News on 28 July 2016

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1) Vietnam, US join hands in search and rescue drill in Da Nang

Naval forces from Vietnam and the United States have participated in a joint training session in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang. Crew members of the visiting hospital ship USNS Mercy of the United States Navy and their Vietnamese counterparts partook in a field exercise on disaster preparedness and maritime search and rescue on the Han River on Tuesday morning (July 26). The practice was within the framework of the ongoing Pacific Partnership 2016 (PP16) and observed by ambassadors from the U.S., Japan, and the United Kingdom among others. Scenarios undertaken during the drill included a fire and an engine breakdown in a fishing boat caused by strong typhoons with wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour, while fishermen aboard were thrown overboard and injured. The participants were required to complete first-aid procedures on the victims and escort the fishing ship out of danger and back ashore within 35 to 45 minutes of the disaster.

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2) Vietnamese television journalist blasted for fashionable appearance in Syria documentary

A documentary by national broadcaster Vietnam Television, which claims to report the "Syria conflict from the inside," has had its credibility questioned, with many believing the program was staged. The coverage, entitled “News Feature Story on Syria – A View from Inside the Conflict,” which aired on VTV24 on July 23, told audiences how lead journalist Le Binh, a cameraman and two other reporters had experienced the ongoing conflicts in the West Asian country. During the 33-minute program, Binh, who is also VTV24’s director, detailed how her team had cheated death on three occasions during their time in Syria. However, two of the three stories have been doubted by local viewers as either exaggerated or completely staged using inaccurate information concerning what is really going on in the war-torn country. Many viewers also questioned the credibility of the program generally, with Binh donning fashionable clothes, including various brightly-colored T-shirts and hats, and even sunglasses while she was walking through the rubble of destroyed homes or reporting from inside a secret tunnel used by government forces. Critics also said that the reporting contained far too much emotion instead of facts. Binh appears too often, is seen crying and being startled by gunfire many times throughout the war-themed documentary. The narrative tone of the report is also criticized as "overly pathetic."

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3) VN stocks rebound from six-day fall

Vietnamese shares rebounded yesterday (July 27) after a six-day decline, led by large-cap stocks on the two local exchanges. The benchmark VN Index on the HCM Stock Exchange rose 1.2 per cent to close at 656.11 points after falling 3.7 per cent in the previous six trading days. The HNX Index on the Hanoi Stock Exchange edged up 0.2 per cent to end at 83.70 points. The northern market index dropped 4.1 per cent during the previous six sessions. Banks, insurance companies and energy firms were the major stocks that helped push market up yesterday (July 27). Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign and Trade of Vietnam (VCB), Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (CTG), and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BID) were the strongest gainers in the banking sector. These stocks advanced between 1.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent. In the insurance sector, Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), BIDV Insurance Corp (BIC) and Vietnam National Reinsurance Corp (VNR) rose 1.7 per cent, 3.7 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively. Energy stocks, including PetroVietnam Gas Corp (GAS), PetroVietnam Drilling and Well Service Corp (PVD) and PetroVietnam Technical Services Corp (PVS) rebounded despite crude continued sliding on global exchanges. GAS was up 2.5 per cent, PVD added 1.6 per cent and PVS ended up 2.4 per cent. Other blue chips such as Saigon Securities Inc (SSI), property developer Vingroup JSC (VIC), Tien Phong Plastic JSC (NTP) and Vietnam Construction and Import-Export Corp (VCG) also advanced.

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4) Singapore’s NYDC closes last cafe, bids adieu to Vietnam

Singapore-based café and restaurant chain NYDC has closed its last outlet and shut down its seven-year-old business in Vietnam after what critics said a losing battle against local chains. NYDC has said goodbye to customers on its Facebook page after closing its store in Ho Chi Minh City’s Dong Khoi Street, its first and also highest-profile outlet. Three others in Districts 1, 2 and 7 were closed in May. A statement from the chain cited recurring losses and high competition in the region. Singapore conglomerate SUTL brought NYDC to Vietnam in late 2009, hoping to achieve the same success it did with KFC, of which there are now around 140 across Vietnam. The café chain quickly became one of the most popular in the city, and the original plan was to open 20 outlets within five years at a cost of around US$6 million. But at its peak, the chain only had six outlets. Analysts said the chain faced harsh competition from local chains such as The Coffee House, Phuc Long, Urban Station, Trung Nguyen, Kafe and Highlands, which entrenched their dominance by offering affordable prices.

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5)  Hinkley Point set to get final investment approval from France's EDF

Investment in the new nuclear plant to be built in Hinkley Point, Somerset, is set to get final approval later on Thursday (July 28). The French utility, EDF, the company financing most of the £18bn project, is holding a board meeting at which it is expected to approve the investment. Following that agreement, legally-binding contracts will be signed and construction work can begin. It will be the UK's first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years. EDF hopes to have more than 2,500 workers on site by next year. Work on Hinkley Point C, which would provide 7% of the UK's total electricity requirement, had originally been meant to start in 2017. The project has been hit in recent months by concerns about EDF's financial capacity. While one third of the £18bn costs of the project is being met by Chinese investors, Hinkley Point would remain an enormous undertaking for the stressed French company. Earlier this week EDF shareholders approved plans to issue new shares to raise 4bn euros (£3.4bn) to help pay for the project. The French state, which owns 85% of EDF, will buy €3bn worth of new shares in the fundraising.

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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, BBC)

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