Vietnam News Briefs ľ November 11, 2002


Vietnam-France speed up cooperation
France will support Vietnam in its WTO bid and act as a truthful bridge for cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin told President Tran Duc Luong during his four-day visit to France last week.
During the visit, Luong was given a red carpet welcome by top French leaders, including President Jacques Chirac, Parliament Speaker Jean Louis Debré and other high rank officials. Luong said Vietnam placed high priority to relations with the EU, a crucial partner in its efforts for development and global economic integration. "Vietnam has chosen the EU as the first partner to discuss its efforts to join the WTO and hoped that EU countries, especially France, would support its bid," Luong said. He also reiterated Vietnam's determination to pursue an open and diverse foreign policy and to be a trustworthy friend and partner of all countries. French leaders said they considered Vietnam as a gateway for France to enhance its relations with other Southeast Asian countries and pledged to help Vietnam boost relations with the EU.
Several agreements were signed that involved support for media training for Vietnam and its global economic integration, credits for water supply and sanitation in five Vietnamese cities and towns, establishment of a French university in HCM City, cooperation in social sciences, restoration of the Long Bien Bridge and construction of an industrial maintenance center in Hanoi University of Technology. In particular, Vietnam Airlines signed a deal to buy five Airbus A321s valued at US$245.7 million. The aircraft will be delivered over 2003-2005. At present, Vietnam Airlines is operating 12 leased Airbus aircraft, including 10 A320s and two A321s.

Export in the first 10 months of 2002
Month Export value Year-on-year
(US$ mil.) growth (%)
January 1,079 -1.08
January-February 1,942 -16
January-March 3,185 -12.2
January-April 4,485 -9
January-May 5,829 -8
January-June 7,249 -5.9
January-July 8,649 -3.2
January-August 10,149 -0.5
January-September 11,900 -2.8
January-October 13,400 +5.95
(Ministry of Trade)

Fresh quotas for motorbike makers
The Government has allowed foreign-invested motorbike companies to import an additional 185,000 component kits for motorbike assembly this year to help them maintain normal operations.
According to a decision issued last week, Honda Vietnam is allocated 110,000 units, Suzuki Vietnam 5,000 units, Yamaha Vietnam 17,000 units, VMEP 48,000 units and Lifan 5,000 units.
In September this year, the Ministry of Trade announced it reduced the motorbike import quota for this year to 1.5 million from 2.5 million in a move to minimize traffic accidents caused by motorbikes. The new quota includes 900,000 for local assemblers and 600,000 for foreign-invested companies. Foreign-invested motorbike assemblers said the quota was far below their demand and warned of shop closure due to lack of components. Honda Vietnam and later Yamaha Vietnam halted operations.
At a regular meeting last week, the cabinet rejected the Ministry of Communications and Transport's proposal to suspend new motorbike registration from November 20, 2002. Instead, it asked the National Committee for Traffic Safety to cooperate with relevant authorities to devise a road map to gradually minimize motorbike use this year, including a specific date to suspend new motorbike registration and defining inner-city areas and streets off limit to motorbikes. The Government is expected to issue a resolution on measures to reduce traffic accidents and congestion caused by motorbikes this month.
Vietnam is now the world's third largest motorbike market after China and India.

Vietnam and Cuba signed several agreements during Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's visit to Cuba last week. The agreements covered rice supply and avoidance of double taxation. Vietnam will supply Cuba with 150,000 tons of rice in 2003 under preferential payment terms. Khai also attended the 8th ASEAN Summit and the Greater Mekong Sub-region meeting in Phnom Penh (Nov. 3-5). The Summit issued a joint declaration on fighting terrorism and approved agreements on regional tourism development and ASEAN-China free trade area.

The National Assembly will begin its second sitting this year on November 12. Discussion will focus on the socio-economic performance in 2002, directions for 2003, budget issues, law enforcement, the Son La Hydro-power and Ca Mau Gas-Power-Fertilizer projects. The NA is expected to approve the amended Law on Issuing Legal Documents, the amended Law on the State Budget, the legal agenda for 2003. It will give opinions on the laws on Accounting, Statistics, National Border and Denunciation and Complaint.

Southern Steel Company has signed a credit agreement for the Phu My Steel Plant (Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province) with three State-owned commercial banks. Bank for Development and Investment of Vietnam, Industrial and Commercial Bank of Vietnam and Vietnam Bank for Agriculture will lend VND507 billion (US$33 mil.) for the first phase and VND400 billion for the second phase. The US$135-million project will include a pier with an annual throughput of one million tons, a steel bar and a rolled steel workshop. Work will start late this year and be completed in 2004.

Vietnam Airlines and Korean Air have signed a joint service agreement to increase the number of flights on the Hanoi-Seoul and HCM City-Seoul routes and expand cooperation in passenger and cargo transport. Under the Winter Schedule 2002, effective as from October 27, the two airlines will up the number of weekly flights on the Hanoi-Seoul to 7 from 5 and HCM City-Seoul to 8 from 6. They will also increase the number of cargo flights on the HCM City-Seoul to 3 from 2.

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