Investors lose confidence, sell up

Viet Nam’s benchmark VN Index extended losses for a second day on Wednesday as investor confidence remained weak on worries about market conditions following a sharp drop on Tuesday.

Investors look at trading boards at FPT Securities Company in Ha Noi.-VNS Photo Thai Ha

The benchmark index on the HCM Stock Exchange lost momentum in Wednesday’s session, closing down 0.05 per cent at 737.82 points. It had fallen 1.1 per cent on Tuesday.

Investors’ worries about market conditions triggered selling and kept trading liquidity high with more than 214.2 million shares traded, worth VND5.53 trillion (US$246 million).

Industries that were expected to push the market up, including banking, real estate, energy and construction, saw declining share prices.

Data from showed that real estate index fell 0.1 per cent, while banking and energy lost 0.06 per cent each.

The banking and real estate sectors were driven down by Vietinbank (CTG), Sacombank (STB), Vietcombank (VCB), Sacomreal (SCR) and Kinh Bac City Development Holdings (KBC).

The energy sector was hit by a second-day fall in oil prices. US crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped 1.7 per cent to trade at $48.82 a barrel.

On the opposite side, shares of steelmakers Hoa Sen Group (HSG), Nam Kim Steel JSC (NKG) and Dai Thien Loc Corp (DTL) posted good gains after the Ministry of Industry and Trade imposed a protectionist policy on imported coloured steel products.

HSG hit its daily trading limit of 6.9 per cent, NKG surged 6.6 per cent and DTL gained 1.9 per cent.

Shares of other local steel producers such as Hoa Phat Group (HPG) and Tien Len Steel JSC (TLH) also benefited from the news, rising 3.6 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.

Vietnam Investment Securities (IVS) said in a report that a lack of leading sectors in the stock market has triggered sales to earn some profits, therefore, the falls of the last two days mean the market could again go down in upcoming sessions.

There will be slight falls, meaning there is little chance of a big market correction as large-cap stocks will not fall steeply while speculative stocks that had recorded big gains before will begin to fall, IVS said.

On the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, the HNX Index gained 0.72 per cent to finish at 93.91 points, reversing from a decline of 0.6 per cent on Tuesday.

More than 74.2 million shares were exchanged on the northern bourse, worth VND758.5 billion.

Source VNS

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EU, China summit to back climate deal even without US: EU official

BRUSSELS: The European Union and China will throw their full weight behind the Paris climate accord at a summit on Friday, EU officials said, in a bid to fill the void if the US quits the pact.

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. ( Francois Lenoir source: REUTERS )

The summit in Brussels could mark a dramatic shift in global politics, with the EU taking over from the United States in working with China to fight climate change.

Signalling a new level of cooperation, the two sides will stress the “highest political commitment” to implement all aspects of the historic 2015 agreement, according to a copy of a draft joint statement seen by AFP on Wednesday (May 31).

The EU-China summit follows a tense international tour by US President Donald Trump in which he spurned pleas by his European counterparts to adhere to the deal.

US media reported on Wednesday that Trump had decided to pull his country out of the accord but the unpredictable US tycoon indicated he would keep the world guessing for another few days.

“We will issue a joint statement on climate change that will stress that China and the EU … will implement the agreement,” the senior EU official told reporters on Wednesday, on condition of anonymity.

“The Paris Agreement will continue with full force of implementation even if the US pulls out,” he added.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Brussels late Thursday for talks with EU president Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, with climate change at the top of the agenda.

“The EU and China consider the Paris Agreement as an historic achievement further accelerating the irreversible global low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development,” the draft joint statement said.

“The EU and China underline their highest political commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in all its aspects,” according to the nine-page draft.

They will “significantly intensify” their political, technical, economic and scientific cooperation on climate change and clean energy to help the world shift to an economy based on low greenhouse gas emissions.


Hoping to make the climate fight a “main pillar” of their bilateral partnership, including economic relations, the two underlined that their cooperation will fuel job creation, investments and economic growth, the statement said.

Europe and China will also expand their cooperation on developing carbon markets, so-called emissions trading systems.

“If US-China climate cooperation gave birth to the Paris Agreement, now it is up to EU and China to defend and enhance it,” said Li Shuo, climate policy advisor of Greenpeace East Asia.

“The pair has the potential to become the new driver for international climate diplomacy,” Li said in a statement.

Former US president Barack Obama and the Chinese leadership were instrumental in building momentum toward the climate deal.

It was signed by 196 countries that set themselves goals to minimize carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.

If the United States, by most measures the world’s second-biggest polluter after China, were to pull out or reduce its goals, efforts to reduce the global temperature increase might fail.

But European officials insisted that the deal would remain on track.

“I understand that if they decide to pull out it will be disappointing but I really don’t think this will change the course of mankind,” European Commission vice president for energy, Maros Sefcovic, said at a briefing.

“Despite this possible rollback of the US administration, Europe is ready for the leadership (on climate change) and we will definitely provide it,” he added.

EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete said the world could count on European climate leadership.

“No one should be left behind, but the EU and China have decided to move forward. More on Friday,” Canete tweeted.


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Private equity catches foreign investors’ eyes

Foreign investors are upbeat about opportunities in Vietnamese private equity, but remain concerned about the small market size and low levels of liquidity.

Investors from around the globe look to invest in Vietnam’s most attractive sectors, Photo: Le Toan

Ample opportunities

As the Vietnamese economy develops and consumerism booms, foreign investors are taking a fresh look at private equity (PE) investments in the country. Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said that Vietnam is an emerging story of economic development and integration, which naturally draws in PE investors.

“Vietnam is now a sweet spot for investors, as it is leading the impressive growth of Southeast Asia. The country has a young and growing population, who are potential consumers of the future, and we see the government pushing to equitise large state-owned enterprises (SOEs),” said Mobius at last week’s AVCJ forum on PE ventures.

At the event, which was held for the first time by AVCJ in Ho Chi Minh City, PE funds from Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, the US, and Europe expressed their enthusiasm about Vietnam-based PE investments. The most attractive sectors are consumer-related, including consumer goods, retail, healthcare, and logistics.

A study from Grant Thornton Vietnam, published back in March, also revealed that the Vietnamese market is considered  the second-largest in terms of potential in Southeast Asia for PE investors. Interestingly, PE investors in Vietnam seem to be attracted to firms that derive their revenue from domestic spending rather than export-focused companies.

Pete Vo, managing director of CVC Capital Partners, said that his fund has been actively looking for Vietnamese PE deals for the past three years. “Vietnamese companies have reached the necessary maturity level for small PE investments from overseas. Stable macroeconomics are another incentive for us to come here,” said Vo. He added that Vietnam is now a priority market for CVC Capital Partners, especially small- and medium-sized firms with strong growth potentials.  

A way in and out

Due to their long-term nature, PE investments require extensive due diligence. In Vietnam, investors particularly focus on the firm’s leaders and information transparency.

“Entrepreneurship in Vietnam only started in the 1990s, so most of the current CEOs are also the founders who built the company from scratch. Besides growth potential, we look for a strong management team who can move the firm forward and is open to due diligence,” said Dominic Picone, managing director of TPG Capital.

Picone added that this is particularly important when evaluating state-owned enterprises (SOEs). PE investors want to make sure that an equitised SOE has become a private entity and operates its business based on market rules. 

Investors also praised the increasing savviness of Vietnamese firms, as they are now willing to hire professional advisers to help with negotiations and due diligence.

Concerning exit strategies, fund managers say there is no “one-size-fits-all” option. Andy Ho, chief investment officer at VinaCapital, said that an increasingly profitable exit choice for PE investors in Vietnam is secondary sales. He noted a dramatic surge of Japanese, Korean, and Thai buyers, who clamour to purchase fast-growing Vietnamese firms to gain access to the domestic market.

Lingering concerns

Despite their overall optimism about Vietnamese PE deals, investors still pointed out some potential hindrances.

The most significant issue is Vietnam’s small equity market, which makes it difficult for PE investors to exit via initial public offerings. The Vietnamese stock market currently takes up only 40 per cent of the country’s GDP, and liquidity remains low.

“We’d like to see the equities market grow in size and liquidity. A more mature market will provide us with a wider range of exit options, and interested buyers have more ways to buy stakes in their favourite company,” said Paul DiGiacomo, managing director at BDA Partners.

It is also noteworthy that 97 per cent of Vietnamese private firms are either small or very small. On one hand, this means that these firms have significant growth potential, but on the other, tiny companies have fewer chances of attracting large investment funds from overseas.

Pete Vo from CVC Capital Partners elaborated that many foreign funds would be happy to pour $100-$250 million into their favourite private firms. In Vietnam, however, most PE deals range from only $5 million to under $100 million, making it hard for large investors to set up a Vietnam-focused PE fund.

Finally, foreign exchange volatilities also affect the strategy of PE investors. Andy Ho from VinaCapital stated that to offset the annual devaluations of the VND, PE investors have to set very high internal rates of return, ranging from 25 to 30 per cent.

“However, the VND has been quite stable for the past eight years, especially in 2016. We believe that the State Bank of Vietnam has been working hard to keep the VND stable, and we look forward to seeing steady rates in the future,” Picone from TPG Capital said.

By Nam Phuong

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Demand for cool air attracts Japan

Japanese air conditioner manufacturers are set to expand in Vietnam, touting their high-quality products and appeal to the country’s growing urban middle class.

Enormous demand for air conditioners brings major Japanese companies to Vietnam

Leading Japanese electronics corporation Panasonic is ready to manufacture air conditioners in Vietnam, where it already has a consumer electronics factory. Panasonic’s plans to ramp up its air conditioner business in Southeast Asia, where rising incomes are fuelling demand.

Panasonic Vietnam said in a statement that its investment scale and timing schedule are not finalised at the moment, but will be completed soon.

Panasonic looks to earn $6 billion from global air conditioning sales by March 2019. The Japanese market will account for 40 per cent of this however.

Vietnam is the second biggest market for air conditioners in Asia, after Indonesia.

Another big name in air conditioning, Daikin, received an investment certificate last year for the $100 million project in Thang Long II Industrial Park.

Ly Thi Phuong Trang, a representative from Daikin Air Conditioning Vietnam JSC, said the project is on track and expected to see operation in April 2018, with a capacity of 500,000 units per year.

Japanese firms like Daikin and Mitsubishi chose Vietnam for their new plants because nearly all Daikin and Mitsubishi air conditioners in Vietnam are currently imported from Thailand, where their production facilities have been operating at full capacity.

Vietnam’s infrastructure development coupled with increasing investment in the industrial and commercial sectors are responsible for the higher demand for air conditioners in the country. The development of major cities, growing construction activities in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and growing government investment are expected to propel demand for air conditioners in Vietnam to even greater heights.

In residential areas, split system air conditioners are popular, as one unit can service multiple residences.

A report released by the Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA) on the demand for air conditioners in major countries around the world also said that the demand for both residential and commercial air conditioners is rising sharply in Vietnam.

Some of the leading air conditioner manufacturers operating in Vietnam include LG Electronics, Gree, Samsung, Midea, Hitachi, Toshiba, Nagakawa, Mitsubishi, and Carrier.

Last year, Samsung Vina Electronics Co., Ltd. said “Fifty percent of air conditioners sold globally are split system air conditioners. The total value of the segment is worth $74 billion. Vietnam is a very promising market for this segment, which has seen many advanced technological developments recently.”

Seven years ago, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation established a Vietnamese company to co-ordinate sales of air conditioning systems, home appliances, and automated products.

The Japanese company has primarily conducted sales in Vietnam indirectly through distributors, and has only recently shifted to direct sales.

“Due to Vietnam’s remarkable growth prospects, Mitsubishi Electric is now classifying the country as a priority market, and has decided to establish a local company to co-ordinate sales,” the manufacturer said in its announcement.

While competition for greater market share is stiff, some countries in the region are moving to tighten environmental regulations. Vietnam has also raised awareness of energy consumption standards for air conditioners. The move could be a boon for Japanese air conditioner manufactures who already have competitive energy-saving technologies on the shelves.

By Phuong Thu

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Manufacture, services drive growth

Despite numerous difficulties, the government upholds its 6.7 per cent growth target for the year. VIR’s Nguyen Duc talks with Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung about the driving forces behind the country’s prospects.

Why does the government keep pursuing a 6.7 per cent GDP growth target for the year, albeit this rate is said by many policy-makers and economists to be likely infeasible?

This year is the second year we’ve been implementing the 12th Party Congress Resolution and the National Assembly Resolution on the Five-year Socio-economic Development Plan for 2016-2020, with an annual economic growth rate averaging at 6.5-7 per cent during the period.

Vietnam economy expanded 6.21 per cent last year. Therefore, to reach the average growth target for this five-year period, the growth level in the succeeding years must be higher, in which 2017 holds a key role with a crucial impact on performance in the upcoming years. This is why the government and the prime minister are highly committed to achieving the 2017 growth target.

On the other hand, given the country’s deeper international integration, if we don’t move fast, we can hardly shorten the development gap with other countries, particularly those within the region that are witnessing a raft of innovations and achievements.

For a developing nation like Vietnam, higher growth is very important to creating development resources for years ahead, in a bid to ensure economic balances, particularly public debt, employment generation, poverty reduction, environmental protection and sustainable development. This will contribute to ensuring social order and security, and political stability of the country.

It is the government’s long-term and strategic stance that we’re not pursuing high growth at any expense or at a trade-off between environment and growth, but we’re also not wasting any growth opportunities and potential.

What is the groundwork for the government to realise that growth target?

As the economy grew modestly in the first quarter, the task in the remaining months will be very challenging. Still the existing situation both at home and abroad is offering us some opportunities.

According to big international organisations, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, the world is witnessing a brighter outlook.

Besides, Vietnam’s economy is also expected to further flourish. Specifically, agriculture has been rebounding strongly after hardships in 2016. Positive growth can also be seen in the processing and manufacturing, and service sectors. Particularly the tourism sector has attracted an average number of one million international tourist arrivals per month, over the past few months. Vietnam has also lured a big volume of foreign direct investment, and witnessed a sharp rise both in the number of enterprises and registered capital.

All these factors have attested to the feasibility of the growth target for this year. Also, in order to hit this target, the government and the prime minister have asked ministries and sectors to devise their own solutions and development scenarios, so that the economy not only can achieve more stable growth, but also have direct impacts on growth-stimulating factors in 2017.

What measures will the government apply to boost growth?

Most recently, the government enacted April resolution, introducing a raft of concrete measures to every sector in the economy. Besides, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is also drafting a directive to submit to the government. The directive will urge ministries, sectors and localities to make greater efforts in implementing tasks and measures to push up growth in all sectors, for the ultimate target of reaching the 2017 economic growth target.

There will be two groups of key measures. The first one covers measures used to ensure stable macro-economy, control inflation, increase economic structuring and institutional reforms, improve labour productivity, and expand export and domestic markets.

The second one, which must be expedited this year, seeks to immediately tackle hurdles facing businesses, including slashing business costs, removing obstacles in land, infrastructure and human resource fields, as well as boosting the disbursement of investment capital sources.

What steps will be taken by the MPI as an advisory body to the government in macro-economic management?

The prime minister has required leaders of ministries and sectors to make commitments and hold prime responsibilities before the government to ensuring the successful accomplishment of 2017 growth targets.

MPI, as an advisory body to the government, is committed to closely co-operating with other ministries, government agencies and localities in the implementation of the tasks and measures assigned by the government and the prime minister.

In addition to drafting the prime minister’s directive, right in June, MPI will send working groups to key economic zones and locations of major investment projects so as to work with investors and localities, and help them out of difficulties.

If their difficulties can only be removed by the government and the prime minister, we will send their proposals to the government and the prime minister.

Although the tasks ahead are tough, they can be done successfully if we make strong determination and well implement the set solutions. Only when we weather these difficulties and realise our targets can we have more driving force and strength to accomplish our bigger dreams in the future.

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Trump hails signing of deals worth ‘billions’ with Vietnam

U.S. President Donald Trump discussed trade with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during a White House visit on Wednesday and welcomed the signing of business deals worth billions of dollars and the jobs they would bring.

General Electric Co said earlier it had signed deals with Vietnam worth about $5.58 billion for power generation, aircraft engines and services, its largest ever single combined sale with the country.

“They just made a very large order in the United States – and we appreciate that – for many billions of dollars, which means jobs for the United States and great, great equipment for Vietnam,” Trump told reporters at the White House. 

Phuc said on Tuesday he would sign deals for U.S. goods and services worth $15 billion to $17 billion during his Washington visit, mainly for high-technology products and for services.

Vietnam has gone from being a bitter adversary of the U.S. during the Cold War to an important partner in the Asia-Pacific, where both countries share concerns about China’s rising power.

Phuc told Trump the relationship had undergone “significant upheavals in history,” but that the two countries were now “comprehensive partners.”

However, while Hanoi and Washington have stepped up security cooperation in recent years, trade has become a potential irritant, with a deficit widening steadily in Vietnam’s favor, reaching $32 billion last year, compared with $7 billion a decade earlier.

Trump, who has had strong words for countries with large trade surpluses with the U.S., said he would be discussing trade with Phuc, as well as North Korea.

Washington has been seeking support for efforts to pressure North Korea to drop its nuclear and missile programs, which have become an increasing threat to the U.S. Hanoi has said it shares concerns about North Korea.

Analysts said that while the Trump administration welcomed new business deals with Vietnam, it wants to see moves on trade.

Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said the view was that deals were “nice, but not enough.”

“They want Vietnam to bring some ideas about how to tackle the surplus on an ongoing basis,” he said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed concern about the rapid growth of the deficit with Vietnam. He said it was a new challenge for the two countries and he was looking to Phuc to help address it.

The deficit with Vietnam – Washington’s sixth largest – reflects growing imports of Vietnamese semiconductors and other electronics products in addition to more traditional sectors such as footwear, apparel and furniture.

Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh presented Lighthizer on Tuesday with suggestions to address some U.S. concerns, such as advertising on U.S. social media, electronic payment services and imports of information security and farm products, Vietnam’s trade ministry said.

Vietnam also urged the U.S. to remove an inspection program for catfish, speed import licenses for its fruit and make fair decisions on anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on Vietnamese products, the ministry said.

Vietnam was disappointed when Trump ditched the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, of which Hanoi was expected to be one of the main beneficiaries, and focused U.S. trade policy on reducing deficits.

Phuc’s meeting with Trump makes him the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House under the new administration.

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Northern Vietnam suffers the first major hot spell this summer

Northern provinces are suffering the first major hot spell of summer 2017, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Northern provinces are suffering the first major hot spell of summer 2017

The Central Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre experts said hot weather occurred on May 31 on a large scale in the north and central provinces from Thanh Hoa to Phu Yen, with the highest temperature ranging from 35 to 37 degrees Celsius.

Hanoi is also experiencing hot weather with temperature from 35-36 degrees, and northern-western provinces over 36 degrees.

On June 1, the hot weather will become harsher, with some areas being predicted to reach over 40 degrees. The hot spell is forecast to last until June 5 (next Monday), due to the influence of low air pressure in the west.

In the last two days, hot weather in the western lowland developed, the whole northern region was hot in the afternoon with a temperature of 34-35 degrees. It was over 36 degrees in some areas such as Muong La in the northern mountainous province of Son La.

Doctors warn that hot spells would threaten people’s health, especially children and the elderly, and labourers working outdoor must take appropriate measures. 

They advise that adults should keep children in airy homes during hot days, avoid bathing in the sea from 10am-4pm, vaccinate fully and maintain a clean living area.

A Bach Mai Hospital doctor in Hanoi said patients suffering high blood pressure should take daily medicine under doctor’s guidance as a precaution against strokes. According to him, in hot periods, Vietnam National Heart Institute under the Bach Mai Hospital usually receives more patients than on normal days.

Source VNS

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Officials slam MoIT industrial plan

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) should clarify weaknesses and bottlenecks in the development of industries to have a better plan on industrial restructuring, experts said at a workshop held in Ha Noi yesterday.

Workers make textile and garment products at Hansol Vina Co Ltd in Bắc Giang Province’s Tân Yên District. – VNA/VNS Photo Trần Việt

The event, held by the MoIT and the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (MUTRAP), sought feedback on a draft plan on Viet Nam’s industrial restructuring for 2017-20.

The plan is expected to be submitted to the Government for approval in June.

Le Tien Truong, General Director of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group, said much data on the textile and garment industry in the draft was incorrect such as labour productivity, added value and imports. Therefore, the plan is unreliable and should be overhauled.

The plan hasn’t defined an industrial restructuring process, he noted, saying that the plan says labour productivity must be raised by 5 per cent to improve competitiveness, without mentioning any processes to realise that target.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam ranks fifth among the countries with highest labour productivity in fibre and textile production. It follows China in terms of labour productivity in garment manufacturing.

To promote textile-garment productivity, update technology and equipment should be updated. If the plan named improving manpower management and training as the key solution, it would be the wrong move, Truong said.

Nguyen Tue Anh, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said the MoIT’s plan needs to clarify bottlenecks and their causes in the development of industries so as to devise effective solutions.

Director General of the ministry’s Planning Department Duong Duy Hung admitted that a clearer plan which points out major bottlenecks and details restructuring is necessary in order to use resources efficiently.

The MoIT will gather more opinions to fine-tune the draft, he added.

Industrial production value in Viet Nam has surged by nearly 3.5 times from VND350 trillion (US$15.4 billion) to VND1,170 trillion ($51.5 billion) over the last 10 years. It makes up about 31-32 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to the MoIT.

In recent years, electronics, textile-garment and footwear have become key exports, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the country’s total export revenue.

However, MoIT Deputy Minister Cao Quoc Hung said the country still ranks 101st among 143 countries in terms of per capita added value in processing and manufacturing industries. Industrial labour productivity is still outpaced by developed nations and other countries in the region. This is a problem with Viet Nam in the initial stages of industrialisation.

Therefore, the draft plan on industrial restructuring has been built to promote substantive industrial restructuring, he noted.

Source VNS

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Nadal, Djokovic march on as Muguruza survives

PARIS: French Open title rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stormed into the last 32 on Wednesday (May 31), while women’s defending champion Garbine Muguruza survived a second-round scare.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Netherlands’ Robin Haase during their tennis match at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open in Paris. (Eric FEFERBERG/AFP)

Nadal outclassed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 49 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier to continue his quest for an incredible 10th Roland Garros triumph.

“I was more or less under control during the whole match, so I’m very happy. Winning in straight sets is always good news,” said Nadal. “I think I did a lot of things well this afternoon.”

The Spaniard will face Nikoloz Basilashvili for a place in round four after the Georgian matched his best ever run at a Grand Slam.

Defending champion Djokovic battered Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 to make it four wins in as many meetings with the world number 59. The second seed plays Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman for a place in the last 16.

“I think the first two sets went very well, the third was was more difficult,” said Djokovic. “Generally, I felt better than the first round, so that’s exactly what I wanted.”

Sixth seed Dominic Thiem charged into round three with a routine win over Simone Bolelli, sweeping the Italian aside 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.

The Austrian, who is the only player to defeat Nadal on clay this season, will meet American 25th seed Steve Johnson next as he looks to build on last year’s run to the semi-finals.

Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin sailed through, but French hopes suffered a huge blow as 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga crashed out to Renzo Olivo in his opening match.

Serving to stay in the contest when darkness halted their tie on Tuesday, Tsonga was broken immediately when play resumed as the Argentine world number 91 wrapped up a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 win.

Reigning champion Muguruza survived another tough examination from 53rd-ranked Anett Kontaveit, who beat the Spaniard in Stuttgart last month.

Muguruza has endured a difficult 2017 and again found herself in trouble after falling a set and a break behind against the Estonian.

But the fourth seed recovered to claw out a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2 win and book a third-round clash with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

“I knew it was going to be a battle out there,” said Muguruza, who beat Serena Williams in last year’s final. “I knew that losing to her not long ago I did something different this time. I think something different in a good way. So I won the match.”


American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands halted Petra Kvitova’s comeback, defeating the popular Czech 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) in her first tournament since a horrifying knife attack in December.

“I’m disappointed, for sure. I came here to win the matches,” said twice former Wimbledon champion Kvitova. “But I really fought. I mean, after the match, I didn’t feel that bad as normally I probably do.

“I’m still happy I’m here and playing. The fairytale ended. Now, in upcoming weeks, I think it will be business as usual.”

Venus Williams shook off a slow start to ease into the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Japan’s Kurumi Nara. Williams, the 2002 runner-up who turns 37 next month, will play Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the third round.

“Do I sense (the draw) is open? I just am really focused on me and nothing’s a given, or else I’d win every match,” said Venus, who has sister Serena in Paris supporting her.

Caroline Wozniacki dished out a chastening 6-0, 6-0 thrashing to Canadian qualifier Francoise Abanda in just 52 minutes.

The 20-year-old blamed the exertions of coming through three qualifying rounds in order to reach the main draw.

“I wasn’t impressed at all,” Abanda retorted when asked if she was struck by anything in Wozniacki’s game. “As I told you, fitness-wise and physically, I was tired. I think that she played her second match. I played five matches.”

Lucky loser Ons Jabeur of Tunisia stunned Slovak sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-3 to become the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam.

Men’s second round:

Milos Raonic (CAN) bt Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

Dominic Thiem (AUT) bt Simone Bolelli (ITA) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3

Men’s first round:

Renzo Olivo (ARG) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4

Women’s second round:

Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 6-2, 6-2

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Anett Kontaveit (EST) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2

Source AFP

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Aquarium art brings climate debate to NY Times Square

NEW YORK: Performance art in a giant water tank is bringing climate science to New York’s Times Square as Donald Trump has the world guessing on whether the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Performance artist Annie Saunders performs ‘Cleaning’ from Holoscenes, a performance-installation in Times Square in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

The transparent aquarium, in which performers somersault, dive and react as the tank rapidly fills, empties and re-fills with water, cost upwards of US$750,000 and is the brain child of an artist wanting to raise awareness about climate change.

The 12-tonne glass unit will periodically flood and drain from Thursday to Saturday as part of the World Science Festival, as a rotating cast of performers respond creatively to the changing levels of water.

The “Holoscenes” installation has already exhibited in London, Miami, Sarasota and Toronto, but its creator said Times Square – “the most famous public space in the world” – was the perfect setting.

“I wanted to actually move 3,500 gallons of water very fast with a human body in the midst of it, because I think that makes people feel something in their gut,” said Lars Jan, artistic director of the Early Morning Opera performance and art lab.

With nearly 450,000 people a day estimated to pass through Times Square, the beating heart of Manhattan crammed with advertising boards next to New York’s famed theatre district, the organisers are hoping for a big response.

“Climate is the focus of our footprint here this year,” said Brian Greene, co-founder of the World Science Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary and designed to change public perception of science.

US media reports saying that Trump intends to pull the United States out of the Paris Accord are “very disturbing,” Greene said.

“Science is something that should unite the world,” he said. “And for people to not feel connected to these vital ideas, that is disastrous for the future,” he added.

Jan said he was inspired by images of flooding from around the world and paid tribute to hydraulic engineers, performers, designers, artists and scientists who had collaborated for years on the project.

“I think it’s short-sighted to think too much about the Trump administration,” he told reporters.

“On whatever side of the political aisle you happen to be on, we need to think about changing fundamentally our habits in order to adapt to the realities of climate science. So I hope this is a small part in that conversation,” he said.

The festival also features an interactive dance floor in Times Square that translates human movement into electrical power, lighting up a monitor depending on how much energy the dancers put into their performance.

Source AFP

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Jabeur first Arab woman in Grand Slam third round

PARIS: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam on Wednesday (May 31) when she defeated sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 at the French Open.

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur celebrates her win against Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova during the 2017 French Open. (AFP/Thomas SAMSON)

Jabeur, ranked 114 and who only earned her place in the Roland Garros main draw as a ‘lucky loser’ after being beaten in qualifying, bettered the previous best by an Arab woman at the majors.

That mark was set by compatriot Selima Sfar who made the second round at Roland Garros twice, three times at Wimbledon and once at the US Open.

The 22-year-old Jabeur, who was the French Open girls’ champion in 2011, goes on to face Swiss 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the last 16.

“I am very, very happy to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time,” said Jabeur who proudly waved a Tunisian flag on Court Suzanne Lenglen. “The fans here and all the Tunisians really helped me.”

Jabeur hailed the help she has received from Sfar, a trailblazer for Arab women’s tennis.

“She is such a great inspiration, she always comes to help me and support me,” said Jabeur, who fired 30 winners to 2009 semi-finalist Cibulkova’s 13, taking the match when her opponent double-faulted.

Jabeur only squeezed into the main draw when Germany’s Laura Siegemund was forced to withdraw through injury.

Veronika Martinek was the last ‘lucky loser’ to reach the third round in Paris in 1995.

Nicole Jagerman of the Netherlands was the only ‘lucky loser’ to make the fourth round in Paris in 1988.

Source AFP

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Shareholders vote for ExxonMobil transparency on climate impact

NEW YORK: ExxonMobil’s shareholders voted decisively on Wednesday (May 31) to push the oil giant to test how the fight against global warming could affect its business, handing a victory to environmentalists at a critical juncture for climate policy worldwide.

Oil giant ExxonMobil is facing increasing pressure from shareholders to account for the cost of climate change policy, and invest more in renewable energy. (AFP/SPENCER PLATT)

The proposal, backed by 62.3 per cent of shareholders, urges Exxon to come clean on what tougher public policies – in line with the Paris accord on curbing global emissions – would mean for its portfolio.

The advisory vote came as President Donald Trump weighs whether to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement.

Exxon chief executive Darren Woods, who praised the Paris accord but argued the shareholder proposal was unnecessary, said the oil giant would consider its policy position in light of the vote.

Exxon has for years successfully beaten back previous shareholder votes on climate change, but some leading institutional investors signaled they were considering changing their stance following pressure from activist investors.

Environmentalists have argued that Exxon’s petroleum-dominated portfolio could become uneconomic under tougher climate policies, and the company has not thoroughly analysed this risk. They call on Exxon to invest more in renewable energy and less in oil.

The proposal, submitted by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, seeks an annual assessment of Exxon’s assets under different policy scenarios, including those that limit temperature increases to under two degrees Celsius, consistent with the 2015 Paris accord.

Exxon had argued that its planning already took into account the possibility for stricter climate policies and that oil would remain a vital source of global energy for years to come, even under the toughest policy scenarios.

Woods said during his presentation at the meeting, that even under the Paris accords, some US$11 trillion in new oil investment would be needed.

ExxonMobil faces climate showdown at annual meeting
ExxonMobil gives $80,000 to Children’s Healthcare Initiatives in Central Vietnam

Source AFP

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PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc greets US Secretary of Commerce

NDO/VNA – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc received Secretary of the US Department of Commerce (DOC) Wilbur Ross in Washington DC on May 31 (local time), asking the department to recognise Vietnam’s market economy status soon.

During the reception, he highly valued considerable growth in the Vietnam-US trade ties over the past 20 years, affirming the country’s strict implementation of commitments in the bilateral trade agreement as well as within the World Trade Organisation.

He highlighted potential for the bilateral trade’s development as the two countries have complimentary economies. Vietnam imports high-tech goods and services from the US as well as input materials for its for-export products to the American nation.

The PM also proposed the DOC to have objective assessments to reflect the essence of the trade deficit between the two countries while settling trade issues based on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as well as the World Trade Organisation’s regulations.

He hoped the US side to create conditions for Vietnam’s farm produce like fruits and seafood to access the US market.

Secretary Ross, for his part, affirmed the need to increase bilateral trade on the basis of balance and mutual benefit as a common goal, while stressing his support for the comprehensive and stronger development of the US-Vietnam ties.

He agreed that the two sides need to restart the mechanism of discussing the market status for Vietnam.

The DOC will work with Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade and Industry to discuss issues in bilateral trade, and talk technical matters with relevant Vietnamese agencies, promoting trade ties between the two countries.

Following the reception, PM Phuc and Secretary Ross witnessed the exchange of some trade and investment cooperation documents signed by the two sides’ enterprises during the Vietnamese leader’s US visit from May 29-31.

The same day, Prime Minister Phuc received leaders of some major economic groups, including ASG, McKinsey, Boeing, General Electrics, and Murphy Oil. He highly spoke of effectiveness of US firms’ projects in Vietnam, affirming the Vietnamese Government encourages US businesses to increase investment in Vietnam.

He pledged to continue improving investment and business climate to create more favourable conditions for foreign enterprises, including those from the US, to do business with Vietnam.

US firm supported resolve and solutions the Vietnamese Government have implemented in recent times to create a healthy investment and business environment and a fair playground for foreign businesses. They affirmed to continue expanding cooperation and increasing investment in Vietnam.

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PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc greets US Secretary of Commerce

NDO/VNA – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc received Secretary of the US Department of Commerce (DOC) Wilbur Ross in Washington DC on May 31 (local time), asking the department to recognise Vietnam’s market economy status soon.

During the reception, he highly valued considerable growth in the Vietnam-US trade ties over the past 20 years, affirming the country’s strict implementation of commitments in the bilateral trade agreement as well as within the World Trade Organisation.

He highlighted potential for the bilateral trade’s development as the two countries have complimentary economies. Vietnam imports high-tech goods and services from the US as well as input materials for its for-export products to the American nation.

The PM also proposed the DOC to have objective assessments to reflect the essence of the trade deficit between the two countries while settling trade issues based on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as well as the World Trade Organisation’s regulations.

He hoped the US side to create conditions for Vietnam’s farm produce like fruits and seafood to access the US market.

Secretary Ross, for his part, affirmed the need to increase bilateral trade on the basis of balance and mutual benefit as a common goal, while stressing his support for the comprehensive and stronger development of the US-Vietnam ties.

He agreed that the two sides need to restart the mechanism of discussing the market status for Vietnam.

The DOC will work with Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade and Industry to discuss issues in bilateral trade, and talk technical matters with relevant Vietnamese agencies, promoting trade ties between the two countries.

Following the reception, PM Phuc and Secretary Ross witnessed the exchange of some trade and investment cooperation documents signed by the two sides’ enterprises during the Vietnamese leader’s US visit from May 29-31.

The same day, Prime Minister Phuc received leaders of some major economic groups, including ASG, McKinsey, Boeing, General Electrics, and Murphy Oil. He highly spoke of effectiveness of US firms’ projects in Vietnam, affirming the Vietnamese Government encourages US businesses to increase investment in Vietnam.

He pledged to continue improving investment and business climate to create more favourable conditions for foreign enterprises, including those from the US, to do business with Vietnam.

US firm supported resolve and solutions the Vietnamese Government have implemented in recent times to create a healthy investment and business environment and a fair playground for foreign businesses. They affirmed to continue expanding cooperation and increasing investment in Vietnam.

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PM Phuc, President Trump talk ways to advance Vietnam-US ties

NDO/VNA – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and US President Donald Trump discussed measures to develop the two countries’ relations in a more substantive manner during their talks at the White House, Washington DC, on May 31 (local time).

After President Trump came to greet and invite PM Phuc to the White House, the Government leader of Vietnam wrote in the guest book at the Roosevelt Room and had a 15-minute private meeting with President Trump.

Later, they led the two countries’ delegations to have talks at the Cabinet Room.

President Trump welcomed the official visit to the US by PM Phuc and the high-ranking Vietnamese delegation, affirming that he attaches importance to Vietnam-US relations as well as the role of Vietnam and ASEAN in the region. He said he wants the two countries’ ties to continue developing strongly in the time ahead.

PM Phuc acknowledged the warm welcome of President Trump and the US administration, stressing that Vietnam treasures its comprehensive partnership with the US and highly values recent steps taken by the Trump administration to implement the policy towards the Asian-Pacific region.

The two leaders noted with satisfaction the extensive development of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership in various spheres, both bilaterally and multilaterally, and shared the view that there remain a number of opportunities for bilateral ties.

They affirmed the commitment to keeping efforts to boost Vietnam-US relations in a stable, long-term, constructive and mutual beneficiary fashion, which will not only benefit the two countries but also peace, stability, cooperation and development in Asia-Pacific and the world, on the basis of compliance with the UN Charter and international law, respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political regime.

Regarding ways to enhance the countries’ connections, they agreed to increase delegation exchanges and meetings, especially at high level, improve the effectiveness of existing cooperation mechanisms, and consider the establishment of new cooperation mechanisms that suit the expansion of bilateral ties in the new period.

PM Phuc and President Trump agreed to join efforts to boost win-win economic partnership. They emphasised that development cooperation remains a focus in the economic-trade relations between Vietnam and the US.

PM Phuc affirmed Vietnam’s resolve to press on with economic restructuring and integration into the world, and stepping up the two countries’ win-win cooperation in economy, trade and investment. He asked both sides consider the formation of a value chain from production to consumption to make use of the two economies’ complementary feature.

President Trump welcomed the settlement of some prioritised trade issues, including the opening of their markets for each other’s agricultural and industrial products and information technology products and services.

The two leaders were unanimous in effectively carrying out the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to deal with bilateral economic problems in a constructive and fair spirit and to satisfy each side’s legitimate interests.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in other bilateral aspects such as humanitarian aid, war consequences settlement, people-to-people exchanges, science-technology, education-training, health care, and defence-security.

At the talks, PM Phuc and President Trump affirmed that Vietnam and the US share common interests in Asia-Pacific, including the maintenance of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

The Vietnamese leader welcomes the US’s continued participation in and actively contribution to the building of regional security and economic structures. He assured that Vietnam will continue to work closely with the US, including in the upcoming APEC meetings and the East Asia Summit.

The US President noted his country continues to support ASEAN’s central role and promote the US-ASEAN strategic partnership. It also supports Vietnam to successfully organise APEC activities in 2017, adding that he looks forwards to his visit to Vietnam in November to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

Additionally, the two leaders underlined the importance of the freedom of navigation in and overflight over the East Sea, affirming their support for the peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law, including the full respect for diplomatic and legal processes. They applauded the progress of negotiations on an effective and meaningful Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

PM Phuc and President Trump said they support the non-nuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula and asked all parties concerned to seriously implement relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

At the talks, PM Phuc, on behalf of the leaders of the Vietnamese Party and State, invited President Trump and his spouse and family to pay an official visit to Vietnam and attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting this year. President Trump accepted the invitation.

Prior to the talks, PM Phuc and President Trump hosted a meeting with the press. The two sides issued a joint statement on Vietnam-US relations after the talks.

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Vietnam, Laos hold second political consultation

At the political consultation (Source:

Vientiane (VNA) – The foreign ministries of Vietnam and Laos held their second political
consultation in the Lao capital city of Vientiane on May 31. 

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Dang Dinh Quy
and his Lao counterpart Khamphau Onthavan co-chaired the function. 

At the meeting, the two sides noted with
pleasure the enhanced cooperation between Vietnam and Laos across fields,
ranging from politics, security and national defence to economy, trade,
investment, transport, education and training. 

In 2017, the two countries plan to exchange many
all-level visits and are joining hands to organise activities celebrating the
Vietnam-Laos Solidarity and Friendship Year, they said. 

The two sides looked into bottlenecks in the
bilateral ties and agreed to continue close coordination to foster the special
relationship in the time ahead, especially through the implementation of
agreements reached by Vietnamese and Lao high-ranking leaders, and successful
organisation of the Solidarity and Friendship Year.  

In a parallel effort, they will renew
communications methods to raise the sense of responsibility among the two
countries’ people, especially youths, for preserving and carrying forward the

Reviewing the realisation of cooperation
agreements between the two foreign ministries during 2014-2020, they applauded
contributions made by the agencies to deepening the Vietnam-Laos time-honoured
friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation over the past

Khamphau Onthavan thanked the Vietnamese side
for training Lao diplomats at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. 

The two ministries consented to forge their
collaboration while partnering with other ministries, agencies and localities
of both sides to fruitfully implement high-level agreements between the two
countries and their own deals signed for 2014-2020. 

They will also work with each other to prepare
for the fourth annual consultation between foreign ministers. 

Following the meeting, the two sides engaged in
a roundtable to discuss foreign policies in respective countries, along with
regional and international issues of shared concern. 

They agreed to continue closely coordinating
with each other at regional and international forums, especially within the
cooperation framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 

They will team up with other ASEAN nations to
maintain the role and common stance of the ten-member group on strategic issues
in the region. 

The third political consultation is set to take
place in Vietnam in 2018.-VNA

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International media give positive view on PM’s US visit

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Source: VNA) 

Hanoi (VNA)
International media and prestigious experts have given positive assessments on
the ongoing US visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the invitation of
President Donald Trump.

The Geopolitical Monitor underscored
the importance of the two leaders’ meeting on May 31 because PM Phuc is the
first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House since the US has a new
administration, adding that the visit also opens up two-way trade opportunities
amid mounting security challenges due to China’s actions in the East Sea.

Political analyst Alexander
Vuving from the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies said the Trump
administration attaches importance to promoting ties with Vietnam in light of
the country’s strategic role in Asia.

US Trade Representative Robert
Lighthizer expressed concern over the rapid growth of the US trade deficit with
Vietnam, from nearly 7 billion USD to about 32 billion USD in the past decade,
saying that this is a new challenge for the two countries and he is expecting Phuc
to address it.

“This concerning growth in our
trade deficit presents new challenges and shows us that there is considerable
potential to improve further our important trade relationship”, he said.

Lighthizer and other Trump
administration trade officials have pledged to work to reduce US bilateral
trade deficits with major trading partners.

Senior advisor and Southeast Asia
Director at the Washington D.C-based Centre for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS) Murray Hiebert said Vietnam wants to get a reading on how the
Trump administration plans to engage the region economically after the
President declared to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which
Vietnam would have been a major beneficiary.

Dr. Le Hong Hiep, a researcher at
the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said the visit could
help the two leaders form ties, and more importantly, it affords Vietnam a
chance to learn about the US’s economic and strategic plans towards the
country, thereby further developing bilateral links in the near future. High on
the agenda will be economy and national defence-security.

Through the visit, Vietnam could gain
an insight into President Trump’s policies and stance on Southeast Asia and
East Asia, particularly the East Sea issue.-VNA

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Formosa steel plant: dust explosion triggered by fabric filter breakage

A corner of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Plant (Source: VNA)

Ha Tinh (VNA)
– The explosion of the lime kiln dust filter equipment in Formosa Ha Tinh Steel
Plant (FHS) located in the central province of Ha Tinh came from the breakage
of a dust fabric filter, according to the provincial People’s Committee. 

The committee said in a press release on May 31
that the mixture of limestone dust and steam from the process of lime burning
produced a dust cake in the fabric filter. 

The dust cake then resulted in a pressure drop,
leading to the breakage of the fabric filter, the committee cited investigation
results announced by FHS technicians, environmentalists from the Ministry of
Natural Resources and Environment and competent local agencies. 

The committee said the explosion caused no
casualties as well as environmental harm. 

Property losses are small, it added, noting that
the incident has not affected the trial runs of the lime kiln, which began on May
29, and of a steel furnace slated for June 1. 

During his fact-finding trip to the plant,
Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Le Dinh Son asked FHS to provide objective,
scientific and accurate information on the cause of the explosion for competent
agencies and the public within one week. 

FHS pledged that the company will replace the
broken fabric filter with the best one while examining all other facilities to
ensure the absolute safety for the test runs. 

Right after hearing the explosion, which
happened at 20:45 on May 30, officials of the provincial People’s Committee,
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and relevant agencies came to
the plant to clarify the incident. 

In April last year, waste water discharged from
the Taiwan-based steel company polluted more than 200 kilometres of coastline,
devastating the marine environment and local economies of central Ha Tinh,
Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces which have largely relied on
fishing and tourism.

Four months later, the company owned up to its
mistake, offering a public apology and pledging 500 million USD as compensation
for affected fishermen, households and organisations.-VNA

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President welcomes Queen of Netherlands

President Tran Dai Quang (R) and Queen of the Netherlands Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – President Tran Dai Quang hosted a reception in Hanoi on May 31 for Queen
of the Netherlands Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, the UN Secretary-General’s
Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, who is on a working
visit to Vietnam.

President Quang
said he was delighted to see relations between Vietnam and the UN in general
and the Netherlands in particular have developed positively in many fields.

The Strategic
Partnership on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management (2010) and the
Strategic Partnership on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (2014) are
vivid evidence of the current fruitful relationship between Vietnam and the
Netherlands, he elaborated.

The President said
political meetings between senior leaders of the two nations in the recent past
have laid a foundation for the bilateral comprehensive cooperation, noting with
pleasure that the Netherlands is now the biggest European investor and is one
of the most important trade partners of Vietnam.

President Quang
took this occasion to thank Queen Máxima for her interest in microfinance in
Vietnam through her visit to the country in 2011. He spoke highly of the
Queen’s efforts to enhance inclusive finance for developing nations as well as her
ongoing visit to study and share experience in promoting inclusive finance as
Vietnam has just embarked on this sphere.

Thanks to the
implementation of policies and activities related to inclusive finance such as
microfinance development, credit for agriculture and rural areas, and social
security, Vietnam has reaped a wide range of achievements in socio-economic
development and poverty reduction that have been recognised by the
international community, he noted.

The State leader
believed that inclusive finance will be a useful tool to effectively mobilise
resources, contributing to Vietnam’s socio-economic development and sustainable
growth. In early 2017, the Government assigned the State Bank of Vietnam to
build and promulgate a national inclusive finance strategy in 2020.

In this spirit,
President Quang suggested Queen Máxima, in her capacity as a representative of
the Netherlands and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive
Finance for Development, mobilise financial and technical resources from the UN
and other international organisations to assist Vietnam in building the
strategy and share experience with the country.

Queen Máxima
congratulated Vietnam on its achievements in hunger elimination, poverty
reduction and socio-economic development over the past 30 years as well as its
outcomes in deploying inclusive finance.

She said
inclusive finance will be a tool to effectively mobilise resources,
contributing to Vietnam’s socio-economic development and sustainable growth and
helping people get easier access to official finance and banking services.

The Queen also
affirmed that the Netherlands is willing to share experience and cooperate with
Vietnam in the field of inclusive finance.-VNA

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National External Information Service Awards 2016 announced

national external information service awards 2016 announced hinh 0

This is the third time the awards have been organized by the Party Central Committee’s Communication and Education Commission and the Central Steering Committee for External Information Services. 

This year’s contest received 893 entries in 17 languages, up 21% in number of entries and six languages more compared to the event in 2015.

The entries’ formats include: print and online newspaper, radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, landscape photos and books. 

The entries were created in 17 languages: Vietnamese, English, French, German, Russian, Slovakian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Laos, Thais, Indonesian, Korean and Persian. Authors include Vietnamese and foreign journalists, experts, researchers, photographers, publishers, and Vietnamese expatriates.  

Their topics cover all aspects of the country’s political, economic, cultural and social life, promoting the image of Vietnam to the outside world. The entries inform of the Vietnamese Party guidelines and State policies, the great achievements Vietnam made in the “Doi moi” (Reform) process, Vietnam’s viewpoint on regional and international issues, and objection to the incorrect and distorted allegations on Vietnam.

In his speech at the award ceremony, Vo Van Thuong, Head of the Party Central Committee’s Communication and Education Commission and the Central Steering Committee for External Information Service, highlighted the important role of the external information service.

“Efforts should be made to improve the service’s operation to fulfill its tasks entrusted by the Party and State, contributing to maintaining peace, and stability, and promoting international integration for national development. The service needs to be renovated in terms of contents and formats”.

The National External Information Service Awards was launched in 2014.

Of VOV’s total 10 award winners, “Story of Vietnam’s international integration” by the Voice of Vietnam World Service (VOV5) won the first prize.

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Programme to support pig farmers launched

Nguyen Thi Thu Van, permanent deputy chairwoman of the Viet Nam Youth Federation’s Central Committee, said the “Support Farmers – Price Subsidy to Consumers” programme would help farmers to sell their unsold pigs at reasonable prices. — VNS Photo

The Central Committee of Việt Nam Youth Federation and DSF Vietnam Co. on May 31 launched a programme called “Support Farmers – Price Subsidy to Consumers” to help farmers sell their unsold pigs at reasonable prices.

The programme aims to sell pork at subsidised prices to stimulate consumption, Nguyen Thi Thu Van, permanent deputy chairwoman of the federation’s Central Committee, said.

Many activities have been undertaken to support farmers overcome the difficulties caused by a sharp decrease in pig prices, but the situation has not improved much, she said.

To run until the end of June, the programme includes many activities like fairs and setting up booths to sell pork at subsidised prices in five provinces and cities, HCM City, Dong Nai, Can Tho, Binh Phuoc and Binh Duong.

Through its website at, the programme will buy pigs from farmers at VND30,000 a kilo and sell at a price of VND35,000, but buyers have to buy pieces of pork weighing 18-20 kilogrammes, Nguyen Tuan Khoi, managing director of DSF, said.

Van said the initial purpose of the programme is to help pig farmers sell their unsold products, while in the long term it aims to encourage farmers to continue breeding to prevent a shortage of pork and help them breed pigs based on plans and market demand and production chains to ensure quality.

She also called for co-operation and support from businesses, especially those involved in farming pigs and processing pork, and locals.

Tran Tien, deputy general director in charge of the animal feed business at C.P Viet Nam, the first company to support the programme, said after cutting pig feed prices by VND200 per kilogramme, the company is now set to increase pork sales at supermarkets.

It would also increase processing of ready-to-eat products like sausages and others, he said.

It has cold storage space to rent out for storing pork, he said.

His company is willing to supply pork without profits to fairs under the programme to stimulate demand, he said.

The programme also calls on enterprises, especially those that are members of the federation, and the Viet Nam Young Entrepreneur Clubs in provinces and cities that have kitchens for workers to consume more pork. — VNS

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Vietnam, Myanmar hold seventh political consultation

Both sides informed each other about the situations in their respective countries, reviewed their cooperation, and discussed measures and orientations to reinforce the traditional friendship between the two countries.

They noted with satisfaction the fruitful relationship and bilaterally and multilaterally close coordination, at regional and international forums. 

They consented to intensify the exchange of all-level delegations and citizens and effectively implement cooperation mechanisms, especially through the organisation of a meeting of the bilateral cooperation committee this year.

The two sides agreed to expand their collaboration in such areas as national defence, security, trade and investment. 

They also compared notes on regional and international issues of shared concern and agreed to tighten their coordination in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the UN and other regional cooperation mechanisms. 

The two sides underlined the need to boost solidarity and consistency within ASEAN aiming to bring into full play the regional grouping’s centrality.

Regarding the East Sea issue, they concurred to settle disputes in the area by peaceful measures and in line with international law. 

They affirmed their determination to work together with other ASEAN member countries and China to soon finalise an effective and legally binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

The eighth political consultation is set to take place in Vietnam in 2018. 

On this occasion, Quy paid a courtesy visit to Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi who applauded Vietnam’s socio-economic achievements and pledged her best effort to propel the bilateral relationship forward.

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Vietnamese graduate rejects Harvard Phd scholarship

While most academics would dream of attending Harvard University, Truong Vu Yen Nhi was faced with the dilemma of choosing between several Ivy League schools, including Harvard.

Nhi, a 23-year-old Vietnamese graduate, has received PhD scholarship offers, worth up to US$100,000 a year, from Harvard and seven other top American universities. These include Princeton, Stanford, Brown, University of Michigan, Rutgers, the University of Illinois and Ohio State University.

Choosing only one from among these high-profile institutions was a challenge for Nhi, who earned her B.A in Math with outstanding results from the Massachusetts-based Amherst College.

Despite the tempting offers, the young Vietnamese academic has decided on attending Stanford this September, believing that the environment there fits her best.

Nhi attended one of the top high schools in Ho Chi Minh City before winning a full three-year scholarship to Singapore’s Saint Joseph’s Institution International. In 2009, she graduated from the Singaporean school with the title of Josephian of the Year and won another grant to study at Amherst College in the U.S.

It was during her time at the Massachusetts school that Nhi decided to follow a math research career. Following her time there, she had one paper published in the prestigious Journal of Number Theory, two of her academic studies reviewed and two other research theorems carried out.

Nhi has also been honored with awards including the Alice T. Schafer, granted by the U.S. Association of Women in Mathematics, the Woods-Travis Prize, awarded to outstanding graduates of Amherst College, and the Robert H. Breusch Prize, given to the best senior thesis at Amherst.

Nhi works as a volunteer at SEA Games

On top of what is an exemplary academic profile, Nhi is also a former member of the junior Vovinam (Vietnam Martial Art) team of the Vietnamese military.

In 2006, at the age of 12, Nhi achieved a black belt in Vovinam, and represented the junior military team until 2008.

Despite not following an athletic career, Nhi remains attached to the martial art.

She was a volunteer in Ho Chi Minh City when it hosted the 2011 World Vovinam Championships,  and was also a voluntary translator during Vovinam competition at the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia the same year.

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Makeshift tunnel beneath Hanoi railway construction raises safety concerns

To ease traffic congestion, motorcyclists in Hanoi have been allowed to drive inside a makeshift tunnel below the ongoing construction of an elevated railway.

The construction unit of an elevated railroad project have created a temporary traffic tunnel at the Nhon intersection in Bac Tu Liem District in Hanoi.

The tunnel is about 100 meters long, two meters high and two meters wide, and is fortified by a metal roof and frame. It has been reserved for one lane of motorcycle traffic.

According to local residents, the structure was established about a month ago after the construction of the elevated railway had begun causing regular congestion.

Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday, Nguyen Viet Sang, chief supervisor of the railroad project, said that the execution of the plan had required a blockade of the area, resulting in severe traffic bottlenecks.

“To combat the problem, we decided to design a path for motorbikes to travel through under the construction,” Sang said.

“The measure was properly researched and tested and is guaranteed to be effective,” he continued.

Sang gave assurances as to the safety of the temporary tunnel, adding that it had been approved by the municipal Department of Transport.

People travelling in the passageway still feel uncertain about their safety however, as the construction of heavy concrete and metal continues to be carried out immediately above the structure.

In addition, the tunnel exits at a juncture in the road where motorcycle and car lanes meet, posing a high risk of accident.

Only one lane of motorcycles are allowed in the passageway. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The tunnel has been constructed using metal frames. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The structure lies directly beneath the busy construction of an elevated railway. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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MobiFone announces 2016 audited financial statement

MobiFone recently released its audited financial statement for the last year, accord to which net revenue of sales and services reached nearly VND35.08 trillion (US$1.54 billion). — File Photo

MobiFone Telecommunications Corporation (MobiFone) recently released its audited financial statement for the last year, following which net revenue of sales and services reached nearly VND35.08 trillion (US$1.54 billion).

The revenue increased nearly VND3.70 trillion over the previous year, equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 12 per cent, reported the Tri Thuc Tre online newspaper.

However, the group’s pre-tax profit decreased 27 per cent from VND7.1 trillion in 2015 to VND5.03 trillion last year and profit after tax decreased 22 per cent year-on-year to VND4.22 trillion.

MobiFone also said last year was the first year that AVG saw profit of VND54 billion. The acquisition of AVG is part of the group’s business development strategy in the 2016-20 period based on the four pillars of telecommunications and IT, television, distribution and retail, and multi-services. In addition to AVG, MobiFone also has three other subsidiaries — MobiFone Services, MobiFone Plus and MobiFone Global.

MobiFone has targeted the whole corporation’s total revenue to reach VND44.21 trillion this year, of which the parent company’s revenue is expected to reach VND39.67 trillion. Pre-tax profit and after-tax profit are estimated at VND5.59 trillion and VND4.47 trillion, respectively. The investment capital for development is estimated at VND10.20 trillion. — VNS

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Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake to be cleaned

The capital city’s Hoan Kiem Lake will be dredged and cleaned by the end of July, said Vo Tien Hung, general director of Hanoi Sewerage and Drainage Company Ltd.

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An aerial view of Hoan Kiem Lake in Ha Noi. The city has instructed that the cleaning project must retain the lake’s distinctive dark green colour.

Speaking at a press meeting on Tuesday, Hung said the lake is severely polluted and has lost the ability to revive itself. Its water quality is getting poorer by the day, its pH level is high, and the amount of suspended deposits is higher than the permissible limit at all five monitoring locations.

The lake also has high organic contamination, with the indices for both biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) two times over the limit, he added.

The lake water has lost its distinctive dark green colour in several spots, and there is a one-metre layer of mud at the bottom of the lake, polluting it and reducing its water level to 0.5 to 0.8m.

The company will maintain the colour of the lake during the cleaning process as requested by the city, Dung said.

The lake is a major national monument, so the proposed cleaning project will be sent to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment so that they can review the environmental impact evaluation.

The project will be implemented in 120 days, starting either at the end of July or beginning of August, if approved by the two ministries. 


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Vietnam Auto Expo 2017 to open in June

The Auto Expo 2017 will introduce products for supporting industries, such as spare parts and components for producing, manufacturing and assembling automobiles, motorbikes and other vehicles. — Photo

The 14th international Vietnam Auto Expo will take place in International Centre for Exhibition, 91 Tran Hung Dao, Ha Noi from June 7 to 10.

The exhibition, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, will showcase cars, high-class coaches, trucks, vans and special purpose vehicles in construction, mining, military and hygiene.

It will introduce products for supporting industries, such as spare parts and components for producing, manufacturing and assembling automobiles, motorbikes and other vehicles. It will also display machinery, equipment, technologies in molding, welding, plating and painting. In addition, there will be ample automobile interior decor and car toys.

According to organiser C.I.S Vietnam Advertising and Exhibition JSC, the population of Viet Nam in 2020 will be about 99.6 million people. Forecasted market size in 2020 is from two million to 3.5 million cars of all types, of which there are about 250,000 less-than-10-seat cars; in 2025 it is about more than 750,000 cars.

Viet Nam is the fourth biggest motorcycle and scooter market in the world, after China, India and Indonesia. In 2020, the number of motorcycles/scooters in Viet Nam will reach 33.5 million, equivalent to 2.97 people/one vehicle.

The highest localisation rate of car at the moment is 20 per cent – 30 per cent.

The automotive supporting industry is identified as one of five important industries that will receive support and priority for development. — VNS

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