Economy expands 7.2% despite droughts, avian flu, price hikes

HA NOI — Viet Nam’s economy managed to expand 7.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year despite prolonged droughts in the central and central highlands areas, the avian flu epidemic, and materials’ price hike, the Government said during a two-day meeting which closed yesterday in Ha Noi.

The Government’s figures matched the General Statistics Office’s report which revealed the first quarter’s growth was way lower than the Government’s full-year expectation of 8.5 per cent.

VN upbeat as WTO meeting ends

HA NOI — Positive results were achieved at the recent round of talks between Viet Nam, the US and Canada on the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), said the National Committee for International Economic Cooperation.

At the negotiations with the US, which took place in Washington from March 14 to 16, Viet Nam discussed requirements on opening the market to US goods and services that the US proposed in January.

Foreign sector helps exports top $6.7b

HA NOI — Viet Nam has achieved US$2.5 billion in export turnover during the month of March, reported the General Statistics Office (GSO).

This month’s export turnover has brought the total for the first three months to $6.7 billion or an increase of 16.2 per cent against the same period last year.

According to economists at the GSO and the Ministry of Trade, the high export turnover in March was largely due to increasing prices on the global market.

US venture funds opens rep. office in HCMC

A US$100-million venture capital fund officially opened its representative office in Ho Chi Minh City on Mar. 25 to commence operations in southern Vietnam.

At the opening ceremony, IDG Ventures Vietnam, a subsidiary of the US International Data Group, the world’s leading technology, media, research and event firm, said it has invested into two Vietnamese software companies, PeaceSoft and iSphere.

PeaceSoft and iSphere, both based in capital Hanoi, are two dynamic companies with qualified staff, said Nguyen Bao Hoang, IDG Ventures Vietnam chief executive.

“Narrower gaps” in Vietnam’s WTO talks

In past talks over Vietnam’s entry to the World Trade Organization this year, partners like Japan have shown their support by reducing demands for the country to open up its market, said a deputy trade minister.

“Many partners said the gap between them and Vietnam in negotiations for the country’s integration into the World Trade Organization has been narrowed,” said Deputy Trade Minister Luong Van Tu.

Legal load for WTO entry

The National Assembly (NA) is drafting 30 legal documents concerning negotiations on Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The documents, 26 laws and codes and four ordinances, are being drafted or revised and supplemented to carry out duties which will arise during bilateral and multilateral WTO negotiations.

Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen said that Vietnam's law building programme has drawn due concern from major partners, including the US, who consider it one of Vietnam's top priorities for admission.

Vietnam’s seafood exports increase in first quarter

Vietnam’s seafood exports remained strong in the first quarter of this year although the industry encountered problems over anti-dumping tariffs in the U.S. market, according to official figures.
In the first three months of 2005, the country’s seafood exports reached 445 million USD, up roughly 15.27 per cent over last year’s same period, the Ministry of Planning and Investment said.

Nation recommits to software protection

HA NOI — Policy makers have reiterated the Government’s commitment to protect software intellectual property (IP) rights as the country moves toward joining the World Trade Organisation.

Concluding a roundtable yesterday in Ha Noi, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Bui Manh Hai called for co-operation with countries and agencies with relevant knowledge.

Viet Nam touts energy potential

 HA NOI — Ministry of Industry (MoI) officials were busy promoting Viet Nam to foreign investors as a possible destination to invest in energy projects at a forum held on Tuesday.

Deputy Industry Minister Do Huu Hao, said that Viet Nam boasts primary energy reserves including 3.88 billion tonnes of coal, 2.3 billion tonnes of oil, and 1,300 billion cu.m of gas.

The Deputy Minister however stressed that the country will face a shortage of energy in the near future due to the increasing demands of the national economy.

Banks change lane, SMEs grow

HCM CITY — Creditors are taking on more small – and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), although they still leave many in the cold.

In 2004 the number of local loans to SMEs increased significantly. Many banks granted SMEs loans as big as those to major State-run enterprises.

Nguyen Trong Thanh, Sai Gon branch director of the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV), said his bank has given many loans to help SMEs relocate at the city’s request, and many others towards development.