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* Vietnam will ensure sufficient electricity for the country's economic development this year, Dinh The Phuc, deputy head of electricity distribution at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said Monday at a press briefing in Hanoi.

* Collective Brands Inc., the retailer that said in August it's reviewing strategic options, will open its first Payless shoe stores in Vietnam, Thailand and Korea this year. The company plans to open 16 stores through franchise agreements in the three countries this year, LuAnn Via, who heads the Payless division, said.

* The Export-Import Bank of the US aims to help Vietnam arrange financing for as much as US$1.5 billion of projects over the next 12 to 24 months, Chairman and President Fred Hochberg said at a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City Monday. The projects encompass air transportation, power generation and oil and gas development sectors, he said.

* Banks in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam are among the "most exposed" in the Asia-Pacific region to a sudden worsening of Europe's sovereign debt crisis, Moody's Investors Service said. Vietnam's weak financial system and dependence on cheap dollar loans subjects its banks to tightening foreign-currency liquidity.

* Vietnamese consumer confidence stands at 99 points for Q4 2011, an increase of three points versus the previous quarter. This was the first increase in confidence in 2011, after three consecutive quarters of decline, according to new findings from global market research company Nielsen.

* Bridgestone plans to open a $575 million factory in 2014 near Hai Phong, as the coastal city becomes a major export gateway for multinational corporations, The Journal of Commerce Online reported. The Japanese manufacturer said the factory will be its largest and most modern worldwide. It will produce about 24,700 tires daily for export.

* Vietnam's agricultural areas will decrease by 580,000 hectares by 2020 to 9.59 million hectares, said a master plan approved by the prime minister. The government wants to maintain a stable rice-growing area at 3.81 million hectares, according to Lao Dong newspaper.

* The central bank has cut the compulsory reserves level for banks with large agriculture lending to one-fifth the regular rate from February through July. The favorable reserve requirement rates have been given to Agribank, Lien Viet Post Bank, Mekong Housing Bank, Me Kong Development Bank, the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement.

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