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"¢ Pledged foreign direct investment into property projects in Vietnam dropped by 12.7 percent in the first nine months from a year earlier, according to figures from the Foreign Investment Agency. Of the total US$12.2 billion committed foreign investment in the first nine months of this year, $8.05 billion has been disbursed.

"¢ Banks have been slow in lowering interest rates because they are investing more in government bonds, said Nguyen Van Giau, the central bank's governor. Banks can make profits from high yields on government bonds, he said. About VND48 trillion ($2.46 billion) of bonds have been issued so far this year, five to six times the usual amount over the same period in previous years.

"¢ The Asian Development Bank said it has approved a $630 million loan to help reform Vietnam's state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The multi-tranche facility aims to improve the efficiency of SOEs and enhance corporate governance to spur Vietnam's economic growth, the Manila-based bank said in a statement.

"¢ Loans in Vietnam by the end of September were estimated to rise 19.5 percent from the end of 2009, in line with an annual target of 25 percent credit growth. The projection was based on expansion of 19.27 percent as of September 27, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Giau said. "Compared with the 25-percent target for 2010, (such growth) is not low," he said.

"¢ TNK-BP, BP Plc's venture with a group of Russian billionaires, will make a proposal to buy BP's share in an offshore natural gas project in Vietnam. BP, Europe's largest oil producer by volume, plans to sell $30 billion of assets in 18 months to cover costs linked to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst in US history. BP said in July it plans to sell interests in the Nam Con Son gas project in Vietnam.

"¢ The State Bank of Vietnam said on Wednesday it would relax compulsory reserve requirements for banks that made significant loans for agriculture or rural development as a way to mobilize funding for the countryside. Banks with loans for the agricultural sector or rural development totaling 70 percent or more of outstanding loans would only be required to hold 5 percent of normal reserve levels, which depend on deposit terms, it said in a statement.

"¢ Commercial banks will reduce deposit rates to as low as 11 percent by October 15 from the current 11.2 percent after the central bank's recent easing of lending rules, Duong Thu Huong, chairwoman of the Vietnam Banks Association. Banks will have greater scope to lend after the central bank said it would allow them to use 25 percent of non-term deposits made by businesses for loans.

"¢ Vietnam will start planting crops for genetically modified food between 2011 and 2015 with the goal of increasing the planting area of crops like genetically modified corn, cotton and soybeans to 30 to 50 percent of the country's total by 2020, based on a government directive in 2006.

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