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Cambodia and Vietnam Sign Pact for Railway Link

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Nov. 10 – Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to a deal that would connect the railways from Phnom Penh to Vietnam at a cost of more than US$500 million. "China has promised to build the railroad from Phnom Penh to Vietnam as part of the project to create a link from Singapore to Kunming in China," Hor Namhong was quoted as saying by the . In the past, there have been plans to link Southeast Asia by rail. So far, only Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand operating cross-border links.

Trade Ministry Proposes Changes to New Import Licensing System

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Sept. 23 – Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) has proposed changes to the new import licensing system that could limit the categories of imports that need to be registered and reduce trade deficit. The current system,which took effect on Aug. 21, has been costing importers millions of dong. Currently, all import license applications are processed at MIT’s Department of Documents in Hanoi. The new import licensing regulation requires companies to obtain licenses to import items such as automobiles, motorbikes, machines, mobile phones, fruit, coffee, tea, cooking oil, meat, sugar, cocoa, vegetables and specific products made from iron, steel and aluminum.

Vietnam Approves First Wholly Foreign-Owned Banks

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Sept. 11 – Vietnam has approved the licenses for HSBC Holdings Plc. and Standard Chartered Plc. to enter the country's financial market. Prior to this, foreign banks were limited to investing in minority stakes in Vietnamese banks.The banks were approved as wholly-owned units and will be given a year to establish operations in the country. The Vietnam banking sector is still in its infancy with only 10 percent of 86.5 million Vietnamese opening bank accounts. Local incorporation will allow foreign banks to grow their distriution network and attract more clients.

Vietnam May Allow Foreign Investment in First Oil Refinery

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Sept. 9 – The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) has submitted a proposal to allow foreign companies to buy stakes in the country’s first oil refinery. In a press conference, PetroVietnam Chairman Dinh La Thang said that Royal Dutch Shell, India’s Essar oil, and Russian oil firms Zarubezhneft and Rosneft have expressed interest in purchasing stakes in the ongoing construction of the Dung Quat refinery located in the central province of Quang Ngai. "Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has agreed in principle on the sale proposal and is allowing us to proceed," said Dinh La Thang.

ADB Calling For Single Customs Clearance For Mekong Region

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Aug. 25 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping countries in the Mekong region implement a single customs clearance service to facilitate free movement of goods by 2010. It has already conducted workshops on the subject in the countries that include Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Laos, Vietnam and Thailand are scheduled to implement the service by the year's end.Currently, each country in the region has their own customs checkpoints that requires each truck going into the country to be inspected. The regulations only serve to hamper the transport of goods across the region and does not promote free movement of trade.

Ho Chi Minh Real Estate Prices Rise

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Aug. 18 – During the first two weeks of August, real estate prices increased in Ho Chi Minh City. Apartments and land located on District 2’s main roads increased by VND1 million to VND2.5 million per square meter while prices on on Tran Nao and Luong Dinh Cua streets are now worth VND60 million to VND80 million per square meter. In the Van Do Building, apartments are priced at more than VND20 million per square meter while those in the H3 Building on Hoang Dieu street are being sold at VND28 million to VND30 million per square meter.

HCMC Shipping Companies to Charge Extra Fees on Exports

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HO CHI MINH CITY, Aug.8 – Shipping lines based in Ho Chi Minh City will start charging additional fees on backlog freight, ranging from US$50 to US$100 per ton due to delays at ports. Recently, Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K Lines announced that it would charge an extra fee on exports shipped from Vietnam to the US and Canada beginning September 1.

Yahoo! Vietnam Accused of Violating Content Laws

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Aug. 1 – Yahoo! Vietnam has been accused by the Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa) of breaking digital content supply laws. Vinasa says Yahoo! Vietnam had not obtained permission for its news website, www.yahoo.com.vn and is operating it illegally in the country. It went on to say that Yahoo's activities were competing with domestic IT and game companies. The company has been providing web services of Vietnamese versions of Yahoo!Messenger, Yahoo!Answers and Yahoo!Mail without Online Services Provider permission from the government.

The company is licensed to operate in the country only as a representative office and is not allowed to engage in direct trading activities.

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