Vietnam cuts fuel prices for 3rd time in month

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Vietnam cut petroleum retail prices for the third time in a month Thursday as global oil prices continue to fall.

The price of 92-RON gasoline, the most common grade of fuel in Vietnam, has been reduced by 3.5 percent to VND21,900 a liter, the Ministry of Finance announced.

Diesel and kerosene prices were cut by VND700 per liter to VND20,500 and VND20,400.

The new prices took effect at 2:00 p.m. Thursday.

Fuel prices were earlier cut twice in May from a high of VND23,800 following two hikes in March and April. 

The ministry also raised import taxes on petroleum products for a third time in a month, with the tariff on gasoline hiked from 3 percent to 7 percent. The taxes, abolished earlier, were reinstated in early May.

Oil prices have fallen sharply in the past two months with Brent crude dropping to a 16-month low early this week of below $96 a barrel as weak economic data from the US and China added to ongoing worries about the euro zone crisis, according to Reuters.

Analysts and industry insiders said prices would weaken further in the second half of this year.

Prior to the price cut Thursday, Vietnamese fuel traders made profits of around VND1,000 per liter, news website VnExpress reported, citing a ministry official.

The ministry has faced more criticism than usual this year with its fuel price polices, with economists and consumers saying local prices are out of step with global trends, giving traders plenty of time to earn huge profits before price cuts.

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