News on 30 Jun 2016


1)    Formosa admits link to Vietnam’s fish deaths in memo

The Vietnamese steel business of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group has told all employees in a memo on Thursday (June 30) that its mistakes are behind the mass fish deaths along the country’s central coast. In the memo, obtained by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Tran Nguyen Thanh, chairman of the Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Co. Ltd., asserted that “mistakes caused by some sub-contractors” during the trial run of the steel mill have led to the fish kill. The link between the plant, located at Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh, one of the four affected provinces, and the mass fish deaths has been confirmed by a multi-ministerial inspection led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, according to the document. “Even though this is an outcome we did not expect, the company respects the inspection result of the government,” Thanh said. The memo said Hung Nghiep Formosa is closely cooperating with competent agencies to resolve the issue. “On behalf of the company, we vow to try our best to ensure a stable and lawful working environment, where the environmental protection responsibility is prioritized,” Thanh promised.

2)    Vietnam may remove airfare cap as market becomes 'competitive': official

The Vietnamese government is reportedly considering removing the maximum limit on air ticket prices for domestic flights. The airline market has become very competitive with multiple players and it is time for the government to give businesses their freedom, Lai Xuan Thanh, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), is quoted as saying by the government website on Wednesday (June 29). The airfare ceiling was introduced to protect passengers, Thanh said, without giving any timeframe for a removal.  He promised that his agency will continue to keep a close watch on air ticket prices offered and "only intervene when airlines collude to increase prices." A one-way economy ticket for a domestic flight cannot cost more than VND3.75 million (US$165). The government adjusted that cap down by 4 percent last September in response to falling fuel costs. In a recent letter to the aviation authority, national carrier Vietnam Airlines tried to lobby for the price cap to be scrapped, describing it as unnecessary.  It argued that most tickets now cost much less than that maximum level, with the exception of some routes.

3)    Companies should take advantage of Vietnamese’s growing tendency to shop on mobile

Data presented at the Vietnam Mobile Day 2016 event held in Hanoi last Saturday (June 25) showed that m-commerce is on a steady trend of growth in Vietnam. According to Google’s statistics, the percentage of Vietnamese using their smartphones to search for information has surpassed the percentage of people using their laptops to do so. In 2016, searches on fashion, accessories, books, and household electronic appliances on mobile have surpassed those from laptops. In addition, market research company Nielsen’s data showed that smartphone users accounted for 70 per cent of the urban population and 40 per cent of the rural population of Vietnam, and the percentage of those using their phones to shop surpassed 20 per cent in 2015. Data from the Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA), working under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), showed that during the last Online Friday, the annual online shopping event held by the MoIT, 40 per cent of the orders were placed through mobile phones. The agency expects the percentage to continue growing and m-commerce to contribute a bigger portion of the country’s e-commerce revenue, as the price of devices is decreasing, 3G and 4G is more widely available, and technologies that serve m-commerce, from payment to logistics, are developing.

4)    Japanese encephalitis returns to Hanoi

As many as six more cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) have been reported in Hanoi over the past week, raising the total cases to nine, the city’s Preventive Medicine Centre announced yesterday (June 29). Following the complicated progress of the disease, Deputy Head of Hanoi’s Health Department Hoang Duc Hanh asked the city’s Preventive Medicine Centre to step up monitoring at hospitals and in communities, to diagnose infectious cases and take action to localise and stamp out the outbreak. Local clinics have been asked to conduct trainings for health workers on how to: diagnose and treat the disease, report cases to commune and district level health centres, and refer patients to the Preventive Medicine Centre for further treatment. The Preventive Medicine Centre has been assigned to supervise units in conducting a high-quality and safe vaccination program, while ensuring the vaccination target rate. JE is caused by the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus which can spread the disease throughout the year, especially in summer. The disease is more common among children under 15. Pigs and birds are reservoirs of the virus. Symptoms of JE – commonly known as “brain inflammation” – include high fever and nausea, as well as seizures, paralysis and coma in severe cases. To curb the spread of JE, the Health Ministry said people should keep their homes clean, keep livestock cages away from their residences and children, and use mosquito nets while sleeping.

5)   Vietnam's housing market slows down after strong recovery

Following record sales last year, Vietnam's housing market has been slowing down, causing oversupply concerns. The Ministry of Construction has urged local governments, especially Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to take cautions before licensing new residential projects to avoid possible oversupplies, the government website reported on Tuesday (June 28). Local authorities need to review local housing demands and take measures to improve the market's transparency, it said, citing the ministry's order. The ministry made the move amid reports that apartment sales in Vietnam have been falling. New figures released by CBRE Vietnam showed 10,107 units were launched in Ho Chi Minh City in the second quarter, up 20 percent from the first quarter. But sales dropped by 35 percent to 5,887 units. In Hanoi, 6,100 new units were launched in the past three months, a quarter-on-quarter increase of 19 percent. Although the city enjoyed a quarter-on-quarter rise of 20 percent in sales to 4,806 units, it was a decrease of 7.2 percent year-on-year, the company said.

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


Cover by Ria Tan