Vietnam asks firms to use local materials as US threatens tariffs

Some producers are misleadingly labeling their products as “Made in Vietnam” to avoid tariffs. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 July 2019

Vietnam asks firms to use local materials as US threatens tariffs

  • Vietnam has been accused of benefiting from the trade war between US and China
  • US announced it would create tariffs of up to 456% on some steel materials produced in South Korea and Taiwan

HANOI: Vietnamese manufacturers should use domestically-sourced raw materials to avoid incurring US tariffs, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said on Thursday, days after Washington said it would impose large duties on some steel products shipped through the Southeast Asian country.
The US Commerce Department said on Tuesday it would slap tariffs of up to 456% on certain steel produced in South Korea or Taiwan which are then shipped to Vietnam for minor processing and finally exported to the United States.
“The Ministry of Industry and Trade has warned local companies about possible moves by importing countries, including the United States, to apply stricter requirements in trade protection cases,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a routine news conference in Hanoi.
Vietnamese companies should consider business strategies that include switching to domestic materials, she said.
Hang said Vietnam will continue to work with the United States in its efforts to crack down on goods of foreign origin illegally relabelled “Made in Vietnam” by exporters seeking to dodge tariffs.
Vietnam has been touted as one of the largest beneficiaries of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, but recent comments from US President Donald Trump have led some to believe that Vietnam may be the next target of US tariffs.
Last month, Trump said Hanoi treated the United States “even worse” than China, amid the ongoing trade spat between Washington and Beijing.
Vietnam responded by saying it was committed to free and fair trade with the United States.
Vietnam’s largest export market is the United States, with which it has a rapidly growing trade surplus, which widened to $17 billion in the first five months of this year from $12.9 billion in the same period last year.


Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on an ambulance in Atulugama on March 29, 2020, after the town was sealed off by health authorities following fears that it could be a cluster for COVID-19 infection after two positive cases. (AFP)
Updated 7 min 32 sec ago

Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

  • Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival

COLOMBO: To help its overseas migrant workers deal with the coronavirus, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has launched an online portal where citizens can voice their concerns, officials said on Sunday.

“All Sri Lankans living abroad were invited to register voluntarily on the platform . . . allowing the government to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the Covid-19 outbreak. This platform will allow the ministry to access real-time data for quick action,” an official from the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Since its launch on March 26, the “Contact Sri Lanka” portal has seen 17,000 registrations, with several saying they want to return home as soon as possible.

“A bulk of the 700 inquiries received through the portal relate to the possibility of a return to the country,” excerpts from a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and made available to Arab News, read on Sunday.

Registration by residents in the country will also allow the ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations, such as evacuation measures, depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated, the statement said.

It added that establishment of the portal was based on a “call made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all government stakeholders to fight the Covid-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.”

Deputy General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) W. Leelaratne told Arab News that Sri Lankan employees, particularly at missions in the Middle East and Asia, would be working with host governments “to secure fair treatment and concessions for expatriate workers to the maximum extent possible.”

“This includes safeguarding the rights of the workers related to the payment of salaries and ensuring job security, ” he said.

Leelaratne said that due to the current global situation; the SLBFE has opened a 24/7 help desk for all migrant workers who could seek assistance by contacting the hotline.

Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival.

Dr. Anil Jasinghe, director general of Health Services, said that the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 110 with the detection of four new cases on Sunday.

Two of the four cases were arrivals from the south Indian city of Chennai, with Jasinghe saying that the government had requested all those flying in from Chennai to report to the nearest health facility for mandatory quarantine arrangements.

As an additional measure, the villages of Atulugama, Akurana and Kadayankulam have been placed under lockdown, while the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Jaffna have been declared high-risk zones with a full-day curfew to continue in these areas until further notice.