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Weekly NewsLetter
24 January 2011
    Vol.1 No.1

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The Editor's Corner


Illicit financial outflows hit the news
          Malaysia and China were the only Asian countries on a top-10 ranking of countries with large amounts of illicit financial outflows as determined by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a program of the Center for International Policy, located in Washington D.C.

Illegal financial outflows are defined by GFI as funds which are illegally earned, transferred or utilized and spirited across borders annually.

Topping the list was China with an illicit outflow of $2.18 trillion followed by Russia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Venezuela, Qatar and Nigeria.

This past week GFI issued it second report on the quantity and patterns on illicit financial flows coming out of developing countries. The first report came out in 2006 and the current update states the amount of illicit outflow has now reached US$1.26 trillion in 2008, a 12.7 percent increase over the 2006 figure of $1 trillion when adjusted for inflation.

The problem of the illicit financial outflows is that they are about 10 times the amount of official development assistance. The source of the most illicit outflows is what the report calls trade mispricing, while bribery, theft, kickbacks, and tax evasion were the greatest conduit for the illicit financial flows from the major exporters of oil such as Kuwait, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

On Malaysia, the GIF report states that financial flows from Malaysia have more than tripled from $22.2 billion in 2000 to $68.2 billion in 2008. This growth rate, seen in few Asian countries, may be a result of significant governance issues affecting both public and private sectors.

The solution to the issue is one that is often heard: increased transparency in the global financial system to reduce the outflow of illicit money from developing countries.


Top News from Southeast Asia

January 23, 2011


These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of January 15-21.

Vietnam may allow businessmen to join Communist Party
Vietnam may officially allow private business owners to jopin the Communist Party for the first time, a move that could boost the country's image with foreign investors a decade after China adopted similar measures.

Asean ICT Masterplan adopted 
The 10th Asean Telecommunications and IT Ministers (TELMIN) meeting here ended on a highly-successful note in Kuala Lumpur with the launch of the Asean ICT Masterplan as a definitive action plan to enhance connectivity among Southeast Asian nations and raise their competitiveness in the international arena.

Asean pushes for Myanmar boycott end  
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has agreed unanimously to call on the international community to end its boycott of Burma.

Reproductive health bill moves to Philippine Congress 
THE controversial reproductive health (RH) measure and the freedom of information (FOI) bill are on top of Congress' agenda when it resumes sessions today.

Nuclear energy for Malaysia  
The recent flooding catastrophe in Australia that pushed up the coal price makes the case for Malaysia to seriously consider nuclear power to generate electricity, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) president and chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh said.

Chinese increase Thai investment  
Chinese enterprises are boosting their investments in Thailand with the first of three joint ventures with Thai partners being a sprawling wholesale trading centre worth 6.2 billion yuan (Bt28.8 billion) near Bangkok.

Singapore fertility falls to record low  
Preliminary estimates show that Singapore's total fertility rate dropped to a record low of 1.16 in 2010.This is even lower than the 1.22 in 2009, and well below the replacement rate of 2.1.
READ MORE: Indonesia gets rating increase to 1

Indonesia gets rating increase to 13-year peak  
Moody's Investors Service gave Indonesia another nudge toward investment grade by raising the nation's sovereign rating, taking into account the economy's ability to weather the downturn, its manageable debt load and rising investment from overseas.

Thai bourse's index soars 41 percent above 2010  
The overview performance of the Thai capital market in 2010 improved year-on-year, whether in terms of indices, market capitalization, or trading value. The Stock Exchange of Thailand's SET Index closed 2010 at 1,032.76, up 40.60 percent from end-2009 and the second biggest rise in Asia.

Singapore Exchange to boast world's fastest trading engine 
The Singapore Exchange (SGX), Asia's second-largest listed bourse operator, said today it will launch the world's fastest trading engine, called SGX Reach, on August 15 as it tries to compete with rivals.

Asean-China outlook;
Asean and Chinese business leaders have expressed confidence in trade and investment prospects between the two sides and have set a combined target of 15 trillion baht by 2015.

Indonesian coal producer sees banner year  
Bumi Resources, Indonesia's top thermal coal producer, forecast strong revenue growth this year as coal demand surged, a top executive said.

Thais skeptical of China City mall  
The arrival of a Chinese mega-mall has raised huge concerns that cheaper goods and strong financial support from China will hurt small Thai businesses throughout the supply chain from manufacturing to wholesale centers and community shops.

Thaksin's ghost hangs over Thai telecoms
With fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra now a citizen of Montenegro, the Thai government insists that it is not singling out his old telecom firm, Advanced Info Service, in its investigations into telecom concession amendments.

Impressive FDI growth in Malaysia 
Investor confidence has returned strongly to Malaysia, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.


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