Last update 1/20/2012 7:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Hydro-electricity plant to go into operation this year

Nho Que No 3 hydro-electricity plant would start generating electricity for the national grid in the first quarter of this year in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang's Meo Vac District following a successful test run, according to the director of Nho Que -Bitexco Joint Stock Company, Vu Chi My.

The 110 MW hydro-electric plant with an investment capital of nearly VND3 trillion (US$142.9 million) is expected to generate 500 million Kwh per year. It was built on Nho Que River in Dong Van rocky plateau and seen as the most important work in the province.

Once it is completed, it is hoped the Nho Que Reservoir will become a popular tourist attraction, combining with the famous Khau Vai love market and Lung Pu geographical park to create a network for tourism on the rocky plateau.

My said that construction of the plant was built on 186.5ha in 2008, and it had taken all his 30 years experience to cope with the natural conditions, difficult economy and society.

Meo Vac is the poorest district in Viet Nam and the plant is expected to contribute 40-50 billion ($1.9-2.4 million) to the local budget, more than quadrupling it.

Bitexco has invested in a number of hydro-electricity plants nationwide such as Nam Mu, Se San 3A, Binh Dien, Ho Ho and Nho Que 1, with a total capacity of over 500 MW and total investment of around $600 million.

Market sees best day in last seven months

Shares on the HCM City Stock Exchange rallied yesterday, with the VN-Index closing up by about 3 per cent to 373.43 points, the best day for the Index in the past seven months.

"While many others think that the market will recover after the second quarter of this year, I believe now's the time," commented one investor, who said he decided to retain his portfolio instead of cashing out. "The three stocks that I'm investing in were down some days ago, but now there is a big change in my account."

Despite the gains, the value of trades yesterday declined slightly from the previous session to VND335.7 billion (US$16 million), although volume increased by 27 per cent to 23 million shares.

"The lower trading value was due to investor psychology as the market is about to close for a nine-day lunar new year holiday," said Kim Eng Securities Co analyst Nguyen Thanh Lam.

He expressed hopes that values would surge again after the holiday.

Blue chips performed well yesterday, with half of the 10 leading shares by capitalisation hitting their ceiling prices, including insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), Vietinbank (CTG), real estate developers Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAG) and Vincom (VIC), and Phu My Fertilisers (DPM). About 100 other stocks also reached their ceiling prices.

Lam recommended investments in DPM and HCM City Securities Co (HCM), which concluded yesterday's session up 3.5 per cent to VND14,900 per share.

Japan Viet Nam Medical Instrument Co (JVC) surprised the market by becoming the most-active share on the day, with 1.46 million changing hands.

Trading improved on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, with value rising by nearly 27 per cent to VND162.3 billion ($7.7 million) on a volume of 22 million shares. The HNX-Index added 2.1 per cent to close at 58.41.

PetroVietnam Construction Co (PVX) was the most-active share nationwide with 1.76 million traded.

More flats for sale this month

The local property market this month has seen a number of investors trying to release products onto the market despite homebuyers’ wait-and-see attitude.

Viet Thuan Thanh Co., Ltd has just launched the sale of flats of V_Citilight condo project under construction in Ho Nai Ward in Dong Nai Province’s Bien Hoa City.

Thai Khac Hoang, the firm’s director of sales and marketing, reported his company would sell some 100 apartments at the price starting from VND16.9 million per square meter. Buyers will enjoy interest rate support from the enterprise for a period of 18 months and a flexible payment method with 29 installments.

V_Citilight is located on Hanoi Highway, including seven blocks from 24 to 29 floors with about 1,300 flats. Six floors with total space of nearly 4,000 square meters will be set aside for commercial areas besides many other facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis court, hospital, gym and school set for completion in 2015.

Similarly, Him Lam Land has officially put up the Hyco4 Tower condo project on Nguyen Xi Street in Binh Thanh District for sale. This is a 17-story building with 330 apartments and six penthouses covering 52-131 square meters and 161-220 square meters each unit respectively.

Like other projects, the Hyco4 Tower is also home to serviced office spaces, a shopping center and restaurants. Him Lam Land offers every interior-decorated product at the starting price of VND1.1 billion with flexible payment terms during 18 months.

The project owner expects to hand over its products to buyers in the second quarter next year.
Oversupply likely to drag sugar price down

The Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association has projected a decline in the price of sugar in the coming time.

The country consumed around 1.3 million tons of sugar last year, leaving a sugar stockpile of 90,000 tons at the moment. In this crop, sugar output is forecast to reach 1.4 million.

This is the third consecutive year that the national sugar production has increased non-stop.

The estimated output for this year is subject to sugar imports from Thailand and a huge sugar surplus of 200,000 tons, said Nguyen Thanh Long, head of the association. Meanwhile, such a huge surplus as a result of low demand in the year to date is forcing local sugar refineries to sell their products.

The sugar industry this year has experienced some changes in trading activities from a couple of years ago, said Trinh Minh Chau, board chairman of Soc Trang Sugarcane Joint Stock Co.

In previous years, sugar traders played a key role in sugar consumption and stockpile. However, difficult access to capital and high interest rates have led them to transfer this job to refineries, he said.

Many sugar mills have huge surplus sugar at the moment. A surplus of one kilo of sugar generates an extra VND200 in loan interest on a production cost of VND15,000 per kilo, Chau said.
Three card switching systems to be merged

The central bank has mapped out a plan to merge three local card networks to establish a unified card switching center.

Smartlink Card Services and Vina Brilliant Card (VNBC) companies will no longer provide card switching services, which will be transferred to Vietnam National Financial Switching Joint Stock Company, better know as BanknetVN, a source told the Daily.

The central bank has submitted the scheme to the Government, and it may be implemented within this year, said the source.

The source added the merger would help save costs and unify service management and development policies for the card market and non-cash payment services as a whole.

Card switching function facilitates the banks’ ATM and POS systems to connect and make payments with one another. In other words, this function helps ATM card holders of one bank to perform transactions at ATMs and POS of other banks and vice versa.

Local banks have linked their ATM systems with one another, but inter-bank ATM services only allow cash withdrawals and transfers, and holders cannot pay for goods and services at POS terminals of other banks than the issuing one.

The central bank said another issue was the strong surge in the number of ATMs in Vietnam, with 12,811 machines across the country reported by end-June last year, according to the Vietnam Bank Card Association. The country’s major financial centers have too many ATMs, yet the ratio of non-cash payment in the banks has recorded insignificant growth.

In fact, citizens withdrawing cash from ATMs is still cash payment by nature, whereas the banks find it harder to supply funds and ensure the security given the sharp increase in ATM-related crimes.

It is essential that the cards be wiped directly at POS terminals and the accounts paid with one another through intermediate tools such as mobile phones and the internet.

The merger of the three card switching systems will mark the connection of the country’s ATM and POS systems after more than ten years of development. The new switching center will facilitate residents and businesses in remote areas that are unfamiliar to electronic payment to pay for goods and services through different ways.
Seafood exporters see growth in value-added products

Local seafood exporters have said that they will be able to gain stronger export growth if they actively expand export markets and turn out more value-added products.

Nguyen Van Ky, general director of An Giang Fisheries Import and Export Joint Stock Company (Agifish), said his company’s export revenue from value added products last year rose strongly. The increase is predicted to continue this year thanks to new markets, Ky noted.

As of the end of last year, Agifish earned VND167 billion from value-added products made from tra fish, or Pangasius, such as grilled chopped fish for local and foreign markets.

Value-added products export is still trivial as compared to the domestic market in terms of volume and value, he said. But he believed it will have many opportunities to grow business in the future provided it has new markets.

Duong Ngoc Minh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said output plays an important role in developing value-added products. The nation’s existing markets like the U.S. and Europe only import traditional fish fillets for cheaper prices instead of directly importing value-added ones, noted Minh.

“Value-added products have high potential to develop. What industry players need to do is to set up distribution channels for these products in a different way from that for traditional products,” Minh said. He also suggested exporters aim at stable markets given huge initial investment in production.

Unlike tra fish, the value added products made from shrimp have found numerous markets outside the country. Nguyen Dinh Phi, sales director of Minh Phu Seafood Group Joint Stock Co., said the demand for products such as shrimp sushi, tempura and ring was huge this year.

Phi said the demand for shrimp products has been recovering and will sharply bounce back after the Lunar New Year holiday, when importers are in the process of preparing for Easter.

Foreign buyers are still keen on this product despite an upsurge in the price of input materials last year, Phi said. The key consumers of such products are seafood restaurants in Japan, America, Europe and many other Asian nations, he said.
Software outsourcing off to a good start

Local software outsourcing firms have seen a business improvement since late last year with more orders coming from new markets like Europe and Australia alongside the domestic market.

Tran Phuc Hong, director of TMA Mobile Solutions, said that despite economic woes, the local software outsourcing market was growing well, and TMA had maintained its growth since early 2010.

“The number and value of orders this year will not change much from last year with estimated growth of 20-25%. Our customers are mainly from traditional markets such as North America, Europe, Australia and Japan,” said Hong.

Ngo Van Toan, deputy director of Global CyberSoft, said most of the firm’s projects were from last year and expected a bright prospect this year.

“Based on the orders we’ve got, the firm’s revenue is estimated to rise by around 25% from last year. Our big markets this year will still be the U.S., Japan and Vietnam with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and automation systems,” said Toan.

Meanwhile, the volume and value of orders at CSC Vietnam has risen by 10%, with customers from the U.S. accounting for 75%. CSC has also received more orders Europe, Australia, Asia and the local market, said general director Ngo Hung Phuong.

According to Hong of TMA, this year will remain challenging due to the impact of the global crisis. Therefore, TMA will continue to focus on sustainable development by establishing a research and development center in Saigon Hi-Tech Park and expanding an internship center for students.

However, outsourcing firms have always had difficulty employing engineers in the past years. The situation will not get better in the coming years, said Phuong.

ADB aids poverty reduction in Vietnam

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide 24.8 million USD in loans for Vietnam ’s policy reforms fostering the country’s inclusive growth and ensuring further poverty reduction.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the State Bank of Vietnam ’s Governor Nguyen Van Binh and ADB Country Director for Vietnam Tomoyuki Kimura, in Hanoi on Jan. 17.

The ADB loan provides parallel financing to the Poverty Reduction Support Credit framework, supported by a number of development partners, which aims to help the Government carry out a wide range of policy reforms in the areas of business development, social inclusion, natural resource management, and governance, to ensure successful implementation of the Ten -Year Socio-economic Development Strategy 2011-2020, and the Socio-economic Development Plan 2011-2015.

“ Poverty reduction cannot be sustained without inclusive economic growth,” said Kimura. “Further Further efforts should be made to accelerate reforms to strengthen institutional and human capacity, governance, and policies to address the development challenges and to promote economic growth.”

He said high inflation has eroded some progress in poverty reduction made by Vietnam in recent years.

Though Vietnam ’s poverty rate declined significantly from 15.5 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent in 2010 as a result of the country's rapid economic growth and improved social protection programmes , selected groups remain vulnerable to poverty and the poverty incidence among ethnic minority groups remains very high at more than 50 percent in 2009, he said.

The ADB Country Director suggested that t o overcome macroeconomic difficulties and mitigate the adverse impacts of global economic crises, with support from foreign financial institutions, including ADB, the Vietnamese Government should strengthen the finance sector, impose discipline on state-owned enterprises, and improve the efficiency of public investments.

Agro export revenues to drop on low demand: ministry

Export turnovers of rubber, coffee and pepper are expected to fall due to low demand since global economic prospects still seem gloomy in 2012, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The export revenue of rubber could drop to about $1.2 billion from $3.3 billion last year due to decreasing demand, though export volume may exceed 880,000 tons.

Regarding pepper exports, estimate export volume and value are approximately 86,000 tons and $619 million, down 30 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Coffee exports are also on the same boat with 1 million tons and $2 billion, down around 17 percent and 26 percent in volume and value respectively.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Vietnam's coffee production in 2011-2012 season may reach about 18.5 million bags (approximately 1.11 million tons), down 5 percent compared to the previous season’s output.

As the world coffee price declined, the price of coffee in the country also slipped to VND38.2 million a ton in early January.

A market research team of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has also forecast that Vietnam's exports in 2012 would face a decline due to the global economic situation.

ANZ said Vietnam’s exports are in the downward trend in the context of declining world demand and commodity prices leveling off.

Export growth in the last quarter of 2011 decreased 28.4 percent year on year and 39.7 percent quarter by quarter.

The decline occurred in all segments.

Compared with the third quarter, even export growth was down 8.2 percent, signaling a rough time ahead in 2012, said ANZ.

In the fourth quarter, rice exports posted the biggest drop in the group of key export commodities, while crude oil exports rose 29.2 percent over the same period in 2010 after making a record 119.7 percent export growth in the third quarter of 2011.

In the shoes and electronics industries, export volumes increased while decreased in the garment and textiles sectors.

Exports to ASEAN countries increased sharply, but exports to U.S. declined. Exports to the EU and China are quite stable.

In Q4/2011, imports declined in all areas by 17.2 percent over the same period of 2010 after rising 28.6 percent in the previous quarter.

The trend of import growth is also forecast to decrease in 2012.

Among the primary group of imported goods, steel imports in the fourth quarter dropped due to decline in the construction sector. The value of imports of the chemical industry and electric power is also reduced.

However, oil and crude oil imports make an exception with a 73.3 percent rise in value, compared with 53 percent in the third quarter, while import volume increased 25.7 percent, compared with a 2.5 percent decrease in the third quarter.

Regarding the origin of import goods, growth of imports from Japan is was the lowest last year, while imports from Korea rose the highest. Chinese goods continue to make up the highest rate of import, accounting for 28 percent of import products.

Two dollar bill is hot again for Tet

In recent years, giving US$2 bill as lucky money has become a trend in Vietnam, as it is thought to bring good luck. As Tet, or Lunar New Year, draws near, many are willing to pay 60 times the bill’s value to get one.

“$2 bills are produced in small numbers compared to other kinds. Besides, two is a beautiful number in Asian conception. Many buy the bills to put inside their wallet or to give to friends for good luck,” said Nguyen Hang, who works for a big supermarket in Hanoi.

She said she had just reserved a spot to buy a US$2 note, which is worth VND2.5 million ($125).

“It’s not new, but what is special is that it was printed 50 years ago, and its last four digits are 4444. That’s how the value was added up,” she explained.

Hang said she bought the bill to congratulate her husband on advancing in years.

On some online forums, there have been several classifieds selling $2 bills.

Bills with four similar digits fetch at least VND2 million ($100) each, while three similar digits like 777 or 666 are sold for VND500,000 ($25) each.

The older the bill, the higher the value: $2 bills printed in 2003 are worth around VND50-60,000 ($2.5-3). Those produced in 1976 cost VND200-450,000 ($10-23), depending on whether they still look new or not.

“Last year, bills printed in 1976 fetched less than VND150,000 ($7.5), but this year they have doubled,” said Tung, who is selling two stacks of $2 bills in Ho Chi Minh City.

At money exchange booths in Hanoi, $2 bills are also the most sought after denomination. In Ha Trung or Nguyen Xi street, a new $2 bill costs VND52,000 ($2.5). If bought in great number, the price may go down to VND47-49,000 each.

Besides American bills, some Vietnamese also hunt for Zimbabwean notes. Available in Vietnamese market since 2009, these bills with more than nine digits have become a hot commodity. For VND60,000 ($3), one can buy from tens to hundreds of billion of Zimbabwean dollars and give them to friends and relatives with a hidden message: “May you become a billionaire next year”.

Retailers urged to focus on domestic market

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast that the nation would achieve a total retail value of goods and services this year of about US$100 billion, despite global economic difficulties.

To achieve anticipated yearly average growth of 10 per cent in retail sales through 2020, the ministry urged producers and retailers to focus more intently on the domestic market rather than exports.

Vietnamese retailers continued to face the challenge, however, of increasing foreign competition for the domestic market. Two more major international retailers – Japan's Aeon and Hong Kong's Giant – entered the local market this year, while global giants like Tesco from the UK and Wal-mart from the US were expected to follow.

Nguyen Thanh Nhan, deputy director of Sai Gon Co-op, one of the leading Vietnamese retail chains, suggested that the appearance of rivals was inevitable and was an invitation to existing players to be more competitive.

Some Vietnamese retailers had already significantly stepped up investment in the domestic market, said the director of the ministry's domestic market department, Truong Quang Hoai Nam. For instance, the Viet Nam Fashion Trading Co, which sells made-in-Viet Nam garments, has opened 55 retail outlets in 22 cities and provinces nationwide.

Vietnamese retailers held significant advantages over their better-financed foreign rivals, Nam said, noting that they were operating in their home market with a deeper knowledge of Vietnamese consumers. However, they fell significantly behind their foreign rivals in technology, he said.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa also suggested that Vietnamese retailers step up training of human resources in their distribution systems. Retailers and producers should also co-operate more to boost local consumption, she said.

The nation's retail value last year reached $96 billion, up 20 per cent over the previous year, according to the domestic market department. The country currently has 615 supermarkets, 102 shopping centres, 2,000 convenience shops and 8,590 outdoor markets. Only 15-20 per cent of goods are purchased through modern distribution systems, while the remainder are distributed through traditional outdoor markets.

IFC boosts trade finance for small firms

IFC, the private sector funding arm of the World Bank Group, has expanded a trade finance line for the LienVietPostBank, allowing the bank to further help small and medium enterprises in Viet Nam sustain import and export activities and create jobs despite tighter global credit markets.

An IFC press release says the LienVietPost Bank's trade finance line under IFC's Global Trade Finance Programme has now quadrupled to US$20 million. Since joining the programme in May 2011, the bank has expanded its trade and finance products to small and medium businesses in key export and import sectors, particularly in the Mekong Delta.

"The initial modest trade line of US$5 million was used up right after one month," the release quotes Nguyen Thi Thanh Son, the bank's deputy CEO, as saying. "We believe that the new expanded trade line will enable us to satisfy the increasing demand of import – export enterprises in difficult economic times and help LienVietPostBank gain a firm foothold in the global market."

The release says that since its inception in 2005, IFC's award-winning programme has issued more than 10,000 guarantees totaling $14.3 billion to banks on trade-related payment obligations of its financial institution clients in emerging markets. The joint stock LienVietPostBank is among more than 200 issuing banks in over 90 emerging markets covered by the programme.

"By complementing LienVietPostBank's capacity to deliver trade finance solutions, IFC is helping ensure continued trade flows vital to enterprise growth despite liquidity constraints," the release quoted Aliou Maiga, IFC Financial Markets Manager for East Asia and the Pacific, as saying.

"LienVietPostBank's participation in our Global Trade Finance Programme marks the first steps of our partnership with the bank to expand access to finance for small and medium enterprises in Viet Nam, a key growth engine for the economy," he said.

In fiscal year 2011, more than half of the total volume of the programme went to support trade in the world's poorest countries and nearly 80 per cent of it went to small and medium enterprises, the IFC release said.

Marine shippers face tough times
The domestic marine transport industry will face major challenges this year due to a sharply decreasing demand during the prolonged economic difficulty, industry insiders have said.

Nguyen Kim Chinh, director of the Tan Binh Shipping Co, said information indicated that China, Viet Nam's largest container and spare part transport market, would experience a sharp drop in iron ore and coal reserves. At the same time, the US and the EU were not expected to increase imports of Chinese goods.

These combined factors would put pressure on the container and spare part transport market this year, Chinh said.

The liquid transport market, mainly oil products, was also forecast to face difficulties as most world economies continued to struggle and would have to tighten their belts.

In the domestic market, oil imports would fall thanks to the supply from the Dung Quat Oil Refinery, which can currently meet 30 per cent of the country's demand for oil products.

Domestic demands for imported machines, equipment and materials were not expected to surge in line with the Government targets of 6.1 per cent growth and single-digit inflation for the year.

Shipping fees were expected to fall as firms cut their fees to remain competitive with a growing number of shipping vessels calling into local ports.

Last year was considered a tough year for domestic shipping firms as many reported significant losses due a sharp decrease in demand and fees.

To help marine transport firms overcome the difficulties, industry insiders have suggested the Ministry of Finance to exempt the value added tax on marine transport services among foreign ports.

However, they also urged shipping firms to restructure their fleets with a focus on investment in large-sized container ships and tankers to raise the competitiveness against foreign rivals.

The Vietnamese fleet currently accounts for only 6 per cent of the domestic transport market share. More than 80 per cent of Vietnamese imports and exports are transported by foreign shipping firms.

Entrepreneurial culture in focus

More than 1,000 people attended a club on entrepreneurial culture, which made its debut here last Saturday.

"The club is expected to create a forum for members to share experiences in building their business, promoting management capacity and developing trademarks," said head of the club Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa. She said it would also help members advertise products and services and seek new domestic and international trade partners via a series of conferences.

Vinaconex signs deal with US fund

Vinaconex Investment and Tourism Development Joint Stock Company (Vinaconex-ITC) has signed a strategic partnership with Dr John William Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management Firm, a leading American investment fund.

Dr Snow will help the company invest, introduce investors into the company's Cat Ba Amatina Project in northern Hai Phong port city and seek opportunities to invest in other real estate projects in Viet Nam. The project is about ecological tourism that combines a modern urban quarter with a luxurious marina.

Dung Quat to get power plant

Singapore's Sembcorp Utilities will study developing a 1,200 megawatt, coal-fired power plant in central coastal Quang Ngai Province's Dung Quat Economic Zone (EZ). The company recently signed an agreement to build the plant with the Quang Ngai People's Committee.

The EZ management board forecasts that the EZ will need 1.663 megawatts of electricity in 2020 for an oil refinery, shipbuilding and steel plants and other large projects.

Property firm offers gifts to poor

Gamuda Land Viet Nam LLC has donated 200 Tet gifts and cash to poor blood cancer patients in Bach Mai Hospital.

Gamuda Land owns Yen So Park in the south of Ha Noi. This will include an integrated township, a world-class urban park and the biggest and most modern sewage treatment plant in Viet Nam.

VINAFIS hands out seafood awards

Viet Nam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS) has awarded a gold award to 82 individuals and groups for significant achievements in fishing, aquaculture, export processing, logistic services, and fisheries training and research.

Of the 82 recipients, the 10 deemed most excellent were given certificates of merit by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The award was based on economic and social efficiency and environmental protection criteria, said Nguyen Viet Thang, VINAFIS chairman.

Petrolimex introduces own brand

The Viet Nam National Petroleum Corporation (Petrolimex) has officially introduced the Petrolimex brand.

Previously, the Prime Minister approved the corporation equitisation on May 31, 2011, under Decision 828/QD-TTg. Accordingly, Petrolimex operates mainly in petrol business and other supporting services with charter capital of VND10.7 trillion (US$509.52 million).

Dam to generate power this quarter

Nho Que No 3 hydro-electricity plant would start generating electricity for the national grid in the first quarter of this year in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang's Meo Vac District following a successful test run, according to the director of Nho Que – Bitexco Joint Stock Company, Vu Chi My.

The 110 MW hydro-electric plant with an investment capital of nearly VNÐ3 trillion (US$142.9 million) is expected to generate 500 million Kwh per year. It was built on Nho Que River on the rocky plateau of Dong Van and is seen as vital for the development of the province.

Once completed, it is hoped the Nho Que Reservoir will become a popular tourist attraction, combining with the famous Khau Vai love market and Lung Pu geographical park to create a network for tourism on the rocky plateau.

My said that construction of the 186.5ha plant started in 2008, and it had taken all his 30 years' experience to cope with the natural conditions, difficult economy and society.

Meo Vac is the poorest district in Viet Nam and the plant is expected to contribute VND40-50 billion ($1.9-2.4 million) to the local budget, more than quadrupling it.

Bitexco has invested in a number of hydro-electricity plants nationwide such as Nam Mu, Se San 3A, Binh Dien, Ho Ho and Nho Que 1, with a total capacity of over 500 MW and total investment of around $600 million.

How to secure stable employment after Tet

For fear of chronic shortages of workers after the Lunar New Year Festival (Tet), many businesses in Vietnam have introduced generous salary and bonus policies.

It’s a common occurrence that many workers, especially those working in industrial zones, tend to stay on in their home villages of look for a better-paid job somewhere.

Diem, a worker for an electronics spare parts producer in Binh Duong, says she is not sure if she can come back to work or not.

In order to deal with the problem, many businesses have no alternative but to take better care of their employees.

The Saigon Garment Import Export Company Ltd in HCM City often needs a large number of workers to fill its contracts signed for the New Year. So, in recent days, it has distributed Tet gifts to all its workers, and promised to give added bonus to those who come back to work on time.

This is not a single case in point. According to Dong Nai provincial Confederation of Labour, most of the businesses in the province have created favourable conditions for their labourers. Apart from covering travel fees, many offer part of accommodation costs for those under difficult circumstances.

Truong Thi Phuong, Deputy Director of the Hanoi May 19 textile Company says her company has paid due attention to improving the living conditions of workers and is not worried about their stay away from work.

Dang Quang Dieu, Director of the Institute for Workers and Trade Unions, says the shortage of workers after Tet is unavoidable, but this problem can be partly solved if enterprises adopt suitable policies.

He says 90 percent of workers’ strikes in 2011 were caused by inadequate welfare benefits and low incomes.

Vinaconex signs deal with US fund

Vinaconex Investment and Tourism Development Joint Stock Company (Vinaconex - ITC) has signed a strategic partnership with Dr John William Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management Firm, a leading American investment fund.  

Dr Snow will help the company introduce investors to the company’s Cat Ba Amatina Project in northern Hai Phong port city and other real estate projects in Vietnam. The Amatina project aims to promote ecological tourism by combining a modern urban quarter with a luxurious marina.

First foreign-invested pharmaceutical plant to take shape in Binh Duong

A ground breaking ceremony for the new United International Pharma factory took place at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in the southern province of Binh Duong on January 16.

Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien and Secretary of the Philippine Department of Health Enrique T. Ona attended the ceremony.

Covering an area of 3.5 hectares, the US$40 million factory (under the Unilab Group from the Philippines) will specialize in producing tablets, pills and powdered drugs, with 80 percent for domestic use and 20 percent for export.

According to Minister Tien, this is the first foreign pharmaceutical factory in Vietnam fully in line with the strict requirements of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (PICs).

Cuttlefish, octopus exports to Japan to rise by year-end

Vietnam’s cuttlefish and octopus exports to Japan are forecast to experience a rise in the second half of 2012.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP) said a serious shortage of domestic materials will affect exports in the first half of the year. It advised businesses to take the initiative to import materials at the beginning of the year and continue to pay attention to quality.

Vietnam is one of the three largest cuttlefish and octopus suppliers to Japan, especially fresh and frozen cuttlefish and processed octopus. However, it is facing fierce competition from the Republic of Korea and China.
In 2011, the country’s cuttlefish and octopus export turnover reached US$520 million, up 31.3 percent over last year.

Vietnam’s major cuttlefish and octopus importers include the European Union, Japan and several ASEAN countries.