Two dead, six injured in Finland stabbing spree

TURKU: Police shot and wounded a suspect after a stabbing spree in which a man killed two people and wounded six others in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday (Aug 18).

Finnish police patrol in front of the Cenral Railway Station in Helsinki on Aug 18, 2017. (Photo: AFP/Linda Manner)

Within hours the force had announced increased police patrols across the country.

“There are eight victims in the stabbing. Two dead and six injured,” Turku police tweeted after the assault in a market square. A hospital official told journalists all the victims were adults.

Police shot a suspect in the thigh minutes after the attack at another square nearby, arresting him and confiscating his knife. His identity has not yet been established, police said late on Friday, nor was the motive for the attack clear.

Police described the suspect in custody as “a young man of foreign origin”, providing no other details except to say they were collaborating with the Finnish Immigration Service.

While security forces wrote on Twitter that police were “looking for other possible perpetrators”, police told journalists it was likely there was only one attacker.

Police assured Turku residents the city was safe on Friday evening.

The stabbing spree comes with Europe on high alert a day after drivers slammed vehicles into pedestrians in two attacks in Spain, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 100 others. The Islamic State (IS) militant group has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack.

In Turku, images of a body covered in a white blanket were published on some online news sites, including the local daily Turun Sanomat.

POLICE PATROLS STEPPED UP

The attack took place in the heart of the port city in southwestern Finland, just after 4pm (1300 GMT) in a bustling neighbourhood.

“The perpetrator stabbed two people on the market square, one of whom came to the aid of the other,” police told reporters. “Then the perpetrator left the square to a busy street and stabbed more people.”

Police arrested a suspect minutes later.

One victim died at the scene and the other in hospital, police said. Bystanders had rushed to the scene to help the victims.

“I saw an old woman, I tried to help her. She was bleeding all over her body,” Wali Hashi, who witnessed the attack, told AFP. “She was wounded to her neck with the knife … I took her aside.”

Another witness, who did not want to give his name, told public television YLE: “A young woman screamed really loudly at one corner of the square. We saw a man on the square, with a knife in his hand and he was waving it.”

Police said the suspect in custody was being treated in hospital.

Central Turku – located about 140 kilometres (90 miles) from the capital Helsinki – was swiftly cordoned off and stores and restaurants closed.

Police also tweeted that they had raised their emergency readiness across the country after the stabbing, increasing security at airports and train stations and putting more police on the streets.

“The number of patrols is being increased, information gathering is intensified,” they wrote.

Investigators from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation were also examining surveillance camera footage from the scene.

‘WHAT WE’VE BEEN AFRAID OF’

Prime Minister Juha Sipila tweeted that his government was “following the situation in Turku closely and the police operation underway”.

Turku mayor Aleksi Randall said in a statement it was “difficult to understand that such violence would happen on this scale in Turku. “Occurrences that have been all too frequent in Europe and around the world have now arrived here, which is what we’ve been afraid of, too.”

Police were still refusing to confirm for sure that the stabbing had been terror-related. “At this stage of our investigations we can’t say if it is a matter of terrorism,” police told a press conference.

In June, Finland’s intelligence and security agency Supo raised the country’s terror threat level by a notch, from “low” to “elevated”, the second notch on a four-tier scale.

It said it saw an increased risk of an attack committed by IS. “Supo has become aware of more serious terrorism-related projects and plans in Finland,” it said.

“Foreign terrorist fighters (who have) left from Finland have gained significant positions within IS in particular and have an extensive network of relations in the organisation,” it said in its June assessment.

In 2012, Finland’s then-prime minister Jyrki Katainen escaped a knife attack in Turku while campaigning for municipal elections.

The man who approached him carrying a knife was found to be psychologically disturbed and no charges were brought against him.

Source AFP



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Cai Lậy toll station’s location okay: MoT

The location of the Cai Lậy Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) toll station on National Highway No 1 was appropriate, according to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyễn Ngọc Đông.

The location of the Cai Lậy Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) toll station on National Highway No 1 was appropriate, according to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyễn Ngọc Đông.- Photo zing.vn

The official made the declaration at a feisty meeting on Thursday, which featured pointed questions from local media on the toll station in Tiền Giang Province.

The toll station was temporarily suspended from operation on Tuesday due to strong opposition from drivers on August 13 and 14, only two weeks after it opened on August 1 with fees set at VNĐ35,000 ($1.5) to VNĐ180,000 ($7.8), depending on the vehicle.

Drivers complained that the location of the toll station was inappropriate. The station is located on National Highway No 1 but collects fees for a 12-km bypass of the Cai Lậy Town and some drivers only travel on the highway not the bypass.

To protest the fees on August 13, drivers used small notes to pay the fees, causing traffic jams for hours at the toll station, reported Giao thông (Transport) online newspaper.

Speaking at the meeting, Đông said the toll station’s location belonged to a project with two components. The first component was to improve the quality of a 26.4-km section of National Highway No 1. The second component was to construct the 12-km bypass of Cai Lậy Town.

During the approval process of the project, the ministry received approval from the provincial People’s Committee, the provincial People’s Council, the provincial delegation of National Assembly deputies and the Ministry of Finance for the location of the toll station, he said.

Nguyễn Văn Huyện, General Director of the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam, said the ministry had to combine the two components into a project to ensure the feasibility of the project, as no investor would pay for the bypass as a separate project.

Additionally, road maintenance fees currently being collected from road users were not enough to maintain national highways, he said.

About VNĐ10 trillion ($440 million) is collected for the road maintenance fund each year, while about VNĐ23 trillion ($1.01 billion) is needed to maintain the national highway system, according to Huyện.

“If the location of the toll station is not set here, the project would still be on paper,” he said.

Reduce fees

In response to the strong opposition of drivers, the ministry on Wednesday worked with the provincial administration and decided to reduce fees by half for vehicles of transport companies in Phú Nhuận, Mỹ Thành Nam, Bình Phú and Phú An communes in Cai Lậy District from September 10. Other vehicles in the four communes will be exempt from the fees.

Therefore, the question becomes how long the payback period for the project will take, with period originally scheduled to be about six years.

Nguyễn Danh Duy, head of the ministry’s Public-Private Partnership Department, said the payback period would be re-calculated based on the number of vehicles using the station.

If the fees were reduced, the payback period was estimated at 12-14 years, he added.

The period would be adjusted every two years after the ministry re-checked the number of vehicles passing through the station, he said.

Still dissatisfaction

Nguyễn Văn Thanh, chairman of the Việt Nam Automobile Transportation Association said the project also improved the quality of the 26.4-km section of the National Highway No 1, so they established the toll station on the national highway instead of the bypass.

“But it’s inappropriate,” he said.

A BOT project meant the road was newly built, but the investor only upgraded a section and built another road then collected under the BOT project, causing the anger of road users, he said.

Furthermore, the fees were believed to be too high for a two-lane road just running 12km, at VNĐ35,000 ($1.5) to VNĐ180,000 ($7.8), while a 40km stretch on the Trung Lương-HCM City Highway with six lanes only costs VNĐ40,000 ($1.7).

Thanh said road users still wanted the ministry to move the toll station to the bypass.

Source VNA



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Cut from master plan, Kyoei adamant on long-delayed steel plant

The visit is also a chance for Vietnam and India to adopt measures to promote their comprehensive relationship as well as facilitating business deals. The traditional friendship between Vietnam and India originates from their common historical links in culture, religion and trade. It was established and fostered by President Ho Chi Minh and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and by other generations of leaders and people of the two countries. The traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and India has developed significantly since the two countries established their diplomatic ties at an ambassadorial level on January 7, 1972. Vietnam has received valuable assistance from India in its post-war reconstruction process and its current economic development. Bilateral ties in politics, security and national defence have also developed well through high-level visit exchanges. Economically, two-way trade has increased by 20 percent per annum in recent years from US$375 million in 2002 to US$1.005 billion in 2006. Vietnam mainly exports coffee, coal, pepper, rubber, electronic products and footwear to India, and imports cattle feed, raw materials, metals, plastics, medicines, machinery equipment, garment and pharmaceutical accessories, chemicals and pesticides from the South Asian country. Both countries are trying to reduce Vietnam’s import surplus and raise bilateral trade to US$1.5-2 billion in the next two or three years. The year 2007 marked a breakthrough in India’s investment in Vietnam. In February, Essar group agreed a US$527 million project to produce hot rolled steel in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. Three months later, Tata group signed…... [read more]

They were speaking at a recent meeting with the Vietnam Competition Authority, where they warned the situation would worsen when Vietnam is obliged to scrap more tariff lines under upcoming free trade agreements. Vo Van Thanh, deputy CEO of steel producer Hoa Sen Group, said non-tariff trade barriers are supposed to shield local production against the influx of cheap imports, but in Vietnam they are "very weak" due to the lack of an efficient legal framework. For instance, while Vietnamese steel exporters are subject to tight quality checks in foreign countries, in Vietnam, authorities apply technical standards for imported steel that are not "adequate", meaning poor products can sneak into the local market, he said. Since October steel producers have been seeking authorities’ help to fight against the rising influx of cheap imports, especially from China, which is now the biggest seller of iron and steel to Vietnam. One of their complaints is that Chinese chrome alloy steel billets are imported tax-free though their minuscule chrome content of 0.3-0.4 percent does not add any value to the billets, meaning they cannot be used for making sophisticated products. In response, government agencies began to inspect importers of the product and sought to amend regulations to slap a 10 percent import duty on chrome alloy steel. However, the findings of the investigation have yet to be released and the proposed tax is awaiting feedback from other relevant authorities. Meanwhile, many factories are on the verge of closing down as they cannot sell…... [read more]

To make it to the top, the MoIT undertook numerous innovations in the application of information technology and supplying public services, said VAIP’s General Secretary Nguyen Long. Regarding the ICT Index of provinces and cities, he said he was surprised to see despite embracing part of the old Ha Tay which held a low position before merging with Hanoi in 2009, Ha Noi remains in 3rd place (1st place belonging to Da Nang). In the state-run sector, the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) topped the ICT Index. There was an increasing trend among commercial banks to invest in information and technology. As regards corporations, there was not much change with leading positions retained by the Vietnam Steel Corporation, Rubber Corp. and Oil and Gas Group. This is the 4th consecutive year the VAIP has coordinated with the Office of the National Steering Committee on Information and Technology to compile the Vietnam ICT Index.... [read more]

HCMYUCC Secretary and head of the VSA, Nguyen Dac Vinh, affirmed that students and youths are pillars of the nation so they should study and follow late President Ho Chi Minh’s examples to become intellectuals who will lead the cause of national construction and defence for a more prosperous and brighter future of the nation. Speaking at the meeting, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Ha Thi Khiet emphasised that the Party and State always place trust in dynamic and creative students who will form the core to develop Vietnam into an industrialised country by 2020. She encouraged students and youths to respond enthusiastically to the exemplary role model campaigns and also urged authorities to better care for them. After the meeting, students and youths met with former students who were involved in the two wars of resistance against foreign aggressors in the 20th century. On the occasion, the HCMYUCC presented “Lighting up the Dreams of Vietnamese Youths” scholarships to 10 outstanding students in southern provinces. The Vietnam Steel Corporation provided VND250 million to build a memorial to heroic martyr Tran Van On in Phuoc Thach village, Chau Thanh District, Ben Tre Province. The Ben Tre Telecommunications donated VND200 million to the “Lighting up the Dreams” Fund to help students in Ben Tre province. Tran Van On – an outstanding student – laid down his life on a street in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) on January 9, 1950, while leading a students’ movement against the French colonialists. Since…... [read more]

The two departments asked the Vietnamese Embassy to Russia to look into the case and provide support for the workers according to the guidelines and responsibilities for citizen protection, DoLab Director Nguyen Ngoc Quynh said. The labourers left their homes in the northern provinces of Ha Nam, Hung Yen and Bac Giang, and were taken to Russia in January to work at a leather garments factory in Ekaterinburg. They complained to their families on the phone that they were being exploited, forced to work up to 13 hours per day in poor conditions without being paid. Quynh said that the labourers were not taken to Russian through any of the Vietnamese labour export companies. In a similar case, which involved another 36 Vietnamese labourers who said that they were not paid enough and were working without medical insurance, said Quynh. Those workers are now waiting for repatriation in Moscow because their labour contracts were cut short by their employers. They were sent to Russia in December 2008 and January 2009 to work as construction workers under a contract signed by the Vietnam Steel Corporation and APC Liability Limited Company in Russia.... [read more]

President Triet highlighted the value of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a steel works in Thach Khe district of Ha Tinh central province between Tata Steel Group and Vietnam Steel Corporation (VSC). He hoped that the MoU would lay a foundation to encourage Indian businesses to invest in other fields, such as telecommunications, mechanics, energy and chemicals. Mr Triet also expressed his belief that the cooperation between businesses will contribute to the economic relationship between Vietnam and India. Mr Muthuraman said Tata Steel Group will provide management for Thach Khe plant and expressed the wish to have further partnerships with the VSC. Leaders of Tata Steel Group want to visit Vietnam to seek investment opportunities, he added. Tata Steel Group is the largest steel producer in India, with around 26 million tones production capacity per year. It has businesses in 45 others countries.... [read more]

Such activities are part of Mr Dung’s official visit to the RoK for a high-level meeting to celebrate 20 years of ASEAN-RoK dialogue relations in Seoul. At the meeting with leaders from RoK groups, Mr Dung said Vietnam-RoK relations have developed rapidly and effectively in various fields during the past 16 years since both countries established a comprehensive partnership for the 21st century in 2001. The RoK is seen as Vietnam’s most important partner as many major RoK businesses are investing in key areas and positively contributing to Vietnam’s socio-economic development, bringing practical benefits to both sides. The Government leader praised RoK groups for their support and participation in social, cultural and charitable activities in Vietnam while affirming that the Vietnamese Government always creates favourable conditions for foreign enterprises including RoK entrepreneurs, to run their businesses effectively in Vietnam. RoK group leaders voiced their determination to continue investment in Vietnam, especially in areas where RoK is strong such as finance, energy, steel, infrastructure, real estate and transport. In his speech delivered at the Vietnam-RoK business forum, Mr Dung said RoK is one of Vietnam’s largest investors, running 2,150 projects with a total registered capital of nearly US$19 billion. However, Mr Dung said this is still not commensurate with the fine friendship, cooperation and available potential. Mr Dung said his visit aims to compare notes with RoK leaders on bilateral relations in recent times and devise orientations and measures to make the relations more effective on a bilateral and multilateral basis,…... [read more]

At the meeting, local authorities briefed the Deputy Prime Minister about the province’s socio-economic development in the first half of 2010. The local leaders proposed that the government should allow the Vietnam Steel Corporation to build a 500,000-1,000,000-tonne capacity steel company in the province. Deputy PM Hung also heard a report about a project to build a high-tech industrial park in Long My district. Mr Hung said that relevant ministries and departments have ratified the project and the province needs to have a detailed plan for changing the agricultural structure and to clarify relations between the state, farmers, businesses and scientists in order to maintain rice growing areas at the highest level. Deputy PM Hung urged ministries and departments to solve the problem of low rice selling price and provid Hau Giang with preferential loans to continue implementing necessary construction of transportation and dyke systems, schools and hospitals.... [read more]

In the review period the value of industrial output for four key businesses - the Vietnam Steel Corporation, the Vietnam Textile and Garment Group, the Vietnam Industrial Construction Group and the Vietnam Vegetable Oil, Flavouring and Cosmetics Company – was lower than in the same period last year. One of the causes for the slow increase was a significant decrease in the production of key industrial commodities in October. For example, crude oil exploitation only reached 86.3 percent while coal exploitation fell by 8.5 percent, cotton (down nearly 5 percent), cardboard (down 4.5 percent), electrical transformers (down 13.9 percent) and televisions (down 5.8 percent). However, the main cause was a high increase in over head costs, difficult access to bank loans due to high interest rates and global economic slump. In October, industrial production reached around VND55,630 billion, up 0.03 percent compared to September and 15.4 percent compared to the same period last year. Total industrial production in the past ten months was VND547,212 billion, an increase of 15.8 percent, of which the State-owned sector rose 7.7 percent, the non State-owned sector (21.1 percent) and foreign invested sector (17.8 percent). Some key industrial provinces and cities, which achieved high industrial production growth included Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Can Tho, Ha Tay, Hai Phong and Vinh Phuc. Meanwhile, industrial production growth of many provinces and cities such as Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, and Ho Chi Minh City, were lower than the sector’s average rate.…... [read more]

This year, due to the impact of the financial crisis, the number of companies registering for the event was only 60 percent of previous years. The organising board gave awards to 65 businesses, including 32 Competitive Trademark awards and 24 Famous Trademark awards, in the fields of construction, goods production, trade and services. The CMC Joint Stock Company received both the Famous and the Competitive Trademark honours. Outstanding companies, Vico Co. Ltd., Vietnam Steel Corporation, Dam Sen Water Park JSC, Tuong An Vegetable JSC, Viet Tien Garment Corporation, Vietnam Construction and Import Export Corporation, Vietnam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Mai Linh Corporation and SUFAT Co. Ltd., received Super Cups. The event is organised annually to increase the society’s awareness of intellectual property rights and business operations. Throughout its 4 year-history, the ceremony has recognised nearly 300 brand names as Famous and Competitive Trademarks, many of which have gone on to become well-known in domestic and foreign markets such as Bao viet, Vinamilk, Viet Tien, Hanoi Beer and Bitis.... [read more]

Pliskova wins twice to reach semis, secure No. 1 spot

CINCINNATI: Defending champion Karolina Pliskova solidified her world number one ranking on Friday (Aug 18) by defeating fifth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and qualifier Camila Giorgi on Friday to reach the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters semi-finals.

Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, returns to Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Aug 18, 2017, in Mason, Ohio. (Photo: AP/John Minchillo)

The 25-year-old Czech, fighting to hold off Romania’s second-ranked Simona Halep atop the rankings, first ousted Italian qualifier Giorgi 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in one of five matches postponed from Thursday due to rain.

Pliskova returned two hours later and defeated Denmark’s fifth-ranked Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to book a Saturday semi-final matchup against reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Four rivals could have toppled Pliskova this week, but the only one still with a hope is Halep, who faces Britain’s seventh-ranked Johanna Konta in a later quarter-final.

By virtue of Pliskova’s twin wins, Halep must capture the title to swipe the top spot in next week’s rankings.

Also doing double duty at the final major tuneup for the US Open was Spain’s Rafael Nadal, assured of moving into the world number one ranking on Monday for the first time since July 2004.

Nadal beat compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to reach a quarter-final later against Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Both Nadal and Ramos-Vinolas wore black ribbons on their shirts in memory of victims of the terror attack Thursday in Barcelona.

“What happened yesterday in Barcelona was, of course, terrible. Everyone is very, very sad. I don’t have words to say, because when these kind of things happen, is difficult,” Nadal said.

“All my support to Barcelona and especially to the people that are suffering a lot, for all the families of the victims. Just keep going and sorry for everything.”

Nadal, a 15-time Grand Slam champion who won his 10th French Open title in June, was ensured of overtaking injury-idled Andy Murray and topping the rankings for the first time since July 2014 after Roger Federer withdrew from Cincinnati with a back injury.

Kyrgios, ranked 23rd, outlasted Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3. The Aussie double faulted on the last point to hand Karlovic the first set but forced an errant backhand to win the tie-breaker and dominated the last set.

Pliskova improved to 3-5 all-time against Wozniacki, who beat her last week in a Toronto quarter-final.

The Czech, who downed Wozniacki in this year’s Eastbourne and Doha finals, broke in the third game of each set and saved the only break point she faced in her first service game.

Sixth-ranked Spaniard Muguruza ousted Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in a matchup of two-time Grand Slam winners that lasted two hours, 45 minutes.

“It was one of the best matches of the year,” Muguruza said. “It was a battle. I fought so hard. It was very tough. We both played very well.”

Muguruza displayed a black ribbon on her visor in memory of Barcelona victims. “I had it on my mind,” Muguruza said.

SVITOLINA NO.1 BID FOILED

Ukraine’s fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina lost her chance at number one this week when she was beaten by Julia Goerges 7-5, 6-4.

Bulgarian seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov defeated Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals against the winner of a later match between Americans John Isner and Jared Donaldson.

Austria’s eighth-ranked Dominic Thiem was also to meet Spaniard David Ferrer for a semi-final spot against Nadal or Kyrgios.

Source AFP



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SCG reaffirms determination to develop $5.4 billion Long Son petrochemical complex

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc expressed his hope that Thai businesses would make the most of co-operation and investment opportunities in Việt Nam, especially in the context of Việt Nam promoting mergers and acquisitions along with the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs). Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc addresses the “Việt Nam – Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum” held in Bangkok on Friday. - VNA Photo He made the remarks while addressing the “Việt Nam – Thailand Economic Co-operation Forum” held in Bangkok on Friday. PM Phúc was attending the event as part of his three-day visit to Thailand from August 17-19 at the invitation of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The forum, hosted by the Thai Business Association in Việt Nam, Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank) in co-operation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Việt Nam and the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand, featured some 500 firms from both Thailand and Việt Nam. Phúc said Việt Nam was stepping up merger and acquisition (M&A) activities in combination with equitisation of State enterprises in transport, infrastructure, food, agriculture, telecommunication, trade, services, tourism and construction. The Vietnamese Government leader invited Thai businesses to become shareholders of Việt Nam’s State-owned groups and corporations. According to the PM, since the two countries established a strategic partnership in 2013, co-operation between Việt Nam and Thailand has flourished, with bilateral trade turnover increasing from US$5.78 billion in 2009 to $12.5 billion…... [read more]

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomed by officials of the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and the Vietnamese community in Bangkok (Photo: VNA) Bangkok (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 18 met with officials of the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and the Vietnamese community in Bangkok, during which he lauded the community’s solidarity and mutual support to integrate into local society and contribute to the motherland’s development. He affirmed that the Party and State always pay close attention to overseas Vietnamese in general and the Vietnamese community in Thailand in particular, while expressing delight at the growth of the community. Regarding the outcomes of his talks and meetings with Thai leaders, the PM said that both sides shared delight at the strong growth of cooperation between the two countries over the past 40 years, especially since the two sides set up a strategic partnership in 2013. PM Phuc said that he asked Thailand to continue creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community and issue passports to elderly Vietnamese. Earlier the same day, the Government leader hosted a reception for President of the Thailand-Vietnam Friendship Association Prachuap Chaiyasan. Lauding the practical activities that the association has held over the past years to boost the traditional friendship between the two countries, the PM said Vietnam always attaches much importance to people-to-people diplomacy. He said he hopes the association will continue its efforts to strengthen tourism collaboration between the two countries, while helping connecting…... [read more]

NDO/VNA – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 18 met with officials of the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and the Vietnamese community in Bangkok, during which he lauded the community’s solidarity and mutual support to integrate into local society and contribute to the motherland’s development. >>> PM urges Thai firms to grasp opportunities in Vietnam He affirmed that the Party and State always pay close attention to overseas Vietnamese in general, and the Vietnamese community in Thailand in particular, while expressing delight at the growth of the community. Regarding the outcomes of his talks and meetings with the Thai leaders, the PM said that both sides shared their delight at the strong growth of cooperation between the two countries over the past 40 years, especially since the two sides set up a strategic partnership in 2013. PM Phuc said that he asked Thailand to continue creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community and issue passports to elderly Vietnamese citizens. Earlier the same day, the Government leader hosted a reception for President of the Thailand-Vietnam Friendship Association Prachuap Chaiyasan. Lauding the practical activities that the association has held, over the past few years, to boost the traditional friendship between the two countries, the PM said that Vietnam always attaches great importance to people-to-people diplomacy. He said he hopes the association will continue its efforts to strengthen tourism collaboration between the two countries, while helping connecting investors of both sides. Prachuap Chaiyasan hailed…... [read more]

NDO/VNA – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 18 met with officials of the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and the Vietnamese community in Bangkok, during which he lauded the community’s solidarity and mutual support to integrate into local society and contribute to the motherland’s development. >>> PM urges Thai firms to grasp opportunities in Vietnam He affirmed that the Party and State always pay close attention to overseas Vietnamese in general, and the Vietnamese community in Thailand in particular, while expressing delight at the growth of the community. Regarding the outcomes of his talks and meetings with the Thai leaders, the PM said that both sides shared their delight at the strong growth of cooperation between the two countries over the past 40 years, especially since the two sides set up a strategic partnership in 2013. PM Phuc said that he asked Thailand to continue creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community and issue passports to elderly Vietnamese citizens. Earlier the same day, the Government leader hosted a reception for President of the Thailand-Vietnam Friendship Association Prachuap Chaiyasan. Lauding the practical activities that the association has held, over the past few years, to boost the traditional friendship between the two countries, the PM said that Vietnam always attaches great importance to people-to-people diplomacy. He said he hopes the association will continue its efforts to strengthen tourism collaboration between the two countries, while helping connecting investors of both sides. Prachuap Chaiyasan hailed…... [read more]

Around 2,600 delegates from 21 APEC member economies have arrived in HCM City for the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 3) which begins today. — Photo apec.org Around 2,600 delegates from 21 APEC member economies have arrived in HCM City for the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 3) which begins today. The event, slated to last until the end of the month, will feature 75 meetings, seminars, and dialogues involving four committees and dozens of working groups of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). The Transportation Working Group will meet today for the 10th APEC Port Services Network Meeting. Other meetings today include the APEC Network on Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, the Impact of Government Policy Instruments on Promoting New Energy Vehicles, Customs Best Practices to Identify Illegal Timber and Wood Products, and the workshop on Best Practices in Policies, Regulations and Flexibility for Resilience of Global Value Chains. The APEC 2017 Secretariat has flagged three key activities: the High-level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Response to Climate Change in Can Tho from August 18 to 25, a seminar on Promoting Economic, Financial and Social Inclusion in HCM City on August 28, and a seminar on inclusive growth, which is a Vietnamese initiative and expected to promote the agenda for the 2017 APEC Year. The APEC 2017 SOM Chair is expected to chair the events. The Ministry of Health will chair seven meetings on health-related…... [read more]

Around 2,600 delegates from 21 APEC member economies have arrived in HCM City for the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 3) which begins today. Around 2,600 delegates from 21 APEC member economies have arrived in HCM City for the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 3) which begins today. - Photo apec.org The event, slated to last until the end of the month, will feature 75 meetings, seminars, and dialogues involving four committees and dozens of working groups of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). The Transportation Working Group will meet today for the 10th APEC Port Services Network Meeting. Other meetings today include the APEC Network on Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, the Impact of Government Policy Instruments on Promoting New Energy Vehicles, Customs Best Practices to Identify Illegal Timber and Wood Products, and the workshop on Best Practices in Policies, Regulations and Flexibility for Resilience of Global Value Chains. The APEC 2017 Secretariat has flagged three key activities: the High-level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Response to Climate Change in Can Tho from August 18 to 25, a seminar on Promoting Economic, Financial and Social Inclusion in HCM City on August 28, and a seminar on inclusive growth, which is a Vietnamese initiative and expected to promote the agenda for the 2017 APEC Year. The APEC 2017 SOM Chair is expected to chair the events. The…... [read more]

VietNamNet Bridge – Nam Tra My District in Quang Nam Province will host the first monthly Ngoc Linh ginseng market from September 29 to October 1. Promising root: Ngoc Linh ginseng harvested at a mountain farm in Nam Tra My District.  The chairman of the district people’s committee, Ho Quang Buu, told Viet Nam News the market in the south central province would provide a meeting point for tourists, investors, traders and local growers of Panax vietnamensis, better known as Vietnamese ginseng. He said the market, to be held every month between the 10th and 12th, would help boost the sale of local medical herbs, farm produce and forestry products, as well as improve the living standard of ethnic groups in the mountainous district. “We will allocate the culture and sport centre in the district to display farm produce, ginseng and herbs at 20 pavilions. Villagers will bring their products to introduce and sell at the market under strict control of quality and brand,” Buu said. Ngoc Linh ginseng, grown both in Nam Tra My District in Quang Nam and Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands, has been designated a national brand. Earlier this year, the district introduced the first ever Ngoc Linh ginseng and medical herbs centre in Tra Mai Commune as a major source of seed and saplings. The district plans to develop 15,000ha of ginseng farm in seven mountain communes by 2030. According to district authorities, more than 42,000ha of primary forests have been well preserved…... [read more]

President of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) of Thailand Pornpetch Wichitcholchai (L) meets with ational Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (Photo: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – President of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) of Thailand Pornpetch Wichitcholchai left Hanoi on August 16, concluding his four-day official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. During his stay in Vietnam, President Wichitcholchai held talks with NA Chairwoman Ngan, paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and met with the Vietnam-Thailand Parliamentary Friendship Group. At these meetings, the two sides expressed their delight at the development of Vietnam-Thailand relations in recent years with the regular exchange of high-ranking delegations.   [Parliamentary friendship group hopes for stronger Vietnam-Thailand ties] The two sides agreed that functional agencies of the two legislatures will closely supervise the implementation of the cooperation agreements signed between the two governments and maintain the exchange of delegations at all levels while the two parliamentary friendship groups will also strengthen their cooperative ties. They held that parliamentarians of Vietnam and Thailand should share viewpoints and support each other at international and regional inter-parliamentary forums in issues of mutual concern, thereby contributing to the building of a peaceful, stable and developed Asia-Pacific region. The leaders agreed to create better conditions for businesses from the two nations to meet in order to boost bilateral trade and investment relations. Thailand hoped that more Vietnamese investors would do…... [read more]

ExxonMobil Corporation from the US is completing the geological survey and build the design of the pipeline installation, aiming to conduct the construction of the onshore infrastructure of the Blue Whale (Ca Voi Xanh) gas-to-power complex located in the central provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. ExxonMobil seems eager to start project implementation At a working session with leaders of the Management Board of Dung Quat Economic Zone, the representative of ExxonMobil confirmed that the corporation is preparing the necessary conditions to implement the construction. At present, the corporation has carried out the land survey and took soil samples to conduct the environmental impact report. The investor urged relevant authorities to complete other procedures so that it can implement the project soon. The exact amount of investment capital has not been released, but initial information suggested that the gas-to-power complex could carry a price tag of $20 billion. However, Vietnam's state-run oil and gas group PetroVietnam, the co-investors of the project, referred to $10 billion. ExxonMobil and PetroVietnam signed a memorandum of understanding for the project in 2013. The project is believed to have high feasibility thanks to the good reputation of the investor and the readiness of the local authorities. According to the plan, the construction will be implemented in the two provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. Notably, the landfall location of the gas pipeline stemming from Blue Whale gas…... [read more]

NDO – The high-level delegation of the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand, led by its President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and his wife, left Hanoi on August 16, successfully concluding their official visit to Vietnam, which took place from August 13 to 16, at the invitation of Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. >>> Prime Minister welcomes Thailand’s top legislator >>> Vietnam, Thailand should keep mutual support at int’l parliamentary forums >>> Parliamentary friendship group hopes for stronger Vietnam-Thailand ties During his stay in Vietnam, Wichitcholchai held talks with NA Chairwoman Ngan, paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and met with the Vietnam-Thailand Parliamentary Friendship Group. At the meetings, both sides agreed that the relations between Vietnam and Thailand have been growing exceptionally over the past few years, manifested through the regular exchange of high-level delegations. They suggested that the specialised agencies of the two countries’ legislative bodies regularly supervise the implementation of the cooperative agreements reached by the two Governments, whilst maintaining the exchange of delegations at all levels. The two parliamentary friendship groups of both countries should strengthen their collaboration, the leaders stated, recommending that both sides support each other on issues of mutual concern at international and regional inter-parliamentary forums, thus contributing to peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region. The two sides agreed to create more favourable conditions for the business communities of both countries to enhance exchanges towards boosting trade and investment, as well as to accelerate bilateral cooperation…... [read more]

Diana crash car ‘handled badly at high speed’

PARIS: The 1997 car crash that killed Britain’s Princess Diana spawned a host of conspiracy theories, but evidence that it was an accident only grows stronger, bolstered by new revelations about the history of the vehicle.

The wreckage of the car that Britain’s Princess Diana was travelling in along with Dodi Al-Fayed, in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris in 1997. (Photo: AFP/Pierre Boussel)

A book titled “Qui a Tue Lady Di?” (Who Killed Lady Di?), published in May, revealed that the Mercedes 280 had a previous owner and had been stolen twice before the fateful night of August 31, 1997, when Diana was killed along with her new Egyptian lover Dodi Al-Fayed.

Their chauffeur Henri Paul, who was found to have an excessive amount of alcohol as well as anti-depressants in his blood, also died, while Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was badly injured and has little recall of the accident.

The car’s first owner, advertising tycoon Eric Bousquet, bought it in 1994.

It was stolen three months later, then found in a field near Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport with signs that it had rolled several times, according to the book by journalist Jean-Michel Caradec’h.

It was deemed a “wreck” and Bousquet was reimbursed by his insurer. But the car was then overhauled and in 1996 went on sale at a Mercedes dealership in Paris.

Etoile Limousine bought it for around €40,000 (US$47,000) and then leased the car to the Ritz Hotel in Paris for use by its VIP guests.

The Ritz, owned by the Al-Fayed family, is where Diana and Dodi dined just hours before the accident.

The head of Etoile Limousine, Jean-Francois Musa, told AFP that he was told the car had “been used by a Mercedes France executive” when he bought it.

But the high-end limousine company “realised very soon that there was a problem, that the car handled very badly at speeds higher than 70 to 80 kilometres per hour (43-50 mph),” Musa said, adding that the firm sent the car back to Mercedes to resolve the problem.

SECOND THEFT

The vehicle was stolen a second time four months before the accident and then abandoned on a motorway.

It underwent €17,000 worth of repairs before rejoining the Etoile Limousine fleet and the Ritz garage where it was selected to chauffeur Diana.

The car was clocked hurtling along at between 126 and 155 kph when it entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris where it crashed.

Dodi’s billionaire father Mohammed Al-Fayed in 2008 abandoned his bid to prove that the British secret service was behind the deaths with the blessing of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, to prevent Diana marrying a Muslim.

Al-Fayed also implicated Diana’s ex-husband Prince Charles, former prime minister Tony Blair, journalists and newspaper editors.

Source AFP



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Hanwha Life Vietnam opens 100th customer service center

The first half of 2017 has witnessed many bancassurance deals in Vietnam and the second may also see heightened cooperation among insurers and commercial banks, which promises to heat up the bancassurance sector.  FWD signs exclusive 15-year bancassurance partnership with Nam A Bank Hanwha Life Vietnam and Shinhan Bank Vietnam sign bancassurance deal AIA and HSBC form new bancassurance partnership Insurers now are now racing for bancassurance deals (Illustration) In the first six months of 2017, there have been at least five bancassurance deals among insurance companies and commercial banks so that insurers can sell their products through the banking channel. Two more bancassurance deals are expected in August. It seems that insurance companies are in a hurry to find an appropriate banking partner so that they can catch up with the bancassurance trend. “Bancassurance accounts for more than 10 per cent of AIA (Vietnam) Life Insurance Co., Ltd. (AIA Vietnam)’s total revenue, and it is forecasted that this number will rise in the future. To develop business in the bancassurance sector, our strategy is to carefully select domestic and foreign commercial banks for partnership. Our partners can share with us technology-based customer services,” Wayne Besant, general director of AIA Vietnam, said at the ceremony to announce partnership with HSBC Bank (Vietnam) Ltd. (HSBC Vietnam) in the middle of May 2017. This was…... [read more]

Shinhan Bank donates 30 bikes to poor students in Can Gio The Saigon Times Daily Shinhan Bank Vietnam Ltd (Shinhan Bank) has donated 30 new bicycles to underprivileged students in HCMC’s outlying district of Can Gio under its third Charity Bike Run 2016 last week, the bank said. Shinhan Bank staff participating in the charity activity rode the new bikes, valued at a total of VND60 million (over US$2,670), from Can Gio’s Rung Sac area to Doi Lau school in An Thoi Dong Commune before they were handed over to poor students in Ly Nhon, An Thoi Dong and Tam Thon Hiep Communes. Shinhan Bank General Director Shin Dong Min said in a statement that the Charity Bike Run is one of the bank’s annual corporate social responsibility activities. Although the bikes are small in value, the banks hopes they will help strengthen the students’ learning spirit and alleviate their hardship. Shinhan Bank’s social efforts focus on support for local communities in which its employees live and work. Besides the Charity Bike Run, the bank has held other annual charitable activities for less fortunate people in rural areas on Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) and Mid-Autumn Festival.... [read more]

Shinhan Bank to offer preferential loans to SMEs Van Nam HCMC - Shinhan Bank Vietnam will set aside US$100 million to lend to local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with interest rates of 8-9% per year, particularly producers of goods for export to South Korea. Tran Khanh Phi, director of customer relations at the bank, shared the information at the signing in HCMC on July 4 of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the lender and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Support Center 2 (SMEDEC 2). Phi said credit would be provided from this month to the end of next year with around US$1 million going to each project of producing-trading businesses. According to the MoU, Vietnamese SMEs will receive financial support to promote trade and invest in human resources, sustainable development, energy saving, climate change adaptation and technology application, among others. Set up in 2009, Shinhan Bank Vietnam completed a merger deal with Shinhan Vina Joint-Venture bank in November 2011 and became a 100% foreign-invested bank in Vietnam. After the merger deal, Shinhan Bank Vietnam had chartered capital of over VND4.57 trillion and total assets of VND18 trillion, and nine branches in big Vietnamese cities.... [read more]

In the autumn of 2016, Vietnam Investment Review joyfully celebrates its 25th anniversary of establishment. This is also a hallmark in the group's history of development. The events and forums organised by VIR at the national and international levels - such as the M&A Vietnam Forum and the Vietnam Investment Forum - have created a unique identity for the group. They have had significant impacts on many sectors of the economy. Through its publications and forums, VIR has created an important open debate-based information channel, contributing to the promotion of democracy in the process of making policies and important plans for the country's socioeconomic development. Successes reaped from persistent implementation of the motto "Pairing well with investors and enterprises" have strengthened VIR's fine media-enterprise relations. They have also enabled VIR to continue its mission to vividly reflect the business and investment developments in the economy, and at the same time to implement the task of economic media, in order to ensure a sustainable future. All of VIR's achievements have been made possible by its mature and experienced reporters, who are well-equipped with expertise and political qualifications. The strengths have also been fostered by great support from the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Party Committee and leadership, the Central Committee for Communication and Education, the Ministry of Information and Communication, and agencies of the Party and the State, as well as valuable encouragement from the Vietnam Journalists Association. Such support has laid firm groundwork for VIR to build a brighter future.…... [read more]

Making an entrance into the Vietnamese banking landscape as representative offices, then moving up the ladder to become branches and 100 per cent foreign-owned units when the right time came and regulations allowed, Japanese and Korean financial institutions are taking careful steps to strengthen their footholds in the country. Not only do they want to cater to their home-based institutional clients, but also to the 90 million possible retail customers living in Vietnam. Trang Nguyen reports. Incoming capital Data from the General Statistics Office (GSO) revealed that in the last two years, new Korean and Japanese investments topped the list of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam. Korea registered 505 new investment projects in 2014 and 702 projects in 2015, boasting a combined registered capital of $8.8 billion. In the first eight months of 2016, the nation rolled out some $3.84 billion in registered capital for another 517 new projects in Vietnam. According to Shinhan Bank Vietnam general director Shin Dong Min, last year’s enactment of the Vietnam-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA) has facilitated the flow of Korean businesses into Vietnam. Vietnam is Korea’s third-largest export market. In the year to the end of July, the value of goods – mostly raw and supporting materials – and services reached $18 billion. This accounts for 6.4 per cent of Korea’s total export turnover. “Vietnam has been acting as a critical manufacturing hub for Korean enterprises,” Shin said. Japan, meanwhile, has secured second place on the FDI board in terms of…... [read more]

Hilton to operate fourth hotel in Vietnam Hilton Worldwide Group and Sai Gon Cuu Long Joint Stock Company yesterday kicked off the construction of the Hilton Saigon Hotel project in District 1. The hotel project, situated on an area of 2,300 square metres at Me Linh Square Roundabout, will have 350 five-star standard rooms. With an investment of over USD100 million, it is expected to operate in the fourth quarter of 2019. At the project inauguration ceremony yesterday, Hilton Worldwide Group announced that the hotel would be managed by the Sai Gon Cuu Long Joint Stock Company who is also the investor of the project. Hilton Worldwide Group is now operating three hotels in Vietnam including Hilton Hanoi Opera, Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi and Hilton Danang. Local firms concerned about HCMC business development goal Many business leaders have cast doubt over HCMC’s ability to realize an ambitious target of having 500,000 businesses by 2020. Instead of tripling the number of businesses, the city should focus on developing major firms which can promote brands on international markets, said corporate representatives at a dialogue between the city’s leaders and businesses on Sunday. HCMC chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said there are currently 12 million people and 170,000 operational businesses in the city. There are some big enterprises with well-known brands. For instance, when talking about Vietnamese retailers, Co.opmart with 82 operational supermarkets nationwide would be the first to be mentioned. “The city holds much potential, but the point is how to have mechanisms…... [read more]

The Hanoitimes - Despite slowing growth, the World Bank (WB) still expects that Vietnam`s economic growth will be at around 6% in the period of 2016-2018, and will remain one of the strongest growth economies in ASEAN. On April 11, the World Bank (WB) has announced the Report on Updating East Asia and the Pacific economy, in which cutting its forecast of growth prospects for Vietnam this year and next year. Vietnam’s lenders are gathering speed, posting the second-highest growth by country in this year’s ranking of the top 100 banks in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Global financial affairs magazine The Banker of news organisation The Financial Times made the announcement in an online report this month. Vietnamese banks – 19 of which made the ranking – grew their assets by the second-highest amount, 15.66 percent, and although they still contribute a relatively small share of the total assets in the ranking, 7.46 percent, they are up from 6.21 percent in the previous year. However, growth does not necessarily translate into profitability, the report said. Vietnam’s banks stood out in terms of asset growth, with Vietnam Prosperity Bank coming out on top with a 35.02 percent increase, followed by local competitors Saigon Commercial Bank and Shinhan Bank Vietnam, which expanded by 34.22 percent and 33.32 percent, respectively. The country’s banks look to be poised to continue this rise. In addition to robust growth and stability, banking penetration remains among the lowest in the region. Only 30.86 percent…... [read more]

Vietnam’s lenders are gathering speed, posting the second-highest growth by country in this year’s ranking of the top 100 banks in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Global financial affairs magazine The Banker of news organization The Financial Times made the announcement in an online report this month. The largest increase in the ranking goes to Cambodia, which grew by 30.4 percent, although it has only one lender – Acleda Bank – recognized on the list. Cambodia also accounts for only 0.1 percent of the total assets in the ranking, down from 0.19 percent the year before. Vietnamese banks – 19 of which made the ranking – grew their assets by the second-highest amount, 15.66 percent, and although they still contribute a relatively small share of the total assets in the ranking, 7.46 percent, they are up from 6.21 percent in the previous year. The ranking remains dominated by Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, which jointly hold nearly three-quarters of the total assets. However, growth does not necessarily translate into profitability, the report said. With an aggregate return on assets (ROA) of 0.8 percent and return on capital (ROC) of 12.19 percent, Vietnam is placed at the tail-end of the ASEAN ranking for returns. Instead, as has often been the case in the past, the champion in that category is Indonesia, which boasts an ROA of 2.7 percent and ROC of 25.31 percent. Vietnam’s banks stood out in terms of asset growth, with Vietnam Prosperity Bank coming out on top…... [read more]

Vietnamese lenders make up a fifth of the top 100 ASEAN banks, and posted the second-fastest growth by country, The Banker said in its latest ranking report for the ten-country bloc. Vietnamese banks, with 19 representatives on the list, grew their assets by the second highest amount, 15.66 percent from the previous year, according to the 2016 Top 100 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) banks ranking. The largest increase in the ranking belongs to Cambodia, which grew by 30.4 percent, although it has only one lender – Acleda Bank – on the list, The Banker, a banking industry publication that includes coverage of retail finance, said in a report on April 1. Some of the Vietnamese lenders that made it to the ranking are Vietinbank, Agribank, Vietcombank, BIDV, MBBank, Sacombank, and EximBank. The full list is available here. According to the report, Vietnam’s banks stood out in terms of asset growth, with Vietnam Prosperity Bank coming out on top with a 35.02 percent rise. It is followed by Saigon Commercial Bank and Shinhan Bank Vietnam, which expanded by 34.22 percent and 33.32 percent, respectively. Such an upward trend is likely to continue for Vietnamese banks, according to The Banker. However, The Banker noted that growth does not necessarily translate into profitability, as Vietnam is in fact placed at the tail-end of the ASEAN ranking for returns, with the aggregate return on assets (ROA) of 0.8 percent and return on capital (ROC) of 12.19 percent. The champion in this category…... [read more]

Korean Consulate General in HCM City Park Noh Wan delivers opening speech for the 5th CSR Awards. — VNS Photo Hoang Ha HCM CITY (Biz Hub) — Eight South Korean businesses operating in Viet Nam were honoured yesterday with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards for their contributions to socio-economic development in Viet Nam. The fifth annual Corporate Social Responsibility awards ceremony for South Korean enterprises in Viet Nam was co-organised by the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment. The awardees included Hyosung Vietnam Limited Company, Hanwha Life Insurance Vietnam, Shinhan Bank Vietnam, Sung Bu Vina Co, Ltd, Infac Vina Co, Ltd, Four Seasons Vina Co, Ltd, PTV Co, Ltd, and Eins Vina Co, Ltd. This year, five of eight awards went to small- and medium-sized enterprises, while in the last several years they were given to big corporations. The awards to SMEs this year show that they have acknowledged their social responsibility through practical and meaningful community activities, including improving the working environment, saving energy, and contributing to social security. Besides creating jobs for local residents, this year’s awardees engaged in a number of successful CSR activities. Eins Vina Co, Ltd gave periodic support for an orphanage; Four Seasons Vina Co, Ltd, and PTV Co, Ltd gave scholarships to local schools; Hyosung Vietnam Limited Company and Shinhan Bank Vietnam took part in traditional cultural preservation activities; and Infac Vina Co, Ltd built…... [read more]

Banking recovery lifts VN-Index

Bank stocks strengthened during Friday’s afternoon trade which rescued the VN-Index from another fall as investor sentiment remained fragile.

Investors at the Vietcombank Securities Ltd. office in Ha Noi. – VNA/VNS Tuan Anh

The benchmark VN-Index on the HCM Stock Exchange edged up 0.18 per cent to close Friday’s session at 768.97 points. It decreased 0.8 per cent on Thursday.

Banks led the market rebound with five of seven listed lenders on the southern market advancing. Eximbank (EIB) rose by the daily maximum rate of 7 per cent, settling at 6.6 per cent to VND12,050 a share.

BIDV (BID), the third largest listed bank by market value, increased 2.9 per cent, while the two biggest lenders – Vietcombank (VCB) and Vietinbank (CTG) – picked up by less than 1 per cent each.

VPBank (VPB) which debuted on Thursday with 1.33 million shares dropped 4.6 per cent at VND37,200 a share and was no longer the most expensive bank share. Meanwhile, Sacombank (STB) edged down 0.8 per cent.

Many heavyweight shares in the VN30 basket (which tracks the top 30 shares by market value and liquidity on the HCM City’s exchange) also advanced and supported the market, including steelmakers Hoa Phat Group (HPG), Hoa Sen Group (HSG), food-beverage firms like Vinamilk (VNM) and Kido Group (KDC), and real estate developers like FLC Faros Construction (ROS), Novaland Investment Group (NVL) and Kinh Bac City Development (KBC).

On the defensive side, energy and pharmaceutical shares slumped and weighed on the market, such as PV Gas (GAS), PetroVietnam Drilling and Wells Service (PVD) and DHG Pharmaceutical (DHG).

According to BIDV Securities Company, Friday’s recovery was driven mainly by VN30 large-cap stocks, especially in the banking, food-beverage and steel sectors. However, liquidity in these stocks remained modest while overall liquidity was weakening.

“The VN-Index may return to 770 points and fluctuate around 770-775 points next Monday, but market risk remains on the back of unstable liquidity,” they wrote in a note.

On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index inched up 0.34 per cent at 100.83 points.

A total of 248.5 million shares worth a combined VND3.9 trillion (US$171.7 million) were traded on the two markets, down 15.8 per cent in volume and 38.1 per cent in value compared to the previous session.

Source VNA



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Sugarcane sector needs new ideas

Domestic and international experts in the sugarcane industry gathered at the fifth TTC annual international sugarcane conference in Phan Thiet City in Binh Thuan Province to discuss ways to help the Vietnamese sugarcane industry develop sustainably.

Speakers discuss at the conference in the southern coastal city of Phan Thiet. – VNS Photo

The conference, under the main theme “The restructuring of Viet Nam’s sugarcane industry”, was co-organised by the Viet Nam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA) and TTC Group on Thursday and Friday.

The country’s sugar output hit nearly 1.2 trillion tonnes in the 2016-17 crop, VSSA reported. This is the third continuous decline in sugar output.

Slow market consumption, high inventory, complicated sugar smuggling issues and ASEAN’s imposition of a sugar import tax rate of zero per cent after 2018 have created an urgent need for Vietnamese businesses to adapt, and have forced a rethink of the whole country’s sugar industry.

As the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development implements a policy of restructuring the agricultural sector towards enhancing added value and developing sustainably, sugar companies are constantly innovating to promote internal strength, improving their competitive position domestically and internationally.

However, as many difficulties and problems still exist, the Vietnamese sugar industry needs radical solutions to be able to grow.

This year’s conference attracted more than 400 guests, including leading domestic experts, policymakers, research institutes, businesses and representative farmers in the field of sugarcane and speakers from the world’s biggest sugar producers such as Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Australia, the US and the Philippines.

Domestic speakers provided an overview of policies for the Vietnamese sugarcane industry; its current status and orientations for new sugarcane cultivation in Viet Nam by 2020 with a vision to 2030.

Meanwhile, international speakers gave presentations and shared experiences about product diversification to enhance the value chain of sugar; steam saving in sugar mills and applications of optical sensor technology in a sugar production system in Louisiana.

Apart from the goal of forging international links in order to promote the growth of the Vietnamese sugar industry as in previous seminars, this year’s international conference is an opportunity for enterprises to exchange and share experiences, while seeking cooperation and investment opportunities.

It is also a chance for businesses to propose effective production plans, as well as support sugarcane farmers in approaching advanced information and technology from around the world.

Source VNA



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Higher second home tax to pose challenges

The Ministry of Finance (MoF)’s proposal to tax second and additional homes to restrict property speculation and oversupply would face challenges, experts have said.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF)’s proposal to tax second and additional homes to restrict property speculation and oversupply would face challenges. – Photo enternews.vn

Revenue from property tax makes up 2 per cent of GDP in OECD countries and 0.6 per cent in developing economies, according to the ministry. In Việt Nam, housing purchases have increased as average income per capita rose from US$1,400 in 2013 to $2,200 in 2016. It is expected to rise to $3,400 by 2020.There is no specific property tax law in the country, but there are taxes related to property such as the tax on agricultural and non-agricultural land use. However, the policies have not resulted in stable revenue for the State budget.

The taxation was first proposed in 2010 but the draft was amended and approved as a non-agricultural land use tax law.

The Government suggested three taxation solutions. First, imposing a single tax rate of 0.03 per cent on houses with taxable value of VNĐ500 million and higher. Second, taxing houses based on their area, and third, zero per cent tax on houses valued at up to VNĐ500 million, and 0.03 per cent tax on the rest.

Economist Nguyễn Trí Hiếu told online newspaper vietnamnet.vn that the proposal was reasonable. However, there are many issues which need resolved to implement the taxation.

For example, people could register their houses under the names of other people for tax evasion, and it is difficult to clarify second homes as Việt Nam does not have a concentrated information system.

Hiếu said the tax could only be imposed on some people, causing unfairness among the rest.

It would be also difficult to define a house’s value as foundation for the taxation as its value would change every year.

“We need one to three years to complete all regulations relating to land and housing management before taxing the second and additional homes. Land ownership in Viet Nam has been complicated through many periods. Meanwhile, the property market has not operated under market mechanisms. It needs improvements to ensure fair taxation,” he added.

Agreeing, lawyer Trần Thái Bình from LNT & Partners Law Firm in HCM City said the policy was necessary. However, the ministry should comprehensively study before implementing it.

Bình said if the Government hurried to impose the tax, it would not reduce shortcomings in the property market and increasing pressure on housing prices.

Low-income earners therefore could find it harder to buy houses.

“It is not the time to apply the policy. The Government should have solutions to ensure low-income earners have houses before thinking about taxing second homes,” he said.

Housing quota needed

Economist Đinh Thế Hiển told the newspaper that asset taxes are imposed on people with assets and the tax should be bigger on those who own more assets than they need, i.e. those who own houses for rent or large villas, compared with those who own small houses.

“I think the Government should stipulate the area which a person should have depending on urban or rural regions. The area, which is higher than stipulation, should be taxed,” he said.

Trần Khánh Quang, general director of Việt An Hòa Real Estate Investment Company said authorities should pay attention to feasibility.

Quang added that the ministry should have an integrated and reasonable taxation level. If the tax is too high, property prices would increase, making it hard for people to buy houses.

In addition, a high tax could encourage people to break laws and regulations and reduce transparency in the estate market.

Source VNA



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Đồng Nai halts construction licensing

The People’s Committee of Đồng Nai Province has suspended the licensing of construction projects in residential areas around the planned Long Thành International Airport in an effort to prevent speculation and higher land prices.

A model of the planned Long Thành International Airport in Đồng Nai Province’s Long Thành District. VNS File Photo.

At a meeting on site clearance on Thursday, the deputy chairman of Đồng Nai People’s Committee, Trần Văn Vĩnh, asked Long Thành and Nhơn Trạch district authorities who grant licences to construction projects to first wait for the planning of areas around the projects to be completed.

To receive public feedback on the plan, the committee and Long Thành District will work together to publicise information about the plan, Vĩnh said.

The central Government has told the province to work with relevant agencies on a feasibility study on site clearance and compensation to residents who will have to move before the project begins.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment will assess the feasibility study and submit it to the Government before sending it to the National Assembly for approval.

A spokesman from the Đồng Nai Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said the feasibility study would be submitted to the Government by the end of August.

The feasibility study is expected to include information about the status and location of the airport project; infrastructure for re-settlement areas for affected households; land reclamation and compensation; and job training and employment opportunities for the resettled.

Also included will be re-adjustment of administrative borders of the area; environmental impact of the project; sources of investment; and information on the progress of the feasibility study.

The department said that speculators, after hearing about the airport plan, had bought farmland plots and divided them into smaller plots for resale. This would likely cause prices of land around the airport to rise, it said.

Around 15,000 Đồng Nai residents will be affected by the airport project, 70 per cent of them farmers, with others working at rubber plantations or other jobs, according to the Đồng Nai Province’s People’s Committee.

Compensation for site clearance to households is estimated to total VNĐ23 trillion, including VNĐ5 trillion approved by the National Assembly for site clearance between 2016 and 2020.

For site clearance of 5,000 ha for the first stage of the project, 4,730 households and 26 offices of organisations will have to be relocated.

Source VNA



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Hà Nội suburbs await outdoor gyms, playgrounds

The installation of exercising equipment in parks and other public areas has been an unqualified success in the capital city.

Residents do morning exercises with outdoor sports equipment at the Thống Nhất Park in Hà Nội. – Photo hanoimoi.com.vn

The free outdoor gyms that began springing up three years ago have proved very popular with residents, prompting more people to exercise regularly.

Đinh Văn Luyến, Head of Public Sports Division under the city’s Department of Culture and Sports, said that between 2014 and 2016, exercise equipment was installed in the seven districts of Long Biên, Ba Đình, Tây Hồ, Hà Đông, Thanh Xuân, Hai Bà Trưng and Cầu Giấy.

“The free outdoor gyms have been welcomed and applauded. Previously, people usually went to the parks to walk, jog or do a few stretching exercise. Now they can do more with the supporting exercise equipment,” Luyến said.

The outdoor gyms have not only been funded by the city’s budget, but also with financial assistance from district budgets or private donors.

In May, the Tây Hồ District People’s Committee inaugurated two free outdoor gyms worth about VNĐ1 billion in its Thụy Khuê and Bưởi wards.

Tây Hồ Vice Chairman Phạm Xuân Tài said that district wanted to provide free exercise equipment to all eight wards in the district to promote sports and improve public health.

The district authority has called on private sector to join developing such gyms that beneficiaries would be responsible to manage and maintain, Tài said.

To some extent, the free outdoor gyms have helped meet demand for public sports facilities of people in crowded inner districts.

However, little of this change has made it to suburban areas in Hà Nội.

Nguyễn Văn Hạnh, a mechanic from Phú Xuyên district – a suburban district of Hà Nội, said that he lived and worked in Bưởi Ward, Tây Hồ District.

“I tried the exercise equipment. I saw many people interested in doing exercises around West Lake and some parks in Cầu Giấy District,” he said, adding that he wished such equipment would soon be available in his hometown.

“I’m sure that if the equipment is installed in the ground of the Community House in my hamlet, many people will begin exercising,” Hạnh said.

At a meeting of culture and sports officials in Hà Nội last year, director of the Mỹ Đức District Sports Centre, Nguyễn Thị Thuyên, said that suburban districts faced difficulties in providing free outdoor gyms because they had modest budgets.

“It is also more difficult for suburban districts to call for financial support from the private sector,” she said.   

In June, the city’s Culture and Sports Department proposed to the People’s Committee that six new free outdoor gyms are opened this year in the districts of Đống Đa, Tây Hồ, Nam Từ Liêm, Ứng Hòa, Đan Phượng and Quốc Oai.

Between 2018 and 2020, the city plans to expand such gyms to other districts in the city, mostly suburban ones.

This is part of the city’s sport development plant until 2020 with vision towards 2030, which targets all communes and wards (except those in four inner districts of Hoàn Kiếm, Ba Đình, Đống Đa and Hai Bà Trưng) having sports facilities including a stadium, a gymnasium, a swimming pool and a playground.

Every hamlet in communes will have a community house combined with a sports ground, the plan says.

The plan was developed in light of the Law on Sports and a Government decision No112/2007/NĐ-CP clarifying some provisions of the law.

However, regulations on developing public sport facilities continue to be general and vague, said National Assembly deputy Ngọ Duy Hiểu.

The law states that People’s Committees at all levels are responsible for building public sports facilities. The Government’s decision stated that the People’s Committees should ensure resources including funding for public sports facilities.

“Both the law and the decision are too general, not specifying what the actual responsibilities are at various levels,” Hiểu said.

Such ambiguity could lead to overlapping or ignoring of responsibilities by administrations at different levels, he added.

In Mễ Trì Ward of Nam Từ Liêm District, a project to build a Culture and Sports Centre was approved in 2007 and about 5,000sq.m of land allotted for it. But the centre has not been built so far.

The ward has 15 residential groups, but only seven have community houses and public playgrounds for sports or exercises.

Deputy director of the district’s Culture and Sport Centre, Nguyễn Thị Nga, said that other wards in the district did not have public playgrounds, despite the fact that land was available.

“Specific regulations, at least on funding, are needed to speed up the projects,” she said.

Ngô Văn Quý, Vice Chairman of the Hà Nội People’s Committee, said detailed information such as the number and the minimum area of public playgrounds in a hamlet had to be compiled to implement and actualise such projects.

Source VNA



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