24 May 2017

Three students killed by hydropower plant discharge in central Vietnam

Four students were washed away on Wednesday morning while bathing in the Ba River in the central province of Phu Yen.

The 6th grade students from Cung Son Middle School were playing near the Tha Waterfall, 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from their school, when water released from a hydropower plant up the Ba River swept them away. Three of their friends who had been standing on the bank when the incident occurred raised the alarm and rescue services were subsequently dispatched to the scene.

Hours later, the bodies of three of the students were found about 100 meters (330 feet) from where the incident occurred. As of 3:30 p.m., the remaining student was still missing, according to Tien Phong newspaper.

Ba Ha River Hydropower Station was discharging water at a rate of 350 cubic meters per second at the time of the incident, according to To Phuong Bac, vice chairman of Son Hoa District. “The students were bathing downstream when they saw the incoming current. They panicked and tried to swim to the river bank, but couldn’t make it in time and were washed away,” Bac said.

The hydropower plant was following discharge protocols that have been in place for the last 10 years, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Dang Van Tuan, CEO of the company that operates the plant, as saying.

The company only informs authorities and locals when discharges flow over the spillway, not when it is generating electricity, as was the case on Wednesday morning.

Drowning is the second biggest killer of Vietnam’s teenagers, only behind road deaths, according to data released by the World Health Organization.

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Vitamin A for kids, mothers on Micro-nutrient Day

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) said it has distributed around 7.6 million doses of vitamin A capsules to serve nearly five million children and 500,000 new mothers.

In addition, vitamin A capsules will also be given to 1.1 million children who are between 37 and 60 months old; while children from 24 to 60 months in 22 provinces and cities that have a high rate of stunted growth among children will be de-wormed.

 Children given free vitamin A. Photo: giaoduc.net.vn

NIN deputy director Truong Tuyet Mai said that preventing micro-nutrient deficiencies is one of the six important goals of the National Strategy on Nutrition for the period 2011-20.

“Providing micro-nutrient supplements to high-risk groups such as children and new mothers is a fast and timely measure to handle the situation of micro-nutrient deficiency,” Mai said.

In addition, medium-term measures such as adding micronutrient supplements to essential foods, and long-term, sustainable measures such as adding diverse food products to daily meals are being taken to solve the problem of micro-nutrient deficiency in Vietnam, Mai said. “Adding micro-nutrient supplements to essential foods is a simple, effective way of improving daily meals, health, and quality of life.”

Communication and education will strengthen awareness about nutrition and nutritional requirements, and encourage good eating practices among people, Mai said.

People should incorporate a variety of food sources in their daily meals, especially food rich in micro-nutrients. New mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their newborns within the first one hour of birth, and give their babies no food or drink other than breast milk for the first six months.

Micro-nutrient deficiency is a persistent health problem in Vietnam, and requires proper attention and more investment from the Government.

On Micro-nutrient Day, dissemination and educational activities will be held nationwide to raise public awareness about good nutrition and promote food hygiene and safety.

A 2015 NIN survey revealed that 13 percent of the children in the country have vitamin A deficiency, and 32.8 percent of pregnant women are anaemic. Its statistics show that the country’s malnutrition rate is 14.1 percent of children under the age of five, and 24.6 percent of children have stunted growth.

Source: VNA

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Military company awarded First-class Labor Order

Lieutenant General Dong Sy Nguyen, former Politburo member and former Commander of Truong Son troops, attended the event.

Regiment 99 was founded on May 23, 1972 under the decision of the Truong Son Command. It was tasked to build roads to serve the fight against foreign invaders in the west of Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

 At the ceremony

With its brave, innovative and skilled troops, the unit well implemented mass mobilization work and information dissemination among enemy troops and ensured smooth traffic of vehicles and troops, contributing to the success of the General Uprising in Spring 1975, in line with its motto “Protecting roads to the last breath”.

With its outstanding feats of arms in combat and service, on September 12, 1975, Regiment 99 was conferred on the title “Hero of the People’s Armed Forces” by the Party and State.

In peacetime, the unit was tasked to build a strategic belt-road in Northern Vietnam and at the same time implemented the two missions of economic building and defense.

Regiment 99 has mastered numerous advanced technologies to build and upgrade bridges and roads.

Its typical projects include the upgradation of Highway 1A, Highway Cau Gie-Ninh Binh, Ho Chi Minh Road, building border patrol roads, hydroelectric plants of Son La and Lai Chau.

At present, it is constructing bridges under the La Son-Tuy Loan project, and Tan Vu-Lach Huyen road. 

Translated by Mai Huong

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Defense Ministry receives national contributors from Lang Son province

 National contributors in a joint photo

Speaking at the meeting, head delegate Truong Thi Hop said that during the national resistance wars, the province’s leadership and people recorded glorious feats of arms, making great contributions to the final victory in the wars of the Vietnamese people. In peacetime, the northern province continued to achieve great economic, social, and cultural development. She added that Lang Son now has more than 33,000 revolution contributors. In recent years, the province’s leadership has issued guidelines and policies to build new-styled rural areas as well as raise the material and spiritual lives of locals, and taken good care of revolution contributors.  

At the meeting, General Dung briefed the delegation on military units’ implementation of policies for troops’ families and their gratitude activities. Since 2011, search and collection teams have repatriated around 10,000 sets of remains of fallen volunteer soldiers and specialists from Laos and Cambodia. Military units have provided monthly allowances to around 10,000 policy beneficiaries and created jobs for more than 300 children of wounded and sick soldiers under treatment at convalescent centers and for around 100 wives and children of fallen soldiers. The whole army has taken care of over 1,700 Vietnamese heroic mothers and built more than 7,000 houses, totaling VND 450 billion. 

These meaningful deeds of troops have greatly contributed to the whole Party’ and people’s efforts to raise the material and spiritual lives of policy beneficiaries and revolution contributors as well as educate troops in particular and young generations about the tradition, “When drinking water, remember its source”, of the Vietnamese people.

Translated by Tran Hoai

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Lao economy forecast to grow 7 percent annually

In Vientiane (Source: alamy.com)

Vientiane (VNA) – The Lao economy is projected to grow around 7 percent annually between 2017 and 2019, according to the latest edition of the World Bank’s Lao Economic Monitor released in Vientiane on May 24.

The report said the country’s growth is driven by power projects and recovery in agriculture and manufacturing sectors, as well as new opportunities prompted by closer regional integration.

Inflation pressures remain low, while credit growth has stabilised over the past year, it said, adding that expansion of the power sector is expected to increase power export, while non-resource sectors such as tourism, trade and financial services are expected to benefit from closer regional integration and improved connectivity.

Though Laos has achieved strong economic development over the past decade, the report says higher investment in human development, particularly health services, is a priority.-VNA

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SOM discusses preparations for ASEAN Regional Forum meeting

At the event (Source: VNA)

Manila (VNA) – The Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) took place in Manila, the Philippines on May 24 to discuss preparations for the 24th ARF Ministerial Meeting slated for August in the country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of the SOM ARF Vietnam, attended the event.

In his speech, Dung reiterated Vietnam’s consistent stance on the East Sea issue and underscored the importance of settling disputes by peaceful means on the basis of respect to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as diplomatic and legal process.

Amid concerns over construction and militarisation in the East Sea, he called on countries to further exercise self-restraint, build trust and prevent incidents at sea.

He lauded efforts to seriously and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the outcomes of ASEAN-China talks on building a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), including the recent consensus on a draft COC framework towards reaching a practical, effective and legally-binding deal.

The meeting lauded positive progresses in the implementation of the Hanoi Plan of Action to realise the ARF Vision 2020 and collaboration in priority areas such as maritime security, disaster relief, fight against terrorism and trans-national crime, arms control and disarmament.

Participants looked into new cooperation proposals and agreed on the list of activities for 2017-2018 to submit to ministers for adoption in August.

They stressed the need to continue strengthening basic principles of ARF such as consultation, preventive diplomacy and trust building in order to improve the capacity of coping with emerging challenges such as cyber security, piracy, terrorism, violence extremism and human trafficking, contributing to ensuring peace, security and common development in the region.

On the East Sea and Korean Peninsula issues, they affirmed the significance of peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS and relevant resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.

As scheduled, Vietnam, together with the European Union and Australia, will co-chair the ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security for the 2018-2020 period, and co-host with Japan the ARF Experts and Eminent Persons’ Meeting in 2018, and organise the ARF seminar on strengthening cooperation in law enforcement at sea and peace maintenance in 2017.-VNA

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Deputy PM chairs Vietnam-Spain business forum

At the event (Source: VNA)

Madrid (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh reaffirmed the Vietnamese government’s commitment to welcoming foreign investors, including those from Spain, with all possible support at the opening of the Vietnam-Spain business forum in Madrid on May 24.

Highlighting Vietnam as a bright spot in terms of investment attraction and tourism, Minh said Vietnam has so far lured nearly 300 billion USD in foreign direct investment, 154 billion USD of which has been disbursed. The number of tourist arrivals in the country has surpassed a record 10 million thanks to political-security, investment and economic policy stability.

A representative from the Spanish government described Vietnam as one of the priority markets, particularly in the fields of infrastructure, railway, seaport, agriculture and tourism, and pledged to facilitate collaboration between the two nations’ businesses.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hieu introduced Vietnam’s preferential investment policies while Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung talked about business opportunities with Spanish enterprises.

The two officials had direct meetings with Spanish firms operating in wind and solar power, construction of airports and seaports, water treatment, waste and plastics treatment, which expressed their wish to travel to Vietnam to learn about specific projects.

On the occasion, Minh also witnessed the signing of agreements between Vietnamese and Spanish firms in infrastructure design consultancy.

As part of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, the forum was co-organised by the Vietnamese ministries of Foreign Affairs, Planning and Investment, Industry and Trade; the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Vietnamese embassy in Spain; the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness; and the Spain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, attracting nearly 200 officials and businesses from the two nations.

At a meeting earlier the same day, Minh and Spanish Minister and Secretary of State for Trade Maria Luisa Poncela promised to lift two-way trade to 5 billion EUR by 2020 by increasing partnerships across transport infrastructure, renewable energy, environment, ecological agriculture and tourism.

Minh witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two governments on the establishment of Vietnam-Spain Trade and Investment Inter-Committee, and a deal on the fifth stage of the financial plan on providing financial support for the construction of metro line No.5 in Vietnam-VNA

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Militants take hostages in southern Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Philippine authorities on May 24 said Islamic extremists had taken a Catholic priest and others hostages at a cathedral in the southern city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines.

Gunmen entered the church and seized the Reverend Chito Suganob alongside more than ten churchgoers, said Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

He added that they threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces besieging them are not recalled.

The incident came after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern region of Mindanao, an operational area of several Islamic militant groups, on May 23 because of the militants’ insurgency in Marawi, a mostly Muslim-populated city of 200,000 people.

The violence in the city erupted on May 23 after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf group and leader of a branch of the Islamic State (IS) group in the country.

Over 100 gunmen responded to army forces by setting fire to buildings, attacking soldiers and flying IS flag, according to Defence Secretary Delfil Lorenzana.- VNA

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Prime Minister welcomes Siemens CEO

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) and Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc lauded Siemens AG’s cooperation with Vietnam in various fields during his reception in Hanoi on May 24 for Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of the German group.

The PM hoped Siemens increases comprehensively collaboration with Vietnam in service, production, investment as well as in areas that Vietnam obtains high export turnover, so Siemens’s initiatives in the fourth industrial revolution can be transferred strongly in Vietnam.

He highlighted Vietnam’s advantages such as a gateway to the ASEAN market and the country’s engagement in 12 free trade agreements with major partners in the world, saying that Siemens AG can access a wide market through Vietnam.

For his part, Kaeser said he had several meetings with Vietnamese partners, during which the two sides discussed the possibility of transport infrastructure development like construction of airports and expressways.

Transport infrastructure development is the premise for industrialisation and modernisation, he added.

After a meeting with PM Phuc in Davos, Switzerland, early this year, Kaeser expressed his wish for continued cooperation in order to boost the fourth industrial revolution’s development in Vietnam.

He said Siemens is willing to assist personnel training and promote cooperation with Vietnam in such fields as energy and information technology.-VNA

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Vietnam plans to open ‘outstanding’ special economic zones

Vietnam plans to open three special economic zones that offer investors greater incentives and fewer restrictions than available to date in the country, the investment minister said.

Foreign direct investment, largely in manufacturing, has been key to Vietnam’s growth. It hit a record of $15.8 billion last year and has risen 6 percent in the first five months of 2017 from a year earlier.

The new economic zones will be in the north, center and south of the 1,650-km (1,000 mile) long country, Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

The ministry is drafting a law for the zones in northern Quang Ninh province, central Khanh Hoa province and southern Phu Quoc province. Approval from lawmakers is expected by the end of 2017.

Dung said the zones would be free from local regulations to make them competitive internationally.

“It will be a massive attraction to investment and investment will boom next year,” Dung said. “It will be outstanding in everything: free and favourable in every aspect.”

Vietnams Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung speaks during an interview with Reuters in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Vietnam’s Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung speaks during an interview with Reuters in Hanoi, Vietnam May 23, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Broadly positive investors

Vietnam currently has 18 economic zones, offering incentives for investors from free tariffs in selected items to lower personal income tax or reduced rent and fees. There are another 325 state-supported industrial parks, which have fewer incentives.

A survey by ANZ Research last year said investors were broadly positive about the industrial parks because of tax incentives and the ease of customs clearance. Occupancy in operating industrial parks is more than 70 percent.

Vietnam’s government this week reiterated its annual economic growth target at 6.7 percent, despite a drop to a three-year low of 5.1 percent in the first quarter. The government blamed the low rate on drought, salination issues and a temporary drop in production for Samsung Electronics due to its Note 7 battery woes.

Dung said the government was confident of meeting its 2017 growth target given factors including improved weather, solid loan growth, a rise in tourism and rising numbers of new businesses.

He expected Vietnam to continue drawing at least $10 billion a year in foreign direct investment for each of the next five years, while adding it was becoming more selective in the kind of investment sought. High tech and clean sectors are now a greater priority than low-cost industries, he said.

“It’s no longer about quantity but more about quality,” Dung said.

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Thai-Vietnamese trade and investment ties to soar

Trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Thailand are now further reinforced as both governments look set to achieve a bilateral trade volume of $20 billion by 2020.

The trade and investment ties between the two Southeast Asian nations are moving to their next level thanks to the newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VietTrade)’s Investment Promotion Centre and Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank (KBank), as part of an attempt to promote bilateral trade and investment between Vietnam and Thailand in the time to come.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony in Hanoi on May 23, Thai Vice Minister of Commerce Winichai Chaemchaeng noted that the Thai government “remains committed and aims to enhance the strategic partnership scheme with Vietnam, especially in investment, as Thailand is among the top foreign investors with an accumulative investment of $7.7 billion in this country.”

“The Thai-Vietnamese trade and investment ties have steadily growing in recent years. Our trade volume has been soaring from one year to another. At the end of 2016, we recorded a total bilateral trade volume of $12.5 billion, an increase of 8.9 per cent on-year,” said Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Do Thang Hai, on the side-lines of the ceremony.

In the first four months through April, as many as 14 projects worth $122.9 million have been newly registered in Vietnam by Thai investors, an up from the 12 projects with a total registered capital sum of $56.7 million recorded in the same period last year, according to data from the General Office of Statistics. Thailand, as such, is now one of Vietnam’s top 10 foreign investors.

Given the current bilateral trade volume of some $13 billion between Vietnam and Thailand, Chaemchaeng believes that the ambitious target set by both governments to reach a $20 billion in bilateral trade turnover by 2020 is “attainable,” should the countries work in tandem.

“I would like to reaffirm Thailand’s unwavering commitment to broaden and deepen cooperation with Vietnam in all key aspects for the mutual benefit of both countries and their people,” the Thai vice minister stressed.

Meanwhile, according to Hai, to achieve the target by the given timeframe, concerted efforts will be required by the governments, ministries, and trade and investment promotion centres, as well as the business communities in both countries. The two nations can also maximise their own strengths as well as the opportunities arising from the free trade agreement signed between Vietnam and Thailand and the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015.

The partnership between KBank and VietTrade therefore serves as a buffer for the development of business communities in Vietnam and Thailand, by leveraging the experience and expertise of each country through initiatives, such as seminars, training programmes, and business matching to support trade and investment.

Vietnam, according to Pattanapong Tansomboon, KBank first senior vice president, has always been of strategic importance to the lender. Thailand’s fourth largest lender in terms of assets is striving to enhance collaboration with leading organisations in Vietnam, from both the public and private sectors, to support and contribute to the strategic endeavours of Vietnam and Thailand.

“Not only us but our Thai corporate clients are now also expanding business to Vietnam, as we have witnessed from the increasing foreign direct investment to the country. We can also foresee that Thai investors will continue opting for Vietnam as the preferred destination in the coming years,” said Tansomboon. “Besides, we believe that there is a huge potential for both Vietnamese and Thai products to enhance two-way trade.”

KBank opens two branches in VN

Banks struggle to make capital work


Winichai Chaemchaeng – Thai Vice Minister of Commerce

Thailand has a very long relationship with Vietnam. We have what we call a strategic partnership between the two countries. Under this strategic partnership, we want to deepen trade and investment relations, and through this partnership, we have tried to promote SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) between the two countries to meet and trade between themselves.

Vietnam is a member to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now fairly uncertain because of the US withdrawal, so right now we are hoping that we could agree on a regional comprehensive economic partnership including the ASEAN and six other countries in Eastern Asia (China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea). Together with Vietnam, we have been trying to negotiate and conclude this agreement as soon as possible.

Many Thai companies have come to invest in Vietnam, both SMEs and multinational companies. We want to use Vietnam as a base for exporting our products to the world. Thus, trade and investment between the two countries will get bigger. Right now we have invested $7.7 billion in Vietnam altogether, and our trade is going up to $13 billion. We expect to reach $20 billion by 2020.

Manopchai Vongphakdi – Thai Ambassador to Vietnam

We have been witnessing a lot of progress in the relations and achievements in the work between the two governments and the private sectors of both sides. Last year, we also celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Many exchanges and visits have taken place and this year we are expecting high-level visits from both sides again.

This year, Vietnam is hosting the APEC Summit in November, which is very important for every country in the Pacific region and Thailand fully supports Vietnam in hosting this event.

Our collaboration is not just between the governments, but the private sectors as well, and huge work has been done, with a lot more to follow in the future.

It is quite encouraging to see the collaboration between the two countries at both the government and the private sector level because it can be a very good supporting factor in boosting trade and investment.

Pattanapong Tansomboon – First senior vice president, KBank

I believe Vietnam and Thailand have a lot in common. We are good in terms of consumer products, services businesses like hotel, hospitality and so on. When we move the businesses that we are good at into the market in Vietnam, I think it is key that the businesses get a warm reception from the [local] market because we have learnt to understand the customers.

The mission of VietTrade is to promote trade and make Vietnamese entrepreneurs stronger in terms of international trade. We at Kasikorn Bank have customers: we are No.1 in the SMEs market, so we have a lot of customers and we know them. We know which one is good in their sector and we know which one need collaboration in specific anchor. So we can collaborate with VietTrade in terms of bringing this together and finding good business partners for Vietnamese entrepreneurs introduced by VietTrade.

We plan to play a more active role and get involved in supporting enterprises of both countries as well as being part of the development of the Vietnamese financial and banking sector.

By Trang Nguyen

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