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* Vietnam aims to speed up economic growth to 6-6.5 percent in 2013 from this year's anticipated pace of 5.5-6.0 percent, the government said. In a statement on a government website late on Monday, Vietnam also said it plans to restructure the country's financial markets and keep consolidating state-owned businesses. In 2011, its gross domestic product expanded by 5.89 percent.

* The European Union will announce the start of free-trade negotiations with Vietnam next week, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. "We will announce this with Minister Hoang next week here in Brussels, and the first negotiating round should take place just after the summer break," De Gucht said at a Friends of Europe conference Tuesday, referring to Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang. Trade between the EU and Vietnam, one of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reached 18 billion euros (US$22.7 billion) last year.

* Vietnam, the world's second-largest rice exporter in 2011, shipped 2.87 million tons from the beginning of the year to June 14, according to the Vietnam Food Association. Shipments were 329,803 tons from June 1 to June 14, the association said in a statement on its website Monday. The country, which exported a record 7.11 million tons in 2011, according to the association, may ship 6.25 million tons this year, the agriculture ministry said on May 30.

* Vinacomin, the country's top coal miner, sold about 20 million tons of fossil out of its production of 26 million tons during the first half of 2012, a drop of 10 percent in sales from a year ago, Vietnam News reported, citing Deputy General Director Nguyen Van Bien.

* Banks in Vietnam had weaker financial performance in 2011 than the year before and their bad debts recently have been "rising continuously," the central bank said in a report on Wednesday.

The State Bank of Vietnam said the country's banks last year had slower profit growth as well as reduced rates of return on equity and return on assets.

* Vietnam's only oil refinery, the Dung Quat facility, may delay its restart to early July from late June after a six-to-seven-week shutdown. The $2.2-billion Dung Quat refinery, 880 kilometers south of Hanoi, usually supplies around 30 percent of Vietnam's domestic oil product demand. "We still aim to resume production on June 25-27, but there is the possibility of delaying to early July because of the pace of equipment checks," said Nguyen Hoai Giang, chief executive of the Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co, which operates the refinery.

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