Strike at Port of LA/Long Beach Continues as Parties Agree to Federal Mediation

The Office Clerical Union (OCU) at the Port of LA/Long Beach, an affiliate of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), has been engaging in work stoppage action which began late in the day on November 27.

OCU picket lines have received support from 10,000 ILWU dockworkers and have shut down operations in 10 out of 14 container terminals in the Port.

Shortly after the strike was initiated, negotiations between the OCU and the Harbor Employers Association (HEA) resumed, but broke down again December 4. The parties, however, then agreed to federal mediation on the same day.

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How Vietnam’s Economy Got Off Track

Oct 1, 2012 Vietnam has gone from global investment darling to poster child for mismanagement. Too much money flowed into the country over the past decade, particularly following its admission to the World Trade Organization in January 2007. Foreign direct investment that year surpassed the dollars going to Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the rest of the region combined, according to the World Bank. The country’s institutions couldn’t absorb all the funds, leading to a textbook instance of what economists call capital misallocation.

The Cai Mep port facility in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, on the southern coast about 50 miles from Vietnam’s commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh City, seemed ideal, a joint venture between Seattle-based Carrix’s SSA Marine unit and Saigon Port, a division of state shipping complex Vietnam National Shipping Lines, known as Vinalines. After six years of preparation by SSA, the $ 160 million port christened by Governor Gregoire promised to fill a huge gap in Vietnam’s infrastructure. Fast forward, though, and it is suffering from a double whammy familiar to many foreign investors: the global economic slowdown coupled with local corruption.

The number of container ships calling at the port and two other foreign joint ventures operated by Vinalines plunged by half in the second quarter amid a price war among other port operators struggling with unused capacity. And Vinalines is foundering under a huge load of debt and an embezzlement scandal that led to the arrest in July of six of its executives. After a three-month Interpol manhunt, chairman Duong Chi Dung, once the head of the country’s maritime administration, was arrested abroad and extradited to Vietnam last month.

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Stalled Vietnam seaport underscores economic woes, mismanagement (SOEs) • Washington Post

HANOI, Vietnam. Sep 24, 2012 — All that remains of a plan by Vietnam to build a major deep-water port is 114 exposed pilings trailing into the South China Sea and a barge full of rusty machinery.

Van Phong Port, April 2011

Foreign investors stayed away from the $3.6 billion project and the indebted state-owned company overseeing it bungled the job. Earlier this month, the government accused the company of “financial incompetence” and suspended the project. The prospects for ever reviving it are dim.

The abandoned port in Southern Vietnam stands as a symbol of the inefficiency of the country’s rulers, and the need to reform a massive web of state-owned enterprises weighing down a once-booming economy.

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Weekly Update Jul 2: U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum, APEC Business Advisory Council


Raffle Prize Winners, USA Independence Day Celebration & Family Picnic
Fr, Jul 13 U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum, Siam Reap, Cambodia
Mo, Jul 16 APEC Business Advisory Council – Investment Conference
Tu, Jul 17 Legal & VBF Liaison Committee
Presentation: eCustoms at Intel Products Vietnam
Welcome to new AmCham companies • Jan ~ Jun 2012
FDI into Vietnam continues to fall: down 27.3% in first half of 2012
Myanmar: New challenges for Vietnam: FDI in Myanmar has skyrocketed …
Vietnam maps out strategy to attract FDI in supporting industries
Vietnam – U.S. Trade Status and Outlook, 2011 – 2020e (updated Jun 26, 2012)
Many Foreign Invested Enterprises (FIEs) face closure
The unlearned lesson: Vinashin, VinaLines, and other SOEs’ inefficiencies
Sep – Dec AmCham Scholarship 2012
Tu, Nov 6, U.S. General Elections Day • U.S. Voter Registration Web Sites

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Vinalines sails into stormy financial seas: considering divesting three port investments

Jun 18, 2012. Vinalines will analyse the efficiency of the method for reducing state investment capital and increase contributions of private partners, including foreign ones in the ports

Financially troubled state-owned Vinalines is weighing up divesting from three port projects as a part of its comprehensive restructuring plan.

The government, in a report sent to the National Assembly last week, said Vinalines would review and restructure its capital contributed to joint ventures with foreign partners at Cai Mep-Thi Vai area in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

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Panetta’s Cam Ranh Bay Visit Symbolizes Growing U.S.-Vietnam Ties

CAM RANH BAY, Vietnam, June 3, 2012 – Senior U.S. officials were once a familiar sight at this deep-water port on the South China Sea. But that was during the Vietnam War, which is why Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to an American ship moored in the harbor here is historic.

Panetta touched on history, but spoke of the future to the men and women of the USNS Richard Byrd – a Military Sealift Command supply ship. He spoke of the Vietnam War and the symbolism of the large gray supply ship moored in the harbor today.

On Memorial Day, Panetta spoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington to mark the 50th anniversary of the war. Etched in granite on the memorial are the names of all the Americans who died in the war.

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PM Urges Land Management Review, Citing Transaction Mistakes

PM Nguyen Tan Dung Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked for a nationwide review of land management procedures and said local authorities made mistakes in a land acquisition case in the northern port city of Haiphong, according to a statement on the government’s website.

Local authorities in cities and provinces should “focus on the proper settlement of complaints of citizens” in land- acquisition cases, Dung said in the statement, dated yesterday. Responsible ministries were asked to review land use and management regulations and propose amendments to laws “to suit the actual situation,” according to the statement.

In remarks published on the government website late on Friday after a special meeting, Dung accused officials in the port city of Haiphong of mishandling the way in which they allocated a plot of land to farmer Doan Van Vuon and then tried to take it back.

“The People’s Committee of Tien Lang district, Haiphong city has made mistakes in allocating, reclaiming and using force in taking the land handed to Mr. Doan Van Vuon,” Dung was quoted in a statement as saying.

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California Ports: Fears that a new and improved Panama Canal will divert trade

About half the containers that arrive at the Port of Los Angeles (America’s largest), and the Port of Long Beach (the second-largest) are put on eastbound trains to the rest of America. That part of the business is now at risk, and with it tens of thousands of regional jobs.

The risk comes from the Panama Canal, which the Panamanians are digging wider and deeper. In an inexorable shipbuilding trend, each generation of freighters is larger than the previous one. So the canal today accommodates only ships that carry up to about 5,000 containers, whereas large freighters already carry 12,000, and the largest carry even more. This is why it is currently best to move a box from Guangdong Province to New York by floating it to Los Angeles or Long Beach, then putting it on a train. But the digging in Panama is about to change that calculation.

The Panamanians (who took control of the canal from the Americans in 1999) have been working at it since 2007 and are due to be ready for the big ships in 2014. Their speed and efficiency has taken rivals everywhere by surprise. And their business plan explicitly assumes that a lot of the trade between Asia and America’s east and Gulf coasts will be diverted from California’s ports to the canal. This is why America’s eastern ports—such as Miami, Savannah and Charleston—are dredging eagerly to welcome these ships.

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Vietnam receives its largest container ship call

The Cai Mep International Terminal received a call from CMA CGM’s Laperouse, the largest container ship to call on a Vietnamese port, foreshadowing the wave of ultra large ships to be deployed on the Asia-Europe trade lane.

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