Vietnam visa - vietnam visa online - vietnam visa fee
Vietnam visa - vietnam visa online - vietnam visa fee
May 31 2011

Sea Festival returns to Nha Trang

sea festival returns to nha trang

The biennial Sea Festival will return to the seaside town of Nha Trang, starting on June 11.

The festival activities will include a whale-worship event, a bird’s nest fest, food and wine tastings, a street carnival and beach volleyball tournaments.

The five-day event will also include traditional and modern artistic performances.

The organizers said the festival will feature a Truong Sa (Spratly Islands) Day – packed with conferences and photo exhibitions related to the East Sea island chain.

Visitors to Nha Trang XQ Historical Village, a renowned embroidery bazaar at 64 Tran Phu Street, can walk through a gorgeous garden with roses and orchids.

More than 3,000 rose bushes are being transported from Da Lat, dubbed the “flower city” in the Central Highlands, to the seaside resort town for the event.

Piano and violin concerts will be held nightly along with fashion and dance shows.

This year, ten couples will engage in an underwater wedding ceremony off the coast of the Mun Islet on June 15.

Local artists and a number of performers from Japan, China, France and South Korea have signed up to participate in the event, which was first held in 2003.


Day 1 (Saturday, June 11):

– Lu Cam ceramics and sand painting exhibition at Po Nagar Tower.

– Cham ceramics and Vietnam brocade exhibition at the seaside park: 58 Tran Phu Street.

– The opening ceremony of the Sea Festival 2011 and fireworks display at 2/4 Square.

Day 2 (Sunday, June 12):

– Ceremony to release sea creatures back into the sea and fishing contest on Nha Trang beach.

– An air show put on by motorized parachutists will be held at the Nha Trang seaside park.

– Beer fest at the beach along Tran Phu, the most scenic street in Nha Trang.

– Jetski show at the beach in front of the 2/4 Square.

– Bicycle parade at the 2/4 Square.

Day 3 (Monday, June 13):

– International Women’s Beach Volleyball tournament at the beach in front of 62 Tran Phu Street.

– A parade of vintage Vespas and cars on Tran Phu Street.

– Kite contest at 2/4 Square.

– Street carnival at 2/4 Square.

Day 4 (Tuesday, June 14):

– Cyclo parade at 2/4 Square.

– Whale-worship fest at the stage in front of Tue Tinh Street.

– Wine fest featuring flower garlands and colored lanterns on the Cai River at Champa Tourism Area.

Day 5 (Wednesday, June 15):

– Underwater group wedding in Mun Islet Sea Conservation Area.

– The closing ceremony of the Sea Festival 2011 at the 2/4 Square.

May 31 2011

Ale and hearty

ale and hearty

Breweries savor the market fizz

A promo model at a booth set up by local beer maker Sabeco at a beverage fair in Hanoi. With its 86 million population, tropical climate and beer-lovers, Vietnam is a booming beer market.

If one was asked to single out one industry with a great growth potential in Vietnam, the answer would be a four-letter word.


The country’s annual beer consumption hit 2.5 billion liters in 2010, nearly double the figure in 2003, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

But the next four years, industry insiders believe, will mark boom time for the beer market. The trade ministry has forecast that beer consumption could rise to four billion liters by 2015.

Research firm Companies and Markets, in its recent report on Vietnam’s food and drink market, said sales of alcoholic drinks would surge 34.6 percent in 2015 from now. It also noted that rising wages and increasing tourist arrivals will continue to catalyze food and beverages consumption in Vietnam.

Breweries are trying to tap this growth by boosting production and working on ambitious expansion plans.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Saigon Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corporation, or Sabeco, sold a billion liters of beer last year. The company, which owns the Saigon and 333 brands, believes the beer market has nowhere to go but up, and is targeting sales of 1.3 billion liters this year and two billion by 2015.

In March, Sabeco opened three new breweries that can together churn out nearly 300 million liters of draught and canned beer. The plants cost some VND2 trillion to build. The company is also developing three other projects that would, when completed, add another 500 million liters to its annual output.

Sabeco is not the only one with big plans.

Vietnam Brewery, whose products include Tiger Beer, Heineken and Bivina, announced last week that it would boost production by 50 percent in the next 12 months, raising its annual output to 420 million liters from the current 280 million liters.

The company, which started operations in 1991, said it wants to sharpen its competitive edge by adding a second canning line that can produce up to 90,000 cans per hour in HCMC, and at the same time, expand capacity at its breweries in Hanoi and Da Nang.

Michel de Carvalho, principal owner of the Heineken brand, seemed surprised at how well his brand is doing in Vietnam.

In a promotional event in HCMC last week, Carvalho said more than 200 million liters of Heineken beer was consumed in Vietnam last year, putting the country in third position among 170 markets where the brand is available.

He said Vietnam will take over the second spot, currently held by France, in 2012, and is on its way to surpass the US to rank first in 2015.

Critics have raised concerns over Vietnam’s excessive drinking problem for years. But for beer producers, a growing market is a great opportunity to keep their taps flowing and the money coming in.

The country now has around 350 beer companies, including 35 with an annual output of more than 15 million liters each. Between January and April, they produced 714.6 million liters of beer products, up 9.2 percent from the same period last year.

As if this weren’t enough, importers have been bringing in large volumes of foreign beer, mostly from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The imported beer, priced two or three times higher than local products, plays perfectly into the preference for foreign products among many Vietnamese consumers.

Around 1.66 million alcoholic products were imported into Vietnam last year, according to official data. The Saigon Port in HCMC reported a 50 percent surge in beer imports in 2010.

May 31 2011

Fool’s gold

fool%e2%80%99s gold

The controversy over “fake gold” bought by several gold jewelers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has raised many questions, with those who claimed to have been cheated not divulging crucial details of these transactions.

Gold merchants who have bought the gold mixed with wolfram, also known as tungsten, or other hard metals have not said how much of the impure gold they’d bought, at what prices they bought it and who they bought it from.

The only description of the sellers is that they were “irregular.”

Meanwhile, an expert said that the gold bought by merchants in Vietnam may have come from Hong Kong.

A Hanoi-based gold merchant who wanted to remain unnamed and not reveal the volume of the impure gold bought, said the firm had incurred a loss of US$12,000 after buying gold bars with 49 percent of “strange” hard metals in April.

The company said tests by its gold analyzer machine showed the metal was pure gold. It was only when the gold was melted to make jewelry that the impurities were discovered.

The origin of this gold could not be ascertained because the merchants were unwilling to disclose any details about the sellers.

Hanoi jewelers had first sounded the alarm about impure gold in March. Two months later, their counterparts in HCMC and southern provinces began reporting similar cases.

Tests in the country’s major laboratories show that most of the impure gold was made by mixing gold with hard metals like iridium, osmium, ruthenium, and rhodium. The rest was made by using a pure gold coating to mask a complex alloy in which wolfram made up the main part.

Nguyen Van Trung, chemistry professor at the Transport University, told the Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper that the “fake gold” was able to pass tests on the fluorescence spectrophotometer, which only “scans” and analyzes the surface of the gold bar.

Do Minh Phu, chairman of Doji Gold and Gems Group, said the mixture of iridium, osmium, and ruthenium costs around VND11.5 million ($560) per tael, or nearly one third of gold prices.

Wolfram is much cheaper as it is sold at about VND158,000 ($8) per tael, said Vu Minh Chau, general director of the Bao Tin Minh Chau Jewelry Company.

Given that the gold content in the impure gold ranges from 51 percent to 90 percent, jewelers lose up to 13 million ($632) per tael (if they have paid the market price for pure gold), traders said.

But the jewelers also took pains to allay public concern by saying the impure gold has not been sold to customers.

“For the moment, it is likely that losses have been suffered only by shop owners. The impure gold has yet to be sold to customers,” said Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of the HCMC Jewelry Association, “If shops use gold mixed with iridium, osmium, or ruthenium to produce jewelry, customers can find out because the surface will be rough.”

Chau also agreed that it was unlikely the gold has gone into the hands of customers, saying no one has so far complained about having bought impure gold or gold products.

However, purity concerns, along with a looming government ban on the unofficial trade in bullion, have slowed down sales in the retail gold market, traders said.

A similar scandal had broken out in Hong Kong in 2009, with jewelers and pawn shops finding at least 200 ounces of fake bullion — worth about $280,000 — were sold to them that year.

Haywood Cheung, president of the Chinese Gold Silver Exchange Society, said 10 times that amount may have infiltrated the retail gold market, the Financial Times had reported then.

Dung said tests done by Vietnamese laboratories showed the same results as ones done in Hong Kong, and it is therefore likely that the impure gold recently found Vietnam came from the territory.

May 31 2011

Vietnam car dealers let down by new import rule

vietnam car dealers let down by new import rule

A new rule, which requires car importers to show authorization documents provided by foreign manufacturers, has caught auto dealerships by surprise.

Some 50 car dealerships met in Hanoi Tuesday to sign a petition opposing the new regulation. The petition, which asks for an amendment of the rule, will be submitted to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, and Minister of Justice Ho Hung Cuong.

The firms said the regulation might force car dealerships across the country to shut down.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade announced the new rule, which comes into effect on June 26, in a move to reduce Vietnam’s trade deficit.

According to the rule, car importers have to submit documents, verified by Vietnamese diplomatic representatives, to show that foreign auto companies have authorized them to sell cars in Vietnam. In addition, car dealerships must have customer service facilities in Vietnam. The rule only applies to cars with fewer than nine seats.

Nguyen Ngoc Tu, director of the Hoang Tuan car dealership, said, “Dealers will never be able to get the required documents. It’s like a ban on car imports.”

Foreign auto companies which have joint ventures in Vietnam will not give authorization to importers, Tu explained. While there are 5,000 car dealerships, there are only about 10 automobile joint ventures in the country.

“An auto dealership requires a huge investment, and the losses will be equally colossal when the dealers down their shutters. Thousands of employees will also become unemployed,” he added.

Dinh Xuan Tung, sales manager of car retailer Hung Viet, said the new rule will eliminate the business of car import, as only auto joint-ventures will be able to get authorization documents. “With this, the entire auto business will be handed over to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA).”

Most dealers in Vietnam import cars directly from authorized dealers of foreign carmakers abroad. They only have to show purchase contracts, and quality and registration certificates, to bring the cars into the country, Tung said.

Tu said the new regulation, in fact, would give monopoly to VAMA, and put consumers at a disadvantage. “Without competition in the market, consumers will have fewer choices. They will have to accept the prices set by VAMA.”

Nguyen Dinh Quang, owner of the Hoa Binh dealership, said once the new rule comes into effect, a shortage of cars in the market will send car prices skyrocketing.

Shifting business

Car dealerships will have to change their business strategy if they want to stay afloat.

Like many other car dealers, the owner of an auto outlet on Hanoi’s Lang Ha Street said his firm would try to import cars not produced in Vietnam, or second-hand ones.

Tu of Hoang Tuan dealership said second-hand cars’ registrations are very complicated and will be a headache for traders. He also expressed his skepticism in trading in new cars which aren’t familiar to Vietnamese consumers and don’t have a big market.

“Volkswagen, Chrysler, Audi, BMW and Porsche are very expensive. Only a few of these cars are sold in the country each month,” he said.

Tu’s two outlets in Hanoi sell mostly Toyota, Honda and Huyndai cars imported from the US, South Korea and the Middle East.

Tung of Hung Viet said firms shifting to luxury car imports would need more capital while profits would be slimmer. “Cars in the range of VND1-2 billion (US$50,000-100,000) are more popular than those with higher prices.”

Tung plans to start a second-hand car sales business. But he knows trading in second-hand cars would require skill in assessing quality and negotiating prices. Until now, most employees in auto dealerships have only dealt in brand new cars and don’t have the necessary experience, Tung said.

He said prices of some imported cars might go up by as much as $4,000-5,000 per unit due to supply shortage.

In fact, some dealerships are holding back the cars they have already imported into the country, in the hopes of selling them at higher prices after June 26, he said.

“Some cars have seen hikes of 2-4 percent compared to a month ago. Toyota Camry, imported from the US, is now more expensive by $1,800 per unit, while Toyota Corrola, imported from Taiwan, has been sold out despite a price hike of $1,500-1,600 per unit,” he said.

May 31 2011

Foreign shipping firms abusing market position: report

foreign shipping firms abusing market position report

Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport has confirmed allegations that foreign shipping lines were imposing unfair surcharges on Vietnamese traders.

Foreign shipping lines have taken advantage of the country’s underdeveloped transportation industry to unreasonably collect at least 10 different fees from local customers, the report released Monday said.

For instance, the terminal handling charge, a fee collected by shipping lines to pay container terminals, has been hiked to as much as US$120 per 40-foot container even though many terminals only require a payment of $35.

Since March 2010, foreign shipping companies have collected a container imbalance surcharge, which they say is meant to offset the cost of transporting empty containers out of Vietnam in case exports from the country are unable to match the inflow of goods. But the Ministry of Transport said the surcharge was set arbitrarily and kept changing from time to time.

The ministry also discovered other fees which it deemed irrational, including surcharges for port congestion and container repairs. Some foreign ship owners have authorized agents to collect the fees, and these agents also try to pocket some extra money, the report said.

News website VnExpress, reported on Monday that the surcharges could rake in thousands of dollars for foreign companies on every shipment they made.

The ministry’s report comes two months after the government began inspecting on shipping lines in Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong following complaints that some of them were imposing excessive surcharges.

Tran Duc Minh, chairman of Vietnam Shippers’ Council, told Thanh Nien that the unfair surcharges have been going on for several years. Local traders are forced to accept them because Vietnamese shipping lines fail to meet domestic demand, he said.

The country’s fleet of 36 container vessels, mainly owned by Vietnam National Shipping Lines, can only meet 20 percent of transportation demands; traders have no choice but to go for foreign shipping lines, Minh said.

According to the Ministry of Transport, for the long run, Vietnam needs a strong container ship fleet to compete with foreign lines. But right now, Vietnam Shippers’ Council and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry need to negotiate with foreign ship owners to make fees and surcharges more reasonable and transparent.

Minh called for strengthened government oversight to prevent foreign firms from abusing their market position. He also said local traders need to work together and demand foreign shipping lines lower their fees.

He noted that his council, a group of 52 importers and exporters, had organized several meetings to discuss fees and surcharge problems, but only a few companies attended these.

May 31 2011

Aeon heading to Vietnam in 2013: report

aeon heading to vietnam in 2013 report

Japanese retailer Aeon said it will open retail outlets in Vietnam in 2013, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Aeon is currently operating in Malaysia but it plans to expand to other Southeast Asian markets, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia, the report said.

The group seeks to grow sales from Asia to around US$15 billion by 2020, according to Nagahisa Oyama, vice president and chief executive officer of Aeon’s ASEAN business.

Aeon is Japan’s second largest retailer and owner of the Jusco retail chain.

May 30 2011

Home market trapped in credit crunch

home market trapped in credit crunch

A credit crunch has brought the local property market to a standstill.

Many homebuyers say they thought they had secured mortgages from banks only to be refused at the last minute. Meanwhile, lenders cited a government order to cut credit for the non-production sector as the reason for the denial.

A man known only as Vinh told Tuoi Tre newspaper that when he bought an apartment in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Tan District, two years ago, he signed a mortgage contract with a bank to help finance the purchase in installments.

Vinh now says it’s no longer easy to have the loan disbursed. Besides, interest rates have reached a whopping 25.25 percent, compared to home loan rates of around 12.75 perecent two years ago.

Many other homebuyers said they had been flatly turned down by banks.

Without access to loans to complete their payments, some new buyers have been forced to sell.

The situation is even worse for project developers: they cannot find buyers for their housing stock and, at the same time, have to halt new projects due to credit difficulties.

Even large real estate companies like Hoa Binh, Lilama SHB and Hoang Anh Gia Lai are caught up in this tough situation, Tuoi Tre reported. Hoang Anh Gia Lai, for instance, now has nearly VND3 trillion (US$146.2 million) worth of housing products awaiting customers.

A developer said real estate companies are desperate for cash. They have offered various perks to attract buyers and even lowered prices, to no avail.

The State Bank of Vietnam is trying to keep credit growth below 20 percent this year in an attempt to control inflation, which stood at nearly 20 percent in May.

Commercial banks have been ordered to cut back on lending to the non-production sector, which includes the stock and real estate markets. The goal is to limit credit in this sector to 16 percent by the end of the year.

An anonymous banker said it would be very difficult to achieve this target, at least for his bank.

He said non-production loans account for 40 percent of the total credit at his bank and most of them are long-term real estate loans that were brokered prior to 2011.

Many banks have since tried to discourage new clients with high interest rates. However, unless they can recoup their outstanding loans, he said, they’ll have a hard time meeting the credit growth target set by the central bank.

May 30 2011

Retail sales lose momentum amid high inflation

retail sales lose momentum amid high inflation

Vietnam’s retail sales grew at their slowest pace in May as consumers cut back on spending amid rising inflation.

Despite the long holiday at the beginning of the month, retail sales only reached VND156 trillion in May, up 0.68 percent from April.

This represented the smallest monthly increase in 2011, Vietnam News Agency reported, citing domestic market officials at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Between January and May, retail sales reached VND762.7 trillion, up 22.5 percent from the same period last year. Discounting inflation and higher consumer prices, the increase only amounted to a 6.4 percent rise in spending.

Market offcials said high inflation has forced many consumer to tighten their belts.

Even though inflationary pressures have begun to ease, the situation is still complicated due to high interest rates and expanding trade deficit, they said.

Vietnam’s consumer price index was up 19.78 percent in May compared to 2010, the General Statistics Office said Tuesday. The jump represented the biggest jump since December 2008.

Vietnam has been considered a star due to its fast-growing consumer market. Total retail sales for both commodities and services surged by 24.5 percent in 2010.

This year, however, market prospects have been dampened by soaring inflation.

In a March report, FTA Research Consultant said consumers in major Vietnamese cities were following inflationary trends closely. Many respondents reported that if inflation persists, they will have to cut down spending on traveling, clothing, beauty care, home appliances and entertainment.

Spending on necessities like education, transportation, food and beverage, electricity, water and healthcare are unlikely to fall, the firm predicted.

May 30 2011

Shares now cheaper than vegetables

shares now cheaper than vegetables

Shares of ceramic tile maker Vitaly are changing hands at around VND2,000 on the Hanoi Stock Exchange–the price of  a bunch of water spinach in a rural market.


These days, Vitaly is not a rare case.


Dozens of Vietnamese stocks have plummeted well below the par value of VND10,000 in response to their companies’ steep losses and the bear market.


Architectural and interior designer Full Power (FPC) traded at VND2,400 per share. Viet Star Securities (SVS) fell to VND2,900. Beverage firm Tribeco (TRI) hit VND3,900 and Chang Yih Ceramic (CYC) settled at roughly VND4,000.


“The stock market is now in crisis, which is the main reason that these shares are in a free-fall,” news website VnExpress Saturday quoted Pham Duc Thang, general director of Kenanga Vietnam Securities, as saying.


The VN-Index, the country’s major stock index, has tumbled 21 percent from the 2011 high on February 9, exceeding the 20 percent drop that investors term a so-called bear market, on concern measures to contain inflation will hurt economic growth.


The State Bank of Vietnam on May 17 boosted the repurchase rate for the sixth time this year.


Thang said the current market affords some opportunities to investors who can now buy shares in profit-making companies at low prices.


“As a result, stock in firms that continuously posted losses over the past several quarters face some disadvantages,” he said. “For this reason, it’s no wonder that certain shares are now on par with a bunch of vegetables.”


Vitaly suffered losses for three successive years from 2008 to 2010. It continued to post losses in the first quarter of this year. As of March 31, the company’s accumulated losses were VND90.3 billion (US$4.4 million).


On May 19, the Hanoi Stock Exchange announced that it would stop listing Vitaly shares on June 2.


Viet Star Securities reported a VND11.5 billion ($559,000) loss for the first three months of this year–the figure it targeted for pre-tax profits for the whole year.


The manager of an investment fund based in Hanoi, who wished to remain annonymous, said corporate investors should buy shares at loss-making companies if their book value is much higher than market prices, adding that the investors can acquire such firms in that way.

May 30 2011

Vietnam tightens grip on mobile phone users

vietnam tightens grip on mobile phone users

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications is drafting regulations that will ban the resale of registered sim cards, an official said.

The new rule is an attempt to restore order on the telecom market and make sure all mobile phone numbers, especially prepaid ones, are properly databased, Nguyen Xuan Tru, deputy director of the Telecommunications Department, was quoted as saying on the government’s website.

Phone shops frequently recycle the personal information of one person to register multiple phone numbers.

Tru said the government plans to tighten control over these shops and ensure their customer databases are electronically linked to those maintained by the nation’s mobile service providers.

Up to 90 percent of Vietnam’s mobile phone customers are prepaid users. Until recently, many phone users went to shops and bought new numbers without bothering to register with the authorities.

In 2009, the governemnt ordered all prepaid subscribers to register their SIM cards or risk having their service suspended. After several deadline extensions, service providers reported that they had completed their customer databases in early 2010.

The Ministry of Information and Communications said it is working with the Ministry of Public Security to review the data collected by three major wireless networks, MobiFone, Vinaphone and Viettel.

Tru said the first inspection was launched in Hanoi on May 1 and is expected to wrap up by the end of June. After that, police will continue checking customer databases in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, he said.

Phone users will be imformed if their numbers are found to have been improperly registered, Tru said. They will then have seven to 10 days to provide correct information before their numbers are deleted from the system, he added.

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