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.


India moves into top 10 worst-hit by COVID-19

Updated 44 min 27 sec ago

India moves into top 10 worst-hit by COVID-19

  • Experts claim lockdown measures have failed as death toll passes 4,000 mark

NEW DELHI: India on Monday climbed into the top 10 countries worst-hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with the number of deaths passing the 4,000 mark.

Sunday saw the highest one-day surge in cases with 6,634 new infections reported, taking the current total to 140,215, slightly ahead of Iran.

The deadly COVID-19 outbreak has now claimed the lives of 4,041 people in India.

Monday’s milestone figures coincided with the resumption of domestic flight services which experts claimed was an indication of the failure of the two-month-long nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

“The lockdown was meant to contain the cases but even after 60 days cases are rising, which means the lockdown was not properly planned and executed,” said virologist Prof. T. Jacob John, of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

Harjit Singh Bhatti, of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, said: “The government understands that it has failed in its lockdown plan. They could not anticipate the problems and the crisis it would engender. As a result, the government has no other option but to resume the economy. For the government now the focus is livelihood not the life.”

However, the Indian government disputed the claims saying the lockdown had helped to tackle the virus.

“If the doubling rate in India before the lockdown was between three to four days, today the doubling rate is more than 13 days. Lockdown and all its guidelines have acted as a potent social vaccine,” said India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

“Lockdown was imposed in India at the right time. Other developed countries wasted many days to take this decision,” he added.

On March 25, India started the first phase of its nationwide lockdown and the country is now into the fourth phase of the shutdown, which ends on May 31. Two months ago, India had only recorded 550 COVID-19 cases.

The western state of Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected in India with close to 60,000 cases and about 2,000 deaths. Mumbai, its financial capital, has registered more than 30,000 cases alone with at least 1,000 fatalities, forcing local authorities to procure 80 percent of private-hospital beds in the metropolis to deal with the crisis.

“The cases in Mumbai are increasing every day and health workers across the city are working overtime to deal with the situation,” Dr. Shariva Randive, of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), told Arab News.

Pune-based Dr. Avinash Bhonde, of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said: “A central team of doctors said a couple of months ago that Mumbai alone would witness more than 150,000 cases but in the whole of Maharashtra the total number is around 60,000, so it is less than what we expected.”

He added that there had been gaps in handling the lockdown. “Had there been micro planning and some corrective steps taken in the middle of the lockdown we could have been in a better situation.”

The length of the lockdown left millions of daily wage workers in big cities jobless and homeless. With no economic incentives or alternative plans put in place for them by the government, and no transport, many walked back to their villages, sometimes up to 800 km from their place of work.

To deal with the unprecedented situation the government, from the first week of May, started running special trains to carry more than 3 million people to the eastern Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

On May 10, Bihar had recorded 700 cases of COVID-19, but on Sunday the number was more than 2,600. The state has set up an estimated 14,000 quarantine centers to house thousands of people returning from virus hotbeds such as Maharashtra and Delhi.

“Bihar’s coronavirus cases may be lower than other states right now, but the way it is growing it is alarming and the state might face a huge problem,” a health official in the Bihar government told Arab News.