6.2-Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Off Eastern Indonesia

An earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.2, rocked off Indonesia’s eastern province of North Maluku last night, without causing a tsunami, said the country’s meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency.

The agency initially said, the quake measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, but later revised its intensity.

The earthquake, with a depth of 152 km, happened at 19:51 p.m. Jakarta time (1251 GMT) with its epicentre being 11 km north-east of Jailolo sub-district, in West Halmahera district of North Maluku province, it said.

The tremors of the earthquake, which did not potentially trigger giant waves, were also felt in the nearby provinces of North Sulawesi and Gorontalo, according to the agency

Source: Nam News Network

3 ASEAN nations to boycott defense meeting hosted by Myanmar junta

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are boycotting a major regional defense conference this week because it will be held in Myanmar and chaired by the military junta, local media reports said.

The annual ASEAN Air Chiefs Conference brings together the top air force officials from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila will not send representatives, the Singapore-based Straits Times reported Sept. 7.

The newspaper reported on Aug. 7 that Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam have yet to respond regarding the conference, and the chief of defense of the Cambodian Air Force had declined to comment on the matter. Thailand, meanwhile, plans to attend, the report said.

The conference, set to begin in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyitaw on Tuesday and run through Friday, will be chaired by junta’s Air Force Chief Gen. Tun Aung, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. and U.K.

RFA contacted representatives of the three countries to confirm the reports that they would not take part.

“The Air Force commander will not attend the Air Chiefs Conference and will not be represented,” Indonesian Air Force spokesperson Agung Sasongko told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Indonesia is this year’s ASEAN chair, and the bloc has banned representatives from the Myanmar junta from its meetings.

A spokesperson for Malaysian Air Force told BenarNews that the office of the Air Force Commander has not yet made a decision on whether to attend.

BenarNews was not able to reach a representative from the government of the Philippines for comment.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines’ decision not to attend the conference shows that ASEAN’s support for the Myanmar junta, officially known as the military council, is declining, said Yadanar Maung, a spokesperson for Justice For Myanmar, which investigates business and government corruption and exploitation. It has also called for boycott.

Maung Maung Swe, deputy defense secretary of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government welcomed the boycott by the three countries, and said it reflects the increased isolation facing the junta.

“What this shows is that the military council, which has committed various war crimes, is in a political downfall in the international arena and that the international community is no longer willing to deal with them,” he said.

He also said that other ASEAN countries should be aware that their political reputation may be affected if they decide to attend the conference.

ASEAN countries that are close to the West will weigh their interests before deciding to attend the conference, said Myanmar-based political analyst Sai Kyi Zin Soe.

“The countries that are close to the West will consider that their participation in the conference will bring other pressures on them and cause some impact on their interests as well,” he said. “But at the moment, it’s hard to see how it will directly affect the military council.”

RFA called junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, for comment, but his phone rang unanswered.

Thein Tun Oo, executive director of the Thayninga Institute for Strategic Studies that is made up of former military officers, told RFA that there is no harm to Myanmar if some ASEAN countries do not attend the conference.

“[The ASEAN countries] always talk about some issues regarding Myanmar and the ASEAN 5-Point Consensus,” he said, referring to an agreement made by member nations on restoring peace in Myanmar, which has been ignored by the junta.

“If some of them decide not to attend, just let them [not attend],” he said, adding that they would miss out on any information shared during the conference.

Attacking civilians

General Tun Aung, who will chair the conference, was appointed as the Myanmar Air Force chief by the junta in January 2022.

Since then, he has ordered and commanded more than 930 airstrikes on civilians, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a project that systematically monitors and records military strikes. It said that nearly a thousand people were killed during those attacks.

Former Air Force Sergeant Zeya, who has joined the anti-junta civil disobedience movement, said that other ASEAN countries should not attend the conference to be held by the junta, which is attacking and killing its own people, including children.

“I am truly grateful to and welcome the decision of these three countries to boycott the Air Chiefs Conference to be held by the Myanmar junta which is brutally killing its own civilians and children,” he said.

“Other ASEAN countries should follow suit, because they would downgrade themselves if they cooperate with such a murderous and unprofessional military.”

Source: Radio Free Asia

Ample room remains for Vietnam-Japan cooperation in supporting industries

There remains ample room for Vietnamese and Japanese enterprises to foster cooperation in supporting industries that are increasingly developing and playing an important role in Vietnam’s participation in the global supply chain as well as the global value chain, insiders have said.

Untapped potential

“We see high potential in supporting industries in Vietnam,” Yasuo Shimokura, General Director of MISUMI Vietnam – a manufacturer and distributor of standard components for factory automation based in Bac Ninh province told Vietnam News.

“We are now focusing on developing partnerships with Vietnamese suppliers that can work as Misumi Vietnam’s original equipment manufacturers. More and more suppliers are becoming competitive to provide good quality products with very reasonable prices.”

He said: “In addition, I have seen many cases of Vietnamese engineers who worked at prestigious Japanese or European manufacturing companies started up their own material processing or machine building companies. In these 4-5 years, the level of these companies has been steadily improving.”

“As Vietnam’s economy grows, I believe this trend will continue and the supporting industries in Vietnam will surely grow and become strengthened,” the representative from MISUMI Vietnam said.

A representative from TanCo Consulting and Trading JSC in Hanoi agreed.

“Vietnam is a developing country and attracts huge foreign direct investment from developed countries in Asia and the world, so the demand for supporting industries is extremely large,” he told Vietnam News.

“Foreign investors always want to look for supporting companies in many fields to specialise and save costs. The supporting industry in Vietnam is still young, so the potential of this industry is huge,” he said. The representative said Japan is a developed country and is very strong in engineering and technology while Vietnam is a developing country with an abundant workforce of all ages.

“Vietnamese businesses in supporting industries want to cooperate with Japanese businesses to exchange, learn and exchange techniques and technology. Thus, I think cooperation prospects between Japanese and Vietnamese businesses in this field see positive prospects ahead,” he said.

Sharing his idea, General Director of MISUMI Vietnam said coordination in supporting industries between Vietnamese and Japanese companies has enjoyed many good opportunities and potential for development.

However, both Vietnamese and Japanese companies in the field and the Vietnamese Government should facilitate the cooperation, he said.

To attract more Japanese companies in supporting industries to come and invest in the country, Yasuo suggested that the State should accelerate reform toward a more transparent, fair legal and regulatory environment.

The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) should enhance current activities for business matching between Japanese and Vietnamese companies, he said.

“The quality of the supporting products should be more high level,” he suggested.

For his part, the representative from TanCo Consulting and Trading JSC said it is necessary to have effective policies from the Government to help businesses in supporting industries especially small and medium-sized ones further develop in terms of capital, costs, procedures, taxes, land, technology and skilled workforce.

“Though Vietnam’s policies in supporting industries have been fully promulgated over the past time, in practice, there are still many shortcomings.”

“Not to mention, the legal documents related to the supporting industry are only at the level of decrees and circulars, while the supporting industry is an important area, Vietnam fails to have a law on this field.”

“Thus, policies on developing supporting industries are there, but they have yet to create a good enough legal corridor for enterprises to develop,” he noted.

Vietnam is now home to about 2,000 enterprises manufacturing spare parts and components. Of them, 300 have participated in global support chains, providing more than 600,000 jobs, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

These businesses have continuously tried to improve product quality, strengthen competitiveness, and meet strict market requirements, it said, adding that the State has created favourable conditions for supporting industry firms to  sharpen their competitiveness.

To promote supporting industries, the MoIT has proposed to the Government policies to support enterprises operating in supplying parts and materials for garment and textile, footwear, electronics, automobile production and assembly and mechanical engineering to promote the development of supporting industries in Vietnam.

The proposed support policies, including an interest rate subsidy of 3%, are expected to create a stimulus to part-supplying enterprises to improve their competitiveness and participate in the supply chains of multinational corporations (MNCs).

The ministry said that enterprises must not be subject to global minimum tax to be eligible for the support policies.

The support would include corporate income tax incentives, support in investment promotion, human resource training, research and development, technology application, renovation and transfer and credit support to enable domestic enterprises to become suppliers of MNCs, according to the ministry.

The priority would be given to sectors including garment and textile, footwear, electronics, automobile production and assembly and mechanical engineering, besides others, including moulds, mechanical details with high-quality standards used for electronics, mechatronics, microelectronics, robots, electronic and optoelectronics components, circuits and new materials./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Laos rolls out new credit policy to motivate economic growth

In a bid to increase domestic production and deal with ongoing economic challenges, the Bank of Laos (BOL) has allocated 4.5 trillion LAK (225 million USD) toward a credit policy to support local businesses.

Local media reported that this financial move aligns with the Lao Government’s aim to reduce imports and bolster the production capacities of domestic industries. This will eventually lead to a rise in exports that will help reinstate the country’s depleting foreign exchange reserves, thereby strengthening the Lao kip and reducing inflation rates.

Under the policy in effect until 2025, the central bank offers loans to commercial banks at a low annual interest rate of 2.5%, allowing the latter to charge a maximum interest rate of 6% from customers who can apply for loans of up to 5 billion LAK.

Notably, the BOL’s recent decision outlines the annual allocation of 100 billion LAK to Vientiane, Champassak, and Savannakhet provinces, and 80 billion LAK to each of several other provinces.

Businesses engaged in agriculture, forestry, industry, commerce, information, culture, and tourism are eligible beneficiaries who could apply for this loan. Agriculture and forestry businesses will also be encouraged to seek financial assistance for various purposes, including short-term crop cultivation, animal husbandry, and the cultivation of fruit trees and industrial plants like rubber, eucalyptus, and agarwood.

The industry and commerce sector can also apply for monetary support for processing, particularly agricultural products, along with essential items required in construction, packaging, chemicals, and handicrafts. Services and hospitality businesses, including hotels, tourist facilities, road access improvement projects, tour operators, and tourism product providers could also be potential applicants for this favourable loan scheme.

Additionally, in order to reduce financial pressures on Lao residents, on 22 August, the BOL implemented the government’s credit policy, allocating 2.5 trillion LAK to reduce interest costs on loans secured by businesses from commercial banks, aiming to stimulate economic growth.

In recent months, the Lao Government has rolled out several measures to address economic and financial challenges, including the recent issuance of a third tranche of bonds worth 3 trillion LAK. This bond sale is part of the government’s comprehensive strategy to confront and ease the nation’s economic woes./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Foreign Minister receives leader of Belgium’s Flanders region

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son hosted a reception in Hanoi on September 12 for Jan Jambon, visiting Minister-President of the Government of the Belgian region of Flanders.

Son welcomed the Flanders leader and a delegation of 30 large Belgian firms to Vietnam on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and 5-year bilateral strategic partnership in agriculture.

The Vietnamese FM affirmed that Vietnam always values and is keen on bolstering the comprehensive partnership with Belgium and its regions.

For his part, Jambon spoke highly of the role and position of Vietnam in the region and the world as well as the country’s efforts in improving its investment and business environment and Vietnam’s socio-economic achievements after COVID-19 pandemic.

Flanders considers Vietnam a priority partner in the region, he underlined, suggesting many potential areas for bilateral cooperation in the time to come, including strong fields in Flanders such as logistics, transport, agriculture and training.

The two sides shared delight at the effective delegation exchanges and meetings not only at federal but also regional and community levels. They hailed the efficiency of collaboration between Vietnam and Belgium in general and Vietnam and Flanders in particular, especially projects in areas of industrial parks, seaports, renewable energy, and agriculture.

Son held that economic cooperation is an important pillar in the Vietnam-Belgium partnership, and thanked Flanders for ratifying the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). The minister proposed that Flanders hasten the Belgian Federal Parliament to approve the EVIPA at an earlier date.

He also expressed hope that Belgium will advise the European Commission to remove the “yellow card” on Vietnamese seafood exports.

Vietnam is working toward cooperation in areas of electronic chip production, renewable energy, digital transformation, and smart agriculture, he said. Son suggested that the Belgian region strengthen cooperation with the International Mekong River Commission in the development, management and sustainable and effective use of Mekong River water resources.

Jambon noted his support for Vietnam in strengthening the comprehensive partnership with the EU and pledged to prompt the Belgium Federal Parliament to approve the EVIPA. He pledged that Flanders will continue to share experience with and support the Mekong River Commission in dealing with current challenges./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

PM receives Mongolian Minister of Justice and Home Affairs

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh received visiting Mongolian Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Khishgee Nyambaatar in Hanoi on September 12.

The Government leader noted his pleasure that over the past 70 years since Vietnam and Mongolia set up their diplomatic relations, the bilateral relationship has continuously been reinforced and developed despite fluctuations in the world and regional situation.

The exchange of delegations at high and all levels has been maintained regularly, while mutual understanding and trust have been deepened, and cooperation in all fields has been strengthened, he noted.

He said that security-defence has been an important pillar in the overall relations between the two countries, while bilateral economic and trade collaboration has enjoyed new progress, with two-way trade reaching 85 million USD in 2022 and boasting large room for further growth.

PM Chinh highly valued Mongolia’s great attention to the relations with Vietnam and considering Vietnam as a leading partner in Southeast Asia. He affirmed that Vietnam always treasures and hopes to promote ties with Mongolia in line with the capacity and demands of both sides, meeting the interests and aspirations of their people.

Amid the rapid, complicated and unpredictable regional and world situation, the two countries should work closely together to enhance the efficiency of the bilateral cooperation, said PM Chinh.

He said that the two sides should continue to increase delegation exchanges, promoting security-defence cooperation, developing their roles in issues of common interest, including maintaining peace, stability and development in the region and the world, and continuing to beefing up cooperation in economy, trade, and investment.

Vietnam and Mongolia should re-negotiate an air transport agreement, and expand the Vietnam-China-Mongolia railway route, while promoting people-to-people exchanges and tourism cooperation, said the Government leader.

For his part, Nyambaatar conveyed the Mongolian President’s regards to PM Chinh.

He briefed his host on the outcomes of his earlier talks with Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security Gen. To Lam, saying that the two sides signed a number of cooperation agreements in criminal prevention and combat, especially trans-national criminals.

He hoped that during the upcoming Vietnam visit by the Mongolian President, the two countries will elevate their ties to a new level, and diversify their partnership in economy and culture to match their sound political relations.

The Mongolian Government has issued policies to create favourable conditions for businesses, including those from Vietnam, to invest effectively in Mongolia, said the minister.

Agreeing with the Mongolian minister’s opinions, PM Chinh assigned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to define the contents of the aspirations of the two sides in lifting up the bilateral relationship to a new height, making it deeper, more practical and effective.

In the fields of home affairs and justice, PM Chinh proposed the Mongolian Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs to coordinate with Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security to share experience in cavalry training, specialised training, crime prevention, ensuring information network security, and enhancing intelligence information exchange, while complementing each other on issues of each other’s strength and demand./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Japan’s Tokyu Group keen on further promoting cooperation with Binh Duong

Japan’s Tokyu Group Chairman Nomoto Hirofumi has pledged to continue cooperating and sharing its 100-year experience with the southern province of Binh Duong to turn the locality into a green, smart and worth-living city.

Hirofumi made the commitment at a meeting with Secretary of the Party Committee of Binh Duong province Nguyen Van Loi on September 12.

Briefing the provincial leader on the outcomes of cooperation between the Tokyu Group and Becamex IDC in developing infrastructure for Binh Duong New City, he said that it has encouraged other Japanese enterprises to invest in Binh Duong, especially in the locality’s prioritised areas such as urban development and transport infrastructure expansion.

For his part, Loi welcomed the Tokyu Group’s investment in Binh Duong and partnership with Becamex IDC. The two sides have conducted many service and urban development projects in the new city of Binh Duong, helping to implement the province’s roadmap in industrial, service and urban development, he noted.

According to the provincial leader, Binh Duong is focusing on developing its transport infrastructure. It has launched the construction of Belt Road No. 3 and will start the building of Ho Chi Minh City-Thu Dau Mot-Chon Thanh Expressway in 2024. Binh Duong is also working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on a trans-Asia railway project and another to connect the local metro line with Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, while investing 10 trillion VND to develop a BRT system.

Loi said that Binh Duong has zoned off 20,000 hectares of land for urban development and 25,000 hectares for industrial development. He said the province hopes to strengthen cooperation with strong firms such as Tokyu in prioritised areas.

Currently, Japan is the second biggest investor in Binh Duong province with 350 projects worth 5.9 billion USD.

The Tokyu Group has engaged in many projects in Binh Duong, including Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City that was launched in 2012 in collaboration with Becamex. The project has a total investment of 1.2 billion USD./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

RoK – Vietnam Women’s Forum held in Seoul

The 10th Republic of Korea (RoK) – Vietnam Women’s Forum, held by the Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI) and the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), took place in Seoul on September 12.

Opening the event, VWU Vice President Ton Ngoc Hanh said relations between Vietnam and the RoK have recorded impressive strides, and women of both countries have made substantial contributions to these special ties.

Cooperation between Vietnamese and Korean women has been growing fast in both quantity and quality, she noted, adding that the event, held at the initiative of KWDI and An Myong-ok – a former female parliamentarian of the RoK, has been organised for more than 10 years and become a successful bilateral forum for sharing experience in promoting gender equality in various fields and helping enhance mutual understanding and friendship.

The theme of this year’s forum, “Women, peace and security”, not only matched the international context and priorities in the agenda of the United Nations and governments, but was also meaningful to both Vietnam and the RoK when it comes to traditional and non-traditional issues, Hanh went on.

KWDI President Mun Yoo Kyoung said that with a focus on women’s role in peace and security, the 10th forum talked about future orientations for the peace and security agenda, the position of the VWU, and social affairs in the RoK.

After a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum, rotated between the two countries, was resumed in the in-person format. It is expected to be a good chance to open up a new period of more effective exchanges between Vietnamese and Korean women./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency