Featured Topic: Vietnam

For those travelers looking for options for five-star hotels in Vietnam, the Amanoi resorts and residences are a great choice. Located along the southern coast of lush, Southeast Asian country, they offer the perfect balance between luxurious accommodations and an authentic exotic experience.

 

In particular, Amonoi is situated right between one of Vietnam’s most beautiful national parks, Nui Chua National Park, and an exquisite marine reserve. Adventurers will find miles of untouched wilderness as they hike peacefully through a green tropical forest teaming with a rainbow of flowering plants, colorful birds, and towering trees. At the marine reserve, visitors come to explore the pristine waters of the Vinh Hy Bay, filled with rare coral, uniquely vibrant schools of fish, and a beauty and serenity impossible to describe.

 

Back at the resort Amanoi’s five-star hotel, status is clearly evident. Guests can treat themselves to the pampering of a host of treatments along the shores of a tranquil, lovely lake covered in deliciously fragrant lotus blossoms. There are specialty scrubs, facials, hair care opportunities, and both half-day or whole-day wellness experiences. Amanoi offers their own brand of all-natural products to complete the perfect spa experience.

 

Dining at Amanoi is an unforgettable experience. Open to non-residents as well as hotel guests, all enjoy the freshest fish from the Vinh Hy Bay, delivered anew each day straight from the fishing boats that ply the bay for its incredible culinary delights. The fish is prepared with traditional simplicity using local ingredients, resulting in an incomparable dining experience. The meal is unforgettably complemented by a panoramic view of the bay beyond the green, rolling hills of the surrounding area.

 

Amanoi offers the option of the purchase of a villa. Owners have access to a private beach and all of the resorts amazing facilities, including the Aman Spa overlooking the lotus-filled lake. The incredible location, superior accommodations, and abundant dining choices collaborate to make an Amonoi Villa purchase an amazing life-style choice.

Hoang Trung Hai, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, recently met with the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation in Myanmar, U Myint Hlaing, as well as the Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Tin Naing Thein. Topics on the discussion table included cooperation in fields “in accordance with the guidance of the two countries’ leaders.” Economic cohesion was also discussed with an agreement on “early implementation of specific projects and acceleration of the implementation of the existing agreements.”

Big Talks

Other major areas such as politics and diplomacy were also on the discussion table and an agreement between the two countries was made vis-à-vis delegation exchange “at all levels” as well as “people-to-people exchange.” When it came to what can be done to increase regional cooperation, there is already much of this in place. For example, the support Vietnam has lent to Myanmar’s “bid to assume ASEAN 2014 Chairmanship.” As for Myanmar, it reiterated its position vis-à-vis ASEAN East Sea issues “respecting the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed between ASEAN and China, and towards the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).”

More Support

In addition, the opening ceremony of the Vietnam and Myanmar business cooperation conference that Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo and Hai (VP and Deputy PM of Vietnam) attended in Nay Pyi Taw took place. This was definitely a big cheering contest by both countries, of both countries’ huge achievements and efforts over the years of increased cooperation.

Talks in Vietnam on Cooperation Issues

Following talks in Nay Pyi Taw (Vietnam) last week between Hoang Trung Hai (Deputy PM to Vietnam) and Thia Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo (VP to Myanmar), an agreement was reached between the two countries to “increase cooperation” in areas such as agriculture, aviation, oil, automobile, finance and more. On the table for discussion was the countries eco-political status, bilateral relations and possible ways of “boosting cooperation” in the near future, especially vis-à-vis developments in economic trade vis-à-vis what has been the case in the past. Further, if Myanmar has better conditions, Hai said, there would be more Vietnamese firms working there.

Other Cooperation

Myanmar and Vietnam also saw the possibility of cooperation from other countries within the ASEAN and sub-regional framework like “cooperation between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), the South Economic Corridor (SEC) as well as at international fora.”

Animal Husbandry Cooperation

A memorandum was then signed on cooperation of animal husbandry between the Myanmar Ministry of Livestock Breeding and Fisheries, and the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as a MoU on development cooperation between Myanmar’s Ministry of Finance and Revenue and the Vietnam Ministry of Finance.

Good Working Background

There is space for substantial optimism since Myanmar and Vietnamese leaders both recognized efforts and achievements that have been made in business over the last few years, especially this year with the implementation of the April high-level agreement, “creating favorable conditions for business and cooperation.” There is much work to be done still, but it looks like it’s a very positive environment in which to do this.

Turkey and Vietnam Need to Join Forces

It seems that if there was greater cooperation between Vietnam and Turkey, the economy climates of both countries would greatly benefit. According to an article in the Vietnam News, they need to get on to this though and start making real efforts so that they will thrive. This is the case for many areas such as: “economics, education and training, [and] science and technology.” It was just two days ago that Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister of Vietnam, spoke about this in a statement in which he “received outgoing Turkish Ambassador Ates Oktem in Ha Noi.” He had been impressed with the Ambassador’s efforts in his time in office which helped “develop the Vietnam-Turkish friendship and co-operation.”

Better Buddies

Although there is still a way to go, things have for sure improved between Turkey and Vietnam in the last few years. For example, just last year, trading between the two countries reached US$850m. At the moment, Turkey and Vietnam are in the process of signing an “investment encouragement and double taxation avoidance agreements.” It is anticipated that these will really give a jumpstart to economic cooperation and partnerships between the two countries.

Put Differences Aside

It is true that there has been tension between the two countries over the years. But imagine what would happen if these were totally put to one side? As it is business between Turkey and Vietnam is booming and got to almost $1bn last year, even with the current political instability. There has been a steady increase of trade between the two countries over the last few years “from almost nothing to $857m in 2010.” In 2002, this figure was just a little more than $100m.

It is Turkey that is vehement in trying to improve relations with Vietnam and working hard towards this goal. It intends to “appoint a trade counselor” to its Hanoi embassy. Vietnam is home to around 86 million people and is the world’s 13th biggest population. So it’s worth everyone working closely with Vietnam, but especially Turkey.

Border Clashes Negatively Impact Trade

There’s going to be trouble with the Asian economy, and a lot of it. That’s if the situation between Thailand and Cambodia continues. Currently the border clashes there are so detrimental to good sentiments between the two countries, that even though trade is developing, without an end to these clashes, the market share of Thailand goods in Cambodia will be reduced.

According to Kasikorn Research Center (KRC), what will happen is that Thai exporters and potential business investors will lose confidence in placing their businesses in Cambodia. In addition, other countries will start putting pressure on them to take business elsewhere, especially Vietnam.

Good Trading Between Thailand and Cambodia

But it would be a real shame if things went sour. Investment between Thailand and Cambodia has been increasing continuously over the last few years from $1.4bn in 2007 to $2.5bn in 2010. Thailand has been benefitting from this vis-à-vis trade. In addition, trade between the two countries accounts for at least 70 percent of overall trade – that is a huge amount that would be devastating for both places if it things stopped going well.

It’s not all been great news though. In March 2011 there was only a slight increase in export volume. Also, due to border clashes, there was a drop from 34.9 percent in 2008 to 29.9 percent in 2009. There was a large plummet of Thai investment in Cambodia from the 2008 figure of $30.7m to the 2010 figure of $1m.

Vietnam-Cambodia Trade Figures

Consequently there was additional merchandise from Vietnam to the Cambodian market with an increase of 19.5 percent in 2008 to 23.7 percent in 2009. But Vietnamese exports to Cambodia also increased in 2010 by a significant 35.3 percent, culminating in $1.5bn. But anyway Vietnam ranks as Cambodia’s largest investor with “an accumulated investment value of around $49.5m. Thailand comes in second at $47.2m, and Singapore in third place at $24.9m.

So there is work to be done. It would clearly be a huge economic shame if the political situation between Thailand and Cambodia wasn’t resolved – and fast.

Are Asian Women Financially Savvy Today?

Years ago the answer for sure would have been a resounding “no.” But today things are somewhat different. It seems that women in Asia (especially those married, 30+, in the workforce) know their won from their yen and their level of competence is likely to increase further “especially among the younger generation.”

For example, women from Thailand topped financial planning (87) and investment (69.3) scores for financial literacy but Vietnamese women also did pretty well, scoring 70.1 overall, placing them in fourth place. There wasn’t much to sniff at with women from the Philippines either (who did extremely well in Financial Planning), but those from Korea and Japan could probably learn a lesson or two on how to get more financially in-the-know.

Survey Assesses Savvyness

It was the MasterCard Index of Financial Literacy that took a survey of these countries. The questions were posed to 24 markets around APMEA (Asia/Pacific Middle East Africa). It looked at three main areas: Basic Money Management (budgeting, savings and credit responsibility); Financial Planning (their understanding of financial products and services as well as ability to make long-term financial plans); Investment (understanding of risks and products associated with investments). In general, Asian women as a whole did best in Financial Planning.

In developed markets it was women from Australia and New Zealand who were most successful in their financial knowledge. Females from Singapore are pretty good at basic money management but were pretty clueless vis-à-vis anything to do with investments. But when looking at financial literacy, India and China don’t seem to be all that with it.

According to VP of Communications for Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard Worldwide, Georgette Tan, “this new MasterCard Index has certainly provided us with fresh insights to women’s aptitude for and knowledge of managing their finances. While it is encouraging to see that women across Asia/Pacific have some degree of financial literacy, it is also apparent that there is still work to be done to improve levels across the board.” This is important as complexities increase in the financial world resulting in a necessity for women to become “more financially confident and competent.” MasterCard also seeks to give more power to these women.

Malaysia: Major Asia Asset

Just two days ago a $3.7bn investment announcement came from Malaysia, set to “to jumpstart foreign interest in its economy even as other Asian countries try to stem speculative inflows in search of higher-yielding markets.” The country’s Prime Minister (Najib Razak) intends to try and get $444bn worth of investments resulting in Malaysia becoming a “developed country by 2020,” including $165m by Asia Media to create digital media infrastructure as well as the establishment of a state-owned energy development agency to be able to attract $106m worth of investments this year. This is all part of the country’s “Economic Transformation Programme,” a project that is due to be put into practice over the next decade.

Other Asian Countries Less Successful

Malaysia has been doing pretty well recently vis-à-vis investments. Indeed it has already attracted around $5bn in pledges from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell Pic as well as other (smaller) projects. For example Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are having quite a few issues attracting investments anything near to the success of neighboring Malaysia.

But this hasn’t deterred Najib who is determined to ensure Malaysia stays one step ahead, “transforming [it] into a high-income economy within 10 years by generating new growth areas and restructuring the economy to lure investors.” Yet this goal is not as easy as it may seem. Investment blueprints from the past aren’t showing such great results. As well, in general the economy has been suffering from a less-than-skilled workforce to enable it to develop into the “financial services hub” it wants to. Yet it is past the stage of being a low-end manufacturing center,” as countries such as Vietnam now have that role.

Notorious Najib

Still, given all these efforts made by the country’s premier, the public is remaining loyal to Najib. Although one has only to look at the facts on the ground to see where the country really is, given that the exchange was down more than 5 percent from where it was just four years ago. While there is now more opportunity for competition, in general, investors are expecting the government to “take more aggressive steps to reduce its fiscal deficit and overhaul an affirmative action policy they say hinders competition.”

Malaysia PJ: Malaysia Post Japan’s Trauma

It might not have been a surprise if any parts of Asia – including Malaysia – would have been negatively impacted by Japan’s trauma. But in fact this hasn’t been the case, according to Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, the country’s Deputy Finance Minister. He claimed that it will “have little impact on the Malaysian economy in 2011.” Vis-à-vis the country’s exports to Japan he said that actually some areas (like plywood and liquid natural gas) would actually probably “increase during the second quarter of this year as Japan increases its reconstruction work of earthquake-damaged areas.”

As well, Malaysia probably won’t be affected by Mid-East and North African troubles either since trade between those countries is anyway only at around 2 percent.

So all in all things are looking good right now for Malaysia. The country has developed a strong enough economy and excellent relations with regions with which to continue exporting to see it through any troubled times Asia may be encountering.

biofuelJapanese and Vietnamese research teams are cooperating on a joint project to develop a clean and renewable natural resource from biomass.

The project, named “Sustainable Integration of Local Agriculture and Biomass Industries,” started in October 2009 and is to last for five years. It will be worked on primarily by researchers from the University of Tokyo (UT) and the Ho chi Min City University of Technology (HCMUT).

According to Dr Phan Dinh, the projects’ goal is to develop methods to produce biofuels, in particular ethanol, from biomass, which is essentially agricultural waste. This project is jointly funded by the Japanese and Vietnamese governments.

VietnamOf pledged investments of approximately $2.93 billion by Vietnamese companies, approximately $900 million have been invested in projects overseas. In 2010, private and state owned companies have invested in 25 countries in 107 projects according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment reported that Vietnamese companies’ investments of $900 million was invested as follows: $700 million was invested in oil exploration and extraction projects, $53 million was invested in the retail trade, $70 million went into agriculture projects, $25 million was invested in energy, and $33 million was invested into telecommunications. Most of these investments have not brought any income into Vietnam because they are still in the beginning stages.

The Fund for Southeast Asia ( ASEAF ) , created by Aureos ( Aureos Capital) , has decided to invest 4.2 million dollars in the stock company of the digital world Anh Tran .

“Vietnam is a country with a young population. Demand for electronic products, including computers, will see a sharp increase in times to come. We have chosen the company Tran Anh after careful studies of its business strategies and management,” informed Dô Doan Kien , head of representative office of Aureos Capital in Vietnam. Following in the footsteps of Aureos Capital, Vietnam Azalea Fund, a fund within Mekong Capital, has spent $ 9.1 million to repurchase 2.7 million shares (6.7% of capital ) of the Joint Stock Company Nam Long Investment.

For its part, VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF) has invested approximately $ 15 million in premium , a private group specializing in the production of tiles sanitary . Ditto for the repurchase of 7.5 % stake in Dragon Capital.

Mekong CapitalMany foreign funds are committed to investing in private companies . Mekong Capital said that it will create a new fund (Mekong III ) from 150 million this year to participate in the capital of non-state joint stock companies in Vietnam. Having made the investment in the company Tran Anh ASEAF mobilize capital to increase its share capital by 250 million dollars . SMEs are the target. “Vietnam is one of our six strategic markets for investment , ” said Doan Kien Doh , head of the representative office of Aureos Capital. “Within 10 years , Vietnamese companies will become the leading emerging companies in Southeast Asia. Private companies operating in many business sectors in Vietnam are helping to create investment opportunities for foreign funds,” said Paul Coleman, financial expert from Price Waterhouse Coopers Vietnam .