Vietnam rice exports soar

Vietnam could export 3.5 million tonnes of rice in the first half of this year. — PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI – VIETNAM could export 3.5 million tonnes of rice in the first half of this year, a state-run newspaper reported on Wednesday, meaning a rise of about 43 per cent from last year, helped by a big Philippine contract.

Exporters have so far secured deals totalling 3.1 million tonnes and are about to sign more contracts, the Agriculture Ministry’s Nong Nghiep Vietnam newspaper said, quoting Vietnam Food Association Chairman Truong Thanh Phong.

That amount includes part of a major contract to supply 1.5 million tonnes to the Philippines this year. Some 500,000 tonnes of the 25 per cent broken grain variety is to be delivered in February and March. No schedule has been given for the remainder.

Vietnam, the world’s second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, is targeting total exports this year of 4.5 million to 5 million tonnes. It shipped 2.44 million tonnes in the first half of 2008.

The Southeast Asian country exported 310,000 tonnes of rice in January alone, a record for any month since it began selling the grain abroad in 1989, Phong told Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat at a meeting on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

Phong said export prices could rise as China was facing a severe drought while India has yet to lift a rice export ban.

India was likely to enter the market after its general elections in April or May as its silos were overflowing after a record harvest in 2008, traders said.

Quotations for Vietnam’s 25 per cent broken rice have risen around 13 per cent this month after news of the deal with the Philippines, the Vietnam Food Association said on Tuesday. — REUTERS

Vietnam defers income tax payments to help economy

HANOI, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Vietnam has deferred the payment of income tax, including tax due from local and foreign stock investors, for five months until the end of May, postponing an extension of taxation that should have taken effect in January.

A Finance Ministry circular obtained by Reuters on Wednesday said residents and non-residents with income sourced in Vietnam could delay paying income tax between Jan. 1 and May 31.

The National Assembly will discuss the issue at its next session in May and the Finance Ministry said it would decide what to do after that in the light of the parliamentary debate.

Until this year, income tax was paid only by a small group of Vietnamese and foreigners working in the country classified as high-income earners. A new law on income tax, now deferred, was supposed to have taken effect on Jan. 1.

The main Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange index .VNI has lost more than 12 percent so far this year after a fall of 66 percent in 2008. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Alan Raybould)

VIETNAM: Second case of human avian influenza as bird infections spread

Photo: Tung X. Ngo
Two cases of human avian influenza cases have been confirmed in Vietnam in 2009 and avian influenza is now spreading to poultry in seven central and southern provinces

HANOI, 11 February 2009 (IRIN) – Vietnam’s second human avian influenza case this year has been confirmed by health authorities, who are scrambling to contain the disease that has now spread to poultry in seven central and southern provinces.

Ly Tai Mui, from northern Quang Ninh Province, is seriously ill with pneumonia, having tested positive for human avian flu. The 23-year-old was hospitalised with fever and breathing difficulties in January after eating a sick chicken.

Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the Preventative Health and Environment Agency, told IRIN the woman had shown “no improvement despite continuous positive treatment”.

Nga said no other family members had shown signs of the virus even though they had also eaten infected poultry.

Vaccination efforts have become lax because Vietnam had, until recently, considered itself bird flu-free. Farmers have also delayed reporting outbreaks. In one case a crowd tried to prevent authorities from culling birds that were being transported to the capital and lacked proper health certificates.

“Hundreds of people were trying to grab the chickens,” said Nguyen Huy Dang, a senior official with Hanoi’s Animal Health Department. “They jumped into the pit where we were burning the [live] birds, even after we told them they had been sprayed with chemicals.”

Animal health officials and market workers were unable to stop the crowds, which eventually made off with nearly all 1,500 birds. Police arrested nine people for trying to stop the cull.

“We never expected anything like that to happen,” said Dang. “It’s never happened before so we didn’t have the personnel to prevent it.”

''Hundreds of people were trying to grab the chickens. They jumped into the pit where we were burning the [live] birds, even after we told them they had been sprayed with chemicals.''


Vietnam has made impressive gains against avian influenza since the virus first appeared in the county in December 2003.

After several dozen people died, the government decided in 2005 to vaccinate all 220 million domestic fowl, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

Today, however, vaccination efforts are not as rigorous as when the programme was first introduced. Compliance was initially very high as farmers were terrified their flocks would become sick and be culled. But the success of the programme has also bred complacency.

Tran Cong Xuan, head of the Vietnam Poultry Association, said vaccination programmes this year had been patchy. “In some areas officials have not carried out vaccinations properly, and some localities report fake vaccination results as they want to report achievements.”

Animal health officials in the southern province of Hau Giang said the recent outbreak of bird flu there was due to several farmers failing to register their ducks so the birds were never vaccinated.

“When we learned there were ducks dying, we came, but there were only 212 ducks left [out of about 400],” said Nguyen Hien Trung, head of the provincial animal health department. The rest of the ducks had died, said Trung. “The owners of the farm said they just threw the dead ducks into the river.”

The first human case of bird flu in Vietnam in 2009 was of an eight-year-old girl in northern Thanh Hoa province. She eventually recovered but her older sister, who showed symptoms of the virus, died on 2 January. The girl was never tested for H5N1.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the avian influenza virus is transmitted to humans by eating uncooked meat or coming into contact with the faeces of an infected bird. Cases of human-to-human transmission are very rare but health authorities fear the virus could mutate into a form that could spread easily between people, developing into a pandemic strain that could move between countries.


Vietnam detains two in Japanese aid graft case

HANOI, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Vietnamese police have detained two former Ho Chi Minh City officials over accusations they received bribes from Japanese contractors in an affair that has led Japan to suspend official aid.

Anti-corruption police have charged the former head of the city’s East-West Highway project, Huynh Ngoc Si, with “abuse of power” and searched his house on Wednesday, the government said in a report on the case.

Si’s deputy, who was also detained on Wednesday, faces similar charges, it said.

Vietnamese police launched a criminal investigation last December after Tokyo, Vietnam’s biggest aid donor, suspended its assistance. The Japanese foreign ministry said in December that new loans had been suspended since August.

The government report, citing files sent from a district court in Tokyo, said Japanese executives from a Tokyo-based consultancy bribed Si with a total of $2.6 million in return for consulting contracts in 2001-2003 on the $660 million highway project that used about $428 million in Japanese loans.

“Vietnam is resolved to clarify the case according to the law in order to bring it to justice and will not let any specific case affect the good relations between the two countries,” Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said on Wednesday in a meeting with Japanese Special Ambassador Sugi Ryotaro.

Ryotaro has told Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung the Japanese government was hoping to resume aid to Vietnam by April. (Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Vietnam declares bird flu emergency

HANOI, Vietnam, Feb. 11 (UPI) — The government of Vietnam has announced emergency measures to prevent the spread of a bird flu epidemic from poultry to humans.

Thousands of infected birds have been culled since Type A bird flu was discovered in seven provinces, the Vietnam news service VNS reported Wednesday.

The latest province to suffer an outbreak is Bach Ninh where more than 100 ducks found dead on two farms tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered all government offices and relevant agencies to see that strict prevention measures are implemented to keep the disease from being transmitted to humans.

He also asked that research into development of a vaccine against the H5N1 strain of the virus be accelerated.

Vietnam police to shut down Vietnamese American’s website

Hanoi – Vietnamese police plan to soon shut down a popular website run by a Vietnamese-American entrepreneur for violating rules on copyright and political content, a police official said Wednesday. “The leaders of the company have admitted their wrongdoing,” said Dinh Huu Tan, deputy head of the Hanoi Police Department for Ideological and Cultural Security.

The search portal,, belongs to VON, a company owned by Paul Nguyen Hung.

The newspaper Hanoi Security quoted police sources Wednesday as saying the website had hosted pornography as well as “misleading information” about the Vietnamese Communist Party and government policies.

VON, or the Vietnam Online Network, was licensed in 2007 by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication to operate websites with a commercial purpose.

It operates 13 sites, including the job search sites and, and the automobile sales site Those sites would continue to operate.

But Vietnamese media reported Wednesday that had instead become an electronic news portal and had reprinted information from other news sources in violation of copyright laws and had published unauthorized political content.

Tan said authorities would employ only administrative punishments because they had not gathered enough evidence for a criminal case against VON.

Under Vietnam’s Communist system, all domestic news organizations must be affiliated with the government.

The government has strengthened its control over the media during the past year, prosecuting two reporters who pursued corruption stories aggressively and firing editors at popular newspapers such as Tuoi Tre (Youth), Thanh Nien (The Young) and Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity).

In December, the government also introduced regulations on what types of information private bloggers may include in their blogs.,vietnam-police-to-shut-down-vietnamese-americans-website.html

Nine arrested in Vietnam for preventing chicken cull

Vietnamese police said yesterday they had arrested nine people for trying to stop chickens being taken as part of a cull aimed at preventing the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The nine were arrested Saturday, a Hanoi police source said, without elaborating.

State media said about 100 residents of the capital’s Thuong Tin district had run away with about two thirds of the 1,500 chickens that authorities were intending to cull on Thursday.

Ten animal health and market management officials at the site were unable to prevent members of a crowd from grabbing the chickens and then running away, news website VietnamNet reported.

State-run Vietnam Television said yesterday city authorities had asked the relevant agencies to take measures to prevent any repetition.

Bird flu, which was first recorded in Vietnam in 2003, is now present in five provinces, mostly in the Mekong river delta, according to the national animal health department.

The communist nation’s preventive health office confirmed yesterday a 23-year-old woman had been infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu and had been admitted to hospital in Quang Ninh province on the Chinese border.

The first human case this year reported in Vietnam was an eight-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province who subsequently recovered.

Her 13-year-old sister, who died in hospital earlier, was never tested for H5N1, health officials said.

Vietnam has the the world’s second highest tally of human fatalities from bird flu, with 52 lives lost. Indonesia leads the list with 115 victims.