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VN Economic News: Let's talk about IT

VIETNAM: Let's Talk About IT 
                 Vietnam Economic News 


                 On the occasion of the Vietnam
                 Computerword Expo'97, HCM City
                 Information Technology Forum'97 and
                 Network World Expo'97 to be held in late
                 April 1997, VEN had a talk with the deputy
                 general director of the Electronic and
                 Information Corporation, Bui Quang Do. 

                 What is the current State of Vietnam's
                 information technology industry

                 To integrate into the world's economic
                 development and keep pace with
                 industrialized countries, Vietnam must
                 approach and apply scientific and
                 technological achievements, especially new
                 and high technology such as information
                 technology (IT). Having acknowledged
                 information technology's importance,
                 Vietnam, since the 1960s has paid much
                 attention to it. Proper policies were issued by
                 the State to actively develop and popularly
                 apply information technology in Vietnam.
                 The Vietnamese government approved a
                 national program to promote information
                 technology until the year 2000, whose main
                 purpose is to construct infrastructure systems
                 for information technology application,
                 initially computerize administrative and
                 economic activities creating a solid base for
                 the country's further growth in the early 21st
                 century. This is a timely and correct decision
                 to stimulate the information industry's
                 development. However, investment and
                 organization of the deal play an indispensable
                 role in gaining success and the program's

                 In fact, Vietnam's information technology
                 (referring also to the information market and
                 technology application) is still on a small
                 scale and in its infancy. From the 1990s to
                 now and especially after the Government
                 Decree No.49/CP was issued, Vietnamese
                 information technology promptly changed
                 and obtained promising and encouraging
                 results. Nevertheless, what Vietnam has
                 done with the technology so far (compared
                 with other countries in the region in
                 particular and in the world in general) is too
                 modest, and in its embryonic stage. 

                 Do you have some comments on the
                 Vietnamese information market? When will
                 Vietnam be able to produce computer and
                 export them to overseas countries? 

                 Vietnamese information market has rapidly
                 changed in recent years reaching a growth
                 rate of five to six percent per year. Anyway it
                 now lacks a proper regulation of competent
                 bodies and organizations. Over 50 percent of
                 the computers currently circulating on the
                 market were assembled in Vietnam. In the
                 first six months of 1996, some 7,000
                 computers were assembled in Vietnam and
                 sold to the market. Computers sold on the
                 Vietnamese market are various including
                 products manufactured by world famous
                 firms, the other ones are imitation items of
                 real products, and other remaining products
                 are smuggled. 

                 However, the State's tax policy now does not
                 encourage the domestic assembly of
                 computers. Tax for importing computer
                 accessories is currently 5 percent, meanwhile
                 the tax level for the import of products as the
                 whole is just one percent. Another problem is
                 a lack of a competent body specializing in
                 computer product quality control to help
                 consumers gain access to quality items.
                 Vietnam is regarded as a large, potential
                 information market, which is estimated to
                 require 240,000 computers by the year 2000.
                 The Electronic and Information Corporation
                 will try to manufacture the products and
                 equipment itself for both the domestic market
                 and for export to foreign countries. This is
                 also the strategy to develop the information
                 industry till 2000 set by the State's
                 information technology committee. 

                 Many people think that Vietnam information
                 technology industry's main activities are to
                 sell computers to foreign firms and copy
                 software from each other. What's your
                 opinion on this? 

                 It is necessary for Vietnam to develop
                 software technology to gain higher profits in
                 the field of information technology
                 application. To obtain this, it is significant to
                 assess software to avoid brain drain and
                 simultaneously to promote the application of
                 new technology. An effective apparatus must
                 be formed to inspect and control the copying
                 of software in order to protect the copyright.
                 For this reason, Vietnam needs a competent
                 body capable of importing, exporting and
                 assessing software.