Vietnam elects Vo Van Thuong as President

The 15th National Assembly of Vietnam elected Vo Van Thuong as the new President of Vietnam at its fourth extraordinary session on Mar 2.

With 487 out of 488 votes, or 98.38% of the NA’s membership, the NA passed a resolution on the election of Thuong. The resolution took effect immediately after it was approved.

Under the resolution, Thuong, who is a member of the Politburo, permanent member of the 13th Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, and a deputy of the 15th NA, will serve as President of Vietnam in the 2021-2026 tenure.

Taking the oath of office the same day, Thuong vowed to stay absolutely loyal to the Fatherland, the people and the Constitution, and work hard to complete all tasks assigned by the Party, State and people.

Biography summary of Vo Van Thuong

1. Full name: VO VAN THUONG

2. Date of birth: December 13, 1970

3. Native place: An Phuoc commune, Mang Thit district, Vinh Long province

4. Ethnic group: Kinh

5. Date of Party admission: November 18, 1993 Date of official Party admission: November 18, 1994

6. Training, qualification:

– General education: 12/12

– Degree: Bachelor of Philosophy

– Master of Social Sciences and Humanities

7. Reward: Third-class Labour Order; Medal “For Young Generation”; Certificate of Merit by the Prime Minister (2004)

8. Discipline: Collective reprimand for the Standing Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee (2010-2015)

9. Positions:

– Alternate member of the Party Central Committee, 10th tenure;

– Member of the Party Central Committee: 11th, 12th and 13th tenures;

– Secretary of the Party Central Committee: 12th and 13th tenures;

– Member of the Politburo: 12th and 13th tenures;

– Deputy to the National Assembly: 12th, 14th and 15th tenures.

10. Working career

– From 1988 to 1992: Student of Faculty of Philosophy of Ho Chi Minh City University.

– From 1992 to 1993: Member of the Central Committee of Vietnamese Students’ Association.

– From 1993 to 2004: Vice Secretary and then Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU); Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union; Member of the HCYU Central Committee and the Standing Board of the HCYU Central Committee; Member of the HCM City’s Party Committee (from October 2003).

– From November 2004 to October 2006: Member of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, Secretary of the Party Committee of District 12.

– April 2006: At the 10th National Party Congress, elected alternate member of the Party Central Committee.

– October 2006: Permanent Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee, First Secretary of the Youth Union Central Committee (from January 2007), President of the Vietnam Youth Federation, Chairman of the National Committee for Vietnamese Youth. Deputy of the 12th-tenure National Assembly.

– From January 2011 to April 2014: At the 11th National Party Congress, elected member of the Party Central Committee; Secretary of the Quang Ngai provincial Party Committee (from August 2011).

– From April 2014 to January 2016: Member of the Party Central Committee, Permanent Deputy Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee.

– January 2016: At the 12th National Party Congress, elected to the Party Central Committee, elected to the Politburo by the Party Central Committee; assigned to the Secretariat by the Politburo.

– From February 2016 to January 2021: Politburo member, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Commission of Information and Education; Deputy of the 14th-tenure National Assembly.

– From January 2021 to now: At the 13th National Party Congress, elected to the Party Central Committee, elected to the Politburo by the Party Central Committee; assigned to serve as Permanent member of the Secretariat by the Politburo (February 2021).

– On March 2, 2023, at the fourth extraordinary meeting of the 15th-tenure National Assembly, elected President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Source: Lao News Agency

Book Festival 2023 to be held next week

The National University of Laos and the D-Book Publishing will organize Book Festival 2023 on the main campus of the university in Dongdok, Vientiane on March 8-12 to raise awareness of reading among students and general public and the publication of children’s books.

“This book festival aims to translate into reality the strategic plan on human resource development of the government and increasing of the ratio of readers to 2/3 of the country’s population by 2025,” Director of D-Book Publishing, Mr Somsamay Phommachan told a press conference in Vientiane on Mar 1.

The event will also provide the opportunity to cartoonists, writers, publishers to exchange points of view on how to gain access to target readers.

Art and cultural performances, debates, prize award events will be held on the sidelines of the festival along with book donations and food and drink sales.

Source: Lao News Agency

R. Korea aims to double K-content exports to US$25 bln by 2027

The government of the Republic of Korea said Thursday it will help double the country’s exports of cultural content to US$25 billion by 2027 by expanding its overseas markets to the Middle East, North America and Europe.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea reported the plan during a government meeting on export strategies, presided over by President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Korea’s exports of the content industry hit an all-time high of US$12.4 billion for the country in 2021, boosted by the global boom of Korean pop culture, according to government figures.

The ministry said it will increase the exports by an average of 12.3 per cent every year to achieve US$25 billion in 2027 by pushing for its so-called 3E strategies for K-content exports.

The 3Es stand for “expansion” of the export market, “extension” of the content industry and utilization of the premium “effect” of the global popularity of Korean content, according to the ministry.

The content industry is an umbrella term for organizations that make copyrighted works available to the public, such as publishing, music, games, broadcasting, films, cartoons, animation, characters, advertising, knowledge information and content solutions.

“As it has gained global popularity, the K-content industry has seen its exports grow and is creating enormous economic value considering its impact to other industries,” Yoon was quoted by a ministry official as saying during the meeting.

He asked the public and private sectors to be united as one team to make the country a content power.

The ministry said it plans to inject about 1.1 trillion won (US$847.5 billion) into the project to support the industry this year and possibly more next year through consultations with the budgetary authority.

For the goal, the government will try to expand the industry’s markets to the Middle East, Europe and North America, areas where Korean content is less popular than in Asia.

Currently, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan account for more than half of South Korea’s content industry exports together while the shares of North America and Europe are 13.3 per cent and 10.9 per cent, respectively. Other regions, including the Middle East, represent only 5.8 per cent.

To expand the markets, the government said it will try to increase chances to expose Korean cultural products in foreign countries such as by hosting a Korean content exposition in the United States and Britain this year.

It also plans to build overseas content hubs in such global cities as New York, London, Frankfurt, New Delhi and Mexico City to increase the number of hubs from currently 10 in nine countries to 15 in 13 countries.

The ministry said it will provide support of a combined 9 billion won to 30 local game companies so they can make console games popular in North America and Europe.

Considering the growing interest of Middle Eastern countries in high technologies and cultural content, the government also plans to distribute customized content considering local languages and cultural backgrounds and promote Korean content through cultural events, such as K-pop performances.

The government is also seeking to extend the scope of the content industry by actively supporting web-based cartoons, online streaming services and other fields related with the platform industry.

As the growth of the content industry can have a positive influence on exports of other related industries, such as fashion, beauty, home appliances, IT and construction, the ministry will try to find more ways to utilize the premium of the Korean content. Exposing their brands or products in popular Korean content and developing in-bound tour packages, including a K-pop concert, could be good examples, it added.

Source: Lao News Agency

Vientiane’s Public Transport drives ahead as Japan provides brand new buses, equipment worth US$3.7 Million

Road safety and air quality in the capital city of Laos are set to benefit from better public transport options with contribution of new and improved buses and related equipment from Japan.

The Government of Japan will provide 500 million yen (approximately US$3.7 million) in grant aid to support the improvement and enhancement of public transportation.

Assistance from Japan will support 52 public buses, bus maintenance equipment and materials, driving simulators, and more.

The “Handover Ceremony for Economic and Social Development Plan (Provision of Public Buses and Bus-related Materials and Equipment)” was held at Don Chan Palace Hotel in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on February 28.

Presiding over the handover was Ambassador of Japan to Laos Mr Kobayashi Kenichi and Minister of Public Works and Transport Ngampasong Muongmany. The Lao capital seeks to improve and strengthen its public transportation system to address the challenges of Vientiane’s urbanization and population growth. Rapid urbanization has resulted in increased traffic congestion, especially in the morning and evening.

In addition, approximately 1,400 serious accidents occur in Vientiane per year, killing about 200 persons and injuring about 1,900.

To date, no major accidents have occurred involving public buses in the capital. There has not been a single fatal accident in the last 10 years. Affordability is also a key factor when compared to other typical public and private transportation modes, with the cost of bus travel being approximately 20% of the cost per passenger for an average journey utilizing private vehicles. It is expected that the quality of public transportation will be improved and strengthened through a low-fare, safe and reliable public bus network.

The use of public buses for transit can also be expected to reduce air pollution and health hazards by reducing exhaust emissions per passenger.

In addition, the emissions of carbon dioxide, a factor in climate change, can likewise be reduced. The provided buses are 5 meters shorter in length than the buses Japan provided to Laos in the past. These models will be able to make tighter turns and pass narrower and curving roads.

As a result, the buses will be able to operate more conveniently and allow passengers to explore new routes. Japan seeks to continue to support the improvement and enhancement of public transportation in the Lao capital through the provision of vehicles as well as bus-related equipment and materials under this assistance programme.

Japan will continue to work with Lao counterparts to provide high-quality, practical economic cooperation through high-quality infrastructure and related assistance, maintaining and strengthening close ties to successfully address the various issues that the Government of Laos is tackling.

Source: Lao News Agency

USAID, Savannakhet University Enhance Private Sector Development with Knowledge Broadened

Two Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) were signed on February 27 between Savannakhet University and Savannakhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the second between Savannakhet University and Savannakhet Special Economic Zone Management Authority.

These two formal agreements, with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will enrich the private sector’s knowledge on trade and investment and expand research and management skills in the tourism industry.

The MOA signing ceremony was held at Savannakhet ITECC Centre and witnessed by representatives from the Ministry of Education and Sports, Savannakhet University, National University of Laos, USAID, and the private sector.

Vice Minister of Education and Sports Sourioudong Sundara emphasized the significance of this engagement with the private sector and highlighted the ongoing USAID assistance in this important work ”the Ministry supports and encourages this type of collaboration because it strategically aligns with the Education and Sports Sector’s Development Plan 2021-2025.”

By helping the private sector to enhance their knowledge and potential profit, Savannakhet University will assess trends and demands in the labour market, as well as to further develop and revise their curriculum to reflect the most up to date market environment and growth,” said Vice Minister Sourioudong.

Kaysone Phomvihane City Governor Paxongsin Chaleunsouk thanked the United States for ongoing support to Savannakhet in improving higher education, private sector investment, and support services toward vulnerable populations, including health, nutrition, countering trafficking in persons, and education.

He noted, “Savannakhet enthusiastically supports the 2030 vision endorsed by the Government of the Lao PDR, especially the overall direction for socio-economic strategy. These partnerships and collaborations are evidence of realizing this commitment.”

To support the Government’s vision and strategy, as stated by Dr. Souliyong Xaykosy, Acting President of Savannakhet University, “Lao higher education institutions like Savannakhet University play a key role in analyzing labor market demands, and promoting human resource development with high quality, consistent with the goals of socio-economic development that are competitive and integrated with regional and international arenas.” He added, “We are proud to partner with the private sectors in improving the Lao PDR’s human capital and appreciate the United States support in this important work.”

At the MOA signing ceremony, USAID Country Representative, Mr. Michael Ronning reaffirmed USAID’s commitment to supporting the Government of the Lao PDR to strengthen both the higher education and private sectors, which are essential to the country’s development, stating “Our cooperation in economic development through education and knowledge enhancement is central to the U.S. – Lao Comprehensive Partnership.”.

As part of the MOA signing ceremony, USAID through its Study and Modeling of Management Capacity and System Strengthening (SMCS) project also organized a job fair and goods and services exhibition to bring potential employers closer to the country’s future pool of talented personnel.

During this three-day event between February 27-28 and March 1, 2023, more than 1,000 students and job seekers were able to explore current employment opportunities and gain knowledge about the private sector through invigorating and fun activities made possible by the cooperation of the university and private businesses.

Source: Lao News Agency

Laos, UNDP hold a review meeting

Following one year of implementation, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and UNDP held a country programme review meeting in Vientiane on Mar 2.

The meeting highlighted the main results of the implementation so far and identified challenges and lessons learned.

Chaired by Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Phonevanh Outhavong, the meeting was attended by more than 100 participants both in-person and online representing various stakeholders and the partners from the government, development partners, non-profit associations, international non-governmental organizations, and other UN agencies.

Ms. Phonevanh Outhavong stated, ‘This annual review meeting is crucial considering 2022, the first year of implementation of the country programme. This meeting provides an opportunity for us to discuss and exchange knowledge on the project implementation, especially the challenges and what we have learned so far in the past year’.

Ms Ricarda Rieger stressed that ‘UNDP’s comparative advantage lies in capacity development to address an ever-increasing complex world, need for flexibility amidst the increasing complexity of development challenges. Adaptability, fast adjustment will be required to overcome adversities’.

UNDP in Laos focuses on three strategic development areas, such as inclusive prosperity, environment, climate change and resilience, and governance and Rule of Law.

In 2022 UNDP published its flagship report, the 6th National Human Development Report (NHDR) focusing on ‘youth as Drivers for sustainable Development. UNDP has partnered with other UN entities to support government on the formulation of the first ever financing Strategy of the 9th National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP). Together with UXO Lao, UNDP has cleared 479 ha of high priority areas clearing contaminated lands for more productive use.

UNDP’s financial and technical support has resulted in reforestation of approximately 11,000 ha of land, investment checklist, one-stop service and 8 investment profiles being developed to attract quality investment and 12,000 villages being involved in the co-management of natural resources.

Standard operating procedures (SOP) for the justice Sector to end violence against women (EVAW) were developed in a highly consultative manner, taking Lao realities into consideration. In 2022 UNDP also assisted eleven organizations of persons with disabilities (PwD) in drafting the first-ever Parallel Report and Action Plan under the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) collecting lived experiences providing 78 concrete recommendations to the UN CRPD committee.

The first year of the implementation has also generated lessons learned. The government and UNDP are committed to taking the lesson into account while continuing the implementation to achieve the development goals set under Country Programme Document 2022-2026.

Following the event, the results of the meeting will be presented to the Prime Minister and be fed into the implementation guidance of the 9th NSEDP and 2030 Agenda effectively.

Source: Lao News Agency