Tag Archives: Vietnam pollution

Vietnam’s Urgent Health Concerns

A new report says the cancer death rate in Vietnam is among world’s highest, with 73% of 110,000 annual cancer cases resulting in death — which seems to underscore the urgency of Vietnam balancing the needs of its people and its economy.

Speaking in Vietnam’s capital, a director of Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital told an international conference on cancer that Vietnam’s cancer death rate far exceeds the 60% world average and 49% average for developed countries.

Vietnam’s most common cancers are lung, breast, large intestine, stomach, liver, prostate, uterus, cervix, esophagus, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, oral cavity, leukemia, pancreas, ovary and kidney.  Women are six times more likely to have cervical cancer in Ho Chi Minh City  than in Hanoi — where breast cancer is more common; men are more likely to have liver cancer in HCMC and lung cancer in Hanoi.

Cancer diagnoses are increasing by up to 30% per year, and the main reason most of the patients die is particularly concerning:  They wait to see doctors until their conditions are in late stages.

These reports highlight two of Vietnam’s most urgent needs:

  1. Preventive health care and early diagnoses — People need to be encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles (such as quitting smoking) and to seek medical care when they are sick; they also need confidence they will get and can afford quality care.
  2. Environmental protection — Many of the cancers that are killing Vietnamese people are linked to poor air quality, water pollution, food contaminants, and other environmental hazards.

Vietnam’s government has said much about its effort to balance the needs of people, environment, and economy.  It’s incorporated in the communist philosophy.  The latest cancer report is a stark reminder that Vietnam needs to balance its priorities.


The Top Ten Beaches in Vietnam (Part 2)

Last week the Vietnomics blog posted Vietnam’s top three shoreline areas that appear to be good places to invest for the long-term — including top_site_international_businessbeaches that have yet to get much notice from by foreign visitors.  They are Phan Rang, Quy Nhon, and Phu Quoc Island.

Here are the remaining seven of Vietnam’s top 10 beaches, ranked in order starting with the most attractive investment opportunity:

4. Ha Tinh.  Out of sight and out of mind, the North Central province of Ha Tinh knows its strengths and emphasizes agribusiness and industry, not tourism — and why not?  The province is quietly reaching its potential for exports of rice, nuts, fruit, vegetables, livestock, rubber, wood and seafood — and beneath some of this agribusiness lies $60 billion of iron ore soon to be mined; it has infrastructure, including an emerging port, to transport exports from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam; and Ha Tinh will soon be one of Asia’s biggest steel producers.   One of Vietnam’s poorest provinces, Ha Tinh is catching up — with economic growth of 10% and 11% the past two years and a competitiveness ranking of 7th out of the 63 provinces.  The province has nearly 100 miles of shoreline and four seasons to enjoy some fine, unspoiled beaches — and a mountain range in the north to block storms from the East.  It rains a lot and can be cold, as is the case with other refreshing alternatives from southern heat — such as San Francisco and Seattle.  Below are Ha Tinh City and beach.

Ha Tinh CityHa Tinh City and beach

5. Da Nang.  International travelers usually go to one of two resort cities (Hoi An or Hue) that flank the largest and most dynamic city in central Vietnam but tend to skip Da Nang itself.  That’s like touring the US and bypassing Chicago.  Near downtown Da Nang is where you find one of Vietnam’s best beaches:  China Beach (below), the legendary site chosen for the movie Apocalypse Now and a former American television series of that name.  Most of the 19-mile strip of sand from Da Nang to Hoi An is now developed with high-end resorts, but there’s still room for investment on Da Nang’s end of the beach.


6. Nha Trang.  A well-established and popular resort city for domestic vacationers, Nha Trang remains relatively unknown to foreigners.  That is changing fast and the pace of development is accelerating in this picturesque region of islands and sand.

7. Mui Ne.  Not long ago considered one of Vietnam’s best kept secrets, this beach, one of the most beautiful in Vietnam, is now on the beaten path of tourists and well-developed with a wide range of resort options and, coupled with neighboring Phan Thiet, is also becoming a mecca for golfers.Mui Ne

8. Hoi An.  Probably Vietnam’s most popular seacoast destination for international travelers, Hoi An has a balanced combination of great beaches, a historic and beautiful village, and high-end resorts.  It will always be an attractive investment opportunity, but much of the region is developed already.  The photo below is from the pool at one of Asia’s finest resorts, the American-owned Nam Hai.


9. Vung Tau.  For years the resort city of choice for Saigon weekenders, Vung Tau is well established and highly developed.  It’s not as nice a beach as you can find elsewhere in Vietnam, though, partly because the province is also a major energy producer for Vietnam, with sailboats competing with oil barges.  Even so, Vung Tau is a good investment destination because Vietnam’s first major casino complex is soon to open nearby — the MGM/Asian Coast Development Ho Tram project that includes 504 rooms, convention facilities, shopping and a Las Vegas style  casino to open early next year.

Vung Tau

10. Ha Long.   Vietnam’s most famous tourist attraction because of its spectacular rock formations that jut out of the sea, Ha Long is a highly developed region teeming with tourists from neighboring China and has nice views but not a great beach, too many people and too much pollution.  Investment opportunities here are as likely to be related to environmental remediation as economic development.  Foreigners continue to invest there, though, and Ha Long’s province recently added foreign-invested projects worth $412 million to its portfolio of 93 projects worth $4.2 billion, with American companies leading the charge.  Below is a view of Ha Long Bay from the nearby island resort that co-hosted the Miss Universe pageant five years ago.


Vietnamese Coffee’s Bright And Sustainable Future

The Guardian just published a forward-looking article about the fall and rise of Vietnam’s coffee industry as the world’s second largest exporter of the product aims for sustainable practices to improve the quality of both its product and its environment.

First introduced by the French in 1857, coffee plantations were devastated during the Vietnam War, then emerged from the ashes to lead the world in Robusta production — and provide $1.5 billion in exports, 3% of Vietnam’s GDP, and employment for 2.6 million.

In the process, forests were destroyed, excessive fertilizers deployed, water wasted, soil degraded, the environment ignored.  Now the Rainforest Alliance, the 4C Association and the Fairtrade Foundation are working with Kraft and Nestle to promote sustainable practices and a better product.

The timing is ideal.  As Chinese and Indian consumers develop a taste for coffee, future consumption will skyrocket.  Coffee drinkers worldwide will be looking to Vietnam for all it can supply.

More on Vietnam’s coffee future 

The Price of a Toyota in Vietnam: $91,675

Vietnam’s online Business Times, analyzing the economics of car ownership, finds the government clearly doesn’t want to overwhelm the roads in one of the world’s biggest two-wheel cultures.  Taxes and fees mean the cost of owning a Toyota Camry approaches $100,000.

The analysis shows there are already nine kinds of fees — including import tax, value added tax, luxury tax, car ownership registration tax and $1,000 for a license plate.  And there’s more to come: a road maintenance fund that proposes to charge car-owners up to $70 per month starting in June, a proposed vehicle circulation fee of up to $2,500 per year, and a special fee for cars entering the central areas of big cities in peak hours.

Consider the example of a $25,000 Toyota Camry imported from the US.

  • $20,750 import tax
  • $22,875 luxury tax
  • $6,800 VAT
  • $15,000 car ownership registration tax
  • $1,000 license plate fee
  • $250 first-time registration fee.

That adds up to $91,675 (before $1,500 in proposed fees) and a message:  Vietnam doesn’t want its transportation infrastructure more crowded or its air more polluted.

More on the cost of owning a car in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Economic and Social Priorities for 2012

Vietnam’s government has prioritized seven measures aimed at meeting its economic targets for 2012 — which are inflation in the single digits, 4.8% government spending deficit, 12% trade deficit, 33% of GDP for development investment, and economic growth above 6%.

To reach the targets, the government says it will, among other things:

  1.  Continue tight fiscal measures.
  2. Modernize the growth model to increase productivity and competitiveness; and restructure banking.
  3. Improve human, scientific and technological resources.
  4. Reduce poverty and improve health care.
  5. Strengthen environmental protection and the response to climate change and natural disasters.
  6. Speed up legal and administrative reforms.
  7. Strengthen national defense and diplomacy.

More on Vietnam’s 2012 priorities

Vietnam Positioning Itself As Clean Energy Center

Vietnam, looking north at China’s mistakes on its march to economic supremacy, is trying to balance environmental and business interests by positioning itself as a destination for clean energy investors.  So far, US-based First Solar is investing $1 billion and creating 600 jobs, IC Energy has committed $390 million, and German Roth&Rau $14 million in solar factories in Vietnam.

Wind power projects include GE’s $200 million wind power plant in Bac Lieu Province, and Germany’s EAB plant in Tra Vinh Province — both in the Mekong Delta.  And Germany is putting one-third of its official development assistance capital into Vietnam’s energy sector and climate change. 

The World Bank says Vietnam has great wind power  potential — while the country’s electricity consumption is forecast to increase much faster than its projected output.

Foreign investors focused on clean energy include Indochina Capital, which  plans to mobilize $200 million for wind, solar, small hydropower plants and energy saving projects.; Dragon Capital, which has a $45 million recycling and clean water fund; and IFC and Norwegian SN Power that are focusing on recycling.

More on Vietnam’s clean energy ambitions

Cheap China Cement Kilns Creates Crisis in Vietnam

Vietnam’s cement industry is facing an oversupply crisis that apparently evolved because inferior Chinese equipment and technology is being used in production.  Rotary cement kilns imported from China over the past few years make huge volumes but consume more energy and materials than western counterparts.

As a result, production tripled while demand doubled — and domestic manufacturers are selling below cost.  Exacerbating the problem:  Most cement is made so far north of Vietnam’s infrastructure needs that transportation sometimes accounts for nearly half of retail prices.

The lesson for Vietnam may be an opportunity for American suppliers of cement making equipment. 

More on Vietnam’s cement lesson