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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/11   2008-11-13 - VNA

Travel businesses join int’l fair in London

More than 30 Vietnamese travel businesses, airlines and hotels joined in the World Travel Market 2008, Europe’s largest tourism fair, that took place in London from Nov. 10-13.

They introduced a wide range of tourism products to the fair, including a special tour to sightsee the world heritages site of Ha Long Bay by helicopter.

The Deputy Director of Travel Department of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Nguyen Quy Phuong, said the fair is an important event to Vietnam , as France , the UK and Germany are the country’s traditional markets.

The number of UK visitors to Vietnam increased steadily over the past 10 years, registering at more than 100,000 last year, Phuong added.

The event, known as WTM-Excel, was attended by 5,500 travel businesses from more than 200 countries.

Logistics market heats up

In September of this year, TNT Express Vietnam launched a huge, five-year investment scheme worth 100 million EUR to help establish a trans-Southeast Asian transport system by putting into operation a transit depot in My Dinh, Hanoi .

The Dutch company has opened 23 branch offices across Vietnam and constructed large-scaled transit depots and warehouse systems in all regions of Vietnam; Hanoi in the north, Danang in the central region and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

TNT Express Vietnam is not alone in taking on the Vietnamese market. Earlier in the year, Mascot International from Denmark commissioned a clothing factory and a bonded warehouse in Hai Duong province, 60 km east of Hanoi .

Experts said that logistics businesses were eyeing the northern Vietnamese market due to its geographical position, located close to several North Asian markets. The fact that labour costs are 30 percent lower than those in Ho Chi Minh City and other southern markets is another factor underlying the huge interest in the north of the country.

Aware of the logistics industry vital role in reducing export costs, a number of creditors have demonstrated their willingness to assist its development. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), for example, has committed an 880 million USD loan to the country for the construction of three major roads to facilitate transportation and logistics services.

As a fledgling industry, the logistics sector meets just 25 percent of domestic demand, though close to 600 businesses are now operating in this field.

Experts recommended heavy investment in the upgrading of infrastructure, particularly in the installation of distribution facilities at economic hubs, as well as in human resources development so as to ensure the availability of a skilled workforce for foreign investors.

Online travel insurance now available in Vietnam

The budget airline Jetstar Pacific has joined forces with AIG Vietnam General Insurance Company (AIG Vietnam) to offer an online travel insurance service, called Jetcover, on its website from November 12.

JetCover is the first online travel insurance service to be offered in Vietnam .

The service is available to Jetstar Pacific passengers travelling on all flights departing from Vietnam .

The product is offered at flexible prices to all Jetstar Pacific passengers, with insurance premiums starting from 2.5 USD for domestic one-way flights to 9 USD for international return trips.

JetCover will offer 12 benefits to its customers, including compensations for a ccident and sickness medical expenses , flight delay, flight cancellation and loss of b aggage and personal effects.

As part of the service, AIG Vietnam will provide a 24-hour emergency assistance service through AIG Travel Assist- AIG’s emergency assistance centre.

Jetstar Pacific CEO Luong Hoai Nam said the launch of JetCover demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing a range of new services and products for its customers.

Dung Quat oil refinery project’s first generator online

The ground-breaking ceremony of Dung Quat Oil Refinery.

The Dung Quat oil refinery project in central Quang Ngai province put its first generator, a 4002A turbine, into operation on Nov. 12.

The 21.6-MW generator, equipped and assembled by the Japanese contractor Nippon , is one of four generators that will provide electricity to power the refinery. The remaining three generators are expected to become operational by the end of December this year.

After 40 months of construction, approximately 98.5 percent of construction work at the Dung Quat refinery project has been completed, though only 26.41 percent of test runs have been completed due to bad weather.

The Dung Quat Refinery Project’s management board is in the process of completing procedures to import 52,500 tonnes of diesel from Nov. 16-20 to provide power for a series of test runs.

Industrial group invests millions of USD in real estate

The Vietnam National Coal - Mineral Industries Group held a ground-breaking ceremony on November 12 to mark the start of construction of a residential quarter and shopping complex in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province.

The project, capitalised at some 2.3 trillion VND (approximately 135.5 million USD), will include a high-rise block with 1,200 units for office rental and retail purposes and a terraced housing quarter designed to house some 70 families.

The project, scheduled to be commissioned by 2016, forms part of the group’s multi-industrial long-term strategy based on its stronghold of mining.

The group is investing heavily in coal-fed thermal electricity plants and aluminium projects in the Central Highlands and along the central coast.

In addition to mining and mineral processing projects across the country, from the northwestern and northern mountains to the northern central and Central Highlands regions, the group is expanding its operations into Laos and Cambodia while making inroads into financial, insurance and infrastructure markets.

The coal and mining giant plans to become a leading national economic group by 2015 and a major international force by 2025, according to its 2006-2025 strategy.

EC helps strengthen trade capacity for business associations

The second component of the EC-funded Multilateral Trade Assistance Project III (MUTRAP III) will provide 1.7 million USD for between 8-10 projects to strengthen the capacity of trade policy building for Vietnamese business associations and universities.

The Delegation of the European Commission (EC) to Vietnam held a meeting with representatives from business associations and universities in Hanoi on Nov. 12 to invite tenders for the component.

The project package aims to turn business associations into effective consultants on trade policies and market access issues for the government. It will also help universities to improve the standards of their teaching and research regarding trade policies and laws.

On Nov. 6, the EC held a similar bidding invitation session in Ho Chi Minh City .

MUTRAP III, which has a total investment capital of 10 million EUR (12.7 million USD), has been implemented since July 2008 and will run until June 2012 with the aim of strengthening the capacity for the Ministry of Industry and Trade in implementing WTO commitments, formulating trade policies and negotiating regional and bilateral free-trade agreements.

Initiated in 1998, MUTRAP is designed to assist Vietnam in carrying out a wide range of activities, from WTO accession negotiations to implementing WTO commitments and addressing post-WTO impacts. The first phase of the project was implemented from 1998 to 2004 and the second phase, from 2005 to 2008.

The European Union is one of Vietnam ’s largest trade partners, with two-way trade between the two sides reaching 14.2 billion USD in 2007.

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