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Gates Says Vietnam Should Focus On Software To Build Economy

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said April 22, information technology, including software development, could help Vietnam move into the league of Asian "miracle" economies within a decade. "I have a very strong optimism, not just about our activities here, but about all the new developments taking place in the country," Gates said during a visit to Vietnam.

Gates said, "Clearly I see that over the next decade Vietnam will join the list of those miracles." He welcomed the decision this year by the world's largest chip-maker Intel Corp. to set up a research and development plant near Ho Chi Minh City but said Vietnam should not only focus on manufacturing.

"Vietnam should also work on the software development side, the outsourcing side," he said, suggesting that strong foreign language training could help Vietnam build call centers and other outsourcing businesses.

Microsoft signed an agreement to outfit Vietnam's Ministry of Finance with its licensed software, the first government office to do so in the communist nation where software piracy is rampant. "This is a positive affirmation by the government in its commitment to protect intellectual property as it works itself toward becoming a full WTO member," Microsoft Corp and the ministry said in a joint statement. Vietnam hopes to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year, but the U.S. has demanded it crack down on piracy of software, copyright and trademark goods sold freely in Vietnam's streets.

Gates, in Tam Son, a commune outside Hanoi, also launched a project called OneClick that aims to spread affordable Internet use in Vietnam through domestically built PCs that run low-cost versions of Microsoft programs.

Microsoft is also working to put a community technology centre into each of Vietnam's 64 provinces, with technology training and free Internet use for one year, in a project co-funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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