Preferential Tariff Guidelines Unveiled
(VNS- 5/6/2002)- The Ministry of Finance has outlined the conditions imports into Viet Nam must meet to qualify for Common Effective Prefer­ential Tariffs (CEPT) treat­ment.

Imports must be in­cluded in Viet Nam's list of goods and tariffs to imple­ment CEPT for 2002; im­ported from ASEAN member nations; endorsed with ASEAN certificates of ori­gin; and directly consigned from ASEAN members into Viet Nam.

The circular, signed last week to guide the imple­mentation of Viet Nam's tax cutting program this year, will apply for imports from January 1, 2002. Those importers who have paid higher import taxes under CEPT 2001 tar­iffs will get a refund on any excess.

Those who paid at a lower tax rate will not be asked to make up the differ­ence. Qualified goods can choose the lower of the two tax rates if there is a differ­ence between the rate ap­plied under Most Favored Nation status and the CEPT 2002 rate. Further consideration will also be given to those businesses that import these goods as inputs to produce and assemble mechanical, electric and electronic prod­ucts.

If the imports qualify for CEPT treatment, and their production qualifies for preferential tariffs de­signed to promote localization, they will enjoy the lower of the two rates.

Viet Nam has listed 5,500 categories of goods categories for import tax cuts under its obligations to join the ASEAN Free Trade Area.

The Government has already cut the import tax rate to between zero and 20 per cent on 90 per cent of the goods on this year's list.

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Gold Shines in Viet Nam
(VNS-SINGAPORE- 22/2/2002)- Viet Nam glistened s as Southeast Asia's top performer in terms of gold demand and investment last year, with Singapore failing to shine, the World Gold Council said in a report received here yesterday.

Sales of jewelry, gold bars and coins in the region covering Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam, Malaysia and Singapore reached 285.2 tonnes in 2001, up 7.0 per cent from the previous year, it said. "Investors continued actively to purchase gold both as a hedge against uncertainty in the wake of the September 11attacks (on the United States) and as an alternative investment to less rewarding bank deposits," the council said.

Jewelry accounted for 76 per cent, or 216.8 tonnes, of the total while investment soaked up 68.4 tonnes, or 24 per cent. "Viet Nam was the star performer in Southeast Asia, posting a new all-time high for both investment and jewelry demand in 2001," the report said.

After a strong fourth quarter, gold demand in Viet Nam rose to a new high of 73 tonnes in 2001, up from the 60 tonnes the previous year. Sales of jewelry, gold bars and coins in Thailand rose 3.0 per cent to 69.3 tonnes last year, up from 67.5 tonnes in 2000. In Indonesia, they managed to edge up only 1.0 per cent year-on-year to 108 tonnes due to a 20 per cent depreciation of the rupiah against the US dollar and an increase in the local price of gold.

Malaysia managed an 8.0 per cent increase in gold demand to 22.7 tonnes.

Singapore was the "under-performer" of the region in the December quarter when demand fell 16 per cent, wiping out the gains in the previous three quarters. Overall, gold demand in Singapore totaled 12.2 tonnes, just a notch above the 12.1 tonnes the previous year.

"Higher unemployment levels and a shaky economic background served to weigh down demand in both the investment and jewelry sectors, "the report said.

Singapore's economy fell into a recession last year, with gross domestic product contracting by 2.2 per cent from 9.9 per cent growth in 2000.

In the Greater China region covering mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, gold demand shrank 9.0 per cent to 298.3 tonnes in 2001.

A 35 per cent drop in Taiwan and a 10 per cent decline in Hong Kong pulled down the Greater China region's total, despite a 3.0 per cent rise in demand in China itself.

World demand fell by 2.0 per cent, the report said.

Copyright © Thời báo kinh tế Việt Nam - Vietnam Economic Times 1998-2002. All rights reserved.
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Foreigners Pump Capital into HCM City
(VNS- 28/12/2001)- Domestic investment (DI) in HCM City has registered robust growth this year, with 83 FDI projects valued at overVND2 trillion (US$133 million) being established in the city's industrial parks.

"Most of the large-scaled DI projects are involved in the industrial equipment, consumer goods, plastic packaging, and textile and garment industries," said a HCM City Industrial Park Management Board (HIPMB) official.

The biggest DI project licensed this year is the Saigon Joint Stock Milk Company, which has an investment capital of VND153 billion and has started operating in the Tan Thoi Hiep IP.

Next is the Hue Linh Plastics Company in the Vinh Loc I Pand the Workshops and Offices Trading Company in the Tan Tao IP, both of which are valued at VND 150 billion.

There are several other DI projects worth between VND50billion and VND 100 billion.

The Cotec Company in the Tan Hiep Phurdc IP is capitalized at VND 100 billion while the Ky Vy Company, which specializes in the production of children's pulp and cloth napkins, in the Tan Binh IP, is worth VND76 billion.

Besides the DI projects invested at IPs; domestic economic conglomerates have also been attracted to the city. One such conglomerate is the Binh Chanh Plastics Company, a US$20 million corporation made up of 15 domestically invested plastics companies.

The value of expansions to existing projects brings the total value of DI at the city's IPs this year to VND2.07 trillion, a 20-per cent increase over last year's figure.

"The introduction of the Enterprise Law, which was designed to streamline bureaucratic procedures and make the Vietnamese economy more open, has resulted in increases in the number of enterprises and capital volume of projects," said the HIPMB official.

When the law was introduced last year, 5,499 new enterprises worth a combined VND5.8 trillion were established in the country's economic hub, double the figure achieved in 1999.

This year has continued in the same vein, with 5,700 new businesses receiving licenses in the last 11 months, a 30 per cent increase in the number of projects and 31 per cent in capital.

The city government's policies to develop a multi-sectored economy have helped increase the number of private enterprises.

Simplified investment procedures and increased support for domestic investors in terms of land rental fees, tax reductions and exemptions, and the granting of credit, have also contributed significantly to DI growth.

One of the most effective measures has been the on line granting of business licenses, which has reduced the licensing time from 15

days to 10 days or less. Local authorities have also created a stable and healthy investment environment with a clear legal framework, and enabled domestic investors to get access to the latest business information from local and foreign markets.

The city government expressed its readiness to help enterprises remove obstacles by organizing periodical meetings with local authorities and representatives from city branches, industries and individual enterprises.

Copyright © Thời báo kinh tế Việt Nam - Vietnam Economic Times 1998-2002. All rights reserved.
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Investment Funds Seen as Urgent Necessity in Vietnam
(SGT- 28/3/2002)- Vietnam should establish investment funds and improve the legal framework governing securities trading to lure capital from all local and foreign economic sectors, experts told a seminar in HCMC yesterday.

"Investment funds play a very important role as they observe every steps of an enterprise from the early days to the development period and listing on the bourse," said Louis Dosrosier, American project manager of the Quebec Investment Fund. "In addition, they can act as intermediaries by guaranteeing bank loans for small and medium enterprises, which find it hard to access loans."

The three-day seminar is being organized by the University of Economics in HCMC and Quebec Montreal University of Canada. Head of the Securities Issuance Department of the State Securities Commission Vu Thi Kim Lien said the local bourse was still in its infancy and had few commodities for trading, and thus was not attractive to investors, especially investment funds. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the legal framework and provide more food for the hungry stock market to usher in the establishment of investment funds soon.

"Investment funds not only help individuals invest in the stock market. Their most important functions are mobilizing medium and long-term capital and investing in small and newly-founded enterprises and risky sectors," said Andree De Serres of Quebec Montreal University.

Vietnam should issue regulations governing this investment form, Serres said. "In developed countries, direct involvement by individual investors in the stock market, only accounts for 15% of the total; the balance is made through investment funds," she said. In the remaining two days of the seminar, participants will hear HCMC Securities Trading Center Tran Dac Sinh speaks on the current situation of the local bourse, and George Omlimna, investment director of the International Finance Corporation, member of the World Bank group, on the investment criteria of big investment funds.

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International Donors Pump Capital Into Viet Nam's Development Plans
(VNS- 10/12/2001)- International donors have pledged US$2.4 billion worth of official development assistance to Viet Nam for next year, roughly in line with the amount proffered during 200).

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai on Saturday vowed that the Government and people of Viet Nam would do their utmost to use these funds wisely arid productively.

He said the donor aid would make a practical contribution to national construction and development. Train Xuan Gia, the minister of Planning and Investment, announced the pledge at the close of the Consultative Group Meeting in Hanoi on Saturday.

Seventy-five per, cent of the total amount comes from Japan, the World Bank -and the Asian Development Bank - reflecting these donors' strong support for Viet Nam's renewal process, Gia said.

The pledge is even more significant when seen against the backdrop of the global economic slowdown, he said. Japan, Viet Nam's largest ODA provider, is cutting its assistance to developing countries across the world by 10 per cent next year.

But it hiked -its assistance to Viet Nam by 8 per cent. Viet Nam is now the second largest recipient of, Japanese ODA, up from fourth two years ago.

Gia told the media briefing that the Government and international donors had reached consensus on a plan for action and assessment. The ODA funds will go towards infrastructure development, institutional reform, human development and renovation of the agriculture and rural sector.

Major projects on the cards include upgrading HCM City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport, constructing the O Mon Electricity Plant in the country's south and Bai Chay Bridge in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh. Reform of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will also get a look-in, as will efforts to remove obstacles to the private business sector

PM Khai thanks donors, the prime minister said Viet Nam's economic achievements this year had been bolstered by assistance from the international community.

He looked forward to an increase in that assistance, in both financial and practical terms.

Donor representatives lauded the Government's "excellent" co-operation with the donor community, describing it as a model for other developing nations.

But they suggested the Government accelerate the reform of SOEs, continue to improve the investment climate, and sharpen economic competitiveness.

They said efforts should be made to accelerate administrative reform and build upon the success of the poverty alleviation programme.

This would help establish rapid and sustainable growth in Viet Nam.

Donors express support, urge further reform. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Manh Cam said the deteriorating global economy and increasingly complex, challenges meant Viet Nam had to move decisively on its reform programme - in order to achieve goals set down by the Government.

"We look forward to input from the international community in forming concrete measures on the road ahead, translating our resolve into reality, and turning targets and plans into results," he told the meeting.

Andrew Steer, World -Bank country director and co-chairman of the Consultative Group, said Viet Nam had a sterling opportunity to establish a favorable position in the global economy.

He described the country's renewal process as a great success. Steer vowed that donors stand ready to help Viet Nam carry out its renovation, particularly in economic development over the next decade.

He stressed that more ODA funds would be forthcoming once Viet Nam achieved its development objectives.

"In light of the global slowdown, Viet Nam has a window of opportunity to increase competitiveness and position itself for the decade ahead," he said.

"In addition to gaining a reputation for stability, one of Viet Nam's key advantages is the energy, enthusiasm and industriousness of its people. "Liberating that energy will be crucial to Viet Nam's path to prosperity," he said.

Eduoard Wattez, United Nations resident coordinator, said Viet Nam's' progress must be viewed through the lens of poverty and equity.

"We must continue to act to ensure that the people, particularly the poor, can participate and benefit as the country grows," he said.

Belgian Ambassador Philippe Dartois, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed that governance was a key part of the overall economic reform process.

Antoine Pouillieute, the French ambassador to Viet Nam, said work to reduce poverty must top the agenda.

"At the same time, we must not forget the challenges of the future, and we need to work together to help Viet Nam become a knowledge economy.

"This will require investment in higher education, technology development and opening up of the information and communication technology sector," he said.

Copyright © Thời báo kinh tế Việt Nam - Vietnam Economic Times 1998-2002. All rights reserved.
http://www.vneconomy.com.vn - Email: vet@hn.vnn.vn

VN to Get Over US$1 Billion in Foreign Aid in 2002
(SGT- 7/3/2002)- Vietnam will get some US$1.1 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank in 2002, according to a report of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV). The IMF this year will fund the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program, under which the country expects to getUS$100 million in loans.

The WB plans to provide US$600 million for development projects in this fiscal year. The money will go to such projects as the Regional Blood Center (US$33.8million), a primary education program for disadvantaged children (US$90 million), energy system and efficiency (US$150 million), national water management (US$130 million), healthcare for the poor (US$30 million) and rural financing program II (US$200 million).

The Asian Development Bank will provide some US$400million in loans for the Phuoc Hoa irrigation project (US$130 million), agriculture development (US$100million), finance banking development (US$ 100 million), and high school education development (US$72 million), as well as a US$15-million standby loan for tourism infrastructure development.

The bank also plans to provide some US$6.8 million in technical assistance to nine other projects. The State Bank of Vietnam will manage theUS$350,000 support fund from DANIDA for auditing the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank), the same amount from the USAID for auditing andUS$468,000 from ASEM for restructuring the Vietnam Industrial and Commercial Bank. SBV also expects to receive funds from the WB to restructure the Vietnam Bank for Investment and Development and Vietcombank.

Copyright © Thời báo kinh tế Việt Nam - Vietnam Economic Times 1998-2002. All rights reserved.
http://www.vneconomy.com.vn - Email: vet@hn.vnn.vn

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