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 The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer last year, agreed to purchase 200,000 tons from Vietnam, securing about a quarter of its import requirements for this year. The state-run National Food Authority will buy rice from Vietnam Southern Food Corp. at US$480 a ton, including freight charges, Administrator Angelito Banayo said in a press briefing in Manila on Wednesday (March 23). The shipments from Vietnam will arrive from April to June.

"¢  London-based oil explorer Soco International on Wednesday said its TGT development in Vietnam was still scheduled to come on-stream in mid-August as it reported a fall in 2010 production. The FTSE 250 company said total production averaged 2,257 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2010, down from 2,848 the previous year. But it expected a boost from its TGT development in Vietnam.

"¢  PetroVietnam Finance Joint-Stock Co. expects pretax profit to rise 26 percent to VND800 billion ($38.36 million) this year, it said in an e-mailed statement. Revenue is expected to rise to VND6.8 trillion from VND6.72 trillion in 2010, it said in the statement.

"¢  Drought in the main coffee-growing regions in Vietnam, the second-biggest producer after Brazil, may ease in May as more rains are set to arrive after some fell in recent days, according to a government forecaster. "We forecast the drought situation will be improved in early May," said Nguyen Minh Dung, deputy head of the forecasting unit in the Hydrology and Meteorology Office for Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong and Lam Dong. The five provinces form the country's coffee belt.

"¢  Vietnam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Co. received approval from the State Securities Commission to raise the foreign ownership ratio to 49 percent from 46 percent, it said in a statement on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange's website. Vinamilk, as it's also known, also got permission to cancel its Singapore listing plan, according to the statement.

"¢  Vietnam may raise fines and revoke business licenses if companies violate regulations on prices, Nguyen Tien Thoa, director of price control department at the Finance Ministry, told Thanh Nien. The ministry is working on a proposal on price violations, he said. Vietnam requires companies selling essential goods to register their prices with the government as part of an effort to curb inflation.

"¢  Fuel companies in Vietnam will need to import about 300,000 tons of petroleum products as the Dung Quat oil refinery will shut down for a few weeks for some inspections, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Nguyen Hoai Giang, head of the plant. Dung Quat has about 100,000 tons of fuel products unsold in its warehouse, the report said.

"¢  Steel prices in Vietnam are forecast to drop in April and May as consumption is declining due to a reduction in construction projects, the Vietnam Economic Times reported, citing the Vietnam Steel Association. Steel prices have fallen as much as VND400,000 a ton from March 21 at some companies in the south, according to the report.

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