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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                                 13  September 2011

Forbes praises Razak

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Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes, has praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for following through with his transformation agenda for Malaysia.

"Two years ago, the Prime Minister was obviously newer on the job than he is today. But we have seen him follow through on the things he said," Forbes told journalists at the opening of the Forbes Global CEO Conference.

"It is not just the Government saying this, but external observers have come to notice it as well," he said, adding that concrete steps were being taken to restructure the economy such as through reducing investment barriers and dealing with subsidies and taxes.

He also said the country's economy was moving towards liberalisation, and that the government was rolling out the welcome mat for foreign investors. "That makes this a good place to be," he said.

Forbes cites English proficiency, geography, natural resources and human capital as some of the factors Malaysia has in its favor.

"Having brain power and right human capital is important for a country's development. I think the government realizes this and is taking the necessary measures to improve the situation," he added.

"The fact that Malaysia's foreign direct investment (FDI) is increasing proves that global investors are looking our way," said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who was present at the launch.

Last month, Mustapa reaffirmed that Malaysia was still on track to achieve its FDI target of US$10bil (RM30.4bil) this year despite mounting concerns over the world economy. Last year, Malaysia recorded US$9.1bil (RM27.6bil) in FDI.

He said that free trade agreements signed with other Asian countries had helped diversify Malaysia's basket of foreign investments and mitigate any drop in investments from the United States and Europe, whose economies are struggling at present.

Mustapa also said negotiations with the United States on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was well under way and they were now discussing specific areas such as trade tariffs and financial services.

The TPP is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other partners. The negotiating partners are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It aims to improve economic integration with the Asia-Pacific economies by creating common trade rules and expanding market access.


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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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