Ho Tram Strip inks $63 milion natural gas deal

Ho Tram Project Company (HTP) and PetroVietnam Low Pressure Gas Distribution Joint Stock Company (PVGasD) has inked a memorandum of understanding that will see the Ho Tram Strip move to cleaner, greener and more efficient power within the next 15 months.

The $63 million (net present value) investment will be deployed on a BOO (Build-Own-Operate) model, which will see a power station built within the existing Central Plant Building on the company’s 164 hectare site.

“With our signing today, we become the first tourism developer in Vietnam to fully switch to self-generated, greener energy sources.  This pioneering move sees us invest in a natural-gas fueled plant that will emit less than half of the carbon dioxide and significantly less harmful particulates and carbon monoxide than coal powered systems,” said HTP’s executive chairman Michael Kelly.

Climate-scientists estimate that natural gas emits 50 to 60 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted in a new, efficient natural gas power plant compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant.  They note also that natural gas from a modern facility that minimises methane emissions burn significantly cleaner than other fossil fuels, releasing negligible dangerous chemicals into the environment.

“Our 15 year agreement will provide cleaner-energy for our 1100 room The Grand and Beach Club resorts, supply all of the requirements for The Bluffs golf course including its Gallery Villas, and in future can be expanded to include the newly announced Kahuna condotel, and future facilities including the second integrated resort, additional resorts and entertainment amenities including the forthcoming amphitheater and waterpark,” Kelly said. “This plant will see a significant decrease in both our reliance upon Vietnam’s grid and our carbon footprint. This transition to our own power station via the state of the art technology that PVGasD is deploying sees us able to efficiently use the by-product of electricity generation – heat – to supply hot water for the resorts, but also through harvesting residual energy, it will supply us with cool water for use in the air conditioning systems.”

Switching to its own ‘COGEN’ (co-generated) power system is set to revolutionise the way in which large integrated companies’ source their power in Vietnam. Cogeneration systems, also known as combined heat and power systems, generate both electricity and usable thermal energy. Instead of losing heat energy during the power generation process, Cogen systems re-use the thermal energy for a more efficient and environmentally friendly power source.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Ho Tram Strip on a development that will power this project for decades to come with a reliable, scalable and environmentally friendly source of seven megawatts of power together with 2000 refrigeration tonnes capacity for air-conditioning and refrigeration capacity.  This is the first project of its kind to be built at a tourism development such as this, and represents a pioneering move into the way in which enterprises are adopting greener sources of power,” said Do Pham Hong Minh, PVGasD deputy director.

Build out is expected to commence later this year, and the plant is projected to fire-up for the first time in late 2018.

Ho Tram Strip is the first resort complex in the nation to cooperate with a Vietnamese company on such a power station and is leading its peers in technology.

The $63 million investment comes hot-on-the-heels of HTP’s Kahuna condotel preview, itself a $60 million commitment to the nation.  To date, HTP parent company ACDL has current and forward-deployed over $1.1 billion in Vietnam.

The company’s commitment to the nation has seen a flurry of activity in the past few months, with new amenities added to The Grand including restaurant refurbishments and the addition of a spectacular fountain show, both set to go-live in a matter of weeks. 

Meanwhile the 559-room second Grand Tower, dubbed The Beach Club, is reaching for the skies at present.  Construction on the 12th floor is well underway, with the building set to top-out in September ahead of a 12-month interior fit-out for a target opening date around October 2018. 

At The Bluffs, numerous Gallery Villas are under construction.  The company is also well into the approval processes for the development of a charter airport on a site near the Strip. 

HTP recently became the first company in the country to apply to host a pilot programme for local gaming, following the government’s decision to legalise casino gaming for Vietnamese nationals.  It has previously led the pilot for foreigner-only gaming, and at present is the only site in Vietnam able to offer an international standard gaming environment for local play.

Dynamically growing Ho Tram Strip in the grand plan for Vietnam's economic development

Dynamically growing Ho Tram Strip in the grand plan for Vietnam’s economic development

On June 15, Ho Tram Project Company (HTP) announced the development of the third phase of its Ho Tram Strip project, a residential tower, condotel, and villa development, marking another milestone for the project as well as the company. Michael Kelly, HTP’s executive chairman, talked with VIR’s Hong Anh about HTP’s grand plan for Ho Tram Strip and the company’s work to turn the development into a major attraction in the south of Vietnam that also contributes to the economic growth of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, where the project is located, and the country in general.

Kahuna to make waves at Ho Tram

Kahuna to make waves at Ho Tram

Ho Tram Project Company (HTP) today announced the development of the third phase of its Ho Tram Strip project, its residential tower, condotel and villa development.

The Grand helps Vietnam lay foundation for tourism boom

The Grand helps Vietnam lay foundation for tourism boom

In the year since I was appointed executive chairman of The Grand Ho Tram Strip, I have seen tremendous positive changes take place in Vietnam’s tourism industry.

By Hoang Anh



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Coteccons to expand foreign ownership

Coteccons Construction Corporation (Coteccons) (CTD) plans to raise its foreign ownership ratio cap from 49 per cent to 60 per cent, CTD leaders announced during its 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting held on Thursday in HCM City.

An apartment under construction built by Coteccons.-VNS Photo Doan Tung

The board of directors will select the time of implementation as well as procedures related to the expansion. CTD’s foreign ownership ratio now accounts for just 3.63 per cent and CTD’s stock is currently most preferred by foreign investors. Therefore, the expansion plan is expected to increase liquidity and attract money inflowing into CTD, said Nguyen Ba Duong, CTD Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 2017, CTD aims at a growth of 30 per cent in revenue, amounting to VND27 trillion (US$1.18 billion). Post-tax profits are estimated to reach VND1.7 trillion.

With strong business results in 2016, CTD decided to pay a cash dividend of 50 per cent in 2016. The company will retain 60 per cent of post-tax profits to supplement the development investment fund scheduled for the investment to the value chain of the construction sector to increase the CTD’s profit and maintain its sustainable development.

Regarding corporate governance, Duong said that by the end of June next year, CTD will have officially renewed corporate governance in accordance with the law and international practices.

CTD’s total number of employees has reached over 2,000, and the firm therefore needs to reorganise its apparatus in line with international practices to meet development requirements, Duong said.

Accordingly, Coteccons will remove the old supervision board and replace it with a new internal supervision sub-commission, which has been applied this year by the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk). Duong was previously elected as a member of Vinamilk’s board of directors at the company’s 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting.

The company has also established internal boards of economic, investment, financial supervisory and auditing, he added.

Duong said that CTD focuses firmly on human-centred developmen and continues to boost policies that balance benefits between employees and shareholders.

The company has been implementing a shares issuance programme under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), he said. Recently, CTD has issued a decision to revoke ESOP shares from employees who have quit their jobs.

At the same time, the company has generated policy encouraging key staff who contributed largely to the development of the company in 2016. The incentive value offered for employees was more than VND209 billion, equivalent to the number of ESOP shares of 2.5 million shares, representing 3.36 per cent of total shares circulating in the company.

However, in order to ensure the balance of interests between staff and shareholders, the Board members agreed to adjust the number of ESOP shares to limit the dilution of shares.

Accordingly, instead of issuing 2.5 million of ESOP shares, the company would issue only half of those shares, equivalent to nearly 1.3 million shares at the price of VND40,000 per share. This amount of stock is limited in transfer for two years from the date of issuance, Duong said.

Half of the incentive share amount will be paid in cash, he added.

Source VNA



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Taiwan campaign presents new products to Vietnam

The eighth edition of the Taiwan Excellence campaign launched in Hanoi yesterday, with the aim of introducing products and technologies that have been accorded the “Taiwan Excellence Award” in the fields of ICT, home appliances, educational aids, healthcare and fitness, and smart transportation.

The Taiwan Excellence Award, an initiative of the Taiwan Bureau of Foreign Trade managed locally by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), represents the best technological innovation from Taiwan’s most competitive industries. It has become a symbol of reliability, innovation, and value. The campaign will feature a series of activities and programmes to give Vietnamese consumers the opportunity to personally experience Taiwan’s best products.

“In May 2017, Taiwan had total registered capital of $31.2 billion in Vietnam, making Taiwan the fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment in Vietnam. With such potential, Vietnam-Taiwan economic and cultural co-operation will continue to flourish and generate benefits for both sides in the upcoming years,” said Richard R. C. Shih, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vietnam.

He said, “In response to the substantial support of Vietnamese consumers, this year Taiwan Excellence has aspired to highlight the distinctive characteristics of Taiwan Excellence Award-winning products, [which in addition are] friendly and useful to Vietnamese consumers to buy as gifts for themselves or their loved ones. That is the whole idea of our umbrella theme in the 2017 campaign: ‘Taiwan Excellence – The Gifts That Always Impress You’. Through this campaign, we also hope that Taiwan Excellence can contribute to bolstering the Vietnam-Taiwan bilateral relationship in [regards to the] economy, culture, education, and the community.”

Taiwan Excellence 2017 brings a wide range of products from 48 brands in various sectors, proudly representing Taiwanese innovation and creativity through the participation of leading Taiwanese firms such as Acer, Asus, Caesar, Feca, Johnson, MiaCare, Transcend, and uHandy.

But Taiwan Excellence will bring more to Vietnam than just Taiwanese products. In her third year representing Taiwan Excellence, singer-actress Minh Hang will not only act as Brand Ambassador but also a “family member” who understands and represents top Taiwanese brands at their best.

In her role as a bridge to Vietnamese consumers, Hang said, “From ‘Excellent Lifestyles’ to ‘Everyday Hero’ and this year’s theme, ‘The Gifts That Always Impress You’, Taiwan Excellence has amazed me with its endless creativity and the unexpected smart features of products. As the Brand Ambassador, I am blessed to be exposed to high-tech products from Taiwan, so I wish to share this experience with the Vietnamese people and let them spread meaningful messages to every corner of the country.”

Right after Taiwan Excellence 2017’s launch, a series of events under the header ‘Taiwan Excellence Experiencing Zone’ will be held to offer consumers the opportunity to experience these products themselves. The first event in this series is currently taking place at Hanoi’s Aeon Mall Long Bien.

At the events, visitors can explore advanced and innovative Taiwanese products and also participate in interactive introductory sessions, a series of entertainment and meet-and-greet activities with Minh Hang, and take part in a big lucky draw with attractive prizes.

For the upcoming event, Taiwan Excellence will be showcased at the Taiwan Expo at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City from July 26 to 28.

Founded in 1970 to help promote foreign trade, TAITRA is the foremost non-profit, semi-government trade promotion organisation in Taiwan. Jointly sponsored by the government, industry associations, and commercial organisations, TAITRA assists Taiwanese businesses and manufacturers with reinforcing their international competitiveness and coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets.

TAITRA boasts a co-ordinated trade promotion and information network of over 1,200 international marketing specialists, stationed throughout its Taipei headquarters and 50 overseas offices worldwide. Together with its sister organisations, the Taiwan Trade Center and the Taipei World Trade Center, TAITRA has created a wealth of trade opportunities worldwide through its promotional strategies.

By Hoang Anh



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SEO capital divestment still slow

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year.

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year. Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday. – VNS Photo

Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday.

Tien said the reduction in the number of firms approved for equitisation shows continued sluggish progress of divestment and equitisation in Viet Nam.

He gave some examples of SOEs that need to accelerate the equitisation process, such as the Viet Nam Southern Food Corporation, The Electricity of Viet Nam Group and the Viet Nam Rubber Group.

He attributed the slow process at SOEs to the firms’ leaders’ hesitation and lack of assertiveness, adding that the economy’s capital absorption capacity of businesses remains weak.

According to Tien, the larger the scale of a business, the more difficult it is to conduct equitisation. The process requires that each firm clarifies the responsibilities of leaders through various periods, partly affecting their credibility and thus leading to avoidance and delay.

Regarding State capital divestment process, the Ministry of Finance reports that in the first five months of 2017, State units divested VND3.4 trillion (US$150 million) and collected VND14.8 trillion through the divestment. However, a large part of the collection came from the sale of stake the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk) late last year, reaching more than VND11 trillion.

At the meeting, Tien also mentioned some contents of the draft decree amending and supplementing some articles of Government’s Decree No 91/2015/ND-CP dated October 13, 2015 on investment of state capital in enterprises and management and use of capital and assets at enterprises, adding that Decree No 91 shows some particular limitations.

Tien said the draft amended the determination of the starting price of state capital when conducting State capital transfer, indicating that the determination of the starting price is made through an organisation competent enough to conduct price evaluation. The firm must ensure that land use rights at the time of state capital transfer are valued correctly.

The draft also stipulates the method of transfer of state capital invested in joint stock companies, adding that the transfer method is different due to two separate cases.

The first case is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have been listed on the stock market or registered for transactions on the Upcom. The second one is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have not been listed or registered for transactions on the Upcom.

Source VNA



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Marquez impresses in second Sachsenring practice

HOHENSTEIN-ERNSTTHAL, Germany: World MotoGP champion Marc Marquez showed good pace in second practice for the German Grand Prix, as he was second-quickest behind fellow Spaniard Hector Barbera on Friday (Jun 30).

Repsol Honda Team’s Spanish rider Marc Marquez steers his bike during the second training session of the Moto Grand Prix of Germany at the Sachsenring Circuit on Jun 30, 2017 in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, eastern Germany. (Photo: AFP/Robert Michael)

Honda rider Marquez will be bidding for an eighth consecutive victory at the Sachsenring across the three classes on Sunday.

Barbera, who competes for Ducati’s satellite team Avintia, out-paced his compatriot by less than a tenth of a second.

The fastest time of the day though went to new championship leader Andrea Dovizioso in the first free practice session.

The Italian moved four points clear at the top of the riders’ standings last time out in Assen by finishing fifth, as previous leader Maverick Vinales crashed out.

Ducati will be pleased with their start to the week, having only claimed their first Sachsenring podium since 2010 last year when Dovizioso finished third.

Yamaha’s Vinales was second-quickest in the opening session on Friday, but his team-mate and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who claimed his first win of the season last week to move into title contention, struggled and was almost a second off the pace.

Swiss veteran Thomas Luthi led the way in Moto2 practice as he looks to put the pressure on overall leader and title rival Franco Morbidelli, who was fourth-quickest.

Moto3 front-runner Joan Mir bounced back from a disappointing Dutch outing in which he finished ninth, by going half a second quicker than any of his rivals in Germany.

Source AFP



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Trump declares ‘patience is over’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump declared that the US had run out of patience with North Korea over its nuclear drive on Friday (Jun 30) as he welcomed South Korea’s new leader Moon Jae-In to talks at the White House.

Moon and Trump were due to have dinner late Thursday and hold formal talks on Friday. They are likely to discuss a controversial US missile defence system that has been set up in South Korea to guard against missile threats from the North AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM

While Moon has been arguing for greater engagement with Pyongyang as the best way to put the brakes on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Trump made clear that he was in no mood to pursue diplomacy with a regime he accused of having no respect for human life.

And while Moon announced that Trump had accepted an offer to visit Seoul later this year, the leaders failed to map out any kind of joint strategy on how best to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean leadership.

“Together, we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea. The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response,” said Trump.

“The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people, for its neighbours and has no respect for human life.”

The Trump administration has been growing increasingly exasperated with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s regime which has staged a barrage of missile tests in recent months.

There was also deep anger in the United States after Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea on a tourist trip around 18 months ago, was returned home in a coma earlier this month. He died several days later.

Trump had been pinning his hopes on China – North Korea’s main diplomatic ally – to bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang but declared last week that their efforts had failed.

“The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed, many years it has failed. Frankly, that patience is over,” Trump said at a press briefing in the Rose Garden.

And while he avoided criticising his guest’s approach, Trump made clear he was in no mood to enter dialogue with North Korea but rather saw sanctions as the best way to proceed.

“The United States calls on other regional powers and all responsible nations to join us in implementing sanctions and demanding that the North Korean regime choose a better path and do it quickly and a different future for its long suffering people,” he said.

‘GRAVEST CHALLENGE’

Washington, South Korea’s security guarantor, has more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend it from its communist neighbour, which has been intensifying missile tests – including five since Moon’s inauguration.

Moon said there was no dispute between his government and Trump over the nature of the threat posed by North Korea.

“The gravest challenge confronting our two nations is the nuclear and missile threat posed by North Korea,” he said.

“President Trump and I decided to place a top priority on addressing this issue, and coordinate closely on relevant policies.

“To this end, we will employ both sanctions and dialogue in a phased and comprehensive approach … to seek a fundamental resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem.”

Moon has used his first foreign trip to lobby the Trump administration and congressional leaders to back his policy of engagement with the North.

Ahead of his arrival, Moon argued that Seoul and Washington must offer concessions to Pyongyang if it complies with demands for a nuclear freeze – as a gateway to dialogue, and to eventual dismantlement of its nuclear program.

But the Trump administration’s hardening stance was illustrated on Thursday when it slapped sanctions on a Chinese bank linked to North Korea – drawing an angry response from Beijing.

The two leaders also spoke about bilateral trade, with Trump saying the current US$17 billion trade deficit with Seoul was unacceptable, highlighting the number of Korean-made cars on American roads.

“I’m encouraged by President Moon’s assurances that he will work to create a level playing field so that American workers and businesses and especially automakers can have a fair shake at dealing with South Korea,” he said.

Source AFP



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A guide treks to preserve forests

Hoang Tuan Vu, commonly known as Kar, seems to be the only trekking tour guide in the central highlands of Viet Nam. But to this 32-year-old man, a resident of Ea Kar District in the central province of Dak Lak, the profession is not only a way to earn a living. It helps him to demonstrate his love for forests, and inspire others to join hands to preserve the lungs of earth.

On a rainy day: Kar (first from left) with a group of tourists during a trek.

Kar feels completely at home in the forest.

“I have spent more time in the forest than at home, that’s why I look different,” he says, smiling.

At the young age of 32, Kar, whose real name is Hoang Tuan Vu, stands out in a crowd with his sunburnt curly hair and dark skin and sturdy physique.

Kar might be the only trekking tour guide in the Central Highlands region, but this is more than a job for him. His work is an expression of his love for forests, and he wants to inspire others to join hands and preserve them.

Kar was born in the central province of Ha Tinh. He moved to live in Ea Kar District in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak when he was six after his parents sought new career opportunities there. The peaceful life, surrounded by vast forests and mountains, nurtured his passionate love for the forest.

After graduating from high school, he decided to study tourism at Duy Tan University so that he could realise his dream of travelling to different places.

As a student, Kar visited many places in Viet Nam, including Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Hue, and Quang Binh.

Everywhere he went, the natural beauty of the place and lifestyles of locals impressed him, and he realized the great tourism potential they had.

When Kar graduated in 2009, he received work offers from various travel agents, but he quit after several months, finding the working environment restrictive and not suited to his passion for travelling.

He returned home and continued to wander through the forests in the Central Highlands that gave him peace.

At first, his trips were a personal exploration, enriching his understanding of the forests, their topography, flora and fauna and the ethnic cultures.

When he saw that trekking was becoming popular in the country, he wanted to develop it in his hometown. Undeterred by the lack of support for his idea, he went trekking through all the forests from north to south on his own, studying and designing tours to turn his idea into reality.

Kar’s trekking backpack typically contains rice, instant noodles, dried fish, a lighter, a knife, a fishing rod, pans, hammock and a mini camera. It takes between three and seven days to trek through a forest. Mosquitoes, leeches and snakes are frequent companions.

Kar’s most memorable trek was one through forests from Dak Lak to Nha Trang in August, 2014. It was the rainy season. The forest was so dense that he could not find the way out. He was resigned to stopping and spending the night in the forest, sleeping in a hammock. The rain did not let up and the wild animals kept roaring fiercely. Cold and afraid, Kar could not sleep a wink.

The next morning, he decided to follow the stream, and it was the right choice. The stream led him to the source of the Cai River.

Spreading love for forest

Over four years, Kar explored and found many beautiful paths suitable for trekking. He also gained valuable experience and skills about surviving in the forest from local people. He learnt which fruits and leaves were edible, how to prevent and treat malaria with wild plants and how to deal with sprains and other injuries.

Using this invaluable experience and the things he learnt in the university, he became a forest guide, offering tours few others could match.

Among the special experiences of being with Kar is the things he cooks with wild edible plants or animals, like a wild banana salad and grilled fish. With him, people understand directly the value of the forest for human’s survival.

He also introduces the cultures and customs of locals, fostering connections between different peoples.

Kar’s trekking tours have gradually attracted huge numbers of people. His schedule is tight all year round, and the peak time is the dry season, lasting from April to October.

One of the tours that impressed Kar most was in early 2016 when he guided 29 employees of a construction company from HCM City, all of them women. He said not one complained or was late. They were keen on experiencing firsthand the peace of living in a forest, being able to hear the birds sing, drink clear water from the streams and eat wild vegetables.

“The scenery that came in front of my eyes after every step was overwhelming,” said Nguyen Thach, after returning from a trekking tour in the Central Highland with Kar.

 “I was most impressed with the beauty of the streams that we saw on the way, each with its unique charm and dangers.

“The journey was not smooth. In some places, we had to hack our way through. Our hands were scratched by the thorns of wild trees, and the leeches kept sticking to us.

“But our tour guide, Kar, was experienced and skillfully helped us overcome difficult situations.”

Kar is also impressed by foreign tourists. They don’t bother much about taking selfies. Instead, they listen attentively to him talking about the forest, even though his English is not very fluent. They always ask about strange plants or animals that they see and take notes, carefully.

This attitude has “encouraged me to constantly enrich my knowledge”, Kar said.

Kar instructs tourists in basic survival skills, like setting fire, seeking food, recognising weather conditions, identifying directions and avoiding wild beasts.

“The forest is a part of me,” Kar said, adding that he feels great pain on seeing it being destroyed by humans. “Beautiful evergreen forests, the shelter of many precious species, have been devastated and turned into bare mountains,” he said.

“By pursuing trekking as a profession and bringing people close to nature, I hope to contribute a part of my life to the preservation of forests.”

Source Vietnamnet



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German tourist found dead near Indonesian volcano

SIBOLANGIT, Indonesia: A German tourist missing for over a week after setting off to hike an Indonesian volcano has been found dead, a search and rescue official said Friday (Jun 30).

Mount Sinabung volcano spews thick volcanic ash, as seen from Brastagi in North Sumatra province in May 2017. A German tourist missing for over a week has been found dead in the vicinity of another Indonesian volcano in North Sumatra AFP/TIBTA PANGIN

Klaus Wolter, 48, who lived in Singapore, went missing last Wednesday after telling the hotel he was staying at that he wanted to trek up Mount Sibayak, an active volcano in North Sumatra province.

Scores of rescuers began scouring the volcano – which last erupted over a hundred years ago – the day after he set off, in a frantic search which lasted eight days, and at one point included a helicopter.

Wolter’s body was found on Thursday near a waterfall several kilometres away from where he was last seen.

The rescue team took hours to retrieve the body due to the rough terrain, the head of the local search and rescue mission office, Budiawan, said.

“The wife of the victim has confirmed that it is her husband,” Budiawan, who goes by one name, told AFP.

There have previously been fatalities among tourists climbing volcanoes in Indonesia.

In 2010, an Italian tourist was killed after falling into a ravine when climbing Mount Rinjani, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia.

Source AFP



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Hoàng Anh Gia Lai-Arsenal end decade-old association

Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC officially ended their 10-year-old relationship with European giant Arsenal yesterday.

Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC President Đoàn Nguyên Đức (right) shakes hand with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in their opperation signing ceremony 10 years ago. Their relationship ended on June 30.-File Photo

The former V.League champions started their collaboration with Arsenal in 2007. They built the Hoàng Anh Gia Lai Arsenal JMG Academy, setting up the first-ever football training centre in Việt Nam.

Following their cooperation, coaches and trainers of Arsenal were sent to Việt Nam. The academy is now training the fifth course for players.

Their first generation of players won the regional tournaments for youth, including a U21 title in Thanh Niên Newspaper International Football Tournament in 2014.

Arsenal came to Việt Nam, selecting it as one of their destination for their pre-season tour, in 2013.

Three best players from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai have been sent to compete abroad. Currently, midfielder Lương Xuân Trường is still serving a contract with South Korean club Gangwon FC.

However, even after 10 years, a single player from Hoàng Anh Gia Lai was yet to qualify to play for Arsenal in England. This was cited as one of the main reasons for ending the association.

The academy is now called Hoàng Anh Gia Lai JMG. The Arsenal logo will no longer appear on the players’ shirts from the 16th round of the V.League this weekend.

Source VNA



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VNPT ahead in broadband users

The Việt Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) has the largest number of broadband subscribers in Việt Nam, said Nguyễn Trường Giang, VNPT’s deputy general director.

The Việt Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group has enhanced investment into infrastructure to better serve customers.-Photo zing.vn

Giang said the growth rate of its new broadband subscribers has always been in two digits. VNPT has accounted for 47 per cent of the market share in the fixed broadband internet category. Viettel took the second place with 26 per cent, followed by FPT with 19 per cent, while the remaining subscribers chose CMC, NetNam or SCTV.

Speaking at the launch of new internet solutions earlier this week, he said recently, the undersea fibre optic cable experienced incidents, thus affecting Việt Nam’s internet services to foreign countries. VNPT has invested more on fibre optic cable and expanding connections from Việt Nam to Asian, European and African regions to improve its quality of internet services. The network is expected to be completed next month and become operational in November.

“Since the technology circle needs to be expanded to better serve consumers, VNPT has promoted investment in this field. If we have better products and services, we can serve our customers better,” he added.

The deputy general director also said that VNPT was expected to continue expanding its leading position with others in term of market share in the fibre optic cable services in the future.

The strong broadband infrastructure is expected to support transmission of its 4G network.

Currently, the number of users whose smartphones support 4G is lower than 50 per cent. VNPT will invest in 4G network, which would be enough to meet customers’ demand.

In the beginning of April, VNPT increased its fibre optic cable speed from 25 to 50 per cent while maintaining tariffs.

It added that it has no plan to decrease tariff in the future, as the average revenue per user (ARPU) index on a fibre optic subscriber was still low at VND200,000 per month.

It will focus on security issues as an indirect price reduction facility for users.

The VNPT’s new internet solutions provide diversified packages with high, unlimited and stable speed. The packages have access speed of 16 Mbps, 20 Mbps, 30 Mbps, 40 Mbps and 60 Mbps.  The packages also provide security software F-Secure SAFE for up to five devices at the same time, according to users’ demand for 12 months.

Source VNA



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HCM City speeds up road, bridge construction projects

HCM City plans to begin construction of 48 new traffic projects and complete 19 congestion projects in the last six months of the year, according to the city’s Department of Transport.

A traffic jam on Trường Chinh Street, where construction on a tunnel under the An Sương intersection began in January.- Photo vietnamnet.vn

At the meeting on Thursday about traffic solutions, the department said key projects to control the traffic flow in the city’s northwestern gateway had kicked off.

Construction is expected to ease traffic around the airport. Flyovers at the Trường Sơn-Tân Sơn Nhất-Bình Lợi-Outer Ring Road and the Nguyễn Thái Sơn-Nguyễn Kiệm intersection will open next month.

Construction of a double tunnel under An Sương Intersection and a parallel road along Mai Chí Thọ Street are ongoing and on schedule.

Bùi Xuân Cường, director of the department, said the city had previously speed up major traffic projects, including two ramps at Nguyễn Văn Cừ Bridge and work at the Mỹ Thủy and An Sương intersection and at Nhị Thiên Đường Bridge.

The two ramps at Nguyễn Văn Cừ Bridge opened on June 29, five months ahead of schedule.

Trần Quang Lâm, deputy director of the department, said the city would begin many projects in the last six months, including a parallel road along National No 1 Highway, Tân Kiên Intersection, Bưng Bridge, and the Nguyễn Oanh-Phạm Ngũ Lão branch of a Y-shaped flyover at the Gò Vấp intersection.

The city will also upgrade and expand a 1.65km section of National No 50 and Phan Văn Trị Street, as well as repair of Lê Đức Thọ Street.

The department’s traffic inspection officials said they had handled more than 9,880 violations of traffic rules on roads and waterways, and had imposed administrative fines of nearly VNĐ28 billion (US$1.3 million) since the beginning of the year.

Of the figure, there were more than 1,770 violations in the trade and transport of goods with total fines of VNĐ17.7billion ($785,000).

They also identified illegal bus stops, particularly in areas surrounding the Western, Eastern and An Sương coach stations.

Source VNA



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The cruel cycle of poverty and child marriage

Poverty and gender inequality are said to be key drivers of child marriage in Việt Nam, particularly in ethnic minority communities in rural areas.

A boy and a girl from the Dao ethnic group in northern Lai Châu Province’s Phong Thổ District join the “pulling wife” custom that usually takes place after the first full moon of the third month of a lunar year. In the custom, boys “pull” the girls they like. Some parents who want their sons to get married early join the custom to get a girl for him. Many child and early marriages are the result of this custom. – VNA/VNS Photo Xuân Trường/ Chu Quốc Hùng

The first national survey on the socio-economic conditions of 53 ethnic minority groups conducted by the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA)  and the General Statistics Office in 2015 revealed that the average rate of child marriage among the groups was 26.6 per cent while some ethnic minority groups had rates of early marriage from 50 to 70 per cent.

Nguyễn Thị Tư, director of CEMA’s Ethnic Minority Department said at a conference on Thursday that child marriage occurred in all cities and provinces and among all ethnic minorities in Việt Nam.

The rate of child marriage is particularly high in ethnic minorities living in the northern mountainous, Central Highlands, some central provinces and the Mekong Delta.

The overall rate of child marriage in ethnic minorities is 26.6 per cent, 18 times higher than the rate in the majority Kinh people population (1.4 per cent) and 10 times higher than the national rate (2.5 per cent).

In Việt Nam, despite the Law on Marriage and Family setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 for women and 20 for men, 11 per cent of woman aged 20-49 years were married or in a union before the age of 18.

“Child marriage negatively impacts other socio-economic issues including school dropouts, leading to a lack of opportunities for decent employment and children born with poor health or susceptible to illness and deeper poverty,” she said.

In largely ethnic minority populated areas, 83.2 per cent of female minors are reportedly illiterate, 58.2 per cent of students from ethnic minorities stop attending school at secondary school level or under 15 years old, a popular age for child marriage among many ethnic minorities.

Hà Hùng, vice head of CEMA stressed that early marriage constrained girls’ opportunities for education, training and work in the future.

“Early marriage also leads to early pregnancy while the body hasn’t reached full growth, significantly affecting girls’ psychological and physical development. Early marriage also contributes to the risk of domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence,” he said.

“Early marriage violates child rights. Overall, early marriage directly affects socio-economic development, making a vicious cycle of poverty among ethnic minority groups. This also degrades quality of human resources in ethnic minority areas,” he added.

Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative in Việt Nam said the key to breaking the cycle of child and early marriage was empowering and investing in women and girls.

“Every girl and woman at risk of or affected by child and early marriage must have equal access to quality services such as education and training, legal and health counselling, including for sexual and reproductive health, shelter and other social services,” she said.

All government bodies should ensure that their planning, budgeting, decision-making, policy making, and monitoring reflect the needs of girls and boys and that investments in girls’ empowerment are prioritised in all areas, she added.

In 2015, the then Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng approved a scheme to reduce child marriage and close-kin marriage in 2015-2025.

CEMA official Tư said following the scheme, communications to improve public awareness of child marriage and relevant laws has been boosted and carried out under various forms depending on the features of each locality, such as on TV, radio, newspapers, posters or talks community leaders.

Under the scheme, CEMA selected 15 provinces with the highest rate of child marriage in the country to implement a pilot programme reducing the practice, with volunteer clubs established to further communications.

However, high poverty rate and outdated customs related to marriage challenged efforts made in the fight against child marriage, she said.

“Ethic minority people have very low opportunities to get paid jobs, hence increased pressure to provide a livelihood and food for families. Many families consider their daughters getting married as a means to reduce economic pressures on the family,” Tư said.

Children decide their marriage

At the Thursday conference “Preventing and ending child and early marriage: learning from promising strategies and good practices”, four non-governmental organisations in Việt Nam – Plan International, Child Fund, World Vision and the Institute for Studies of Society Economy and Environment (ISEE) released a study, highlighting that “Children are the ones who decide their marriage”.

Child and early marriage are usually forced marriages and children are usually the victims of outdated traditional customs, beliefs or adults’ whims.

However, the study of people from ethnic groups of Mông, Mường and Vân Kiều in four provinces –Điện Biện, Yên Bái, Hòa Bình and Quảng Trị – found that in many cases, children under the lawful age for marriage wanted to get married early.

They announced their decision and even told their parents they would commit suicide, or leave home if they were opposed.

With increasing use of the internet, social networks and mobile phones, the children can easily contact each other.

The boys are usually more active in seeking marriages, as according to traditional customs and thinking, a boy becomes more mature and has higher social status if he gets married.

The girls, though less actively than boys, want to marry for fear their lovers will find someone else and she will be left on the shelf. In many cases, the girls want marriage after becoming pregnant or seeing other girls in the neighbourhood get married.

“No more schooling, get married” is another excuse for child marriage. Children drop out as their family face financial difficulties or unemployment.

A 21-year-old woman from Mông ethnic group in Yên Bái Province said that she got married when she was 15 and quit school, as her parents requested.

“I like to go to school but I cannot as I have a child,” she said.

Source VNA



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IT outsourcing conference in October

Việt Nam’s software industry and investment environment will be the featured topics at a Việt Nam IT Outsourcing Conference held on October 19-20 at the convention centre at Quang Trung Software City in HCM City’s District 12.

The Việt Nam IT outsourcing conference will be held in October in HCM City. Source of vnito2015.vnito.org

With a fast-growing economy and a large pool of talent for the engineering workforce, Việt Nam is becoming Asia’s new technology hub, according to organisers of Quang Trung Software City, Investment & Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City, and Việt Nam IT Outsourcing Alliance.

In the past few years, giants like Intel, Samsung, LG, Foxconn, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Bosch, NTT and others have moved their high-tech operations and outsourcing to Việt Nam.

Việt Nam has moved from being an unknown destination to an emerging market for software outsourcing, the organisers said.

The conference is expected to promote the image of Việt Nam as an attractive destination for IT services, while expanding the search for clients and partners for domestic enterprises.

It will help to create an effective business matching platform for buyers and Vietnamese IT outsourcing vendors.

Presentations about human resources, education and training, the labour market and infrastructure will also be held at the conference.

More than 150 multi-national and high-tech companies from over 20 countries are expected to attend, along with 250 top offshore software outsourcing companies in Việt Nam and 20 IT universities.

Source VNA



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Grab and Uber still in hot water for unfair competition

There is a debate over Grab’s disregard for the law, as well as the unfair competition posed by taxi services using technology, such as Uber and Grab.

Allegedly, there are significant differences between the tax figures of Uber and Grab and traditional taxi companies like Vinasun

At the dialogue held by the Ministry of Transport (MoT) on June 28 about passenger transportation by taxis and pilot projects on technology in managing and connecting contracted passenger transportation, some stakeholders voiced concerns over unfair competition of enterprises providing taxis services using technology.

There are allegedly big differences among the tax figures of Uber and Grab and traditional taxi enterprises like Vinasun. 

An unofficial source of information said that in 2016, Grab reported a loss of hundreds of billions of VND, “possibly due to regularly reducing prices for customers.” Running such hefty losses, Grab did not pay corporate income tax. The total taxes paid by Grabtaxi Co., Ltd. in 2016, including corporate income tax, value added tax, and license tax, was only a portion of the taxes paid by Vinasun.

According to the annual tax figures, a representative of Vinasun said that they suffered a lot to fulfill all tax obligations, while other enterprises benefited from “unfair competition, including not fulfilling all tax obligations.”

Also, he raised questions about the tax obligations of individuals and organisations working for Uber and Grab, because their number is increasing, while Grab and Uber reported losses. Additionally, he asked whether Grab and Uber are responsible for declaring tax on behalf of their drivers.

At the beginning of June 2017, Vietnam’s General Department of Taxation issued a document to require the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City departments of Taxation to submit a report on the current situation of the taxation of traditional taxi companies and Uber and Grab taxis. However, the results have not been released to the public yet.

Regarding the new carpool services Grabshare and UberPOOL that Grab and Uber are deploying, delegates at the meeting accused these two enterprises of deliberately ignoring regulations, claiming that they are implementing these services although MoT had sent them an urgent document requiring them to stop the carpool services of all contracted cars in Vietnam.

A delegate from Danang, the city that does not allow Grab cars to operate, said that there are still about 1,000 active Grab cars in the city.

“Why does Grab still operate when local authorities withdrew their permission?” asked Le Quang Vinh, chairman of Phu Hoang Transportation Service Joint Stock Company based in Danang.

Deputy Minister of Transportation Nguyen Hong Truong said he would note the feedbacks of the enterprises and MoT will work with Grab and Uber as well as inviting the leaders of the four cities and provinces that are implementing pilot projects on taxis applying technology to discuss this business model.

By Trang Vu



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Ba Ria-Vung Tau seeking new developer for prime land plot

The southern Vietnamese province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau is looking for a potential developer to rebuild the Vung Tau-Paradise Resort which has been delayed for 25 years now.

Paradise Resort in Vung Tau city is awaiting a new developer to break 25 years of silence

On June 16, the authorities of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province presided over a meeting with potential developer Housing Development and Trading Joint Stock Company (HDTC) to discuss the proposed investment plan for the resort.

Han-Guk Architects & Engineers from South Korea, invited by HDTC as the project consultant, presented the ideas to revive the project.

Accordingly, two options were put on the table. Option one is an 18-hole golf course project, which accounts for about 30 per cent of the total land area. The remaining 70 per cent would be allocated to villas, hotels, shopping malls, sea villas, floating resorts, amusement parks, and performance stage.

Option two is 27-hole golf course accounting for 52 per cent of the total land area. The rest of the complex would include a villa area, a hotel area, and a casino.

Chairman of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau People’s Committee Nguyen Van Trinh asked the local Department of Construction to support the consultant in designing the project by reviewing and adding some items to meet the requirements of local tourism development. 

Trinh also said that the aim of the province in the management of the Paradise Resort is selecting qualified developers to implement projects that can promote the tourism industry of the province. Particularly, the requirements of the committee when selecting developers included a $2-billion investment capital at least, 25 per cent of which must be equity, and that the project would be finished within three years.

Vung Tau-Paradise lies on 220 hectares of land and was licensed to Joint Venture Vietnamese Vung Tau Intourco Resort JSC and Taiwanese Paradise Development and Investment Company in 1991, with an expiration time of 25 years. The project has the total investment capital of over $97 million, of which 25 per cent was contributed by the Vietnamese partner. However, the joint venture expired at the end of 2015.

RELATED CONTENTS:
Ba Ria Vung Tau calls for investment in four key areas

By Ta Hang



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President Tran Dai Quang leaves Moscow for Saint Petersburg

President Tran Dai Quang (R) and Governor of Kaluga Oblast Anatoly Artamonov (Source: VNA)


Moscow (VNA) – President Tran Dai Quang left Moscow
for Saint Petersburg city on June 30, continuing activities within the
framework of his official visit to Russia.

Earlier, President Quang hosted a reception for Governor of
Kaluga Oblast Anatoly Artamonov, in which he thanked the regional authorities
for providing support for Vietnamese firms over the past years, thus helping lift
two-way trade to 10 billion USD by 2020.

Artamonov, for his part, said Russian people are interested
in the leader’s visit because Vietnam and Russia are comprehensive strategic
partners.

He informed the President about the oblast’s economic development
strengths and cooperation between the oblast and enterprises, including
Vietnam’s TH Truemilk.

The governor said Kaluga wants to form a twinning
relationship with a Vietnamese locality and become a trustworthy partner of
Vietnam.

During a reception for leaders of the International Bank for
Economic Cooperation, President Quang thanked the banks for its assistance to
Vietnamese companies which have been operating in Russia.

He noted that the central banks of the two countries will
offer support to Vietnamese and Russian firms in each territory, contributing
to fostering bilateral economic, trade and investment ties.

In the morning of the same day, the President visited
Zarubezhneft, one of the largest oil and gas groups in Russia.

He wished that cooperative ties between the Vietnam National
Oil and Gas Group and Zarubezhneft, which started in 1981 with the establishment
of Vietsovpetro joint venture, will further thrive.-VNA



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Vietnam earns 1.7 billion USD from vegetable, fruit exports

Vietnamese lychees sold in Australia (Photo: VNA)


   

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s export turnover of
vegetables and fruits reached 283 million USD in June, bringing the figure in
the first half of 2017 to 1.7 billion USD, up 45 percent from the same period
last year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development, China, the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea remained the
top four importers of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, accounting for 85
percent of the total export value.

The country has enjoyed impressive growth in
fruit and vegetable exports in some markets, including Russia (67 percent),
Japan (56 percent), China (50 percent) and the US (23 percent), the RoK (15
percent) and Thailand (12 percent).

Recently, green mangoes grown in Son La province
have been exported to Australia for the first time, opening up opportunities
for agricultural production development, particularly fruit farming, in the
northern mountainous region of Vietnam. 

Le Son Ha, Head of the Plant Quarantine under
the Plant Protection Department, said five tonnes of mangoes will be exported
to Australia weekly, adding that this gives a boost for Vietnam’s fruits to
enter new markets.

He noted that the department is completing
procedures to export lychees to Japan.

Vietnamese longan have been shipped to the US
and will be available in Australia and New Zealand, while red and white dragon
fruits are hoped to enter Australia this year. -VNA



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President hails Vietnam-Russia parliamentary ties

President Tran Dai Quang (L) ​and Chairman of the State Duma of Russia Vyacheslav Volodin (Source: VNA)

Moscow (VNA) – President Tran Dai Quang
valued the close cooperation and mutual support between the two legislatures of
Vietnam and Russia during his meeting with Chairman of the State
Duma of Russia Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow on June 30.

He wished the Vietnam-Russia and Russia-Vietnam
Friendship Parliamentarians’ Groups will continue working hard to help
consolidate the collaborations between the two legislative bodies and the
countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership in general.

At
the meeting, the two sides described the effective implementation of the
Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) as a top priority at present.

President Quang suggested the two parliaments work closely together to monitor
the EVFTA implementation in order to create a strong boost to bilateral trade
relations, with an aim of raising two-way trade to 10 billion USD by 2020.

The Russian Duma Chairman spoke highly of the
Vietnamese President’s official visit to Russia, saying that it will map out
development orientations and deepen the two countries’ comprehensive strategic
partnership, including the ties between their legislatures.

The State Duma always pays special attention to
promoting and enhancing the Vietnam – Russia cooperation in the fields of
economy, trade, science – technology, education – training, defence – security,
and tourism, he said.

The Russian legislative body will actively support the building of a suitable
legal framework to step up investment cooperation in industry, agriculture,
energy, oil and gas between the two nations.

He also expressed his delight at Chairwoman
Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan’s upcoming participation in the
137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly slated for October in
Russia.

President Tran Dai Quang noted his support for
cultural exchanges between the two countries, including the organisation of the
Russian Culture Days in Vietnam in 2017.

He also called on the State Duma to provide
legal assistance and favourable conditions for Vietnamese people living in the
country.-VNA



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Vietnam, RoK legislatures urged to beef up cooperative ties

Seoul (VNA) – The National Assemblies of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) should enhance
exchanges and cooperation to contribute to the enhance of  relations between the two countries, NA Vice
Chairman Uong Chu Luu told Speaker of the RoK NA Chung Sye-kyun.

During a meeting with the RoK top legislator in Seoul on
June 30, NA Vice Chairman Luu reiterated Vietnam’s external policy of
independence, self-reliance,
diversification and multilateralisation, and expressed his hope that the two
countries will continue working to improve the effectiveness of multifaceted cooperation.

He suggested the two nations increase the exchange of
high-level visits and meetings to enhance political trust and expand bilateral
cooperation, especially in the fields of economy, trade, tourism, culture, education
and people-to-people exchanges.

Vietnam and the RoK should intensify
coordination in regional and international issues of common concern, especially
in maintaining peace, stability in the Asia Pacific region, Luu said.

Vietnam welcomed and proposed the RoK continue supporting the
stance of Vietnam and ASEAN on the East Sea issue, he said, expecting that the
RoK to show stronger attitude towards actions that increase tensions in the
waters and call on involved parties to promote dialogues in order to maintain
peace, stability and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and fully
implement the UN resolutions.

For his part, Speaker Chung Sye-kyun emphasised the role played by the two legislatures
in general and parliamentarians in particular in removing difficulties and
acting as intermediaries to settle differences.

He asked the Vietnamese Government to pay heed to education
for RoK children living with their parents in Vietnam, and expanding the
teaching of Korean language in the country.

Later on the same day, NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu visited the Vietnamese Embassy
and met with representatives of the Vietnamese community in the RoK, during
which he urged Vietnamese expatriates to continue making active contributions
to the homeland.-VNA



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