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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 11/5   2010-05-11 - VietNamNet/VNA

Hanoi trade centre kicked off in Moscow


State President Nguyen Minh Triet and his entourage attended a ground-breaking ceremony of the Hanoi-Moscow Culture and Trade Centre in Moscow on May 10.


Addressing the ceremony, President Triet emphasised that construction of Vietnam and Russia culture and trade centres in Moscow and Hanoi, respectively, is a vivid manifestation of the development of traditional friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries as well as the two capital cities.


He thanked the Moscow authorities for creating favourable conditions for the construction of the centre in the political, economic and cultural hub of Russia.


The President called for Russian businesses to increase investment in Vietnam, firstly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City .


He expressed his hope to welcome Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov in Hanoi on the occasion of the city’s 1,000th anniversary.


Mayor Luzhkov and Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen The Thao both pledged to strengthen and expand cooperation between the two capitals, contributing to promoting the two countries’ cooperation in all aspects, particularly economy-trade, culture, sports and tourism.


During the ceremony, a credit and financial service contract for the project was signed between the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), the Vietnam-Russia Joint Venture Bank (VRB) and the Hanoi-Moscow Trade Centre Investment Joint Stock Company (INCENTRA), the main investor of the project.


The 190 million USD culture-trade centre is being built in Moscow’s north-east district on an area of 4.9 hectares. The centre is to encompass a 22 storey apartment and hotel block and a seven-storey building, which includes a trade and exhibition complex, sport-entertainment area and a multi-function hall. It is expected to be complete on May 10, 2013.


The same day, President Triet and his entourage left Moscow for the Republic of Kalmykia.


Domestic sugar output does not meet demands


The volume of sugar produced domestically has not met the country’s demands, so Vietnam has had to import sugar, according to the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA).


In the 2009-10 period, the country’s sugar output was estimated at 984,000 tonnes, 5,000 tonnes less than the previous year due to a drop in sugarcane output. This was not enough to supply the country’s 40 sugar refineries.


At a conference to review the 2009-10 sugarcane and sugar crop and plans for the future was held in Hanoi on May 11, the VSSA President Vo Thanh Dang said that the 2009-10 sugarcane crop was badly affected by inclement weather, causing a low sugar output.


Meanwhile, Doan Xuan Hoa, the Deputy Head of the Agro-Forestry, Seafood and Salt Processing and Trade Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), reported that Vietnam had to import 200,000 tonnes of sugar in 2010 due to a decrease in the sugarcane acreage and sugar reserves.


He added that the sugarcane and sugar sector’s biggest difficulty was a lack of raw materials problem. Since 1999, sugarcane capacity and quality has seen no improvement and has even decreased.


In 1999, the country has 350,000 ha of sugarcane with the capacity to yield 50.8 tonne per ha, but in 2009-10, the figures were 265,000 ha and 51.7 tonnes per ha.


Based on this, MARD has forecast that it will be difficult to produce enough raw materials domestically for processing in 2010-2011.


In the scheme till 2015, Vietnam plans to plant an additional 300,000 ha of sugarcane and focus on intensive sugarcane farming.


Firstly, the sector will pay closer attention to the up-coming summer-autumn sugarcane crop, to produce 11 million tonnes of sugarcane, which is expected to meet nearly 70 percent of the country’s sugar plants’ capacity.


Australian mining companies seek opportunities in Vietnam


Australian Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Tony Burchill has highlighted the important role of mining to Vietnam and said that Australia can help the country to further develop its mining sector.


Burchill said at a seminar held in Hanoi on May 11 on the occasion of the visit to Vietnam to explore business opportunities by a group of 10 Australian companies, including major mining contractors, project finance, as well as equipment, technology and mining services providers.


As mining is a key sector for Vietnam, the visit is expected to “bring significant trade and industry development benefits to Vietnam as well as offering attractive commercial opportunities for Australian businesses,” Burchill said.


At the seminar which was supported by the Vietnam National Coal and Minerals Industries Group (Vinacomin) and sponsored by ANZ Vietnam, the Australian companies introduced advanced technologies in mining and infrastructure construction.


Vietnamese businesses praised Australia’s experiences and new technology, particularly environmentally-friendly ones.


Many meetings between the two countries’ companies also took place on the sidelines of the seminar.


The Australian companies made field trips to mine sites and met with relevant Vietnamese companies in the coal-rich province of Quang Ninh and the northwestern province of Son La.


Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Allaster Cox said that visit to Vietnam by Australian mining companies would help strengthen bilateral relations between Australia and Vietnam.


Australia is a world leader in all aspects of mining. According to the Australian Trade Commission, the country has some 2,500 companies involved in the mining sector employing 320,000 workers, and approximately 60 per cent of the world’s mines use software that was developed in Australia.


Firms offer staff free holidays to relieve stress, improve work


Many businesses have started offering their employees free holiday tours as a bonus instead of giving them money.


Organising free holiday tours for staff aims to help employees relax and work more effectively. Holiday packages also help forge closer relationships between companies and their staff, experts said.


Travelling can help staff members deal with stress and work more effectively after they return from their vacation.


Besides, many companies also combine training courses with tour programmes. These training courses are usually made of short presentations made by experts to help staff acquire more soft skills.


In 2008, HCM City organised a tour to Singapore for the city’s hygiene workers, who had done exceptionally well at their jobs.


Pham Phuong Thao, chairwoman of the HCM City People’s Council, said that the tour to Singapore for hygiene staff reflects the city’s gratitude during the year of "making the city civilised".


Sony Electronics Viet Nam organised a tour to China for more than 200 employees. The leader of this company said that the tour helped the staff to not only relax, but also improved their professional knowledge about how to work with foreign experts.


Nguyen Cuong, director of the An An food frozen company at the Tan Tao Industrial Park, said that "instead of giving a bonus of 3 million VND (150 USD) to 48 workers, the company tries to spend a little more money to offer them a free tour to Singapore, which brings them a lot of joy and motivation with work."


Most businesses usually offer both domestic and international tours for their staff, which primarily take place during the summer.


Maersk Line launches Vung Tau-Los Angeles sea route


On May 11, the Danish container shipping company Maersk Line launched a new express service, with the code TP6, that will transport containers directly from the SP-PSA international terminal in Vung Tau in southern Vietnam to Los Angeles on the West coast of the USA.


The Maersk Line’s Asian-Pacific Managing Director Jesper Praestensgaard said that the new route was the 7 th of its kind across the Pacific Ocean in the Maersk Line’s trans-global network.


The service will take 21 days from the container depot in Ho Chi Minh City before arriving in Los Angeles . Goods from Cambodia will also be transported to the SP-PSA port to access the new service. The shipping time from Phnom Penh to Los Angeles will take 22 days, the shortest at present.


The return route will transit in Hong Kong , said the Maersk Line official.


Maersk Line has over 470 container ships and it is the largest fleet to Vietnam .


It transports garments and textiles, footwear, coffee, seafood, electronics, ceramics and soft furnishings.


Petrol, oil prices stay up in line with global highs


Petrol retailers hadn’t reduced petrol and oil prices because world market prices for refined products were still high, experts said.


World crude oil prices had dropped by 11 percent in total to 77.11 USD per barrel last week, Ministry of Finance’s Pricing Control Department head Nguyen Tien Thoa said, but it was difficult to reduce the price of refined products in the domestic market because prices remained high on the world market.


Vietnam National Petroleum Corporation (Petrolimex) deputy general director Vuong Thai Dung said world prices stood at high average levels of 91.82 USD per barrel of A92 petrol, 96.08 USD per barrel of diesel oil, 95.31 USD per barrel of kerosene and 494.4 USD per tonne of fuel oil over the past 30 days. (1 barrel = 159 litres)


At those prices, Petrolimex still lost 1,400-1,700VND a litre of petrol and diesel oil and 700 VND a litre of fuel oil, Dung said.


In such a situation, the petrol price stabilisation fund compensated 500 VND per litre for petrol products and 400 VND per litre for diesel oil and kerosene to reduce dealers’ losses and to stabilise domestic prices.


The Ministry of Finance also cut 3-5 percent of import tariff for petrol and diesel products, he said.


But, Sai Gon Petro said the compensation did not cover their losses.


The ministry said it had spent 2 trillion VND (105.3 million USD) to stabilise retail fuel prices and would follow developments on the world market.


At present, domestic retail prices are 16,990 VND per litre of A92 petrol, 17,490 VND per litre of A95, 14,600 VND per litre of diesel oil and 15,000 VND per litre of kerosene.

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