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Vietnam protests against U.S. duty on its shrimp.

07 January 2005

HANOI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Vietnam on Friday protested against the U.S. anti-dumping duties on its frozen shrimp, saying the decision will harm American consumers.

The protest came a day after the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to slap anti-dumping duties on billions of dollars of frozen shrimp from Vietnam, China, Brazil, Thailand, India and Ecuador.

The ITC vote gives the Commerce Department final approval to impose anti-dumping duties ranging up to 112.81 percent for China, 67.80 percent for Brazil, 25.76 percent for Vietnam, 13.42 percent for India, 6.82 percent for Thailand and 4.48 percent for Ecuador.

"VASEP protests the above unjust ruling of the U.S. International Trade Commission," the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said in a statement.

"VASEP once again reaffirms that Vietnamese firms do not sell shrimp at dumping prices into the U.S. and other markets," it said.

Fishery products, including shrimp, rank as communist Vietnam's fourth-biggest cash earner after crude oil, textiles and footwear.

The United States is Vietnam's second-biggest export destination after the European Union, buying $5 billion worth of Vietnamese goods in 2004, mainly textiles and seafood, government statistics show.

No separate figures were available for frozen shrimp.

The shrimp duty is the second anti-dumping lawsuit that Vietnam has faced with the United States, following similar action against its exports of frozen catfish fillets in 2003 that resulted in tariffs of up to 64 percent.


Vietnam exports more Nike goods than coffee in '04

Jan 7, 2004

HANOI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Factories in Vietnam of U.S. shoes and sportswear maker Nike Inc. increased exports 15.4 percent last year to $750 million, state media said on Friday, contributing 2.9 percent of the country's total exports. That exceeded the value of coffee exported from the country, the world's top
supplier of the robusta grade used for instant coffee. Coffee exports last year were worth $594 million, the government estimated on Dec. 28. The Tin Tuc (News) daily quoted Amanda Tucker, director of Nike Vietnam, as saying Vietnam ranked as the second-largest maker of Nike products after China. It said Nike has 10 factories in Vietnam and has been in the country since 1995, when Hanoi and Washington re-established diplomatic relations.


Find a good partner to do well in Vietnam

Sunday January 9

KUALA LUMPUR: Doing business in Vietnam is like having a "good marriage": find the right partner and you will succeed. This is the view of businesswoman Dr M. Shimi Sumathi, who felt that it was important to get a good working partner in Vietnam because it would help your business.
"It is always better to have a stake holding that would allow you to have a say in making any business decision," said Dr Shimi, managing director of Prime Suppliers Sdn Bhd, a distributor of pharmaceutical products.
Dr Shimi, who took about a year to establish her business in Vietnam, suggested a 70:30 joint venture as the best choice for investors venturing into Vietnam.
She said there were now more business opportunities in Vietnam, which wanted to establish a closer relationship with other Asean countries, especially Malaysia, as well as multinational companies.
Vietnam was also renewing its policy, which would see further improvement in investment conditions, she added.
Citing the pharmaceutical sector, Dr Shimi, who has been in Vietnam for 11 years, said that now medical representatives were allowed to promote their products with the permission of the directors of the respective hospitals.
She said that the Vietnamese would like to develop their own pharmaceutical business, so even the multinational companies did not have a very big share. She said major competitors in the industry were companies from India, adding that her joint-venture partner in Vietnam was a company from India.
Dr Shimi plans to expand her business and open a manufacturing plant in Vietnam.


Vietnam: New Evidence of Torture, Mass Arrests of Montagnards

09 Jan 2005
Source: Human Rights Watch

New York, January 10, 2005) - Cambodia's decision to close its northeastern border with Vietnam to halt the flow of Montagnard asylum seekers comes amidst alarming new reports of mass arrests, torture, and increasing persecution of Montagnard Christians in Vietnam's Central Highlands, Human Rights Watch said in a 25-page briefing paper released today. New testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch establishes the widespread and continued use of torture against activists, religious leaders, and individuals who have been deported or have voluntarily returned from Cambodia.
On January 1, Cambodian National Police Chief Hok Lundy ordered authorities in the border province of Ratanakiri to increase the number of border police in order to prevent Montagnard asylum seekers from entering. "The authorities have to convince the local people to be our spies in order to report how many
Montagnards [enter Cambodia], to arrest them and send them back to Vietnam," he said.
"The Vietnamese government's mistreatment of Montagnards continues unabated," said Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division.
"Instead of closing its borders to asylum seekers, the Cambodian government should be working with the United Nations refugee agency to provide sanctuary to people escaping torture and arbitrary arrest."
Human Rights Watch said that under Cambodia's international treaty obligations,
  the Cambodian government must not return Montagnard asylum seekers so long as they face a serious risk of persecution upon return to Vietnam. Hok Lundy's statements, which were tape recorded, make it clear that Cambodia is flouting its legal obligations.
During high-profile tours to the Central Highlands in December, top Vietnamese officials pledged to respect religious freedom and called on local officials to encourage "peaceful and happy" Christmas celebrations in Montagnard villages.
However, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, police were busy rounding up and arresting dozens of Montagnard Christians and detaining them at district and provincial police stations and prisons throughout the region. In Gia Lai province alone--one of five provinces in the Central Highlands--police arrested 129 people between December 12 and 24.
"Christmas was relatively quiet in the highlands," said Adams. "That's because hundreds of Montagnards were rounded up and spent the holiday in police detention."
Many of those arrested during the Christmas crackdown were Montagnard house church leaders who were organizing Christmas gatherings in the villages. Others targeted for detention included the wives and even young children of men who had fled to Cambodia to seek asylum. Human Rights Watch said that police also arrested dozens of Montagnards suspected of being protest leaders or making contact with groups in the U.S. supporting demands for the return of ancestral land and religious freedom. The current whereabouts and treatment of most of the detainees is unknown.
A Mnong man from Dak Nong province, who was arrested in April 2004, said he was severely beaten several times by police officers trying to obtain the names of other activists. At the district jail, police officers pulled out one of his toe nails, beat him repeatedly on his thighs with a rubber baton, and boxed him in the face, knocking out one of his front teeth. They brandished an AK-47 rifle and threatened to kill him. He was then transferred to the provincial prison, where he was interrogated and beaten again: They beat my head and used two hands to box my ears more than thirty times, until my face was bright red and my ears were bleeding. They kicked me in the chest with their boots. They wanted to squeeze out the information about the demonstrations.
First-hand accounts from Montagnards who have voluntarily returned to Vietnam since 2001 indicate that Vietnamese authorities treat returnees with intense suspicion. Some are placed under police surveillance and even house arrest upon return, or are regularly summoned to the police station for questioning about their activities.
On December 29, the Vietnamese government publicly accused 13 Montagnards who voluntarily returned to Vietnam last October from a Cambodian refugee camp of being spies that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) "trained to create disturbances and then sent back to Vietnam."
"These kinds of statements show a degree of paranoia that leads to persecution," said Adams. "Instead of punishing those who flee for safety, the government in Hanoi must begin to deal with the causes of discontent, which are religious repression and widespread confiscation of the agricultural land on which the indigenous minority people depend for their livelihood."
Meanwhile, Montagnard asylum seekers who crossed the border to Cambodia's Ratanakiri province right before Christmas remain in dire straits. During the last week truckloads of Cambodian police and gendarmerie have been scouring the forests where the asylum seekers are thought to be hiding. "It is absolutely imperative that the Cambodian government immediately grants UNHCR access to these people, or turns them over to UNHCR if government security forces apprehend them," said Adams. "UNHCR and key governments must make it clear in no uncertain terms to the Cambodian government that asylum seekers must not be arrested and summarily returned to Vietnam." Cambodia is a party to the United Nations Refugee Convention, which prohibits the return of individuals facing a well-founded fear of persecution on political, religious, or ethnic grounds. Cambodia has an obligation to make
individual determinations about the validity of asylum claims. Cambodia is also a party to the Convention Against Torture, which states in article 3 that, "No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."
NPC delegation leaves on Asia-Pacific forum and Vietnam visit

www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-09

   BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- A delegation of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China left Guangzhou on Sunday for Vietnam to attend the 13th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum and pay an official good-will visit to Vietnam.
   The delegation, headed by Gu Xiulian, vice-chairwoman of the NPC Standing Committee, is on the visit at the invitation of President of the National Assembly of Vietnam Nguyen Van An.

Vietnam Protests US Shrimp Ruling
Vietnamese seafood exporters have recently protested a decision by US International Trade Commission (ITC) to approve anti-dumping tariffs on shrimp imports from six Asian and South American countries including Vietnam.
The ITC on January 6 upheld a finding last February that frozen and canned shrimp imports from Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, Thailand and Vietnam were hurting the US domestic shrimp industry.
However, the general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Nguyen Huu Dzung said Vietnam's shrimp exports do not harm US shrimp processors and fishermen, and benefit US consumers.
"We totally disagree with the decision, which doesn't reflect the reality in Vietnam," Dzung said, adding that VASEP asked the US Department of Commerce (DOC) to review the 25.76% tariffs imposed on six Vietnamese shrimp exporters.
"We call on US shrimp businesses and consumers, political circles and public opinion and those who favor free trade, to raise their voice and ask the ITC to reconsider its unfair decision to consolidate and promote Vietnam, US bilateral relations in positive ways," he said.
The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition/American Seafood Distributors Association (CITAC/ASDA) Shrimp Task Force on the same day also criticized the ITC's decision, calling the decision "an unwarranted tax on America's number one seafood."
"The ITC's decision helps no one, but instead causes havoc in the market, may raise prices for consumers and hurts thousands of Americans who work in the shrimp sector," said the task force chairman Wally Stevens. "Ninety per cent of all shrimp consumed in the US is imported."
The ITC did say it would review the situation in India and Thailand due to the recent tsunami. India and Thailand, which had been slapped with duties of 5-13% and 6-10%, respectively, warranted a so-called "changed circumstances review." Thailand, the largest exporter of shrimp to the US, had already filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization, saying the duties violate trade rules.
The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA), a group of shrimpers from eight southern US states, on December 2003 sued the six countries, blaming them for a 32% drop in prices of imported shrimp over the previous three years. The ITC ruling paves the way for the DOC to set tariffs averaging 17% on frozen shrimp imported from the six countries scheduled late this month.

The DOC on December 20 slapped duties of 5.02-13.42% on Indian exporters, 2.35-4.48% on Ecuador, 9.69-67.8% for Brazil and 6-10% for Thailand. Earlier, on November 31, the DOC had announced anti-dumping tariffs of 4.14-25.76% for Vietnam and up to 112.81% for China. (Vnexpress.net Jan 7, Vietnam Economic Times Jan 8 p1, thanhniennews Online Jan 7, VNS Jan 8 p15. VietNamNet Jan 7, Vietnam Economic Times Jan 7 p2, Investment Jan 10 p2) 
HSBC Allowed to Expand to North Vietnam
UK giant Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has obtained approval from the Vietnam central bank to open a branch in the country's capital Hanoi after operating its sole branch in Ho Chi Minh City - the biggest city - for 10 years.
The branch, expected to begin operation in early March at 23 Phan Chu Trinh Street, has a lifespan of 20 years and initial capital of $15 million.
The HSBC's forthcoming arm is allowed to carry out payment activities, lending, depositing (time and call deposits in both local and foreign currencies from individual and institutional customers) and other banking services.
It can also receive foreign currency from banks abroad and trade in foreign currency.
The branch has the rights to participate in the interbank forex market, receive money transferred from abroad to Vietnam and vice versa and supply consulting services.
The HSBC branch will be a tough competitor for local banks in Hanoi, financial experts said.
HSBC was deemed in 2003 as the most successful foreign bank in Vietnam by the central bank.
Hanoi is hosting a number of major leading Vietnamese and foreign corporations and therefore there is a huge potential for investment banking and capital market business. (Econet Jan 10 p8, VietStock Jan 10, VietNamNet Jan 10, Saigon Times Daily Jan 8 p2) 
Agribank, Western Union Joint Hand in Money Transferring
The global leader in money transferring, Western Union, and Vietnam's biggest bank Agribank have officially announced they will develop money-transferring services in Vietnam by applying an international standard technology.
This system will be able to transfer money worldwide to 1,800 branches all over Vietnam, which is much quicker, more effective and accurate than the traditional method of money transfer.
Agribank General Director Le Van So said that the project has been successfully experimented in over 100 Agribank branches. It is expected that the system will be activated in every of its 1,800 branches before March.
The system will increase the ability to monitor the money transfer to every branch and utilize the advantage of IT facilities, which meets the current need of effectiveness and security of Agribank. The transfer now can be completed within several mouse clicks instead of half an hour sending fax from branches to its headquarter.
"This is a clear evidence of the integration of Vietnam, and it reveals the capability of Vietnam in attracting foreign investment", said Western Union Asia-Pacific's Vice President David Larkworth.
The event shows that Vietnamese banks are enhancing their integration and application of modern technology to establish strong facilities for the economy's demand on money transfer, especially when the oversea capital is gradually increasing.
Western Union, founded in 1871, is known as the biggest global system of money transfer with over 200 branches in 195 countries, while Agribank (Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) is Vietnam's largest bank.
In Vietnam, Western Union currently has over 2,500 exchange locations within banks, including Agribank, ACB, VP Bank and Eden Commercial Company. (VietNamNet Jan 10, Vietnam Economic Times Jan 10 p4) 
Police Minister Promoted to Top-Ranking General
Police Minister Le Hong Anh has been promoted to General from Lieutenant General following a decision signed by the State President on January 9.
Anh, who is also a Politburo member, has held the leading position at the Police Ministry since August 2002. He was chosen to replace former Police Minister Le Minh Huong.  Before that time, he was head of the Party's Inspectorate.
On the same day, the president also offered the Senior Lieutenant General rank to four Lieutenant Generals of the Police Minister. They are four deputy ministers of the ministry, namely Nguyen Khanh Toan, Nguyen Van Huong, Le The Tiem and Nguyen Van Tinh. The first three are also members of the Central Party Committee.
In late December 2004, 27 police officers were also promoted to the general ranks. Of them, two Major Generals received the Lieutenant General rank, while 25 colonels were promoted to Major General.
The total number of generals in Vietnam was not made available. (Capital Security Jan 10 p1, Vietnam Panorama)
Govt Outlines Corruption Prevention Plan for 2005
The government has outlined an action plan to combat corruption in an effort to reduce graft, a major hurdle to the country's future development.
Under the three-point action plan for 2005, the government will emphasize preventing corruption related to national infrastructure projects, which make up the majority of graft scandals exposed so far.
The plan stresses the need for scrutiny into the management of public finances and property. Regulations on bidding and investing on public works projects will be reviewed with an eye towards diminishing legal loopholes.
Under the plan, the government will require its administrative agencies to build a people-oriented management culture and encourage officials to improve relations with the people.
The government has said leaders of the agencies will ultimately be held responsible for their subordinates misdeeds.
Heads of central provinces and cities, ministries and services in charge of granting licenses or certificates should more effectively distribute information on new rules or procedures, the plan said.
The government will also ask ministries, industries and local authorities to intensify inspections of the management of construction projects so as to prevent misappropriation and wasteful spending.
The government has also instructed inspectors to improve their work by responding to complaints of local people or the media. Corruption cases reported by the media should be immediately inspected, the document said.
Under the plan, the Inspectorate is tasked with reviewing the implementation of the Ordinance on Anti-corruption and accelerating the drafting of an anti-corruption law by November, 2005.
Another task for the legal watchdog is to create a national steering board on corruption control to be submitted to the Government for consideration within the second quarter of this year.
Despite recent strong commitments by the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and the government against corruption and other negative phenomena, such evils are still rampant in all sectors and at all levels in Vietnam, having adversely affecting the country's competitiveness for a long time.
In the past ten years, Vietnam detected as many as 9,454 corruption cases causing total losses of more than VND10 trillion ($639 million), according to the country's Police Ministry. Such large number of uncovered cases, however, is said to be only the floating part of the iceberg and the recent crackdown on deteriorating officials is highly selective and some high-ranking cadres have acquired de facto immunity from prosecution.
Observers say that Vietnam needs more specific and stronger measures against corruption.
In 2003, Vietnam received a corruption perception rating of 2.4 in a global corruption survey undertaken by Transparency International, where 10 equals little or no corruption and zero represents a highly corrupt country. That figure was unchanged from 2002. (Vietnam Economic Times Jan 10 p1, The Law Jan 6 p3, People's Army Jan 5 p1, Vietnam Panorama) 

Miss Vietnam Runner-up Becomes Vice-Head of Luxury Resort JV
Miss Vietnam 2004 runner-up, Trinh Chan Tran, has officially been selected to the post of vice general director of the Halong Bay Group, a joint venture between two US investors and Vietnam's top resort developer.
The 24-year-old girl, who obtained a master degree in business administration in U.K and worked as a professional model in Hong Kong and Japan before being named first runner-up at the national beauty pageant in October, will start leading the tourism and entertainment company since mid-January.
According to local media, Trinh Chan Tran has received several vocational invitations from giant corporations including the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and is now actively joining charitable and cultural activities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Halong Bay Group debuted in late December, 2004 run by Andy Dye and Three, two of the world's top investors in golf course and hotels and the Au Lac Ltd., owner of the luxury Tuan Chau Tourism Complex.
The joint venture will invest $450 million to build a 250-hectare recreational complex on Tuan Chau Island in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Its first project envisions a 36-hole golf course and a five-star hotel with 140 rooms and 1,490 villas.
The Ha Long Bay Group's second project is to build a complex of six golf courses on a 1,000-hectare site in Uong Bi Municipality of Quang Ninh province, which includes 2,300 villas.
And the third project is a five-star hotel with 400 rooms in the city of Nha Trang in Central Vietnam's Khanh Hoa Province. (Labor Jan 7 p1, Vietnam Panorama)