Vietnam Emphasizes Software in IT Development Plan

SINGAPORE (05/08/2000) - Vietnam's Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (MoSTE) announced today a five-point plan for improving the country's IT environment, placing software development at the heart of its plans.

Vietnamese companies already produce software for export to a number of countries including the U.S., and the ministry plans to increase this to be a US$800 million business annually by the year 2005, according to a draft ministry report published by the government-owned Vietnam News Service.

However, in a separate statement, the deputy director of the government-owned Vietnam Data Communication Co. (VDC), Nguyen Anh Tuan, said the software industry is unlikely to achieve that target as most domestic software developers remain inexperienced in capital mobilization, production, management and marketing.

The government should allow foreign investors to build up IT institutions in Vietnam to meet the human resources demands as well as setting up high-tech parks and providing IT firms with preferential treatment, Tuan said in the statement. The ministry has set a target of training 20,000 qualified programmers by the year 2005.

Vietnam will continue to build its telecommunications infrastructure, including expansion of the existing fiber-optic cable network and international Internet gateways. Telecommunications fees -- among the highest in the region through monopoly carrier Vietnam Posts & Telecommunications Corp. (VNPT) -- will be reduced, according to the report.

Another strategy will focus on protecting intellectual property rights. MoSTE said it will closely cooperate with other relevant government bodies to work out effective measures against piracy of intellectual products. The latest report from the Business Software Alliance, an anti-piracy group, estimated the rate of software piracy in Vietnam to be 99 percent.

In addition, the ministry will ask the government to reconsider tariff polices, including import-export taxes, value-added tax and corporate tax, with preferential treatment given to IT companies, according to the report. The ministry will also encourage participation from the large number of overseas Vietnamese who have gone into the IT business in countries such as the U.S., Canada, France and Australia, according to the report.

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