted.

Workers still suffer from poor labor safety

Neglect of labor safety results in around 40,000 annual workplace accidents in Vietnam’s industries, bringing death and occupational diseases or injuries to 1,500-2,000 workers a year on average, said the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Deputy labor minister Bui Hong Linh said labor safety was a challenge for Vietnam. The severity of occupational diseases and work-related injuries and number of casualties exerts a negative impact on socioeconomic development, he said at the workshop “Strengthening occupational safety and health in hazardous industries” held in Hanoi on Thursday.

There were 252 workplace accidents in 2011, up 20% against 2005, killing 63 workers and injuring 218 others. The number of occupational accidents and diseases in quarrying has increased dramatically.

An inspection into mining enterprises by the labor ministry in 2011 found that half of those inspected had not drawn up mine designs for approval.

A check on compliance to labor safety regulations also had poor results. Only 59.86% of companies provided their employees with labor safety training.

Nearly 150 quarrying enterprises, 6.25% of the total licensed quarrying firms, were inspected by the authorities. Over half of them infringed labor safety regulations.

Do Thi Thuy Nguyet, deputy director of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the State management of labor safety was still poor and education on labor safety regulations was inefficient. In addition, inspections on labor safety and health were insufficient due to the lack of inspectors.

Participants in the workshop suggested the provisions on decentralized management of occupational safety and health in the Labor Code should be reviewed. Moreover, the national labor safety training system needs to be improved.

Inspection quality must be improved. Labor safety checks should focus on the production facilities with multiple violations, the hazardous facilities and those in remote areas.

Health Ministry bans advertising of all nutritional supplements

The Vietnam Food Administration, under the Ministry of Health, has banned the advertising of all nutritional supplements in any form, effective from April 26.

The food safety watchdog has stated clearly that no advertising of nutritional supplements will be permitted by medical staff and pharmacists.

The health watchdog also banned use of images or reputed name of a medical facility or even sending of thank-you letters to patients as a means to advertise nutritional supplements.

As the advertising system is very chaotic, the health watchdog had to issue a strict ban. Previously, related agencies had sent a document to media asking to regulate advertising of nutritional supplements and pharmaceutical products.

Before advertising, enterprises were asked to produce their business registration license, food safety certificates and approved content of the advertisement, but this still did not regulate advertising of nutritional supplements.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

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