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Thailand, Myanmar  Outline Dawei Cooperation Plan

Thailand submitted a coordination plan to Burma last week involving construction of the US$ 60 billion Dawei deep-sea port project and special economic zone.

Sihasak Phuangketkaew, the Thai permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said he submitted a concept paper to Burma outlining how the two countries will cooperate in the huge energy and industrial project in southeast Burma.

A MoU agreement was signed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burmese President Thein Sein in Thailand last month.

“Both governments should work together under the newly proposed mechanism to support the Dawei project together with Thailand's Eastern Seaboard,” Sihasak told the Bangkok Post, in an article published on Wednesday.

“Thailand wants the mechanism to engage high-level officials of the two countries,” he said.

Sihasak said a Thai coordination team would return to Burma for further consultation before Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visits Burma on Sept 19-21 to launch the Dawei and western seaboard projects.

He said the two countries will focus on infrastructure building, construction of industrial estates, energy cooperation and developing regulations on the transportation of goods across the border.

Sihasak said the Thai plan includes cooperation on community development in areas adjacent to the Dawei site, vocational training, relocation of local residents, academic issues, education and public health assistance.

Thailand will also help the Italian-Thai Development Plc, the contractor for the project, to find foreign investors and capital to construct the deep-sea port, he said.

“The Thai government is trying to raise the project's profile to create visibility in foreign countries,” he said.

The development of Burma’s Dawei special economic zone will be the focus of a two-day trip to Naypyitaw by Shinawatra.

The joint development of the deep-sea port project in southeast Burma and the plan to connect the Dawei project to Thailand's Laem Chabang deep-sea port project would be the focus of discussions, officials said.

The recent bilateral agreements on Dawei have sent a strong signal to foreign investment firms and governments that Thailand and Burma are committed to the development of the strategic economic corridor designed to funnel energy and other material into Southeast Asia, significantly reducing shipping time and costs.

About US$ 8.6 billion is needed for investment in the initial infrastructure project prior to the creation of the Dawei project proper, which will provide jobs for more than 1,000 Burmese workers, officials said.

The Dawei deep sea-port, industrial zone and road and rail links to Thailand includes construction of the Dawei deep sea-port, buildings for shipyard and maintenance works, establishment of petrochemical industries, an oil refinery, steel plant, power stations and a Dawei-Bangkok motor road and railroad, in addition to the laying of oil pipelines along the motorway and railroad, according to the framework agreement.

The project, to be completed by 2018, is designed to bypass the Malacca Strait and shorten the transportation route to Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Source: http://www.bnionline.net/index.php/news/mizzima/13614-thailand-burma-outline-dawei-cooperation-plan-.html

3-9-2012

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Mekong-Japan economic ministers agree to increase cooperation

(Xinhua)

10:03, August 31, 2012 http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/img/2011english/images/icon16.gifhttp://english.peopledaily.com.cn/img/2011english/images/icon17.gifhttp://english.peopledaily.com.cn/img/2011english/images/icon18.gif

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Economic Ministers of Mekong countries and their Japanese counterparts on Thursday agreed to add more development projects in the Mekong-Japan Economic and Industrial Cooperation Initiative (MJ-CI) Action Plan, according to a joint statement issued at the 4th Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers' Meeting.

The meeting was co-chaired by Tin Naing Thein, minister for Myanmar's National Planning and Economic Development, and Yukio Edano, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and attended by economic ministers and representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well as ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan.

The ministers agreed to additionally incorporate several projects into the MJ-CI Action Plan such as organizing seminars and workshops for Free Trade Agreement utilization, improving power grid interconnection in the Mekong Region and developing power plants in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, developing Special Economic Zones and establishing an industrial development strategy for Mekong countries, said the statement.

The MJ-CI Action Plan was adopted at the 2nd Mekong-Japan Summit in 2010, by prioritizing those projects with strong business needs for Mekong countries and Japan.

Source: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90777/7931408.html

3-9-2012

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Japan, Myanmar to soon sign economic zone deal

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Jiji Press)--Japan is expected to sign an agreement soon to cooperate with Myanmar to develop a special economic zone near Yangon, Japanese government sources have said.

Japan is ready to send a delegation to the Southeast Asian country at an early date, a Japanese government official said Wednesday, adding the two countries are expected to sign the agreement during the delegation's visit.

Economy, Trade and industry Minister Yukio Edano met with Tin Naing Thein, Myanmar minister of national planning and economic development, and expressed his country's gratitude for Myanmar's message seeking Japanese cooperation on development of the Thilawa economic zone.

Edano told Tin Naing Thein that Japan will strive to make achievements in infrastructure development and other fields in Myanmar. The Myanmar minister said he hopes Japan will send a delegation as early as mid-September.

Edano told reporters after the meeting that it is important to get Japan involved in important development projects in Myanmar from the planning stage.

(Aug. 31, 2012)

Source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/T120830005022.htm

3-9-2012

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Myanmar to offer oil and gas exploration blocks

August 31, 2012

RECORDER REPORT

The world's biggest oil and gas firms want to explore in Myanmar as global sanctions ease and the country will soon launch an onshore and offshore exploration round, its energy minister said on Monday. Myanmar could offer over 10 offshore and around 10 onshore blocks as one of the world's poorest countries seeks to raise much needed revenue, Than Htay said an interview.

"Since the sanctions have been eased by the US, the UK, the western powers, the giant companies are interested; they come to my ministry daily to discuss how they could participate," he said. "Shell is inquiring, BG from the UK is also coming to discuss ... There are many giant firms coming."

The minister's comments were the closest indication yet about the size of the coming licensing round and the type of interest it was generating. The tender would be the first opportunity in at least 15 years for US oil firms to participate in Myanmar's energy sector after Washington relaxed sanctions last month to allow for new investment. Myanmar, one of the world's first oil producers, has opened up with remarkable speed since a civilian government took office last year following nearly 50 years of military rule, releasing hundreds of political prisoners, permitting greater media freedom, legalising protests and undertaking peace talks with ethnic rebel groups. It also freed opposition leader and Noble Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from two decades of house arrest last year and permitted her this year to contest and win a seat in parliament.

Western powers responded by easing sanctions, hoping to encourage former general Thein Sein's government to further dismantle authoritarian rule. The government is seeking to maximise earnings from oil and gas, its number one source of export income. However, Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's assassinated independence revolution hero Aung San, has warned big oil companies from working too closely with the state owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise because of lack of transparency and accountability.

Than Htay brushed off the criticism saying Suu Kyi lacked insight, but he promised to revamp licensing round procedures before this year's launch. He said he planned to convene a meeting of interest groups, political leaders and industry professionals to iron out the rules after Western oil firms were conspicuously absent from last year's energy tender.

"We'll listen to their voice and ideas, and only after that meeting we'll we decide how we'll launch the coming tender; but we won't take long," he said. Myanmar is still a relatively modest gas producer with 1.475 billion cubic feet of daily production, putting it in 36th place globally. But the lack of exploration work over its decades in political isolation make it an attractive investment target. Western governments are also keen to see oil firms work there as a reward for its rare success in launching a peaceful transition. Than Htay added that given the costs of exploration and production, Myanmar will continue to rely on oil giants in future tenders.

Source: http://www.brecorder.com/fuel-a-energy/193/1232419/

31-8-2012

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U.S. lifts travel restrictions on Myanmar’s president for U.N. summit

 

August 30, 2012 at 6:36 AM by AHN ˇ Leave a Comment  

Fourth Estate Cooperative Staff

Washington, United States (4E) – Showing support to Myanmar’s leader for bringing the series of reforms in his country, U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday lifted visa restrictions against President Thein Sein, allowing him to visit next month’s United Nations’ summit.

In a statement, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor said that Obama’s decision signals U.S.’ interest in having close ties with Sein and his government, which continues to carry out political and economical reforms.

Had Obama not ordered the exception, Thein Sein could not have freely traveled during the U.N. General Assembly.

“Burma’s progress in undertaking political and economic reform has been facilitated, to a large degree, by our increasing engagement with key reformers in the government,” Vietor said, calling Myanmar by its former name.

Vietor added that the decision would also allow Myanmar’s president and his delegation to better understand U.S. policies and democracy during the foreign trip.

After taking office earlier this year, former general Thein Sein brought a series of reforms, including releasing political prisoners, electing Suu Kyi to Parliament, relaxing media censorship and holding talks with ethnic rebel groups.

Washington, in turn, praised the reforms and eased sanctions on Myanmar by allowing U.S. companies to resume investments in Myanmar. It also sent its ambassador to Myanmar – a rare move in more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to visit the U.S. to receive highest U.S. honor – the Congressional Gold Medal. Her visit comes exactly at the same time when Thein Sein is to attend U.N. summit in New York.

In a separate development, President Thein Sein pardoned three aid workers, including two U.N. employees, after alleging them for their roles in ethnic violence in Rakhine state. The decision to pardon the workers came on a call by a U.N. human rights envoy, who described the charges unfounded.

“This is all coming to us rather suddenly. What we can say for now is that we welcome their release,” Eri Kaneko, associate spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general, said.

Article Š AHN – All Rights Reserved

Source: http://gantdaily.com/2012/08/30/u-s-lifts-travel-restrictions-on-myanmars-president-for-u-n-summit/

31-8-2012

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Myanmar Posts Names Trimmed From Blacklist

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: August 30, 2012 at 7:59 AM ET

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The names recently trimmed from Myanmar's blacklist read like a who's who of prominent diplomats, human rights campaigners and Asian-based journalists.

After announcing this week it had cut a third of the names off its 6,165-person blacklist, the government took another step toward openness Thursday by publishing the names of more than 1,000 foreigners stricken from the notorious list.

Among them are former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the late singer, activist and politician Sonny Bono, and late Philippine President Corazon Aquino, whose name seems to be listed several times, including as "Madame Corazon C.A guino."

Also cut from the list are the sons of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi — Alexander Aris who lives in the United States and his London-based brother Kim Aris. Some people cited, including Kim Aris, had already been allowed back into the country, suggesting that their names were previously removed from the list. Aris has visited his mother a few times since her release from house arrest in 2010.

Myanmar's former military regime used the blacklist to keep out critics and others deemed a threat to national security. It blocked selected foreigners from entering the country and also prohibited certain Burmese nationals from leaving.

It was not known until Thursday when the posting appeared that the list was officially called: "Black List." It cited the names, passport numbers and nationalities of 1,147 foreigners removed from the list, including exiled Burmese citizens. It is riddled with typos and includes vague references like No. 540 Nick and No. 899 Mohammed.

One name from past headlines was John William Yettaw, an American who was deported from Myanmar after swimming to Suu Kyi's lakeside home in 2009 in a bizarre act that landed them both in prison.

Others stricken from the list include several Human Rights Watch campaigners and British activist James Mawdsley, who spent 14 months of solitary confinement in a Myanmar prison for taking part in pro-democracy protests in the late 1990s.

Several Associated Press reporters are among the many foreign correspondents removed from the blacklist, including longtime AP Bangkok bureau chief Denis Gray. The list also ends a longtime ban on Swedish author and journalist Bertil Lintner.

Diplomats removed from the list include former U.S. Charge d'Affaires Priscilla Clapp and British Ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowman, who married a Burmese painter and former political prisoner.

Prominent Burmese dissidents removed from the list include Aung Din, head of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma.

The trimming of the blacklist was the latest sign of change as Thein Sein's government implements reforms after decades of harsh military rule.

The new government took office in March 2010 after the country's first elections in 20 years. Until now, it has continued to update the blacklist as it sees fit. It is apparently keeping secret the names of some 4,000 people still on its blacklist.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/30/world/asia/ap-as-myanmar-blacklist.html?ref=myanmar

31-8-2012

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Thai investment climate stronger than forecast: Board of Investment

 

By Tinnakorn Chaowachuen in Bangkok/The Nation | Asia News Network 

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand's investment environment is looking brighter than predicted, with the value of privileges granted to companies now targeted to reach 800 billion baht (US$25.65 billion) this year.

The Board of Investment (BoI) office yesterday said the total value of investment privileges would rise higher than the previous projection of 630 billion baht, as the value had already exceeded 570 billion baht during the first seven months.

The industry ministry has a positive assessment of the economy in the second half of the year. From January to July, there were 1,239 applications for investment privileges worth 574.2 billion baht, compared with 973 applications worth 287.6 billion baht in the same period last year.

The BOI is collaborating with Oxford Business Group on "The Report: Thailand 2012" to collect economic and political information to guide manufacturers and others on investing in Thailand.

Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said seven industries had made significant applications. These were services and infrastructure; chemicals for paper and plastic; metals, machinery and transport equipment; electronics and electrical appliances; agriculture and agricultural products; light industry; and mining of ceramics and base metals.

The minister said investment in Thailand was growing strongly this year as a positive impact from the flood aftermath. Investors are more confident to indulge in highvalue projects, which the economy expecte to growth by 5.5 per cent this year, higher than the global average growth.

"Thailand is the geographical centre of this region, which attracts foreign investors to set up their manufacturing hubs here as the springboard for export to other countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and southern China," Pongsvas said.

The government plans to construct basic infrastructure to encourage investment, particularly inland roads to link with Dawei Port in Myanmar, he noted.

Atchaka Sibunruang, secretary general of the BOI, said the office was revising its investment privilege policy to focus more on hightech manufacturing and high value added businesses and less on labour intensive businesses and basic agricultural processing.

Under the new policy, investment promotion zones will be cancelled and the focus will shift to business type when determining investment privileges.

Paulius Kuncinas, regional editor of Asia Oxford Business Group, said Thailand remained attractive to foreign investors.

However, the country is facing new challenges for its development as its economy has relied too heavily on export. In addition, many regulations have hampered business operations and development.

(US$1 = 31.2 baht)

Source: http://my.news.yahoo.com/thai-investment-climate-stronger-forecast-board-investment-075005326.html

31-8-2012

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Asean to become the 6th biggest automotive market globally by 2018

By Natalie Khoo of theedgemalaysia.com | The Edge Malaysia – 

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 15): Vehicles sales are expected to double up to nearly 4.7 million in 2018 units as compared to 2.4 million in 2011 making Asean in line to becoming the sixth biggest automotive market globally, according to Frost & Sullivan.

In a statement Wednesday, Frost & Sullivan research manager of Asia Pacific Automotive Practice at Frost & Sullivan, Vijayendra Rao said that the Asean region had has assumed greater importance in the last few years due to the implementation of Asean Free Trade Agreement in 2010 and healthy rivalry among Asean member countries to attract foreign investments, eventhough individually none of the Asean countries had featured in the top ten markets globally.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan CEO 360 Degree Perspective of the Automotive Industry in ASEAN (covering 4 key automotive markets in ASEAN – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam) found that the market was likely to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% (2011-2018), mainly driven by growth in Thailand and Indonesia.

Rao said that with local demands, increased buying power and significant investments from Japanese original equipment manufacturer (OEM)s, Thailand and Indonesia vehicle sales are likely to hit 1 million units by 2013 the report said,

He added that Indian and Chinese automotive companies are also looking at expanding to Asean as it has a competitive automotive production base and a net vehicle exporter with strong competency in certain product ranges.

“Thailand is expected to continue its dominance as a production hub in Asean due to the significant investments by Japanese OEMs incentives from the Government, good supply base and required talents,” he said.

He also said that production in Indonesia will cater to local demand, mainly driven by the shift of ownership to cars, multi-purpose vehicles and sports utility vehicles from motorcycles.

Rao said that passenger vehicle sales in ASEAN are likely to increase at a CAGR of 10.2 per cent to 3.1 million units in 2018 from 1.5 million units in 2011.  Commercial vehicles sales are expected to grow at a slightly slower pace at a CAGR of 9.8 per cent to reach 1.6 million units in 2018 from 780,000 units in 2011.

He also noted that the Malaysian Government has extended the full tax exemption of import duty and excise duty on hybrid and electric cars for vehicles below 2,000cc until Dec 31, 2013 that led to a huge growth for hybrid models such as Honda Insight, Toyota Prius and Lexus CT200h.

‘’Automakers however, need to do more to educate the public about the technology and address consumers’ concerns on the maintenance cost of the vehicles and introduce more attractive models to attract consumers’ interests’’ he concluded.

Source: http://my.news.yahoo.com/asean-become-6th-biggest-automotive-043143878.html

31-8-2012

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Asean states told to ease non-tariff barriers, laws

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai in Bangkok/The Nation | Asia News Network – 

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand and other Asean countries have been urged to take strenuous steps to genuinely open up the regional market in trade and services ahead of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, as there are still far too many non-tariff barriers and restrictions hindering trade and service sector growth.

At yesterday's "2012 Thailand Investment Environment: Maximising the AEC Opportunities" seminar, panellists shared the view that those involved in Thai trade, service and investment should be less concerned by the challenges of a more intensive competitive environment under the AEC than by the lack of development caused by the many rules and regulations obstructing investment and new business coming to the Kingdom.

Kirida Bhaopichitr, senior economist at the World Bank, said Thailand's share of service sector business was falling because the country still had a high level of protection in business service trade.

"Thailand is losing competitiveness, with or without the AEC. Income in the Thai industrial sector has grown continuously, but income in the service sector has increased slowly when compared with other Asean members because of the high level of protection in the country," she said.

She said that although Thailand and other Asean countries have committed to liberalising the service sector and trade in goods, the fruits of the AEC's implementation would in effect be delayed because of too much protection through domestic laws.

Nandor von der Luehe, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, said he believed that if Thailand did not open up the market, the country would lose out on benefits from the AEC.

The Kingdom has long developed its service and trade sectors and should no longer protect the market, as the benefits of liberalisation for its citizens will more than outweigh any impact on domestic enterprises, he said.

"If the country really opens up the market, the Thai service sector will become more developed. Consumers will then get better prices and better services," he added.

According to the Trade Negotiations Department, Thailand has already opened up the service sector in seven groups of businesses. However, the country and some of its fellow Asean members have not opened up many other service businesses because they have internal laws and regulations restricting the share of foreign enterprises in local companies and limiting the types of operation that can be undertaken by foreigners.

Phongsak Assakul, chairman of the Board of Trade, said Thai enterprises should be afraid of losing opportunities under the AEC, rather than of losing out due to a lack of competitiveness.

He said that besides the need for the government to eliminate non-tariff barriers for Asean integration, the private sector should strengthen its production and supply chain in the region in order to promote Thai trade and service development.

The panellist also urged the government to seriously tackle the problem of corruption, as it is one of most important factors in the minds of foreign investors when deciding whether to invest in the country.

David Lyman, member of the International Chamber of Commerce's Anti-Corruption Commission, said corruption in Thailand was significantly worse than in certain other Asean countries, in particular Singapore, because of a lack of political will to tackle the problem.

He added that the biggest concern influencing foreign investors' decisions to invest in Thailand was the stability of the political situation and government policies.

The government should impose clear and continuous policies in promoting investment as Asean integration approaches, as much investment will flow into the region in the coming years, Lyman said.

 

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Source: http://my.news.yahoo.com/asean-states-told-ease-non-tariff-barriers-laws- 090002609.html;_ylt=AjXE5Fv.3QpryMQldrKQuBekPu9_;_ylu=X3oDMTFqNWJj MGVuBG1pdANJQiBtb2R1bGUEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhSW5maW5pdGVCcm93c2VMaXN0VGVtcA--;_ylg=X3oDMTJucjc4OWpwBGludGwDbXkEbGFuZwNlbi1teQRwc3RhaWQD Mjk5MzViYmEtOWM2NC0zYWJiLWJlNmUtZDk0MDM4ODI2NjhhBHBzdGNhdANldXJvBHB0A 3N0b3J5cGFnZQ--;_ylv=3

31-8-2012

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Japan to Cooperate on Economic Zone Development in Myanmar

   Siem Reap, Cambodia, Aug. 29 (Jiji Press)--Japan is expected to sign an agreement soon to cooperate with Myanmar to develop a special economic zone near Yangon, Japanese government sources said Wednesday.
   Japan is ready to send a delegation to the Southeast Asian country at an early date, a Japanese government official said, adding the two countries are expected to sign the agreement during the delegation's visit.
   Yukio Edano, Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, met with Tin Naing Thein, Myanmarese minister of national planning and economic development, here and expressed his country's gratitude for Myanmar's message seeking Japanese cooperation on the Thilawa economic zone development.
   Edano told the Myanmarese minister that Japan will strive to make achievements in infrastructure development and other fields in Myanmar.
   The Myanmarese minister said he hopes that Japan will send a delegation as early as mid-September.

Source: http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2012083000026

30-8-2012

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New investment in infrastructure needed in Indochina: ADB

Rapid economic growth has put pressure on Indochina's infrastructure, and new investment plans are needed, the Asian Development Bank pointed out. It has plotted the 10-year strategic framework for infrastructure development in Indochina through 2022.

The strategic framework is focused on 9 sectors - energy, telecom, trade and investment, tourism, environment, human resource development and agriculture, said Thailand Country Director Craig Steffensen at Thailand Focus 2012’s session on Indochina.

ADB has recently launched an assessment report on Myanmar, which concluded that Myanmar has very strong potential for growth with lots of opportunities for foreign investors.

"Myanmar's geographic position will allow it to unleash its incredible opportunity for trade and commerce the same way Afghanistan plays or will play and has played historically, a role of a hub for trade and commerce in South Asia. Myanmar has the ability to play that role, moving forward to Southeast Asia, South Asia and China with a little help from Thailand," he said.

However, Myanmar has many challenges to solve - lacking of infrastructure, including electricity. Currently, only one in four of Myanmar's population has access to electricity. Myanmar should expedite an economic reform process and enhance the business and investment climate to maximize benefits of integration.

"To realise the potential of the country, we must focus on strengthening iconic activities via infrastructure, transport, power and telecommunication services with its neighbours."

Though many are still reluctant about the liberalisation in the country, Steffensen said the country has come too far to turn its back on the recent development.

"I'm hopeful and I'm optimistic and cautious aren't in my vocabulary anymore. Things in Myanmar are going to work out ok. I think things have gone so far; there is no turning back at this stage," he said.

The main purpose of ADB working with the six countries in the Great Mekong Subregion (GMS) is to eradicate poverty and improve competitiveness by developing infrastructure within the group.

"GMS programme was established in 1992. The aim was to link the GMS countries to improvement in infrastructure. The overall vision is a more integrated, prosperous and harmonious sub-region. We called our approach the 3Cs, that is to improve connectivity, competitiveness and a sense of community," Steffensen elaborated.

The bank's project of constructing intra-region transportation routes has created almost 250,000 kilometres of the network, which connects all major cities in the area together.

"There are two initiatives we have been working on for a long time, together with our development partners, the first is the Asian Highway, second is the transaction railway. The Asian Highway and railway was conceived during the1960's and 1980's respectively, comprised of 250,000 km of roads and rail link designed to connect the entire region. ADB has been the largest financier of investments in its network so far, " Steffensen said.

ADB is the largest creditor with US$20 billion and 55 projects which have been implemented. The development of infrastructure in the area has boosted the growth the economy. Stefensen cited the example of Phnom Penh --Ho Chi Minh City Highway boosted bilateral trade between Cambodia and Vietnam by 40 per cent. Meanwhile the border crossing was up by 50 per cent and many jobs were created along the border.

Source: www.nationmultimedia.com

30-8-2012

30-8-2012

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Myanmar: planned foreign investment law delayed by local business opposition

 Despite glowing predictions of becoming a “rising star” in Asia, Myanmar has generated more uncertainty than optimism when it comes to its much-delayed foreign investment code.

The saga has dragged on for more than eight months, since president Thein Sein promised a liberal new foreign investment regime late last year, and his industry minister (who also heads the Myanmar Investment Commission, the body overseeing foreign investment) just weeks later announced key points at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

An initial draft included provisions designed to entice foreign investors, including some that domestic critics said were way too generous, including 10-year tax exemption periods and liberal foreign ownership conditions.

That document has been progressively watered down as restrictions have been introduced. Among the amendments are a $5m minimum requirement on foreign investments, a 49 per cent maximum for foreign equity in joint ventures and restrictions on foreign investment – including curbs in some cases of 35 per cent investment – in designated sectors including agriculture, some services, food processing, and livestock and fisheries.

There have been high expectations of imminent passage of the new code in each of parliament’s three sessions since the original announcements.

But driven by fears among local business and, undoubtedly, the influence of established “cronies” who benefit from the status quo, a growing number of lawmakers have leapt in to block or propose modifications of the code. Domestic companies, meanwhile, through the country’s combined chambers of commerce and industry, have lobbied vigorously against concessions to foreign investors.

Local executives complain – perhaps understandably – that they are already at a disadvantage compared with large, experienced western companies with ample capital and superior technology. Any concession to such companies, they argue, will further tilt the playing field against the locals.

The result has been a slow-growing backlash over the very notion of foreign investment incentives. It has been cloaked in opaque – at times secret – parliamentary debates and consultations. Frequent redrafting of the law has led to multiple draft versions – to the point where one official admitted last week to beyondbrics, “I don’t even know which version is the current one.”

The latest amendments – read “tinkerings” – in the proposed draft FIL in parliament’s powerful lower house included requirements and restrictions that could actually deter many foreign companies from entering the country, say economists and some officials.

Sean Turnell, an economics professor at Australia’s Macquarie University who has studied Myanmar’s economy and investment environment, said: “I have watched this law become less and less liberal, less and less open, with each draft.. The new law is fast becoming the ‘No Foreign Investment Law.’”

To top it off, even Soe Thane, the industry minister and MIC chief , has criticised the draft law: “This $5m requirement is very discouraging for SMEs (small to medium enterprises), and SMEs are the only investors interested in Myanmar now,” he told local media.

“The existing law is better than the new draft with its amendments,” he added. Maybe so, but given that a new investment code is in the works, few foreign businesses that have joined the so-called “gold rush” to examine investment opportunities in Myanmar are keen to commit funds in an uncertain legal environment.

The current session of Myanmar’s parliament is in its final days. If the legislation passes the lower house in time, it will go to the upper house for approval and then to president Thein Sein, officials say.

But the intensity of debate suggests it could be delayed yet again. If so, it could be another six weeks before parliament returns to it.

At least, say some Yangon-based analysts, the to-ing and fro-ing can be welcomed at one level. “What we are seeing is democracy in action – overall it’s a vast improvement on the authoritarian environment we faced just 18 months ago,” said one local diplomat. That is, unless you’re a foreign business executive who wants to build a large factory and set up operations in Myanmar.

Related reading:
Myanmar reshuffle lays path to reform
, FT
Reforms could make Myanmar ‘rising star’
, FT
Myanmar starts flights between big cities
, FT

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ASEAN ministers vow to narrow gap among nations

Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | World | Wed, August 29 2012, 7:15 AM

A- A A+

Paper Edition | Page: 12

ASEAN’s economic meeting pledged on Tuesday to support the association’s new members in order to narrow development gaps between the member countries.

“ASEAN gives us the privilege of assistance in order to accelerate our economies and to narrow the gap among the countries,” Laos Minister of Industry and Commerce Nam Viyaketh told reporters on the sidelines of the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting as quoted by english.news.cn.

ASEAN’s original members are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Membership was later expanded to include Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The economic ministers meeting began in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Monday and will run until Aug. 31, focusing on efforts to narrow the economic gap between ASEAN’s members and boost equitable economic development in the region.

Addressing the opening session on Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the development gap among ASEAN members remained huge and the bloc needed to double its efforts to promote further growth and improve equitable distribution of the fruits of that growth at both national and regional levels.

Ahead of the meeting, the economic ministers also held on Sunday the 10th dialogue between the ASEAN economic ministers and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), discussing efforts to boost public-private sector partnerships in order to achieve the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

The ABAC was established in November 2001 in Brunei, and was inaugurated at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in April 2003, as the primary vehicle for raising feedback and guidance from the private sectors in order to enhance efforts to create an integrated and competitive economy.

There will also be meetings on the 26th ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council and on the 15th ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council, also in Cambodia.

According to the official schedule, a consultation meeting between ASEAN Economic Ministers, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization Francis Gurry, and the ASEAN-US Business Summit as well as Cambodia’s Garment and Textile Expo, would also take place.

Separately in Jakarta, the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s general director for ASEAN, I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, said that more developed economic relations among ASEAN countries would also boost development in other aspects in the region, such as security and culture.

“We will continue to build on our previous meeting in Bali. We will further partner with country members in order to develop economic development within the region,” Puja told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/08/29/asean-ministers-vow-narrow-gap-among-nations.html

29-8-2012

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Major changes in state industrial promotion policy

DNA | Aug 29, 2012, 06:03AM IST

 

Bhopal: In a bid to accelerate industrial growth in Madhya Pradesh, the state has made major amendments to the Industrial Promotion Policy 2010. Besides this, the government has also given its consent for the new Information Technology Investment Policy-2012 in the meeting of the Cabinet held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan here on Tuesday.

 

According to the amended Industrial Promotion Policy, the government has placed the agri-business and food processing, textiles, automotive and auto components, tourism, pharmaceutical, bio-technology, IT/ ITES, healthcare, skill development and logistics & warehousing under focus sector.

Besides this, it has policy for appointment of investment relationship managers for prompt implementation of investment proposals, network /hardware / software for transparent administration and online implementation of schemes for industries, making TRIFAC holding company for all the Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigams and arrangement of State Govt's block guarantee for smooth running of TRIFAC.

Besides this the government will provide special assistance for setting up industrial and high-tech parks in private sector. Assistance equivalent to 15 % of development cost subject to a maximum of Rs 5 crore will be given on establishment of minimum 10 units in minimum 100 acre area and on providing regular employment to minimum 250 persons.

The amendment has also abolished export tax charged presently by local bodies and also energy development cess if power generated by captive power plant is consumed by unit itself.

Provisions have also been incorporation in the amended policy to create a land bank of suitable government/private lands for industrial use, formulate suitable Act for acquiring land for development of land bank from private landowners on the basis of mutual agreement between landowners, set up online application and allotment system for making land allotment process transparent and make requisite amendments in MP Industrial Lands and Industrial Buildings Management Rules-2008.

Source: http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/MP-BHO-major-changes-in-state-industrial-promotion-policy-3712264-NOR.html

29-8-2012

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Over half of Vietnam FDI from Japan between Jan-Aug

Posted on August 28, 2012 Written by dtinews Leave a Comment

Japanese companies pledged to invest a total USD4.33 billion in Vietnam in the first eight months of this year, accounting for 51.1% of the country’s combined foreign direct investment (FDI) in the period.

The real estate sector attracts USD1.72 billion FDI between January and August

Japan was also the largest among 52 foreign investors in Vietnam between January and August, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Following Japan is Samoa with USD889.8 million, 10.5%; South Korea with USD654.7 million, 7.7%; Singapore with USD523.2 million or 6.2%.

During the eight-month period, Vietnam licensed 672 new FDI projects totaling USD5.52 billion, down 43.5% year-on-year. The country also allowed 244 existing projects to to increase their capital on existing investments by USD2.95 billion, down 3.2% from a year earlier.

The manufacturing and processing industry proved most attractive to foreign investors, with USD5.74 billion, followed by real estate with USD1.72 billion.

Binh Duong Province took the lead in luring FDI between January and August, with USD1.84 billion, followed by Haiphong with USD1.05 billion, Dong Nai with USD972 million, HCM City with USD922.9 million, Bac Giang USD902.7 million and Hanoi USD413.1 million.

Most of FDI projects in the eight-month period were small-scale, the largest being one capitalised at USD1.2-billion in the real estate sector, a project named Tokyu Binh Duong urban area invested by a Japanese company.

The Foreign Investment Agency said, FDI disbursement so far this year reached USD7.28 billion, down 0.3% against the same period last year.

The export value of FDI companies, including oil, was estimated at USD45.6 billion, up 34.1% on-year, accounting for 62.2% of the country’s total export value. Their import value was at USD38.5 billion, up 25.5% and making up 52.5% of the nation’s total import value. Between January and August the FDI sector saw a trade surplus of around USD7 billion.

Top of Form

29-8-2012

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APEC Summit Might Boost Investment

By Anatoly Medetsky

 

Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov

The government expects the upcoming forum of Asia-Pacific businesspeople and country leaders in Vladivostok to help attract investment to Russia and remove suspicions about the country's efforts to invest abroad, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Tuesday.

"The main result will be how much investment Russia will receive after the meeting and how the other economies will be ready to accept Russian investment," he said at a news conference.

An Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will take place in Russia for the first time in its history next week, with a keynote speech by President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 7.

The other country leaders and senior officials who are expected to take part in the annual event include Chinese President Hu Jintao, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Trade Representative Ron Kirk will not be in attendance.

Shuvalov said the high-level discussions and business meetings in Vladivostok will facilitate Russia's aim to have at least 50 percent of its foreign trade be with Asian economies and the United States.

"It's not very easy to do, mentally as well," he said, explaining that Russia has long had stronger ties with Europe.

He didn't specify the current percentage.

Shuvalov said the government had invested a great deal in sprucing up Vladivostok for the forum, creating an Asian "investment capital" out of the port city.

The government will continue to seek a new trade agreement with the European Union with the ultimate goal of establishing a free-trade zone, but it will apply as much effort to promote trade with the Asian economies, Shuvalov said.

He also said he hoped that Putin would set up an agency to advance trade ties with Asia.

Russia and Vietnam, he said, had made much progress in setting up a free-trade zone.

The government wants to prepare a federal program by the end of the year for a plan to develop the Far East, he said.

Russia and the United States have similar views on cooperation in Asia, except for the proposed free-trade zone known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Shuvalov said.

"So far, we are not convinced, unlike the Americans, that it's necessary to build the Trans-Pacific free-trade zone," he said.

Russia is studying the proposal, weighing whether it should instead focus on its fresh WTO membership and the effort to integrate economically with its two post-Soviet neighbors, Belarus and Kazakhstan, he said.

Some of Russia's captains of industry will attend the APEC meetings. They will include Andrei Kostin, chief of VTB, the country's second-largest bank; Ziyavudin Magomedov, board chairman of Summa Group; and billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the majority owner of the world's biggest aluminum producer, RusAl.

Foreign business leaders — representing the likes of PayPal, Caterpillar, Royal Dutch Shell, Hyundai and China Construction Bank will also come out in force.

Vladivostok's shipyard Vostochnaya Verf ran successful tests of a second catamaran that will ferry guests of the APEC summit from the mainland to Russky Island, the meeting's venue, Interfax reported.

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/special/apec/2012/apec-summit-might-boost-investment.html

29-8-2012

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Samsung vows "all measures" to keep products in US
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III (R) and Apple's iPhone 4S (L) are displayed at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea. (AP/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL: South Korea's Samsung Electronics vowed on Tuesday to take "all necessary measures" to keep its products on US store shelves, in response to Apple's request for a ban on sales of some smartphones.

After winning a US$1.05 billion US court judgement in a patent suit last week, Apple on Monday filed a court request to ban eight Samsung mobile devices including versions of its Galaxy and Droid smartphones.

Samsung, the world's biggest technology firm, countered in a statement: "We will take all necessary measures to ensure the availability of our products in the US market."

Rival Apple says that it reserves the right to seek permanent injunctions banning the sale of all 28 Samsung devices which a jury on Friday found infringed its patents.

But it presented a shorter list of Samsung products "to address a portion of the immediate, ongoing irreparable harm that Apple is suffering".

The phones that Apple included on its list for a sales ban are old models but still available through wireless carriers and online retailers. Samsung's newest flagship products -- Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note -- were not included.

The jury in San Jose, California decided Friday that Samsung "wilfully" infringed six Apple patents for smartphones or tablet PCs.


 

Samsung has vowed to contest the verdict, saying courts in other countries had previously ruled it had not copied Apple's designs.

The company did not elaborate on its strategy but it is considering removing or modifying features found to have infringed Apple's patents to keep its products on the market if the sales ban is granted.

"As a last resort, we can think about workarounds," a Samsung official told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to possible modifications.

Judge Lucy Koh has set a hearing for September 20 to consider enforcement of injunctions against Samsung devices.


She will also hear Samsung motions to reduce or dismiss charges and Apple's request for "punitive" damages, which could triple the award.

Friday's ruling -- part of a legal battle in nine countries between the two technology titans -- was seen as a major defeat for smartphone makers that use Google's Android operating system.

More than 90 per cent of the latest smartphones from HTC, Lenovo Group, ZTE Corp., Huawei Technologies and LG Electronics use the Android operating platform.

Samsung officials say their company could develop new products or software to avoid being a future target of patent litigation.

Samsung and other smartphone makers are working with Microsoft to launch Windows-based devices later this year. Samsung also has been working with Intel on a free and open mobile platform.

Samsung shares ended 1.27 per cent higher at 1,195,000 won Tuesday, a day after plunging 7.5 per cent -- the biggest single-day percentage drop the electronics giant has seen in nearly four years.


 

Website: www.channelnewasia.com

Source:  AFP/ck

28-8-2012

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UPDATE 1-German economic growth slows on investment drop

Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:53am EDT

BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Germany economic growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the second quarter on a sharp drop in investment, adding to evidence that  Europe's largest economy can no longer be relied on to pull the euro zone out of a deep slump.

    The German Statistics Office confirmed a preliminary estimate showing German gross domestic product slowing from 0.5 percent expansion in the first quarter, as gross capital investment dropped 0.9 percent, subtracting 0.2 percentage points from overall growth.

    "German growth remains well-balanced but signs of waning strength are increasing," said ING's Carsten Brzeski.

    Brzeski said the sharp drop in orders from other euro zone states showed the crisis had already reached the German economy.

    "The safety net of richly filled order books and low inventories has become thinner very rapidly, not boding well for growth in the second half of the year," he said.

     German industrial service provider Bilfinger Berger said this week some of its customers were calling off or postponing a number of non-urgent projects as a result of the economic downturn, and the firm was sticking to its strategy of expanding outside of Europe.     

    Data last week showed moderate German growth was not enough to save the euro zone from contraction in the second quarter. The currency bloc's economy shrank 0.2 percent, having flat lined in the first three months of the year.

    Nonetheless Germany's economy which has remained resilient throughout Europe's three-year debt crisis that has hit its peers, remains a bright spot in the region.

    Data on Thursday also showed that solid economic growth helped Germany post a budget surplus worth 0.6 percent of gross domestic product in the first half of the year, after posting a deficit of 0.6 percent in the first half of 2011.

    Moreover German exports rose 2.5 percent in the second quarter, despite declining demand from the euro zone, helping net trade add 0.3 percentage points to overall growth.

    Government spending gained 0.2 percent and private consumption was 0.4 percent up.

 

Sources: Routers http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/23/germany-gdp  dUSL6E8JN2B020120823

 

28-8-2012

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ASEAN Investment Area Council meets in Cambodia with focus on FDI
(philstar.com) Updated August 28, 2012 12:00 AM

 SIEM REAP (Xinhua) - The 15th ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council meeting was held here on Monday afternoon to review developments in the AIA and to discuss ways in attracting more foreign direct investment into the ASEAN region, said a senior ASEAN official.

The AIA Council comprises of ASEAN ministers responsible for investment. The meeting was chaired by Kong Vibol, secretary of state of the Economy and Finance Ministry and vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, and was also attended by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN secretary-general.

The meeting had agreed to do more in terms of rules and regulations in order to present ASEAN as 'one investment area', Surin told Xinhua after the meeting.

"We need to do more to increase the confidence of external potential investment coming into ASEAN," he said, adding that last year, the bloc attracted a large amount of investment - about 90 billion U.S. dollars.

"We also agreed to work closely with dialogue partners and wanted their participation within the ASEAN investment area," he said.

On the same day, the 26th ASEAN Free Trade Area Council meeting was also held to further discuss trade facilitation within the region.

The topics of discussion include elimination of non-tariff barriers that impede trade, simplification of rules and procedures of doing business and enhancing the use of information and communication technologies in customs clearance of goods within the region.

The two meetings are among a series of the week-long 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting.

Website: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=842740&publicationSubCategoryId=200

Sources:  The Philippine Star

28-8-2012

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Intel explores investment opportunities

in Thailand

Asina Pornwasin
The Nation August 28, 2012 1:00 am

 Arvind Sodhani

Investment arm of tech giant urges improvement in broadband access



Intel Capital plans to invest US$300 million (Bt9 billion) to $500 million this year around the globe.

Intel Capital - which sees Thailand and Southeast Asia as emerging markets - has so far invested in 52 countries. In Asia, the company has invested in China, India, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital, said Intel Capital continues to look to invest in companies in this region. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will help companies as they will be able to do business in 10 countries and target the region.

Thailand and Southeast Asia are growing rapidly and they have the potential for substantial expansion. Some changes in infrastructure, such as access to broadband, will dramatically change the landscape. He said the access to broadband in Thailand is very low and that needs to be improved. It will help entrepreneurs and SMEs grow their businesses.

"We hope that broadband penetration will be expanded and the government and the authorities will do everything to promote it," Sodhani said. "We know that broadband is a key driving factor in economic growth around the world. The broadband penetration rate in Thailand is still very low. It needs to be expanded dramatically. Thailand is driven by SMEs and we would like to make Thailand the 52nd country where Intel Capital has invested in," said Sodhani.

He said the company has two main criteria before it invests in companies. The first is strategic interest. It wants to make sure the investment is in a technology company. Is the technology relevant to Intel? The strategy is to help enhance the overall goal of increasing penetration and usage. The second is financial viability. The company wants to make sure that everything it invests in, is financially successful.

"The company [we invest in] has to have the right management skill set. It is critically important to have a management team that has the ability and the vision to grow the company. We want to invest in companies that will be successful in the long-term," said Sodhani.

The areas Intel Capital is interested in are education, software, data centre, consumer Internet, e-commerce and cloud computing. Sodhani added that this year, Intel Capital will invest $300 million to $500 million. It has already invested about $200 million in the first half of this year.

"It depends on how many right companies we find and how many companies we close a deal with. Thus, it is hard to predict exactly how many companies Intel Capital will invest in," said the president of Intel Capital.

The company has invested 50:50 in and outside the US. Over the years, it has been increasing the investment percentage outside the US. There are many factors driving the increase, including rapid growth of GDP in developing countries, and growing technology adoption. Technology adoption in Southeast Asia is also rising very rapidly.

"The investment in companies outside the US will be 50 per cent or more for this year," said Sodhani.

"We see a lot of companies, but we invest in only a select few. We try to find the right company to invest in, which means companies that have the right management and the desire to grow and to become a regional company, not just local company. They have ability to hire people. And that's where we could come in and provide the financial and technological know-how, and global relationship," said Sodhani.

Most of the companies Intel Capital invests in are start-ups who have $2 million to $10 million revenue. During the last year until now, Intel invested in 89 new companies, 51 per cent outside the US. It invested $526 million last year. It has six IPOs in the portfolio and 28 acquisitions.

Intel Capital is the investment arm of Intel Corporation. It was started in the mid-80s, with investments in start-up companies in the Silicon Valley. Many people left Intel and set up start-ups, developing technology relevant to Intel's technologies such as chipset, software application.

"We have been investing every year. We started to invest outside the US in the late 90s, in countries such as China, India, Latin America, Europe. Our goal is to promote technology, technology adoption, and technology entrepreneurship," said Sodhani.

When the company promotes technology, it benefits because people buy more technology devices. "It is a direct correlation," he said.

"For example, in China and Vietnam, we have made a lot of effort to help increase PC and broadband penetrations. In most emerging countries by helping bring about investment in application, technology and innovation it helps to grow technology adoption in those countries," said Sodhani.

Meanwhile, Deepak Natarajan, investment director for Intel Capital in Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, said that on average about 5 to 10 per cent of the companies who get interviewed by Intel Capital are invested in. In Asia-Pacific, excluding China, it is 1 to 2 per cent on average.

"We see a lot of companies and business plans but we decide on those that make sense to us. We are looking aggressively to find Thai companies. We would love to be able to. But currently, we have not yet found the right companies. But we are very hopeful of finding a company in Thailand in which we can invest," said Natarajan.

Natarajan said the company wants to invest in companies who have their own products and have figured out how to sell the product and what is valuable for customers. Thus, they have to have the right management team, the ability to expand business to the region and the ability to be successful.

He said that in Southeast Asia, there are a lot of businesses going online and a lot of online businesses are e-commerce. In order to make e-commerce a success, the broadband infrastructure will have to be good.

Improvement in broadband infrastructure will make possible more innovative e-commerce.

Thailand has a lot of SMEs, which are the backbone of the economy. They do not have IT staff and do not have the ability to implement big applications. They can use applications delivered over the cloud.

So, once the broadband penetration gets better, there will be more innovation as local companies will have the ability to build innovative applications that Thai businesses can use to automate their businesses. Mobile broadband is the trend. Once the speed of mobile broadband is improved, there will be a lot of applications coming out, he said.

"We are a minority investor in each of these companies. We own 20 per cent or less in the companies we invest in," said Natarajan.

Natarajan said that Thailand is an important part of the global supply chain for two main industries - electronics and automobile. Intel Capital is looking to invest in Thai companies who provide electronic functions for cars. There are opportunities for Thailand to build an industry around that. Thailand is a major manufacturing hub in this field. It is easy to build an ecosystem around that. And Intel Capital is tracking a few companies here in Thailand.

This year, Intel Capital invested $17 million in two Southeast Asian companies - Singapore-based Reebonz.com, one of the largest private sales e-commerce groups in Asia for luxury goods 'Reebonz.com'; and an Internet infrastructure and services company Vietnam Communications Corporation. Intel sees Southeast Asia as one of the world's fastest-growing markets for high technology, driven by robust economic growth and a rising middle class. There is strong demand for e-commerce and cloud-based services across the region.

 

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/technology/Intel-explores-investment-opportunities-in-Thailan-30189199.html

Source: www.nationmultimedia.com

27-8-2012

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India invites Chinese companies to invest

India on Monday invited China to invest in its new flagship manufacturing zones as part of a push to broaden commercial links and cut a ballooning trade deficit with its Asian neighbour.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma (R) shakes hands with Chinese Commerce Minister Deming Chen prior to a meeting in New Delhi. India on Monday invited China to invest in its new flagship manufacturing zones as part of a push to broaden commercial links and cut a ballooning trade deficit with its Asian neighbour.

India's trade deficit with China, a longstanding economic irritant between the emerging market giants, soared 42 percent to nearly $40 billion in the last fiscal year, while total bilateral trade climbed 27 percent to $75 billion.

"We've invited China to participate in and support the establishment of one or more of the National Investment and Manufacturing Zones," trade minister Anand Sharma said in New Delhi after talks with his Chinese counterpart Chen Deming.

"That is where the opportunities beckon," Sharma said in a speech to Indian and Chinese business leaders, adding the response from the Chinese to the investment proposal had been "positive and encouraging".

The zones are being set up under India's National Manufacturing Policy which aims to boost manufacturing as a percentage of gross domestic product to 25 percent from 16 percent in the next decade.

The policy is part of India's struggle to provide jobs to its growing army of young people.

Chen, in turn, said Beijing, which exports mainly capital goods such as heavy engineering equipment to India, recognised its trade relationship with India was lopsided.

"We want to buy more goods from India to grow our trade relationship in a more balanced manner," he said.

"China and India are both fortunate to have sizeable domestic markets which give us the the opportunity to offset the risks of the weak global economy," he added.

Both nations' economies have slowed due to the global downturn and in India's case to high interest rates, corruption scandals and government policy paralysis that has dampened business activity.

Deming said China's economy was expected "to grow 7.5 percent or hopefully eight percent this year," down from growth of 9.2 percent last year.

India's once-booming economy grew by just 5.3 percent between January and March, its slowest annual quarterly expansion in nearly a decade.

Diplomatic ties between China and India are prickly due to a festering border dispute and the presence of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in India.

But trade has surged with the two countries targeting a goal of $100 billion in bilateral trade by 2015, even though experts say the trade imbalance is unlikely to improve significantly anytime soon.

The two ministers insisted India and China should see each other as commercial partners and agreed to set up a joint working group to look at how to boost trade and investment

"Let us trust each other," the Indian trade minister said, calling on his Chinese counterpart to take back a "positive message of India's commitment to deepen and diversify its partnership with your great country."

"Both countries will grow at a faster pace through this partnership."

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/309695/india-invites-chinese-companies-to-invest

Source: www.banqkokpost.com

27-8-2012

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Asian shares eases in narrow range, euro dips

 (Reuters) - Riskier assets from stocks and commodities to the Australian dollar fell on Tuesday on investor caution ahead of a gathering of central bankers and economists in Wyoming later in the week which could shed some light on further stimulus plans.

European equities were expected to follow Asia lower, with financial spreadbetters calling London's FTSE 100 .FTSE, Paris's CAC-40 .FCHI and Frankfurt's DAX .GDAXI to open down as much as 0.7 percent. .L .EU

Global markets have enjoyed broad-based gains over the past month, spurred by hopes for a third round of bond buying or other measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve to support growth, and expectations the European Central Bank soon will act to firmly cap borrowing costs and contain the euro zone's debt crisis.

But investors are growing increasingly wary of the rally, which has stretched out in absence of any concrete official action, and turned to global growth worries to dictate trade on Tuesday.

"Everybody is playing a waiting game now. Even if they are in the market, it's with a very short time horizon and in stocks that are more defensive," said Larry Jiang, chief strategist with Guotai Junan International Securities, of Hong Kong shares .HSI, which inched down 0.2 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 0.4 percent to a three-week low, dragged down by the materials sector .MIAPJMT00PUS.

Australian shares .AXJO pared about half of their early gains to trade up 0.2 percent as iron ore miners were hit by worries about weak global growth, while Japan's Nikkei stock average .N225 turned negative, shedding 0.9 percent under the weight of its slumping China-linked index .NCHN. .T

"People think the market is going to be tied up here ... on concerns over slowing growth in China. We have seen quite a lot of shorting on some China-linked names, some of the machinery, chemicals, that kind of stuff," a senior dealer at a foreign bank said.

Shanghai shares .SSEC steadied after tumbling to their lowest level since March 2009 on Monday on fading hopes for more "formal" monetary easing to underpin China's fragile growth, as the Chinese premier failed to refer to the possibility in recent comments.

The Australian dollar, a typical gauge for investor risk appetite and highly sensitive to the outlook of Chinese economy, hit a five-week low against the U.S. dollar of $1.0345.

Some see value stocks even in the current environment, as companies have strengthened their balance sheets by cutting costs and building cash buffers.

"The U.S. economy has picked up a little but that's coming from a low level, while in Europe, all the macro numbers seem to suggest the economy is not faring very well. There is some noise of stimulus in China but generally the exporters there haven't done too well. It's not exactly a healthy picture for the global economy," said Kwok Chern-Yeh, head of investment management, Japan, at Aberdeen Investment Management in Tokyo.

"If you look at the company level, though, while things are slowing, there are pockets of resilience in this market where companies have done relatively well," he said.

EUROPE EYED NEXT MONTH

The dollar fell 0.3 percent against the yen to 78.50 and the euro also eased 0.1 percent to $1.2486 after touching a one-week low.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak at the annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, meeting on Friday ahead of the Fed's September 12-13 policy meeting. He has used the event in the previous two years to signal the Fed's policy intentions. ECB President Mario Draghi is due to speak at the event on Saturday.

Next month will be pivotal for Europe, with the ECB's policy meeting on September 6, followed by the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the euro zone's permanent bailout fund on September 12.

ECB board member Joerg Asmussen said on Monday that the ECB will tailor its new bond-buying plan to dispel any concerns that it funds governments, and while he stopped short of when the bank would begin buying, he made clear the plan would go ahead despite Bundesbank opposition.

Greece will also face scrutiny next month from its global lenders who will assess Athens' progress in debt cutting efforts before deciding on further aid to keep the country afloat.

Brent crude oil steadied at $112.26 a barrel on concerns that a storm heading toward the Gulf of Mexico could strengthen into a hurricane, but U.S. crude fell 0.2 percent to $95.32. <O/R>

"Oil is doing what a lot of risk assets are doing these days," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC markets in Sydney. "We are now at a watershed level, after a significant rally and there is a reluctance to push prices above current levels, until we get details beyond the initiatives."

Spot gold slipped 0.2 percent to $1,659.75 an ounce, after touching a 4-1/2 month high of $1,676.45 on Monday. <GOL/>

Copper dropped 0.8 percent to $7,577.75 a tonne.

Despite weak equities, Asian credit markets were resilient, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index widening a scant 1 basis point.

(Additional reporting by Clement Tan in Hong Kong, Dominic Lau in Tokyo and Ramya Venugopal in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer & Kim Coghill)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/28/us-markets-global-idUSBRE86F00620120828

Source: www.reuters.com

27-8-2012

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Myanmar signals entry into strategic reform

Updated: 2012-05-12 19:34 ( Xinhua)

YANGON - Myanmar President U Thein Sein has signalled that the country is entering into a "second-step strategic reform", calling for more practicable  national and regional development tasks in the reform process for national development.

As the first step of its reform, the new civilian government, since taking office on March 2011, "has been undertaking a series of reform covering national solidarity, prevalence of peace and stability, ensuring security of the people, enhancing the international cooperation and introduction of clean government an good governance  with the aim of flourishing multi-party democratic system", U Thein Sein claimed.

At a work coordination meeting of the government cabinet in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday, U Thein Sein urged continuous implementation of ministry-wise and sector-wise tasks that need reform for enhancing the socio-economic status of the people as the "second-step strategic reform".

He underscored the need for seeking financial aid and support from the international community and direct investment from sources at home and abroad without relying solely on the state funds.

He stressed the need to form Myanmar Socio-Economy Advisory Council to enable social organizations and private sector to make coordination among them  and submit suggestions to the government, underlining that associations, companies, public companies, cooperative societies and  foundations are the main forces engaged in the development of socio-economic status of the people.

Responding to the offer of world nations to provide assistance to and to invest in Myanmar, he told the ministries and region or state governments to draw strategies and tactics, based on national and regional development projects, for ministry-wise and job-wise reform covering such sectors as agriculture, industry, education and  health, and to implement them area-wise according to priority list.

Noting that demand for skilled works at different levels in banking, hotel and tourism industry and other investment sectors, U Thein Sein reiterated its invitation to Myanmar citizens including technicians, experts and businessmen, who are living abroad for various reasons, to come back home to serve the country, while promising necessary assistance to them in doing businesses in the nation if meeting with difficulties.

He emphasized the need to allow opening of universities, colleges and courses of international standard for generating more jobs, and to turn out skilled teachers through international aid.

He also stressed the need to allow private investment in opening hospitals and clinics to provide public healthcare.

In conducting reform, he called for polishing the morality and attitude of grass root-level administrators in their performances, avoiding corruption, bribery and unfriendly relations with the public.

He called for doing business and making investment in line with the laws, rules procedures without irregularities and mobilizing public cooperation without putting reliance on a handful of people alone, saying that "only then will the country be able to do good practices on a par with the international community".  

The special coordination meeting of the government cabinet  was also attended by Dr. Sai Mauk Kham, one of the two vice presidents, deputy speaker of the House of representatives U Nanta Kyaw Hswa, government ministers, region or state chief ministers, and heads of self-administered zones.  

The government cabinet meeting, which is to go on Saturday, came more than a month after the end of April 1 by-elections and 10 days after the end of the third session of the parliament.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012cnmytour/2012-05/12/content_15277783.htm

Source: Chinadaily.com.cn

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Attracting foreign direct investment

From the Newspaper | 1 day ago

THERE is keen competition among developed and developing countries to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). This drive to lure investment often extends to the subnational level, with different regional authorities pursuing their own strategies and assembling their own baskets of incentives to attract new investments. Various reforms and strategies have been implemented, with mixed results. Some are critical of the high costs of many of these initiatives, arguing that it would be more rewarding to improve a country’s general business environment.

The many different methods used by policymakers to attract FDI and their effectiveness are as follows:

Providing targeted fiscal incentives, such as tax concessions, cash grants, and specific subsidies; improving domestic infrastructure; promoting local skills development to meet investor needs and expectations; establishing broad-reaching FDI promotion agencies; improving the regulatory environment and decreasing red tape; and engaging in international governing arrangements.

Promotional efforts to attract foreign direct investment have become the important point of competition among developed and developing countries. This competition is also maintained when countries are adopting economic integration at another level.
While some countries lower standards to attract FDI in a ‘race to the bottom,’ others praise FDI for raising standards and welfare in recipient countries.

Sound investment climate is crucial for economic growth. Microeconomic reforms aimed at simplifying business regulations, strengthening property rights, improving labour market flexibility, and increasing firms’ access to finance are necessary for raising living standards and reducing poverty in a country.

The government claims to have brought foreign investment to the billion dollars mark this year. But that is a fallacious claim since the money has come on account of privatisation of government-owned entities. There has only been a transfer of assets from the public sector into private hands; no new generation of activity in the retail or production sector, which is badly wanted to address the twin problems of poverty and unemployment.

The situation underscores the need not only to remove administrative hurdles but also to create ease of operations vis-ā-vis law and order and the socially restrictive atmosphere.

Governments that emphasise flexible demand-driven strategies, target in high value-added areas, and coordinate education and training policies are more likely to lead the country into a virtuous circle.

http://dawn.com/2012/05/20/attracting-foreign-direct-investment/

Source: Dawn.com Newspaper

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ASEAN, Japan eye 10-year road map to double trade

ECONOMIC MINISTERS from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan aim to finalize a 10-year road map to double trade between the region and the world’s third largest economy, a statement posted on the Web site of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) last week said.

METI said in its statement that the ASEAN-Japan 10-year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap will be presented for approval when ASEAN economic ministers (AEM) and METI counterparts meet in Cambodia in August.

It added that the road map will be based on results of informal AEM-METI consultations during the ASEAN road show in Japan last April 25-28.

Proposal for such a road map was first raised during the AEM-METI meeting in August last year, “with a vision of doubling trade for the mutual benefit of ASEAN and Japan,” the statement said.

Data on ASEAN’s Web site show trade between Southeast Asia and Japan totaled some $206.6 billion in 2010, making the latter the region’s third biggest trading partner after China and the European Union that year.

The road map will focus on five priority areas, namely: trade and investment liberalization, facilitation and promotion; system harmonization; improvement of logistics and distribution networks; narrowing development gaps; and promoting advanced industrial development.

The statement added that “a follow-up mechanism for implementation of the road map” will also be established.

ASEAN and Japan officials also said they hope to launch talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by yearend.

The envisioned pact will involve all 10 member countries of ASEAN -- the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

ASEAN and METI officials also pushed for the continued review of existing trade agreements between ASEAN and Japan, “with a view to advancing wider regional integration.” ASEAN itself targets intra-regional integration by 2015.

Bilateral trade pacts between Japan and ASEAN members should also be “improved into more user-friendly agreements [sic] which include support for seamless business environments through the reduction of barriers in the areas of transportation, distribution and logistics,” the statement said.

The Philippines itself had signed a wide-ranging economic partnership agreement with Japan in 2006. Both countries are set to review the bilateral pact this year. -- KAMP

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=ASEAN,-Japan-eye-10-year-road-map-to-double-trade&id=51639

Source: BusinessWorld

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Singapore, India reaffirm excellent bilateral ties
Posted: 10 May 2012 1759 hrs

Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (L) meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. (Photo courtesy of Press Information Bureau, Government of India)

Photos

       

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/images/dotline_240.gif
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (L) meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. (Photo courtesy of Press Information Bureau, Government of India)

NEW DELHI: Singapore and India have reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties, and the broad scope of cooperation.

These cover political engagement, defence, trade and investment, education, and arts and culture.

On Thursday, Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K. Shanmugam, met India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his four-day introductory visit to India.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said PM Singh said that he looked forward to the official visit of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to India in July 2012.
 


He shared Mr Shanmugam's confidence that the visit would be substantive, and deepen areas of cooperation.

MFA said Mr Shanmugam updated PM Singh on the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) for Bilateral Cooperation, which he co-chaired with India's Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna on May 8.

The JMC is a platform for both sides to review bilateral relations, as well as identify new areas for cooperation.

MFA said both looked forward to concluding the Government-to-Government Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Skills Development between Singapore's Ministry of Education and Indian Ministry of Labour and Employment.

It is expected to pave the way for future downstream projects in skills development.

Mr Shanmugam agreed with PM Singh that trade and investment flows had grown substantially in both directions and could be further enhanced through increased air connectivity.

They felt that this would also facilitate greater cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

They reaffirmed commitment to the swift and mutually-satisfactory conclusion of the second Review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed in 2005, and the renewal of the Air Force Bilateral Agreement (BA) of October 2007.

PM Singh and Mr Shanmugam also discussed global and regional developments.

PM Singh reiterated his appreciation for Singapore's longstanding and staunch support for India's Look East Policy.

Mr Shanmugam also briefed PM Singh on his visit to Guwahati in Assam on May 9, where he met Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and attended a business event.

He welcomed India's ongoing efforts to connect the Northeast region with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which offers good potential for development cooperation, trade and investment.

He noted that such efforts dovetailed with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) to build an integrated ASEAN community.

MFA said Singapore sees opportunities for India's private sector to be involved in MPAC public-private partnerships.

Mr Shanmugam will visit Ahmedabad in Gujarat, where he will meet Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

- CNA/de

Source:channelnewasia

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1200454/1/.html

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PHL, Lao PDR explore trade and investment opportunities

Saturday, 12 May 2012 18:52 Jonathan Mayuga / Reporter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE Philippines and Lao People’s Democratic Republic began exploring new trade and investment opportunities on Friday, with both governments promising a more business-friendly policy environment for the business sector.

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, who led Lao PDR’s 24-member official delegation to Manila, assured Filipino businessmen of equal opportunities with their businessmen as he encouraged members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to explore business opportunities in his country.

Speaking before Philippine and Lao government and business leaders during a business meeting initiated by the Philippine-Lao Business Council (PLBC) at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City on Friday, Thammavong said he was confident of enhancing bilateral cooperation with the Philippines. Just hours after arriving in Manila on Thursday, he signed four new agreements with the Philippines in Malacaņang.

The prime minister thanked President Aquino and the PLBC, which organized the Sofitel meeting that provided a great opportunity for government and business leaders of both countries to more thoroughly discuss ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation in trade and investment.

Through his interpreter, he underscored the importance of international cooperation to improve trade and investment and promote economic development in the region.

“In this globalizing world, we should never ignore the importance of international cooperation; toward this end, Lao PDR gives great importance to widening arenas, namely, in regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels,” he said.

The Philippines and Lao PDR are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). They began formal bilateral-trade cooperation in 2007. The prime minister said Lao PDR and the Philippines have been enjoying good relations since then.

Lao PDR’s “open door” policy, Thommavong said, makes his country a promising investment hub in Asia because of its strategic location and vast natural resources. He said Lao PDR’s laws also provide adequate protection for both local and foreign investors.

He said Lao PDR is finalizing negotiations for its membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), seeing it as an opportunity to further boost the economic development of his country.

He said policy incentives have been put in place to encourage business to go smoothly and amendments of laws to make business easier and friendlier in Lao PDR.

Thammavong recognized the need for his country to encourage foreign investments, especially foreign direct investments, which have given its economy a big boost over the past decade.

Lao PDR is considered among the least-developed countries in Asia, but Thommavong boasts of his country’s steady growth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), averaging 7 percent, over the last 10 years since, or from 2001 to 2010.

Philippine Ambassador to Lao PDR Ma. Lumen B. Isleta said Philippine exports to Lao PDR doubled—from 2010’s  $300,000 to 2011’s $600,000. Balance of trade is slightly favorable for the Philippines, with exports slightly exceeding imports.

Around 600 highly skilled Filipino workers are employed in various companies in Lao PDR.

With the renewed interest of government and business leaders from the two countries, Ambassador Isleta said she expects an increase in the number of Filipinos getting employed in Lao PDR.

“The opportunity of increasing collaboration between the Philippines and Lao PDR is bright and we hope to see businessmen from both countries investing and doing business in both countries in the future,” she said.

Minister Somdy Douangdy of Lao PDR’s Planning and Investments Ministry gave an overview of the investment climate and opportunities in Lao PDR.

The country aims for a GDP growth of 8 percent in 2012 and hopes to get a boost on private-sector investment. Mining, power generation, agriculture, handicraft and service sectors are among its top investment opportunities, said Douangdy.

The law of investment and promotion, he added, helps provide better services to investors as it advocates legal security and fair treatment, equality and free competition between local and foreign investors.

Investment in less-developed areas allow investors several tax incentives, he said. The income-tax rate for special economic zones is also set at a flat 5 percent.

Foreign investors, he added, can also invest in real-estate and property development, as they can enjoy more efficient or smoother investment application services.

Kissana Vongsay of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry vowed to work with his counterpart to improve cooperation between the Philippines and Lao PDR and make their countries perfect for foreign investment.

Before the business meeting, Thammavong visited the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) in Los Baņos, Laguna, to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding formalizing research collaboration between Lao PDR and Irri.

Through this collaboration with Irri, Thammavong expressed confidence that Lao PDR would be able to improve its rice production and achieve its goal of becoming a rice exporter. Lao PDR became self-sufficient in rice in 2009, he said.

Local officials, led by Laguna Gov. Jorge Estregan Jr., and Irri Director General Robert Zeigler, welcomed Thammavong during his visit.

The prime minister and members of the official delegation of Lao PDR were accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who initiated talks with his counterpart to explore possible areas of cooperation between the two countries in agriculture.

Thammavong donated some traditional Lao PDR rice-farming tools to Irri’s Rice World Museum, which showcases rice-farming tools of various rice-producing countries. Also, Thammavong visited Irri’s rice-gene bank.

Alcala met with Lao PDR Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham and both agreed to work together to help boost food production in their two countries.

“Within two weeks they will give us a concept paper and from there, we will start working on agricultural collaboration,” Alcala said. Exchanging experiences and agricultural technology with Lao PDR will provide a boost to both countries’ food-security targets and goals, Alcala said.

Cristino L. Panlilio, undersecretary for the trade and investment promotions group of the Department of Trade and Industry, also assured Lao PDR’s businessmen of tax perks under various programs of the government to promote foreign investment in the Philippines.

Panlilio said the Philippines continues to experience economic growth. Business is “more fun in the Philippines” because of the government’s strong fiscal policies and incentives that are being offered to foreign businessmen who invest in the Board of Investments’ Investment Priority Program and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority , he said.

Panlilio encouraged businessmen from both countries to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the bilateral cooperation treaties signed between the Philippines and Lao PDR.

Ambassador Antonio Cabangon Chua, former Philippine envoy to Laos PDR and chairman of the PLBC, and Miguel Varela, president of PCCI, welcomed Thammavong and members of the official delegation after the business meeting.

The meeting, according to Cabangon-Chua, aims “to promote and expand businesses between the two countries” and as a strategy to boost the economies of the Philippines and Lao PDR.

Varela said the PCCI, along with PLBC, would return the favor by sending a business delegation to Lao PDR. He said the business meeting was just the start of more such meetings between the two countries.

“Regardless of how big or small a country is, having friendly trade relations with another country is beneficial to the economy of both countries. It helps create jobs and spur economic activities,” he told the BusinessMirror in an interview.

He said the PCCI will pursue private-to-private meetings with its counterpart in Lao PDR “to return the favor,” even as he noted the “good gesture” the Lao PDR prime minister leading and bringing in his country big business players to the Philippines.

“We will be organizing private-to-private meetings soon,” he said.

According to Varela, the meeting was timely, considering the need to strengthen and expand economic and trade within Asean and the rest of the world.

The emergence of Asean and Asia has put the region in the center of the global trade and investment map, with its huge market of 5 billion people and the resources that can be tapped within its shores.

Thammavong and members of his official delegation were scheduled to return for Lao PDR on Saturday at the conclusion of their three-day official visit in the Philippines.


In Photo: Lao PDR Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong (right) and Ambassador Antonio Cabangon Chua, former envoy to Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and chairman of the Philippine-Lao Business Council (PLBC), at a business meeting initiated by the PLBC held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel. (Nonoy Lacza)


Source: Business Mirror

http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/top-news/27049-phl-lao-pdr-explore-trade-and-investment-opportunities

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Vietnam hosts US-ASEAN relationship forum

VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnamese Embassy in the US, in coordination with the Southeast Asia Roundtable Forum, held the second Vietnam Forum on the US-ASEAN relationship, in Washington DC on May 10.

http://image.english.vietnamnet.vn/Images/2012/05/11/15/20120511155216_go2.jpg

 


Present at the forum were ambassadors and diplomats from 10 ASEAN countries and representatives from the Australian Embassy and the US Department of State and Department of Defense as well as non-governmental organizations in Washington DC.


Speakers, including professor C.Dalpino from Johns Hopkins University and Nirav Patel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs, introduced the foreign policies of President Barack Obama’s administration on the Asia-Pacific region and ASEAN in particular.


Nirav affirmed that the US has made great efforts to promote comprehensive cooperation on politics, security, economics, trade and investment with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The US supports ASEAN’s key role in the region and will closely cooperate with ASEAN for the sake of security, peace, development and prosperity.


Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, Nguyen Quoc Cuong, praised the US’s commitments to contributing to regional peace, stability and development and wished that the US would have concrete programmes to promote US-ASEAN relations.

VietNamNet/VOV

Source: Vietnamnet Bridge

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/22257/vietnam-hosts-us-asean-relationship-forum.html

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China signs investment agreement with Japan, ROK

Updated: 2012-05-14 03:54

By Li Jiabao and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

China, Japan and ROK on course for landmark regional trade pact

A "milestone" investment agreement between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed in Beijing on Sunday, after years of negotiations, while the leaders of the three nations announced that talks focusing on a free-trade agreement would be launched within the year.

Aside from substantial economic benefits, experts said that the FTA, if realized, could help ease regional tension and possibly lead to a more integrated Northeast Asia.

Washington, which is pushing forward its Trans-Pacific Partnership, should not feel concerned about the potential three-way FTA as any future agreement will also be in the interests of the US, experts said.

China signs investment agreement with Japan, ROK

Premier Wen Jiabao, ROK President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda attend the fifth trilateral meeting in Beijing on Sunday. The three nations reached an agreement that they will not accept further nuclear tests or any provocations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Wu Zhiyi / China Daily 

Trade ministers from the three countries signed a promotion, facilitation and protection of investment agreement on Sunday as their leaders — Premier Wen Jiabao, ROK President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda — met in Beijing ahead of a summit scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

"The investment agreement is the first legal document on trilateral cooperation in the economic field, it is a milestone," Wen said at a joint news conference at the Great Hall of the People.

China welcomes Japan and the ROK expanding their investments in China and hopes they will be primary destinations for China’s overseas investments, he said.

"The global economy is recovering slowly while the European debt crisis is not over," Wen said.

"The establishment of a free-trade pact will unleash the economic vitality of the region and give a massive boost to economic integration in East Asia," he said.

The investment agreement, concluded in March after 13 rounds of negotiations since 2007, includes 27 clauses and one additional protocol covering topics such as investment definition and dispute resolution, according to a statement on the website of the Ministry of Commerce.

The pact will provide a more stable and transparent investment environment for the three parties and is an important basis for the FTA, according to the ministry’s statement.

"The investment agreement and the establishment of the FTA will see China further open up its market, upgrade industries and be a new driving force for China’s economic growth,’’ Zhang Xiaoji, a researcher at the State Council’s Development Research Center, said.

The establishment of a three-way FTA could enhance China’s GDP growth by 0.5 percent and domestic employment by 0.1 percent while accelerating exports by more than 4 percent, Zhang said.

"The past three decades have seen Japan and the ROK increase investment in China but the next three decades will see China increase investment in these two countries. The investment agreement will play a very positive role in deepening investment cooperation," Zhang Yansheng, secretary-general of the academic committee of the National Development and Reform Commission, said.

Japan and the ROK are leading investors in China.

Japan invested about $80 billion while the ROK invested about $50 billion up to the end of last year, according to a report released by the Foreign Ministry on May 9.

"The build-up to the FTA will see more and more goods enjoy zero-tariff treatment and more services traded. It will help China bring in advanced technology and talent from these two partners," Zhang Yansheng said.

Trade between the three countries surged to more than $690 billion in 2011 from $130 billion in 1999.

China has been the largest trading partner of Japan and the ROK for several years while Japan and the ROK are China’s fourth and sixth-largest trading partners respectively.

While Tokyo and Seoul are concerned about their agriculture sectors, China will see challenges to its manufacturing, said Wang Luo, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a Ministry of Commerce think tank.

Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies, said the FTA could help ease regional tension and may finally lead to an integrated Northeast Asia.

The FTA could even lead to a joint currency, he added.

"It might be a breakthrough in solving regional disputes."

The FTA, with greater cooperation between the three countries, will ultimately benefit the US, Qu said.

However, Derek Scissors, economist at the Heritage Foundation, said China will sign a trade agreement fairly soon with the ROK but it will be more difficult for Japan.

"It will be hard for Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it will require major economic changes. It will also be hard for Japan to sign a free-trade agreement with China for political reasons, because it would seem that Japan was choosing China over the US," he said.

Contact the writers at lijiabao@chinadaily.com.cn and lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn

Source: ChinaDaily

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303505504577401843152321480.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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Property investment to suffer

Philip Hopkins

May 14, 2012

SPECIFIC measures in the federal budget will damage the growing level of foreign investment in Australia's commercial property sector, according to a key property group.

The Trust Company, a leading property and infrastructure custodian, said the budget proposal to double the final withholding tax rate (WHT) from 7.5 per cent to 15 per cent for foreign property investors put Australia's status as a prime investment destination in doubt.

Andrew Cannane, the company's head of corporate client services, said since managed investment trust (MIT) legislation was introduced in 2008, his company had been responsible for more than 30 managed investment trusts with $5 billion of direct investment in Australia.

Due to the attractive WHT rate, the strong Australian economy, the proximity to Asia and the lack of property investment alternatives in the south-east Asia region, Australian property had benefited from strong foreign investment.

''Our clients are telling us that on a relative risk weighting Australia is a most attractive property investment destination for them,'' Mr Cannane said.

''Although the market is tightening, Australia passes the threshold test of having sufficient integrity in its structural infrastructure to ensure commercial opportunities get done and can be pursued with legal predictability.

''As well, Australia's application of the rule of law places us ahead of our regional competitors who do not enjoy the same high standards of enshrined property rights, transparency and stable government.''

Mr Cannane said the lower WHT rates under the MIT rules had been another driver of investment. ''Whilst the tax rate is not the sole consideration to investors, the MIT regime finally brought in a regionally competitive tax regime in line with other countries in the region,'' he said.

''Changes to the rate undermine the confidence of foreign investors to invest into Australia with certainty.''

Research by Colliers International found that since the government lowered the WHT rate to 7.5 per cent in 2007-08, foreign investment in Australian commercial property markets increased from $1.2 billion in 2008 to $5.5 billion last year.

The latest research from Colliers found that foreign capital investment made up 59 per cent of all investments in Australia's property markets in the first quarter of this year.

Colliers' Global Capital Investment in Australia Research & Forecast Report concluded there was about $2.2 billion worth of foreign investment in Australian property in the first quarter, well up from $341 million in the same quarter last year.

Capital investment from Singapore accounted for 54 per cent, or $1.1 billion, due mainly to the major investment by GIC in the Charter Hall Office REIT acquisition. The portfolio comprises 17 office assets and one development site, across most major capital cities, with total value of about $1.8 billion.

Source: smh.com.ac
Read more:
http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/property-investment-to-suffer-20120513-1ykry.html#ixzz1usAD4G2a

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Germany sees more investment opportunities in Asia, led by China

Germany is increasingly turning to Asia to cash in on China's rise and the region's integration, which opens up a new window of opportunity for investment.

Of total capital stock of 100 billion euros (Bt4 trillion) as of 2009, more than a quarter is now in Asia, including 23 billion in China, 1.40 billion in Thailand and 245 million in Vietnam. Myanmar's reopening could also draw some investment, now that the European Union has suspended sanctions on the country.

"That will increase in five to 10 years as China, Asean and India are the main destinations for German companies because of the robust growth rate," Volker Treier, deputy chief executive of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, said recently in Bangkok. The association oversees 84 chambers in 80 countries.

A survey conducted early this year also showed that while China is ranked No 1 as an investment destination, other countries in East Asia are on the radar.

More investment could pour into the machinery and equipment, automotive, electrical-engineering and chemical industries, where Germany is a strong player.

Thailand or Vietnam could be a base for re-export to China, given the increasing production cost in that country. China is the huge market that everyone wants to penetrate, which explains why it is the third major export destination of Germany, after France and the United States, which have held the top two honours for 20 years. Consuming 1 per cent of total exports a decade ago, China now accounts for 6 per cent while the "cake is also of bigger size".

"Germany benefits a lot from Chinese development … The more China is integrated with Asia, the better it is for neighbouring countries," Treier said.

One of the benefits is through training in German technology.

While refocusing is necessary, as Asia is the area of opportunities, the first wave of German investment in China was barely a decade ago. Seeing business opportunities, German manufacturers were required to set up plants there because of the local-content requirement. They have witnessed obstacles, mostly involving intellectual-property violations, and that is being taken care of on a case-by-case basis.

While manufacturers are careful not to transfer all their top secrets to plants in China to avoid copying, Chinese manufacturers cannot copy the entire manufacturing process. Germany is good at delivering high-quality products and that requires education and a work mentality that cannot be imitated, he said. That allows manufacturers to contribute one-quarter of Germany's gross domestic product, which is the highest among the key European economies France, Britain and Italy.

Germany's overseas investment is driven mainly by companies backed up by information from government agencies. German chambers are playing a big role, besides embassies and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Treier said. In Thailand, flood-management experts were brought in after last year's floods, largely on the initiative of the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce, which wants to promote German technology in that area.

In China, more than 1,500 German companies are members of the Chamber of Commerce, against about 500 in Thailand, he said. About 42,000 companies are members of the chambers located worldwide. The chambers, which finance themselves mostly through membership fees and partially from subsidies, task themselves with mainly promoting trade and taking German companies' complaints to the government.

Minister-led political trips are part of the strategy, Treier said. The German-Thai Chamber of Commerce is supporting a Thai delegation to Germany, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She will be accompanied by Thai company chiefs. The chamber will also organise a trade delegation to Myanmar.

Events are hosted to promote trade, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. Chambers in countries like Thailand where local businesses can seek membership prosper, as partnership tends to boost bilateral trade, he said.

"Germany has never had business strategic plans," he said. Companies go where opportunities stand, while the government supports them on the information side and extends no subsidies.

 

Source: The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Germany-sees-more-investment-opportunities-in-Asia-30181546.html

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Italian-Thai will not suspend Dawei deep seaport

Italian-Thai public company has no plan to suspend the implementation of Dawei deep seaport project, but at the moment the company is dealing with financial management at the end of the fiscal year, according to Director-General of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

Although news of the suspension of Dawei deep seaport project is spreading on the Internet, the company does not mean to do so. For this year, the company is making financial statements at the finance closing period, said the Director-General of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration at the media meeting with officials of the Ministry of Industry.

The Director-General said, “Dawei deep seaport project construction is not meant for suspension. At the end of the fiscal year, they are preparing financial statement. Our Myanmar departments are also doing so the same. 30 March is the end of budget year. The companies are also making financial statement at the finance closing period. It was wrongly interpreted on the Internet.”

Italian-Thai Development Co., Limited signed MoU with Myanmar government to implement Dawei deep seaport and special economic zone project in Yayphyu Township, Taninthayi Region in June 2008. Then Italian Thai Company signed MoU with Myanmar Port Authority in 2010.

The project has an area of 250 square kilometer and Italian-Thai Company has been allowed to run this project for 75 years. Dawei special economic zone will include petrol and chemical related plants, rubber factories and chemical plants. Coal plant that can be produced 4000 megawatt will be included in this zone. This plan can possibly bring negative impact on the natural environment and therefore the project will not be implemented, at the objections raised by local residents, other social organizations and environmental group.

In the meanwhile, Chairman of Italian-Thai Development Co., Ltd Mr. Premchai Karnasuta said to Thai media on 27 April in 2012 that the company is seeking international long-term loans to be spent on the construction of Dawei deep seaport project.

Sources: Eleven Media Group

http://eversion.news-eleven.com/
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SEC Considering Rules for ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme UPDATE : 24 April 2012

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The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering regulations on the offer for sale of the ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme, while encouraging improvement of capital market firms and development of security analysts ahead of the launch of ASEAN Economic Community.

Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, Secretary-General Vorapol Socatiyanurak said the SEC has encouraged all companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand to prepare for the upcoming establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and brace themselves for new challenges.

He added the SEC will require security analysis firms to publish monthly analytical reports and organize a program to educate provincial business operators about the capital market and how they can be listed on the stock exchange or the Market for Alternative Investment to increase their competitive edge.

Vorapol said the SEC hopes to increase the number of security analysts and enhance their qualifications to meet the anticipated rise in demand, as Thailand will become a strategic hub once the AEC is launched.

Meanwhile, the SEC is considering regulations on the offer for sale of ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme, or ASEAN CIS.

The initial plan is to offer the CIS to institutional and high-net-worth investors within the first half of this year and minor investors by the end of the year.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand is also set to participate in the ASEAN Linkage exchange in August.

The ASEAN Linkage is a collaboration of seven exchanges from ASEAN countries with an aim to make an integrated investment platform for investors.

Source: Thai-ASEAN News Network

http://www.tannetwork.tv/tan/ViewData.aspx?DataID=1054396
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Asean seen as economic growth force by 2015

PHILIPPINES - The Southeast Asian region, with an estimated population of 600 million, is anticipated to join the ranks of China and India as a major economic growth force in Asia should its constituent countries succeed in integrating their economies by 2015.

If the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is implemented as planned, trading of goods, inter-country investments and labour mobility within the region will become much easier, said Changyong Rhee, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

This will significantly reduce the cost of production for the businesses and economic growth of member-countries and of the entire region will accelerate, said the ADB's top economist.

With this favorable scenario, Southeast Asia will become more attractive to investors and thus corner more direct investments from multinational companies from outside the region, he said.

"A new growth force is coming in Asia," Rhee told a press conference on the sidelines of the 45th annual meeting of the ADB board of governors that is being hosted this year by the Philippines.

The 10 countries of Southeast Asia, which together make up the geopolitical and economic organization called Asean, are Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines.

Integration by 2015

The Asean established on Aug 8, 1967, in Bangkok, by the five founding members composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand - aims at achieving full economic integration by 2015, creating a single market and production base that will allow the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and labour throughout the region.

Under the Asean integration plan, tariffs on most goods coming from member-countries will be brought down to zero or near-zero, their financial systems will be integrated, and employment restrictions will be eased so that Southeast Asians would find it easy to find jobs in any country within the region.

Once Asean integration is completed, the region will be able to corner more foreign direct investments, which now mostly go to China and India, said Rhee.

China and India are currently leading growth in Asia and the world, with gross domestic products expanding between 8 and 10 per cent over the past few years. Southeast Asian countries are also exhibiting decent growth rates, but at a slower pace.

With integration, growth rates of Southeast Asian countries would be expected to be faster, initially inching closer to and eventually matching those of China and India.

Territorial disputes

Some economists and social science experts, however, believe that Asean integration could be derailed if the ongoing conflicts among some Asean members with China over ownership of territories on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is not resolved soon.

Asean members Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines are claiming ownership in whole or in part of the resource-rich Spratly archipelago, which is also claimed by China and Taiwan.

China and the Philippines are currently facing off at Panatag Island (Scarborough Shoal), which the Philippines says is not in the disputed Spratlys but is well within its 200-mile economic zone, but which China also claims for its own.

Yu Yongding, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and one of the Chinese delegates to the ADB event, said it would be difficult to implement Asean integration if the geopolitical conflict is left unresolved.

Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. agreed with Yu, although he expressed optimism that Asian policymakers will be able to resolve the conflict soon.

3 characteristics of growth

While Asia remains a potential global growth driver, ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said Asian countries have to expand their goal from merely sustaining healthy economic growth rates to having an economic growth that is "inclusive," "green" and "knowledge-based."

Growth must be inclusive, meaning it should benefit not only the middle class and the rich but also the poor, Kuroda said.

Kuroda noted that while many Asian countries have been experiencing decent growth rates, their expanding economies have so far failed to significantly bring down poverty levels.

In the case of the Philippines, for instance, the country has managed to continually grow despite the global economic crisis, but its poverty incidence remains high, at 26.5 per cent as of end-2009.

"There are still hundreds of millions of Asians living on $1.25 a day," Kuroda said in remarks at the opening session of the ADB governors' meeting.

Some of the proposals raised to reduce poverty include heavier investments in public education and more lending to micro enterprises.

Green, knowledge-based

Kuroda said economic growth must be "green," that is, the rise in incomes must not come at the expense of environmental degradation. Economic growth will not be sustainable if environmental conditions continue to deteriorate, he said.

Lastly, growth must be knowledge-based, meaning enterprises must invest in research and development and in technology to help accelerate the growth of production, Kuroda said.

He echoed statements made by other economists at the meeting that more extensive use of technology is necessary for emerging Asian economies like the Philippines to escape the middle-income trap and graduate to becoming an advanced economy.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=33079:asean-seen-as-economic-growth-force-by-2015&Itemid=3

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Philippines next ASEAN investment hub

Synovate’s assessment

January 4, 2012, 2:54am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has the inherent attractiveness and ability to seize upcoming business opportunities as it has the potential to step up as the next favored destination in ASEAN.

This is according to Synovate’s business consulting head for the Philippines, and Singapore group director, Anand Kumar, in his recently held roadshow, titled “Developments in ASEAN markets — Assessing the risks and Opportunities.” The seminar tackled the potential of ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, and identified them as the most promising emerging growth markets next to the giants of India and China.

Anand said that the country needs to immediately seize this opportunity. “Take full advantage of the coming AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) agreement. Expand to offering higher-value added services,” he enumerated.

“The opportunity needs to widen at this point in time. It may not be available in three to five years so it needs to be seized now.”

Explaining the trend, Anand said, “For the past 10 years, export powerhouses Japan and Korea have remained stagnant,” adding that the ones leading its growth are the other countries in the Asia Pacific including ASEAN.

This is due to the combined exports of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand that have exceeded the exports of Japan and Korea. China and India have the largest GDP in Asia while Indonesia ranks first among ASEAN countries.

However, for the Philippines to fully benefit from this, Anand revealed that the country’s government must come up with more incentives for setting up manufacturing hubs. It must also address its steep electricity rates to lure more foreign direct investment (FDI).

He added that although cheap labor helped China sell itself as the workshop of the world, “Historical wage increments and the revaluation of the Renminbi (RMB) has eroded the cost advantage that China enjoyed 15 years ago.” For example, hourly wage difference between developed economies and Tier 1 cities in China has reduced significantly, with potential wage parity being forecast in the next 3 to 5 years.

With China ceasing to be attractive as a low-cost manufacturing hub for new FDIs, other countries can vie for the post vacated by the Awakened Dragon. India and Indonesia’s double digit median household income growth eliminate them from the list of alternate low-cost countries.

 

Source:  Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation

www. http://mb.com.ph/node/346940/philippine

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