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Vietnam’s H1 economic growth lowest in 10 years

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Vietnam‘s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.81 percent in the first half of this year, the lowest six-month growth rate in the 2011-2020 period, the General Statistics Office said on Monday.

Between January and June, the sector of agriculture, forestry and fishery expanded by 1.19 percent against the same period last year, while industry and construction grew 2.98 percent and services up 0.57 percent.

The three sectors respectively contributed 11.89 percent, 73.14 percent, and 14.97 percent to the overall growth, said the office.

In the second quarter alone, Vietnam’s GDP grew merely 0.36 percent compared to 3.82 percent achieved in the first quarter due to social distancing measures adopted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the office said.

In a report released in April, the International Monetary Fund forecast Vietnam’s economy would grow at 2.7 percent this year.

Last year, the country’s annual GDP growth hit 7.02 percent, up from the annualized target of 6.6-6.8 percent, according to the statistics office.

(XINHUA)

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Vietnam to resume some flights to China, Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan

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Vietnam’s Prime Minister has given the go-ahead to launch a small number of international flights each week to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, state media reported on Monday.

“In a government meeting on Friday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Foreign Ministry and the relevant embassies to arrange the recommencement of flights to Guangzhou, Tokyo, Seoul and Taiwan,’’ reports said.

According to him, just one or two flights will be permitted each week and passengers coming to Vietnam will still need to undergo mandatory two-week quarantine.

“Priority will be given to Vietnamese nationals, investors and business experts.

“Mid-July has been suggested as a possible restart date,’’ the prime minister noted.

Kidong Park, the World Health Organisation’s representative to Vietnam, has praised the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

The nation’s first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in late January.

At the beginning of February, Vietnam Airlines ceased all flights to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, after a spike in new infections in March, all international flights were grounded.

No deaths have been reported, confirmed virus numbers have placed at 372, and no community transmissions of the virus have been reported in the last three months.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)

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Vietnam records no new COVID-19 cases, total confirmed cases remaining at 355

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Vietnam‘s Ministry of Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday, with its total confirmed cases remaining at 355 with zero deaths so far.

Meanwhile, one more patient was given all-clear today, bringing the total cured cases in the country to 336, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Vietnam has recorded no local transmission for 76 straight days while there are nearly 13,000 people being quarantined and monitored in the country, according to the report.

(XINHUA)

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Vietnam’s factory activity expands 1st time in 5 months

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Vietnam Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the economic health of the country’s manufacturing sector, soared to 51.1 in June from 42.7 in May, the first growth since January, a report by the London-based global information provider IHS Markit said on Wednesday.

The return to growth in June took place as success in suppressing the COVID-19 and greater business confidence helped lead to renewed expansions in output and new orders, according to the report. Purchasing activity also increased but employment continued to fall, said the report.

Panelists reported continued issues in supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to imported items. Suppliers’ delivery times lengthened for the seventh consecutive month, albeit to the least extent since January.

The confidence that COVID-19 is under control in Vietnam with increasing new orders boosted optimism that production will grow over the coming year. Sentiment strengthened sharply for the second month running, the highest since January.

“Vietnamese manufacturing sector returned to growth in June thanks to COVID-19 being brought under control and subsequent improvements in customer demand within Vietnam,” Andrew Harker, economics director at IHS Markit commented on the survey results, noting that “the main hurdle to a strengthening recovery is likely to be the performance of the global economy, which is still suffering due to the virus.”

A PMI reading above 50 shows an expansion of the manufacturing sector compared to the previous month; below 50 represents a contraction; while 50 indicates no change.

(XINHUA)

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Several forest fire break out in central Vietnam

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Several forest fires have broken out and reoccurred in Vietnam‘s central provinces over the past few weeks, local media reported.

A wildfire in the central province of Ha Tinh has flared up twice in two days, and had not been under control as of Tuesday night, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday, noting that it had spread down the protective forest area and closed to local people’s houses.

In the central Nghe An province, a forest fire that raged for several hours was finally extinguished on Tuesday morning. The fire started at 8:00 p.m. local time on Monday evening in a pine forest, then quickly spread over due to hot weather and strong winds. More than 200 households who live near the fire were evacuated, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Over 2,000 people including police officers, soldiers, local authorities and local residents helped to put out the fire. Although the forest fire has been brought under control, firefighters are still at the scene to prevent it from flaring up again.

Nghe An is a locality under high risk of fires, with eight fires recorded in June alone, destroying over 33 hectares of forest, according to the news agency.

On Tuesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc directed relevant ministries, agencies and localities to strengthen forest fire prevention and fighting by implementing urgent measures, noting that hot weather carries considerable risks.

Extreme heatwaves have hit the country since late May this year, putting northern-central provinces at risk of forest fires. According to the country’s National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, hot weather is set to scorch northern and northern-central provinces this week with temperatures from 35 to 38 degrees Celsius.

(XINHUA)

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3 students drown in central Vietnam

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Three girls have drowned while swimming in a river in Vietnam‘s central Ha Tinh province, local media reported on Wednesday.

The three victims, who were all six graders of a local school in Ha Tinh’s Duc Tho District, drowned while taking a bath in river on Tuesday afternoon, local newspaper Phap Luat (Law) quoted local authorities as reporting.

Nearby residents came to the scene to rescue but the students had drowned deep in the river, said the newspaper, noting that their bodies were found on the same day at around 6 p.m. local time.

An average of 2,000 children in Vietnam died of drowning every year, making it the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children in the country, according to its Ministry of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs.

(XINHUA)

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Interview: RCEP manifests free trade, multilateralism amid global difficulties: Vietnamese scholars

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The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact, once signed, will act as a meaningful symbol of trade liberalization and multilateralism, not only in the region but also in the world, said a Vietnamese scholar.

Vo Tri Thanh, former deputy head of Vietnam‘s Central Institute for Economic Management, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the current progress of concluding the mega free trade agreement demonstrated the firm commitment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners to upholding an open, inclusive and rule-based multilateral trading system.

In the 36th ASEAN Summit Chairman’s Statement released on Saturday, leaders of the member countries welcomed the progress made for the full conclusion of the negotiations of the RCEP and looked forward to the signing of the deal by the end of 2020.

Earlier on June 23, economic ministers of the 10 ASEAN member states as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand have reaffirmed their commitment to signing the pact this year.

Thanh believed that the deal will be signed by the end of this year given the determination of participating countries.

The RCEP, initiated by ASEAN in 2012, is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the association and its six FTA partners — China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

According to Thanh, the signing of RCEP will be especially meaningful, given the context that trade protectionism has been rising in the past five years, colliding with the trend of trade liberalization and globalization.

“It will act as a manifesto that regardless of difficulties and complex developments, RCEP participating countries still keep faith in free trade, support it and proceed it with optimism, and that deepening connectivity is still the main trend in the region and the world,” said the expert.

As a free trade agreement, RCEP matters in the way it synchronizes the progress of integration and development in the Asia-Pacific, which is a step towards the formation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), Thanh said.

In the newly released 36th ASEAN Summit’s Chairman Statement, the leaders underscored the importance of free trade agreements like RCEP in transforming the region into a global ASEAN, in contributing to the postpandemic recovery and in creating resilient supply chains.

Amid unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the free trade agreement is expected to boost participating countries’ growth, trade and investment, businesses and employment, among others.

Once signed, the RCEP will be the world’s largest free trade bloc, accounting for 45 percent of the world population, 40 percent of global trade and around one-third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

RCEP’s large market size and strong trade and investment linkages between the ASEAN and its dialogue partners suggest that any small reduction in trade barriers, which the deal focuses on, will significantly increase trade benefits, Vo Dai Luoc, former head of Hanoi-based Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua.

“These benefits will then transform into greater amounts of jobs created, and thus lead to increased GDP and poverty reduction in emerging ASEAN economies such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar,” Luoc said.

As trade barriers are lowered and market access for goods and services are improved, ASEAN will become more attractive to foreign companies that want to participate in a more integrated area.

“This will enhance transparency in trade and investment, as well as facilitate small and medium-sized businesses of the ASEAN to participate in global and regional supply chains,” the expert added.

By the implementation of RCEP, the ASEAN can help reconnect the regional and global supply chain, which was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through which the bloc can affirm its role in the regional and the world economy.

“Being the ASEAN Chair 2020 and a strong advocate of the free trade deal, Vietnam will definitely be benefited from it with immediate impacts,” he said.

According to the expert, RCEP will hand Vietnamese businesses the opportunity to boost exports, participate in new value chains and attract more foreign investment. The import tax cuts will open up new opportunities for products from prominent sectors such as telecommunications, information technology, textiles and footwear, and agriculture.

Echoing Luoc’s view, Thanh further commented that RCEP joining will urge ASEAN countries to step up reforms and innovations, as well as to improve investment and business environment.

“To investors, an ASEAN economy is much more attractive when it is placed as part of the mega regional production value chain, instead of standing alone,” the expert said.

Thanh also said China has stood out as an important trade partner of ASEAN, and an active player committed to pushing forward the negotiations.

“Together with the ASEAN’s role in constructing a cooperative institutional base, China’s role is very important to the signing and implementation of RCEP,” Thanh said.

(XINHUA)

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Vietnam records 2 new COVID-19 cases

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Vietnam reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing its total confirmed cases to 355 with zero deaths so far, according to the Ministry of Health.

The latest cases were two Vietnamese women recently returning to the country from Kuwait, said the ministry, noting that they were quarantined upon arrival and are being treated in Hanoi capital city.

Meanwhile, as many as 330 patients in the country have totally recovered from the disease, said the ministry.

Vietnam has recorded no local transmission for 72 straight days while there are over 7,800 people being quarantined and monitored in the country, according to the health ministry.

(XINHUA)

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At ASEAN talks, Vietnam condemns actions fuelling instability

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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday condemned actions creating instability in South East Asia, without directly naming China, during his remarks at Friday’s opening of the 36th ASEAN Summit, which was being held online.

“While the whole world is struggling to fight the epidemic, there are irresponsible actions that violate international laws, affecting the security and stability in some areas, including our region,” Phuc told fellow South East Asian leaders from Hanoi.

Phuc did not directly mention China’s recent actions in the South China Sea but Vietnam has been critical in the past of Beijing’s provocative acts in the disputed waters.

China has announced it is establishing “governed’’ administrative districts for the contested Spratly and Paracel Islands.

It has also sunk Vietnamese fishing vessels.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities over reefs and outcrops in the area, which is also claimed in part by Vietnam.

Phuc said that the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) must improve “mechanisms for dialogue, cooperating to build trust, and reinforcing an open, transparent and rules-based order.”

He also called on ASEAN and China to strictly comply with the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and work to establish an effective Code of Conduct (COC) in line with international law.

The code of conduct is an ASEAN agreement the member states have been working on in response to China’s aggressive territorial claims.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Vietnam records no new COVID-19 cases, total confirmed cases remaining at 352

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Vietnam reported no new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, leaving its total confirmed cases unchanged at 352 with zero deaths so far, according to its Ministry of Health.

As many as 329 patients have totally recovered from the disease, said the ministry.

Vietnam has recorded no local transmission for 70 straight days while there are over 9,400 people being quarantined and monitored in the country, according to the health ministry.

(XINHUA)

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