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                                                                                                                           Asean Affairs October 2, 2013  

US-ASEAN Business Council Praises Vietnam's Reforms, Urges Further Action

(New York) During remarks at the Vietnam Investment Forum in New York, US-ASEAN Business Council President Alexander Feldman praised Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for the business focus shown by his administration, and expressed the eagerness of the U.S. business community to work with the Vietnamese government to help support continued reforms.  The forum was organized by the International Economic Alliance, and supported by the US-ASEAN Business Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Asia Society.
“I want to commend you and your government, Prime Minister Dung, for your efforts in helping Vietnam regain macroeconomic stability and emerge from the recent downturn,” said Feldman. “In particular, your efforts to fight inflation and stabilize Vietnam’s currency have made a substantial difference in Vietnam’s economic outlook.The current restructuring of the banking system is on the right track to create a more competitive business environment and encourage the growth and development of Vietnam’s domestic private sector.
“We encourage the government to consider further reforms such as simplifying procedures, processes, and investment limitations for establishing and expanding business entities in order to facilitate a greater ease of doing business and allowing for even more American companies to participate in Vietnam’s economic growth story.”
Although Vietnam-US trade has continued to grow steadily over the past 10 years, nearly reaching $25 billion in goods trade in 2012, the Council and U.S. companies present offered feedback on a few areas where Vietnam could work on improving the business environment.
“Energy is an important sector, and we feel that the government may be able to do more to make investors comfortable in making significant investment decisions in major energy projects in the country,” added Feldman. “These investment decisions could also be made in a more timely manner allowing much needed electricity to power further economic growth.
“Infrastructure also offers great opportunities for American companies, but greater transparency in the process would certainly help American investors and corporations make more substantial commitments.
“ICT is the fastest growing sector for Council members in ASEAN and Vietnam has been a part of this growth.  ICT has improved efficiency and access to information helping education, healthcare and even the agriculture sector see substantial growth.  We hope you and your government will review current ICT regulations and ensure needed changes so that they help businesses grow and their acces to information expand rather than contract.”  
Overall, the Council and other companies and business organizations present expressed a strongly positive view of Prime Minister Dung’s handling of the business environment.
“Prime Minister Dung has shown great vision and leadership in bringing Vietnam into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which will open up new markets for Vietnamese goods and new avenues for investment into Vietnam,” said Feldman. “The business community offers our strong support for TPP and the benefits it will bring to the Vietnamese people. The TPP is also expected to give a significant boost to U.S. companies’ activities in Vietnam and a number of them are already preparing for that day with new hiring and expansion plans.”
Feldman finally noted that companies are bullish on Vietnam and ASEAN.
“We view Southeast Asia as a key part of the 21st Century story of growth, and Vietnam will be at the center of that story,” he concluded. “We will continue to work with the countries in the region and the government of Prime Minister Dung to grow trade and investment ties even further.”

The US-ASEAN Business Council represents over 125 major U.S. Corporations, ranging from those who have been active in Southeast Asia for over 100 years to newcomers looking to expand their presence in one of the world’s most dynamic markets. The Council’s sectoral working groups, including Customs, Defense & Security, Energy, Financial Services, Food and Agriculture, Health & Life Sciences, Information & Communications Technology, Infrastructure, and Manufacturing bring together the pre-eminent companies in their fields to enable high-level dialogues that help resolve issues and drive innovation and investment. With long-established personal and professional relationships in ASEAN and Washington, the Council is the most effective conduit between decision-makers on both sides of the Pacific.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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