Reuters, June 14, 2002

LONDON (Reuters) - Fitch Ratings, the international credit ratings agency, has assigned a BB- rating with a positive outlook to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, citing solid economic restructuring efforts.

A BB- rating puts the country in the same ratings range as Bulgaria, an east European country that is restructuring its economy in order to join the European Union. Bulgaria is not one of the 10 highly-rated front runners.

"Fitch recognises significant momentum in Vietnam's economic reform programme as it proceeds... from a centrally planned to a more market oriented economy," said the agency. "Modest external debt levels will help the authorities manage a challenging economic restructuring process," it said.

It said that Vietnam's trade liberalisation was proceeding at a rapid pace, and a bilateral trade agreement with the United States was helping exports and foreign investment.

"Vietnam's vulnerability to external shocks also looks relatively low," it said.

A BB- rating puts the country in speculative grade territory, which means that it will be able to access fewer investors for future borrowing than if it were to have investment grade ratings of BBB- or above.

An official at Vietnam's Ministry of Finance said Fitch's ratings have solidified the country's financial image among the international business community as the ratings were better than what Standard & Poor's gave late last month.

"I think the new ratings from Fitch show greater confidence in Vietnam as they put our outlook as positive while S&P just rated it as stable," the official told Reuters in Hanoi.

He added that the ministry would soon issue a formal response to Fitch's ratings, probably on Thursday.

The country is rated BB- by Standard and Poor's and B1 by Moody's Investors Service.

The country said it was planning to launch its debut international bond in the second half of 2002 worth several hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hanoi invited international rating agencies to deliver assessments to support the international bond issue later this year, a source of fundings for an ambitious $70 billion World Bank-supported development plan in the next three years.

It said it envisaged $5 billion of this coming from foreign sources, which also include official development assistance and direct investment.

Copyright ę 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones, June 14, 2002

== Fitch/Vietnam -1: Low Debt, Reform Bode Well For Vietnam ==

HANOI (Dow Jones)--Low external debts, a dynamic small business sector, good recent reform record, strong growth prospects and macroeconomics stability all contributed to Fitch's assignment Wednesday of a positive outlook for Vietnam, according to the ratings agency's draft credit analysis, obtained by Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

However, weakness in the country's banking and state-owned sectors, undeveloped capital markets, low income levels and a lack of political and institutional transparency capped Fitch's country ceiling at BB-.

As reported, Fitch Wednesday assigned Vietnam a BB- long-term foreign currency rating and a short-term foreign currency B rating. It announced a long-term local currency rating of BB and gave Vietnam a positive outlook.

The credit analysis report, due for release soon, put Vietnam on par with Brazil, Bulgaria, Russia and Peru, all of which have also been assigned BB- ratings by Fitch.

== Fitch/Vietnam -2: '01 Net External Debt 18.5% ==

The report, prepared by a team led by Brian Coulton, Fitch's senior director for Asia Pacific ratings, said Vietnam's net external debt is low compared to other BB- rated countries - just 18.5% of current external receipts in 2001 against a BB- average of over 60%.

The report cautioned, though, that the figure is low because of substantial debt relief over the past decade and the predominance of government borrowing at concessional rates rather than private corporate borrowing at market rates.

"Vietnam's healthy external solvency ratio derives largely from the absence of external borrowing by the non-state sector," the report said.

It warned that a necessary increase in private sector borrowing as the sector rises in importance could add to Vietnam's overall external debt burden.

The growth of Vietnam's private sector is nonetheless viewed as positive by Fitch, as it will help create jobs for those laid off during the process of state sector reform and will boost economic growth.

Although planned reforms will be tough to carry out, "Vietnam's rulers have shown considerable enthusiasm for economic liberalization," Fitch said.

That's in stark contrast to several years ago when market-liberalizing reforms were promised but not carried through.

As the new reforms - designed to boost export-led growth, encourage investment, and clean up debt-ridden banks and state-owned firms - are being pushed through, Vietnam's economy will continue to see strong and steady growth, Fitch said.

It said growth of 5.5% is likely this year, and an increase to 6.2% is expected in 2003 "as regional and global recoveries gain momentum."

Fitch noted that many of calculations used in the draft credit analysis are based on Hanoi's 6.8% gross domestic product growth figure for 2001, in order to maintain consistency with other government-provided figures. However, the ratings firm believes donor estimates of between 5% and 6% probably more accurately represent Vietnam's growth last year.

== Fitch/Vietnam -3: Banks, SOEs Major Challenge ==

On the downside, Fitch said weakness in Vietnam's banking and state-owned sectors could hinder the country's future growth if not dealt with promptly.

"The authorities have well-designed policies in place to deal with these problems ... but progress to date ... has been slow," it said in the report.

Adding to the possibility of delays in banking and state sector reform, "the fiscal cost of restructuring the state-owned banking sector will be substantial and tough measures will be required to impose hard budget constraints on state enterprises," Fitch said. "These challenges will require major policy resolve."

The report said Fitch estimates Hanoi will need 60 trillion dong ($1=VND15,250) - or 12% of 2001 GDP - to recapitalize its four main state-owned commercial banks, which at end-2000 carried nonperforming loans of as much as 60% of outstanding loans.

Official recapitalization estimates for the four banks stand at a much lower VND40 trillion.

As reported, Fitch recently offered two of Vietnam's state-owned commercial banks - Bank for Investment & Development of Vietnam and Industrial & Commercial Bank of Vietnam - an E rating, the lowest it doles out. It gave the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, or Vietcombank, a slightly higher D/E rating. It has yet to rate the Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development.

For Vietnam's state sector, Fitch quoted International Monetary Fund calculations that around half of the country's state enterprises are loss making or only marginally profitable "despite import protection and access to cheap funding."

Fitch put the sector's total debt at around VND190 trillion, or 45% of 2000 GDP.

To reform the enterprises, Hanoi will need to muster not only cash - much of which will be provided on concessional terms by donors - but also the political will to deal with powerful vested interests, observers say.

"SOE reform is a massive challenge but not an unmanageable one," Fitch said.

== Fitch/Vietnam -4: Balance Of Payments Healthy ==

Another area of concern, Fitch said, is "a steadily declining trend" in non-oil tax revenues.

"This is despite the introduction of VAT in 1999" and partly reflects "declining taxes on trade" - due to tariff cuts in line with international trade agreements - and tax incentives for foreign investors.

However, "weakness in customs administration and poor import duty collection have also been important," Fitch said.

In the medium term, Vietnam's exports will maintain steady growth - despite drops in the first half of this year on weak global demand - and that will help the government maintain a healthy balance of payments, Fitch said.

Indeed, strong exports were one of the main factors that pushed Vietnam's current account from 9.8% of GDP deficit in 1996 to a 4.5% surplus in 1999, Fitch said.

That surplus dropped to 2.1% last year, the ratings firm noted.

Analysts say that's because export growth and investment slowed while imports and government spending increased.

Fitch noted it expects a slim deficit for 2002 of around 0.3% and a slightly wider 1.5% current account gap in 2003.

"A country at Vietnam's stage of development would be expected to witness sustained current account deficits as domestic investment needs outstrip savings. However, provided that export growth remains in the double-digit range - which is a reasonable assumption - and that inward remittances continue at around $1 billion (each year), the current account deficit should stay within a manageable range of 2% to 3% of GDP over the medium term," Fitch said.

Vietnam's overseas community each year sends large amounts of money to relatives inside the country. That cash has combined with export earnings to push up Vietnam's hard currency reserves, which now stand at just below $4 billion, or around nine to 10 weeks of import cover.

Fitch's report said Vietnam's 2001 2.1% current account surplus compares favorably with a BB- rated country average of a 3-4% deficit.

-By Catherine McKinley, Dow Jones Newswires; 844-8250732; catherine.mckinley@dowjones.com

Copyright ę 2002 Dow Jones & Company Inc. All rights reserved.

Saigon Times, June 14, 2002

Ho Chi Minh City's Industrial Parks (IPs) lured 38 locally owned projects with combined registered capital of VND1,520 billion in January-May, up 93.15% year-on-year, according to Hepza, which administers the city's industrial parks and export processing zones.

More are housed in Vinh Loc than in any other IP, and 29 are non-state projects capitalized at VND587 billion. The biggest are a VND120-billion project by Cuu Long Construction Co. in Tan Tao and a VND96-billion project by Ky Phat Production and Trading Ltd. in Vinh Loc. The other nine are state-owned projects capitalized at VND936 billion.

The largest state-owned projects are a VND300-billion venture by Dong A Textile and Garment Co. in Tan Tao and the VND222-billion Hiep Phuoc Cement Works owned by Construction Corporation 1.

Most of the 38 projects were owned by newly established industrial companies, a Hepza official said.

He said, in the period, 32 foreign-invested projects were licensed into the city's industrial zones with capital equal to one-third of that of the local projects.

The city's IPs house 314 Vietnam-owned projects with combined registered capital ofVND6,332 billion, including 86 in Tan Tao, 84 in Le Minh Xuan and 69 in Tan Binh.

VNS, June 14, 2002

The price of land has shot up in areas planned for urban development projects and around industrial zones in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long.

The hotbed of land price increases includes My Hoa commune in Binh Minh district, the area around the Hoa Phu Industrial Zone in Long Ho district and along National Highway 57.

In My Hoa commune, land prices soared after local authorities announced plans for the Can Tho Bridge and Binh Minh Port, and plans to turn My Hoa commune into an eco-tourist destination.

Along the newly built roads in My Hoa, the land price has risen from 1.5-3 taels of gold to 20-40 taels per 1,000sq.m. Move of the My Thuan IZ into Hoa Phu commune and the building of National Highway 57 connecting Ben Tre province, has increased the land price in these areas by VND50-60 million per 1,000sq.m.

Saigon Times, June 14, 2002

The U.S.-based multinational Pharmacia has expressed a strong determination to intensify its presence in Vietnam's pharmaceutical market.

"Vietnam is among those countries which post the strongest growth in the Asia-Pacific region. We expect annual sales growth of some 20% and have a strategy to realize this," said Supachai Subudomkul, Pharmacia's president for Indochina.

Pharmacia targets 2005 earnings of US$4.8 million in Vietnam, twice the 2001 figure. To realize this, the company will bring out new pharmaceuticals, including Celebrex for arthritis, Nicorette, to help smokers quit the habit, and drugs for cancer treatment.

"We want to carry out long-term business in Vietnam," Supachai Subudomkul said. He added Vietnam's high economic growth coupled with more liberal policies to open up the local market and allow private hospitals made Pharmacia believe that this country would become a big market.

However, he complained about unclear points of the policy on the import of pharmaceuticals and this made it difficult for foreign companies to work out their strategies.

"We do not know the criteria used to classify harmful drugs," he said.

Afred J. Wasilewski, senior public relations director of Pharmacia for the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, said his company was now one of the world's leading pharmaceutical makers and had 59,000 employees worldwide.

VNS, June 14, 2002

Central Quang Nam Province has lately proven to be an attractive destination for foreign investors, as evidenced by the stream of Taiwanese business organisations into the area.

The Taiwan Trading Association to Viet Nam dubbed the province a solid place for investment, at a meeting last week with provincial authorities aimed at drawing foreign dollars into the area.

The province is currently home to the Chu Lai' Open Economic Zone and Dien Nam-Dien Ngoc Industrial Zone.

The province is also endowed with a deep-sea port and will soon offer more transpiration options once the Chu Lai Airport is completed.

In addition, a plethora of provincial incentive policies might provide the necessary motivation to draw investors.

The national civil aviation sector has been recently charged to conduct a feasibility study of a project to speed up the construction timetable for the Chu Lai Airport.

Under the project, commercial flights from the Chu Lai Economic Zone to Tan Son Nhat or Noi Bai airports would be put into operation in the second quarter next year.

The construction of the Chu Lai economic zone has progressed minimally with only the recent launch of infrastructure works including a port, post office, telecommunication network and water supply and drainage system; however, 50 investors have so far registered to lease land in the zone, of which 11 have been approved.

According to Nguyen Xuan Phuc, chairman of the provincial People's Committee, the zone's investors will be exempted from land lease charges for 10 years.

Preferential treatment will also be extended to foreign investors according to stipulations in the Foreign Investment Law.

Besides offering flexible customs procedures, enterprises who send exports via Ky Ha Port will enjoy a 10 per cent tax reduction.

Enterprises that invest into the Chu Lai Economic Zone and take part in the zone's ex-im activities will receive a 30 per cent tax reduction.

The province has so far developed six industrial zones with a total acreage of 898ha.

Among 40 approved projects, more than a half have been put into operation to date, generating jobs for 5,000 locals.

Besides state incentives, provincial authorities, have also pledged additional benefits to investors, including favourable access to raw materials, support from the Credit Fund, tax exemption over the first six years and 50 per cent tax reductions for the following nine years.

The province has so far attracted nearly 100 domestic and overseas investors to evaluate business opportunities.

About Quang Nam Province:

-Latitude 14054' to 15057' North.
- Longitude 107042' to 108044' East.
- 860 km to the South of Hanoi Capital.
- 865 km to the North of Ho Chi Minh City.

- Influence by monsoon
- Annual average temperature: 25C
- Winter: Temperature is from 20C to 24C
- Summer: Temperature is from 25C to 30C
- Average humidity: 84%
- Annual average rainfall: 3,738mm
- Average sunny hours: 1,944 hours/year

Quang Nam province consists of two towns: Tam Ky and Hoi An and 6 plain districts: Dien Ban, Duy Xuyen, Thang Binh, Nui Thanh, Dai Loc, Que Son and 6 mountainous districts: Tra My, Tien Phuoc, Hiep Duc, Hien, Giang, Phuoc Son with the population of 1,366,177.
The land area is 10,708.6 km2.
Population desity is 127.6 people/km2.

Quang Nam Province is located in the middle of the country, 860 km south of Ha Noi Capital and 865 km North of Ho Chi Minh City. Its natural area is nearly 11,000 Sq. km with a population of nearly 1.4 million. To the south of the province is Dung Quoc Industrial Zone, the first petrol-chemical and oil refining zone in Vietnam. It borders Danang City, the urban center of the Central Region, in the North, and Laos in the West (where the frontier pass is going to. be opened) and adjoins the Sea in the east.

The province has advantages of modern transportation and communications systems. The existing seaport and airport are well located to be able to serve all of the needs for future development. The national road and railroad system run through the center of the province and provide easy access to the industrial zones... Quang Nam is rich in natural resources including minerals and water to be used in industrial development. The industrial sectors that can be developed in Quang Nam are: Petrol-chemical, petrol - chemical downstream industries, chemicals, mechanical engineering for: ship building and repair, farming' oil and gas service, cement production, construction glass and granite production along with other construction materials, processing of agricultural - forestry - sea - products, (silk, sugar cane, tapioca, feed, meat and fish, sea products for export, wooden furniture, essential oil of cinnamon ...) garment and textile, leather products and assembly... In respects to agriculture, forestry and fishery, it is possible to develop aqua-culture, domestic animals, swallow's nest, cinnamon, pharmaceutical materials, pepper and reforestation with the area of thousands of hectares. The Province has 120 km of coastline with many beautiful beaches and small offshore islands. We have 6 beautiful lakes with 5,000 hectares of water and 9,000 hectares of forested hills. Within the lakes there are 40 islets and peninsulas. The tropical forests are full of rare and valuable flora and fauna. The ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son Cham Holy Lands are two old cultural sites which are in the process of applying to the UNESCO fo r recognition as World Cultural Heritage. There are advantages for development of a diverse tourist industry. The people have very strong heritage in their quest for knowledge, which is the prominent characteristic of this area where many great scholars were born throughout generations. The local people are rich in courage, faithfulness and hospitality.

VNS, June 12, 2002

(VNS-WASHINGTON)- US Commerce Department officials expressed support for Viet Nam's bid to enter the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and committed to provide technical assistance to Viet Nam in carrying out the Viet Nam-US bilateral trade agreement (BTA), said Deputy Trade Minister Luong Van Tu.

Tu, who just returned from a visit to the United States between May 19 - 31, led the first official delegation of the Vietnamese Trade Ministry to explore the US market since the BTA came into effect last December.

He said that the US side promised to consider its support for the development of bilateral trade ties and created favourable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to do business in the US without discrimination.

The promise was made during Tti's meetings with US trade officials, who also agreed to grant a non-quota period to Vietnamese garments. In this regard, Viet Nam explained that with growing garment and textile exports, it would likely increase imports of cotton, chemicals and other materials from the US to help its production of garment and textiles.

The two sides also discussed measures to settle the "catfish"-related issues and entry visas for Vietnamese business people in the us.

Viet Nam continues to protest the US Farm Act that bans the export of "catfish" into the US under the product name "catfish", saying that the ban runs counter to the spirit of the BTA.

Tai said the delegation signed a number of business contracts with US businessmen and held seminars in six large cities with the participation of hundreds of US business people.

As a result, Vietnamese businesses hive won a number of export contracts worth more than US$ 10 million in total, including one to export 4,000 tonnes of canned pine-apple. Textile and clothing businesses have won export contracts valued at $4 million in total.

VNS, June 12, 2002

The coastal province of BA Ria-Vung Tau is offering HCM City and Dong Nai Province tough competition as the industrial capital of the southern region, after it lured six projects worth US$142.7 million in the first five months of the year.

The four domestic-invested projects are worth a total of $139.7 million, and the two foreign-invested projects add up to $2.9 million.

Provincial authorities have a number of ambitious plans to ensure BA Ria-Vung Tau continues to share in the flow of investment capital from within Viet Nam and abroad. Viet Nam National Shipping Lines will soon submit its feasibility study for the proposed $248.5 million Vung Tau Container Port to the Government for approval.

The port will be built in two phases over the next six years, and will occupy 95ha in the city's Cu Lao and Ben Dinh areas when it is complete.

Last month, the Government gave its approval to the construction of the ($135 million) Phu My Steel Factory at the Phu My 1 Industrial Park.

It will take two years to build the mill, and investors include the Southern Steel Company, the State credit fund and long-term domestic and foreign loans.

Meanwhile, work on another steel mill, has already begun at the Phu My IP. The mill will have the capacity to roll out 205,000 tonnes of steel each year when it opens in 2004.

The Vietnam Steel Corporation and local commercial banks have invested $125.3 million to build the factory.

The Government has also given the green light to a $56.6 million project that will develop infrastructure at the province's Cai Mep IP.

The 670ha industrial park-will be fitted out with a large, deep-water river port capable of accommodating 80,000 tonne ships when the project wraps up in late 2007. The Ministry of Transport and relevant bodies are drawing up plans to link the provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Bien Hoa, Dong Nai and HCM City with the National Railway and the Trans-Asia Railway.

This rail network will be capable of carrying 9.5 million passengers and 3.1 million tonnes of cargo each year. There are now six industrial parks in the province, covering a total of 2,443ha. The parks have secured 59 projects worth more than $3 billion; of these, the 36 domestic-invested projects are worth $1.6 billion, and the 23 foreign-invested projects are worth $1.3 billion.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau's premier industrial parks are Phu My IP I and 2, which will occupy 1,626ha when they are fully completed. So far, the IPs have leased 349ha, and licensed 22 projects worth $2.5 billion.

The two Phu My IPs will boast deep-water sea ports, gas and electricity stations, roads and rail links, and will challenge the dominance of HCM City and Dong Nai Province when it comes to securing foreign investment.

VNS/VET/SGT, June 12, 2002

Tay Ninh exports over 4,000 tonnes of cassava

(VET)- The southern province of Tay Ninh has exported 4,307 tonnes of cassava in the five first months of the year, doubling revenues to VND 12.5 billion over the same period last year. Pioca, a Thai enterprise and Tan Chau Factory have sold 2,807 tonnes and the April 30 Import - Export Company has exported 1,500 tonnes. Besides, 43,897 tonnes of cassava have been sold locally for more than VND 100 billion.

Concrete and construction company to invest in new plant

(VET)- The Thai Nguyen Concrete and Construction Company plans to invest VND 14 billion on a new plant and equipment. The company hopes to produce 50,000 concrete pillars and reach a total turnover of VND130 billion and profit of VND5 billion this year.

Private sector increases national export contribution

(VET)- According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the private sector has contributed 31 per cent of national exports in the first quarter this year. Industrial production by this sector which increased from 10 per cent of GDP in 1999 to 18.3 per cent in 2000, has topped 23 per cent in the first quarter this year, MPI statistics show.

Private enterprises have so far this year invested a total of VND19,000 billion in business and production, mainly in industry and export trade.

Securities broker cuts fees

(VET)- The securities company of the Vietnam Industrial and Commercial Bank has reduced its brokering rates to 0.45% for transactions up to VND200 million in a month, 0.4% up to VND500 million, 0.35% up to VND1 billion and 0.3% above VND1 billion.

Tenders for Ca Mau power project approved

(VET)- The Government has approved all 11 bidding packages estimated to be worth US$281.7 million for building a power generation complex in Ca Mau Province. Work on nine of the packages is scheduled to start this month and the other two in second-quarter 2003.

Engine maker earns half revenue from export

(VET)- Shipments of 1,172 engines and rice husking machines to the Middle East and Southeast Asia earned Vinappro US$1.5 million, or half the company's revenue in January-May. The manufacturer has 62 agents in Vietnam and sells to farmers by installment.

India to supply 300,000 tons of wheat

(VET)- Vietnam plans to import more than 300,000 tons of wheat from India this year, making the country the largest importer of Indian wheat in the world.

Govt, business discuss exports, growth

(SGT)- Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and ministers are meeting with the leaders of State-owned corporations to discuss measures to boost socio-economic development and export between now and the end of this year.

"The two-day meeting will focus on the removal of hurdles to socio-economic growth and ways to achieve higher outbound sales toward the year-end," a senior official of the Trade Ministry told the Daily.

The meeting starting today will include reports from the ministries of Trade, and Planning and Investment, according to the official.

Australian ambassador to head RMIT Vietnam

(SGT)- Michael Mann, the outgoing Australian ambassador to Vietnam will take up the position of president of RMIT International University Vietnam (RMIT Vietnam) late next month.

"Mann will manage education, training, research, project management and community engagement in Vietnam as well as build relationships with educational organizations in the region and globally," said Professor Ruth Dunkin, RMIT University's vice chancellor.

"We hope he'll contribute much to RMIT Vietnam's operations with his business and diplomatic skills as well as his understanding of Vietnam," he said. Mann has been a diplomat in Osaka, PhnomPenh, Rome, Beijing, Bali, Bangkok and Paris, and was ambassador to Laos from 1990 to 1994.

From 1994 he was chief executive of ABC Television in Australia and then became managing director of Channel Seven until he rejoined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1998.

RMIT Vietnam, the first foreign-owned university in Vietnam was established in 2000 by the Royal Melbourne Institute of technology. Some 600 students are pursuing English, undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the university.

The institute is also investing US$33.6 million to build a school in Saigon South.

Job centers financed to improve training

(SGT)- The National Job Support Fund yesterday agreed to provide five replacement agencies in HCMC with VND2 billion in loans to help raise the quality of their training courses.

Few of the city's job agencies are able to find enough qualified recruits as they pay too little attention to vocational training. In fact several agencies have no courses, said Tran Thanh Liem, head of the fund's Small Project Division.

The agencies are expected to use the money to purchase equipment, upgrade infrastructure and establish websites for this purpose, Liem said.

The five beneficiaries are the Thanh Nien, City, Student and Votec agencies and the Vocational Tranning Patronage and Job Creation Center for Handicapped People.

"We will encourage other recruiters to map out projects seeking loans from the fund," he said.

The fund has lent VND20.5 billion to 180 projects in the city this year, creating some 5,500 jobs.

Danang Rubber gets first tire order from Malaysia

(SGT)- Danang Rubber Co. has contracted to supply 5,000 automobile tires worth more than VND11 billion to Malaysia next month.

This will be the first-ever shipment of Vietnam-made tires to Malaysia, in stark contrast to previous years when Malaysia was a major supplier of auto tires to Vietnam.

"The contract demonstrates that our investment in product quality has been sound and that we can compete with other countries," Nguyen Van Tam from marketing said.

"The buyer evaluates Danang Rubber tires to be as good as any made in Malaysia in terms of quality and design, yet the price is significantly lower and the after-sales service is superior," Tam said.

In addition, the buyer intends to sign more contracts with Danang Rubber to buy tires for sale to auto manufacturers in Malaysia, which Danang Rubber plans to augment with sales to Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Taiwan contemplates investment in Hai Duong Province

(VNS)- A delegation from the northern province of Hai Duong which visited Taiwan to seek investment received an encouraging response with firms willing to invest in Viet Nam in general and the province in particular.

According to a member of the delegation, a bunch of Taiwanese businesspeople is set to visit for negotiations for projects in the province.

The authorities have also been examining 12 other proposals originating from Taiwanese companies.

Saigon Times, June 11, 2002

Seaports of the Saigon Port system in Ho Chi Minh City will experimentally simplify administration procedures on arriving ships from July 1, according to a government decision.

The trial simplification aims that administration procedures will be completed within one hour. Foreign vessels, but military and nuclear energy-powered ships, will need permission to use the seaports from only one agency -Saigon Port -rather than from the Vietnamese government, Ministry of Transport and Communication, the Marine Authority of Vietnam and Saigon Port as currently practiced.

The amount of required documents relating to a ship, together with its cargoes and staff, will be reduced by half or two-thirds. Common document forms will be used for easy reference.

Most of procedures will be conducted at the port offices instead of in the ship. Fax and e-mail documents will be viewed as legal dossiers.

In addition, a foreign ship will not need the second admission to dock in Saigon Port if it has completed the procedure at another port in Vietnam. No customs declaration on luggage of the ship's passengers will be required.

Tran Thanh Minh, legislative manager of the marine authority, who is in charge of the procedure simplification project, said the move aimed to help Vietnam better integrate into the rest of the world.

VET, June 11, 2002

The Minister of Fisheries has approved the setting up of the Fund for Developing Markets for Vietnam Seafood Export. The fund, to be administered by the Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), will be partly financed by the State budget while seafood exporters will contribute 0.3 per cent of their annual revenue to help its operations. The fund will assist seafood exporters with researching and developing markets, marketing their trade name and introducing new products.

VET, June 11, 2002

Vietnam's earnings USD 133 million from handicraft exporters in the first five months of this year or a year-on-year increase of 36 percent. In May alone, the export value of such items amounted to more than USD 33 million, a month-on-month rise of 73 percent, according to the General Statistic Office.

Rapid increases were seen in the shipment of porcelain, embroidery and high quality wooden products. The United States, Japan, China, Taiwan, France and Italy are main importers of Vietnam's fine art and handicraft articles. The Trade Ministry will coordinate with enterprises producing and trading fine art and handicraft items to boost trade promotion with the aim to further increase the export of such items.

Asia Pulse, June 11, 2002

HANOI, Jun 11, 2002 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) -- Five commercial banks in Ho Chi Minh City will provide a syndicated loan of VND 550 billion (US$36.6 million) for three key projects to construct clean water supply systems in the city's eastern district.

Contributions to the loan were made by the A Chau Bank, the Ho Chi Minh City branch and Transaction centre No. 2 of the Investment and Development Bank, the Transaction Centre No. 2 of the Industrial and Commercial Bank, and the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the first phase of these water supply projects, the VND 550- billion in initial capital will be invested in building pipelines in districts 4,7,8 and the Binh Thanh and Nha Be districts and a pipeline from Binh Loi bridge to the Binh Thai cross roads.

Tien Giang -- The Mekong delta province of Tien Giang has built 1,000 one-cu.m tanks for poor households in rural areas using VND 194 million in capital provided by the State.

Thai Nguyen -- More than 300 people in Sang Moc mountainous commune in Vo Nhai district, northern Thai Nguyen province, have gained access to safe water supply thanks to a newly-inaugurated water supply project.

The project was built at a cost of VND 400 million.

Quang Ngai -- The State has spent VND 2.25 billion (US$150,000) on a clean water supply project in Nghia Hoa and Nghia Tu communes, in Tu Nghia district, in the central province of Quang Ngai.

Local people also contributed VND 250 million to the project which will include two wells and a 400 cu.m. tank to pump water to houses.

Nam Ha -- The northern province of Nam Ha has built 13 water supply stations in mountainous communes.

Total investment was VND 10.7 billion (US$710,000), to which local people contributed VND 6.5 billion.

The province is striving to have 55 per cent of its rural population accessing safe water by the end of this month.

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