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Asean Affairs  21 March 2011

Asean reacts to Japanese crisis

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     21 March 2011

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Over the weekend and into the start of this week, reactions to the crisis in Japan are starting to surface from member states of the Asean community.

A general consensus is emerging that the next six months will be difficult but as Japan’s recovery effort gains speed, trade and commerce will improve.

In Indonesia, Asean’s largest economy, a deputy trade minister compared the situation to the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe earthquake and cautioned against over-reaction.

“During the Kobe earthquake, Japan’s imports weakened for around six months, and at that time as much as 20 percent of our exports went to Japan,” he said. “Now, we are less dependent on Japan. Even though Japan was still our main export destination last year, the percentage of exports had dropped to 13 percent,” deputy trade minister Mahendra Siregar, said.

Appropriately ahead of an “Invest in Japan” seminar in Bangkok, Munenori Yamada, president of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) Bangkok, said the impacts from this month's disasters were manageable while Japan's commitment to Thailand has not been changed.

Chanitr Charnchainarong, president of Thailand’s Market for Alternative Investment (MAI), said the MAI and the Tokyo Alternative Investment Market (Tokyo AIM) were cooperating on dual listing. Companies from the two countries would have more access to funding for investments in both Japan and Thailand through both countries' stock exchange.

In Philippines an analyst sounded an optimistic note, “Japan is moving forward, as expected to a return-to-normalcy sooner than later. On the other hand, the UN has given its blessings on the proposals and plans of France, Britain, the US and their allies, to, at the very least, reduce the incidence of violence in Libya,” said Jun Calaycay of Accord Capital Equities Corp.

In Malaysia, Affin Investment Bank's head of retail research, Dr. Nazri Khan, said,“The fact that Bank of Japan has responded with a huge asset buying programme and the G-7 plans for a coordinated intervention to stabilise the yen has been positive for the stock market,” he said. Japan remains an important factor in Asia and the confidence in the country expressed from various Asean countries is important to the region and the rst of the global business community.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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