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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/12   2008-12-13 - SGGP, VOV, VNA

Vietnam, Mongolia aim for 10 million USD in trade

Vietnam and Mongolia will do their utmost to strengthen their trade links in order to register a two-way import-export value of 10 million USD by 2010.

This determination was revealed in the minutes of the 13th session of the Vietnam-Mongolia inter-governmental committee on cooperation in trade, economics and sci-tech, signed by the two sides on Dec. 12.

The two sides also agreed to encourage businesses and trade promotion agencies from both countries to increase the exchange and sharing of information.

During the meeting, held in Ho Chi Minh City from Dec. 10-13, the two sides discussed plans for trade, economic, cultural and sci-tech cooperation between 2009 - 2011.

They expressed their satisfaction at current levels of cooperation in banking services, however, bilateral trade remains at a modest level, just 3-5 million USD, with the majority of export activities being undertaken by Vietnam.

Vietnam ’s exports to Mongolia have risen steadily in recent years, chalking up 2.4 million USD during 2005, 3.3 million USD in 2006 and 5.7 million USD in 2007.

The two sides acknowledged the contributions of visits by high-ranking leaders of the two countries, particularly the visit to Mongolia by State President Nguyen Minh Triet in October 2008, during which Vietnam agreed to the sale of 20,000 tonnes of rice to Mongolia .

The signing of cooperation agreements between the two countries regarding plant protection and quarantine regulations, customs, health, sci-tech and education play an important role in consolidating the legal environment and encouraging cooperation between the two nations.

The 14th session of the Vietnam-Mongolia inter-governmental committee will be held in Ulaanbaatar in 2010.

Deputy PM launches construction of Da Lat complex

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai ceremonially broke the ground to begin construction of the Da Lat cultural and urban complex in the resort city of Da Lat on Dec. 12.

The project, with investment capital of approximately 3.5 trillion VND (205.8 million USD) will cover 19.7 ha of land in a valley next to Xuan Huong lake in central Da Lat.

The complex will contain a park, three, four and five-star hotels, an office building, apartments, villas and other facilities.

The investor, the Da Lat Real Estate Joint Stock Company, said the project is expected to help improve urban planning standards in the city, as well as ease the demand for luxury apartments and villas.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by 2011 with the opening of the park and villas, and the second phase, by 2015 with the hotels and office building becoming operational.

Sacombank branch opens in Laos

The Saigon-Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) opened its first branch in Vientiane , Laos , on December 12.

Governor of the State Bank of Laos (SBL) Phouphet Khamphenphone granted an operating licence to a Sacombank representative during the opening ceremony.

The Sacombank branch in Laos will provide businesses and individuals with a range of financial and banking services, such as savings accounts, loans, cheques, and money forwarding facilities.

Sacombank plans to increase the banking services on offer at the Lao branch and expand its operations into other provinces in the country over the next few years.

Previously, the State Bank of Vietnam and the SBL signed an agreement regarding information exchange and management cooperation within the banking sector, which aims to strengthen the two countries’ banking systems and promote investment in this field.

In 2007, the two banks also signed a memorandum of understanding regarding cooperation in improving payment methods.

Sugar mills lack sugarcane

Most sugar mills in Mekong Delta provinces said that they are facing a lack of sugarcane. They are operating at reduced capacity although prices are high, VND550,000- 570,000 a ton.

The problem is so acute for some mills that they are currently working two days on, two days off.

Raw sugarcane in 9,000ha of Phung Hiep district farmland, Hau Giang province, was harvested early to avoid flooding. This led to a 20 percent drop in productivity. There is currently no sugarcane left in the district.

Other sugarcane areas in Soc Trang, Ben Tre, Kien Giang, and Hau Giang provinces are unable to harvest until crops are ready.

Nguyen Thanh Long, general director of Can Tho Sugar Joint Stock Company, said two of the company’s sugar mills are struggling to buy 3,000 tons a day even though they can handle up to 6,700 tons of cane a day.

The problem will continue until next January when other cane growing areas begin harvesting, Long said.

Foreign credit institutions still operate securely in Vietnam

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) on December 11 announced a report on the activities of foreign financial institutions in the country in 2008.

As of the end of October, the total fund mobilization of those institutions reached VND22,957 billion, an increase of 46 percent from a year earlier. Their credit balance totalled VND152,952 billion.

Although some foreign bank branches and financial companies experienced losses, they all made an overall pre-tax profit of VND1,410 billion.

From mid-2008, the US financial crisis and the global economic downturn have had certain impact on Vietnam’s economy in general and credit institutions in particular.

However, thanks to effective measures taken by the Government and the SBV, Vietnamese and foreign credit institutions have remained secure and registered relatively high and steady growth.

Vietnam unaffected by Russia’s seafood rules

Vietnam will not face any difficulties from new regulations for exporting seafood to Russia next year. However, other countries can be affected.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that under Russia’s new rules, effective from January 1, foreign companies and fishing ships must get a certificate for exports.

The VPSS, Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, will also become the sole office granting licences.

The new rules will not create problems for Vietnamese seafood exporters because since 2006, the VPSS has controlled the quality of Vietnamese seafood exports to Russia, according to Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of agriculture and rural development.

Russia was a potential growth market for Vietnamese seafood but it was also a market with strict regulations on controlling food safety, he said.

Russia, now the second biggest export market for Vietnam, holds 15 percent of Vietnam’s seafood exports, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP).

In the first 10 months of this year, Vietnam exported seafood worth US$195 million to Russia. So far, the VPSS has licensed 38 Vietnamese exporters.

Russia imported 1.2 million tonnes of seafood every year from 30 countries, including 15 percent from the European Union, 40 percent from China and 30 percent from Norway, said VASEP.

The EU, China and Japan will not suffer from the new regulations, but 26 countries must change their seafood export activities to comply with the new regulations.

The new regulations will temporarily reduce seafood exports to Russia by half in 2009 as exporters adjust to the new rules.

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