News on 19 July 2016

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1)  Vietnam plans to spend more on tourism promotion to boost growth

In a new effort to attract more foreign visitors, Vietnam's tourism authority seeks to increase spending on marketing three-fold to VND120 billion (US$5.24 million) next year. A fund for tourism promotion is set to be established with an initial corpus of at least VND300 billion ($13.11 million), news website Saigon Times Online said Saturday (July 16), citing a proposal by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. In the long term, a maximum of 30 percent of the fund would come from the government, with the rest coming from beneficiaries of tourism, it said. Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien said at a meeting in Hanoi on July 13 that poor marketing is one of the reasons for the lackluster growth in tourism. Other reasons include a dearth of outstanding products and quality human resources and services, he said. The proposal, which is waiting for local governments' feedback, is expected to develop tourism into of the economy's flagships through a range of measures such as extending visa waiver policy with longer visa-exempt stays and easing the issuance of visa on arrival, the website reported.

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2)   27th Int’l Biology Olympiad opens in Hà Nội

The 27th International Biology Olympiad (IBO 2016) kicked off yesterday (July 18) at the Hanoi National University of Education in the presence of IBO President Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap. This is the first time the country has hosted such a biology competition. The IBO 2016 draws the participation of 264 students and 238 teachers from 71 countries and territories, which is reportedly the highest number of participants in the Olympiad so far, Vietnam News Agency reported. Addressing the event, the Minister of Education and Training Phùng Xuân Nhạ said Việt Nam hosting the IBO 2016 was vivid evidence demonstrating the recognition of and trust in Việt Nam’s education development by the international community. According to the minister, the country had successfully hosted and organised numerous international Olympiads including the International Chemistry Olympiad (2014), International Physics Olympiad (2008), the International Mathematical Olympiad (2007) and the Asian Physics Olympiad (2004). “IBO 2016 is a chance for improved co-operation and sharing of experiences; promoting study spirit, especially the study of biology; and expanded relationships and enhanced scientific capacity of biologists world-wide,” minister Nhạ said. IBO president Dr. Poonpipope Kasemsap said participants would sit for both theoretical and practical tests compiled by Việt Nam. The tests are extraordinary, and are related to the host country’s biodiversity, Vietnam News Agency quoted Kasemsap as saying.

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3) Scientists warn about air pollution caused by fine dust

Experts from Germany at a workshop discussing environment monitoring capability held  several days ago issued warnings about the danger from fine dust in HCM City. The expert said fine dust is generated from automobile and motorbike engines, and from wheel and brake pad abrasion. The industrialization process has led to the establishment of more and more factories, as well as more industrial equipment and vehicles on the road. The factories and equipment produce more emissions, including dust. The experts said that HCM City has 3.2 times more pollution than Hamburg. In the 1990s, WHO pointed out that fine dust is the most dangerous pollutant in the air. Unlike other pollutants, there is no permitted level for fine dust, because it is always dangerous to humans in different concentrations. The particle of dust with the size of PM10µm can penetrate into the nose, while 2,5µm particle can reach the lung and nano PM (<0,1 µm) can enter the blood. With small sizes, it can weave its way into every part inside the body and cause diseases such as diabetes and metabolic problems, Alzheimer's, memory loss and heart disease. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fine dust can spread very far, up to thousands of kilometers and affect neighboring countries. In order to reduce fine dust, according to experts, the only solution is to reduce the number of automobiles and motorbikes in circulation. In addition, it is necessary to improve the quality of wheels and brake pads. Experts also suggested developing public means of transport and other smart transport solutions. However, this still needs to be considered thoroughly. Meanwhile, northern provinces have been warned about the cross-border smoke and dust, including fine dust, from China, one of the world’s most polluted countries.

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4)   Vietnamese, Slovakian PMs seek measures for bilateral ties

The two leaders said bilateral economic and trade ties has developed steadily over the recent past, with an average annual two-way trade of about 300 million USD. Slovakia is running five projects in Vietnam while the Southeast Asian country has only one project in Slovakia. In an effort to advance the economic links, they agreed to improve the efficiency of the Vietnam-Slovakia Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation, and increase trade and investment promotion. The countries will also create optimal conditions for their businesses to set up partnerships, particularly infrastructure construction, food processing, pharmaceutical products, urban and public transport planning, environmental protection and water resource management. The PMs were also unanimous to foster collaboration in national defence and security, culture, education-training, science and technology. PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said PM Robert Fico’s visit will create a momentum to deepen the time-honoured friendship and all-round cooperation between the two countries in an effective and pragmatic fashion in the new period. Vietnam always gives importance to consolidating and developing relations with its traditional friends, including Slovakia, he affirmed. Congratulating PM Robert Fico and the Slovakian Government on Slovakia’s assumption of the EU’s rotating presidency, the host expressed his belief that the country will outstandingly perform this post in the context that the union is facing a galaxy of challenges. For his part, the guest said Slovakia always considers Vietnam a friendly and long-standing partner, and wishes to beef up ties with the Southeast Asian country across fields. Robert Fico underlined Slovakia’s backing of enhanced relations between Vietnam and the EU as well as the signing and ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. He promised to accelerate the EU’s recognition of Vietnam’s full market economy at the same time with the official signing of the pact. The two leaders noted with joy the two countries’ close and effective coordination at international forums.

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5) Asian shares tread cautiously, crude oil slips

Asian shares edged slightly lower in early Asian trade on Tuesday (July 19), as a downturn in crude oil curbed the enthusiasm from fresh record highs on Wall Street. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS inched down 0.1 percent, though it was still within sight of a nine-month high touched last week. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both logged fresh record highs. Japan's Nikkei stock index gained 0.6 percent, as markets reopened after a Japanese public holiday on Monday (July 18) and caught up to a weaker yen. A failed coup in Turkey had dented risk sentiment and bolstered the perceived safe-haven yen before it ran its course. On Monday (July 18), Turkey purged its police force after rounding up thousands of soldiers and called for the United States to hand over a cleric that the Turkish government accuses of being behind the takeover attempt. Improved risk sentiment helped the dollar climb to three-week highs against the yen. It was last down slightly on the day at 106.13 yen, after rising as high as 106.33 earlier in the session, its highest since June 24. The euro edged down 0.1 percent against the dollar to$1.1069. The European Central Bank will hold a regular policy meeting on Thursday (July 21), its last one before an eight-week summer break. It is not expected to take any additional easing steps. Instead, ECB President Mario Draghi is likely to appeal to governments to do more to bolster the euro zone economy in the wake of Britain's vote last month to exit the European Union.

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(All the above News Items have been sourced from: Reuters, ThanhNien News, Vietnam Net, Tuoitre News, Vietnam News, New York Times)

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