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August 19, 2008
Taiwan lobbies Asean for dialogue partner status

August 10, 2008
Intellectual Property Rights:
US urged to adjust 'priority' ranking

August 9, 2008
Vietnam accused of dumping mattress inner-spring units in US

July 27, 2008
EU not consistent with its flight ban: Indonesian ministry

June 14, 2008
GSP for footwear exports to end soon

May 10, 2008
Flexible approach to drive FTA negotiations

April 28, 2008
Thailand 'disappointed' at US priority watch list rating

August 11, 2008
Philippines’ central bank sees measures bear fruit

August 8, 2008
Philippines’ end-July reserves close to forecast

August 6, 2008
Philippine inflation soars to almost 17-yr high

July 30, 2008
Philippines: Govt to propose $32bn in spending for 2009

May 30, 2008
Q1 growth falls to 5.2%

August 17, 2008
Vietnam vows to cut inflation 

August 3, 2008
Vietnam: Inflation triggers workers strike

July 25, 2008
Vietnam: Inflation hits 27%, exports boom

July 24, 2008
Vietnam : Petrol price hike may trigger domino effect 

July 21, 2008
Vietnam: Loan rate cuts may not help lift business sentiment – analysts

July 9, 2008
Vietnam assures steady prices to keep inflation at bay 

June 29, 2008
Asian countries under test in face of inflation

June 28, 2008
Vietnam: Not applying for IMF loan programme

June 25, 2008
IMF: Little risk of contagion from Vietnam woes 

June 8, 2008
Analysts fear worst-case scenario

June 7, 2008
Govt asked to tighten policy to fix 'overheating' economy

April 26, 2008
Inflation surges 17% in Jan-April 2008

April 5, 2008
Group vows to be vigilant' on inflation

Emerging MarketsTaking on

August 18, 2008
Thailand, Cambodia to meet on border dispute

August 14, 2008
Cambodia rejects Thai claim over border temples

August 7, 2008
Thai-Cambodia troops withdraw from second disputed temple
Cambodia eyes peaceful solution with Thailand

August 6, 2008
Thai cabinet approves cut of troops near disputed temple

August 5, 2008
Thailand asks Cambodia to pull out from second temple

August 4, 2008
Thailand, Cambodia lay claims over second disputed ruin

August 2, 2008
Cambodian PM’s wife chairs ceremony at disputed temple

August 1, 2008
Thai-Cambodia border dispute:
Withdrawal dates still unknown Thai FM

Destination Thailand: The Floating Market
Destination Cambodia: Angkor Wat  


August 19, 2008

Philippines cuts 2008 growth goal to 5.5-6.4 pct

Tue Aug 19, 2008
MANILA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The Philippines has cut its 2008 growth target to 5.5-6.4 percent from an earlier 5.7-6.6 percent range due to the likely negative impact of higher inflation on consumption, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

The Southeast Asian nation has revised down this year's economic growth target at least twice this year as it continues to assess the impact of weaker demand from its main trading partners and high food and fuel costs on the economy.

The latest revision, made earlier this month, followed an upward adjustment by the central bank of its 2008 inflation forecast to 9-11 percent from 7-9 percent, said Undersecretary Gil Beltran at the Department of Finance.

In June, the International Monetary Fund said it had cut its 2008 gross domestic product growth forecast for the Philippines to 5.2 percent from 5.8 percent due to slowing external demand and softening consumption.

The Asian Development Bank was more optimistic and predicted last month that the Philippine economy would grow 5.5 percent this year with the help of healthy domestic demand.
The Philippine economy expanded by 7.2 percent in 2007, which was a 31-year record.

The central bank has said economic growth of 5-6 percent this year would be deemed respectable given current conditions of high inflation, slower export demand and a dip in spending and private investment.

Global speculative capital inflow partly to blame for Vietnamese economic difficulty

Global speculative capital inflow pushed up inflation in Vietnam, added to economic difficulties and put pressure on Vietnam's macro-economic policy, said economists here.

Vietnamese economy has experienced great difficulties since the beginning of this year, with the VN-Index falling sharply, a record high inflation, an expanding trade deficit and a depreciating Vietnamese currency.

There are many factors behind the economic difficulties, but global speculative capital, or hot money, is one of them, believed economists.

Over the past years, the Vietnamese government has been enthusiastic in attracting foreign capital. The foreign investment on fixed assets went up each year by impressive figures, contributing greatly to the country's annual average 7.5 percent economic growth in the past decade. However, the speculative investment fund also sneaked in.

Incentive for speculative fund was the chance to profit from Vietnam's stock and real estate markets. The VN-Index rose by about 144 percent in 2007, with the peak hitting above 1,100 points.

The problem with speculative fund is, said experts, their projects either do not generate goods for the economy, or will not do so for many years. Meanwhile, the foreign speculative capital expanded the money supply in Vietnam and the government has to put more Vietnamese Dong in circulation, pushing up the inflation.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a major inflation gauge, went up by 19.1 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2008.

"Expanding credit and foreign investment over the past few years has expanded the money supply and led to the high inflation," said Tran Dinh Thien, vice director of the Vietnam Economic Institute of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Science.

This year, with the worsening economic situation in Vietnam and a depreciating local currency, the global speculative capital started to flow out of Vietnam. The stock market fell even sharply.

To deal with the economic difficulties, the Vietnamese government adopted a package of measures, including tightening the credit by raising the benchmark interest rate, reducing the economic target for 2008 to lessen the pressure on inflation and cutting down on public expenses.

The measures have started to pay off as Vietnam entered the second half of the year. CPI in July went up a modest 1.13 percent month-on-month over June, the lowest level since the begging of this year.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said recently that the Vietnamese government vowed to keep the inflation below 10 percent by the end of next year and realize the economic growth of between seven and eight percent for 2009.

Source: Xinhua

Thailand says border tensions eased as Cambodia talks open
Posted: 19 August 2008
HUA HIN, Thailand: Tensions over an ancient Khmer temple have eased following the withdrawal of most soldiers from the ruins, the Thai foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday as new border talks opened with Cambodia.

"The situation is moving in a positive manner. The tension is now being cooled down," Tharit Charungvat told reporters as foreign ministers from both countries began meeting in the Thai beach resort town of Hua Hin, southwest of Bangkok.

At the weekend, up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops pulled back from a small patch of disputed land near Cambodia's 11th-century Preah Vihear temple, suggesting that an end to the month-long military stand-off could be near.

Twenty troops from both sides remain stationed at a small pagoda in the contentious border area, while 40 Cambodian and Thai solders remain nearby.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart Tej Bunnag met for dinner late Monday in Hua Hin, and were expected to hold talks through the day Tuesday.

"The situation has improved quite a lot in regards to the standoff between the militaries from both sides," Tharit said. "The tension around the area has been eased. We hope very much that the situation will go back to normal as soon as possible."

Relations between the neighbours flared up last month after Preah Vihear was awarded world heritage status by the UN cultural body UNESCO, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the ancient Khmer temple.

On July 15, Cambodia arrested three Thai protesters for illegally crossing the border to try to reach the temple, sparking the deployment of troops from both sides on the tiny patch of disputed land near Preah Vihear.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but surrounding land remains in dispute.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

- AFP/yb


Troops leave temple as top diplomats to meet

Military commanders say redeployment of Cambodian and Thai soldiers is a good omen for today’s border talks between foreign ministers
A LMOST all Cambodian and Thai troops have left their positions at Preah Vihear ahead of talks later today aimed at resolving the military standoff over disputed land around the 11th-century World Heritage Site, commanders said over the weekend.

The redeployment of hundreds of soldiers has raised hopes that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, will reach a solution to the crisis when they meet in Thailand for a second round of negotiations over the issue.

"Both sides have withdrawn most of their armed forces," Long Sovann, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, said on Sunday. "The [tensions] have mostly eased ... I believe the negotiations will solve the situation."

The talks come a day after police broke up a gathering by about 100 factory workers and teachers protesting the Thai presence at Preah Vihear, led by Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.

"Why do the Cambodian police ... fight with the Cambodian people but against foreign aggressors they become cowards," Rong Chhun said after riot police halted the protest.

Rights groups Licadho and Adhoc condemned the authorities' handling of the demonstration, saying that several people were pushed around by the police while dozens of factory workers were illegally detained on the outskirts of Phnom Penh as they tried to enter the city. "The government should solve the Preah Vihear border issue as soon as possible," said Adhoc investigator Chan Soveth.

Hundreds of heavily armed soldiers from both sides dug in at Preah Vihear following the July 15 border incursion by Thai troops in the latest flare-up over 4.8 square kilometres of disputed land around the temple complex.

A first round of talks last month ended with an agreement that both sides would recommend troops be redeployed but little progress was made on the ground. Troops began to withdraw last week as Cambodia and Thailand prepared for Monday's meeting, leaving only a handful at a pagoda on the temple grounds and on the road leading to Preah Vihear.

"We hope we will get some successes from this meeting - we will try our best to get a fruitful result," Sin Bunthoeun, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, told the Post on Sunday.

U.S. seeks WTO panel in hi-tech row with EU
Mon Aug 18, 2008

By Jonathan Lynn
GENEVA, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The United States asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Monday for a dispute panel to settle a row with the European Union over tariffs on hi-tech goods, saying talks with Brussels had failed to reach an agreement.

But the EU rejected U.S. assertions that it was violating the terms of a 1996 WTO accord aimed at limiting barriers to hi-tech trade, suggesting it would fight the case stoutly.
Washington's move marks an escalation in an increasingly rancorous dispute over the WTO's Information Technology Agreement (ITA) which eliminated duties on a range of high-tech goods from July 1997 to encourage trade.

Since 2005 the EU has re-imposed duties on new versions of computer screens, multi-function printers and TV set-top boxes that can access the Internet, arguing they are now consumer products rather than pure high-tech goods.

"We regret that formal consultations have not been successful in resolving our concerns over the duties that the EU is imposing on several high-tech products," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement from Washington.

"We believe that these duties are inconsistent with the EU's commitments on these products, and that they discourage technological innovation in the IT sector," she said.
In Brussels, a spokesman for Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the United States was seeking to change the ITA through litigation while refusing EU suggestions that it agree to review the pact's coverage with all its signatories.

Changing the accord "is not something we can negotiate bilaterally with the United States," he declared.
Japan and Taiwan joined the U.S. request for a panel. The request will be put to the next meeting of the WTO's dispute settlement body on Aug. 29, when under WTO rules the European Union will be able to object, although it cannot block a panel at the second request.

Washington estimates that global exports of the products under dispute, which are made by companies like Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) of the United States or Canon Inc (7751.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Ricoh Co Ltd (7751.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) of Japan, total more than $70 billion.
The U.S. statement said the EU was charging duties on the products because they incorporated technologies that did not exist at the launch of the ITA, which now has 71 signatories.
"In effect the EU is taxing innovation -- a move that could impair continued technological development in the information technology industry and raise prices for millions of businesses and consumers," the U.S. statement said.

U.S. officials say the EU imports $11 billion of the three products each year. The U.S. goods are mainly manufactured in countries such as China and Malaysia but based on U.S. designs and engineering and sold under U.S. brand names.

China, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, which all have important electronics manufacturing sectors, also asked to join the consultations that the U.S. requested on May 28 and are likely to join the dispute panel as third parties.

US, Japan, Taiwan launch WTO high-tech challenge against EU
Posted: 19 August 2008
WASHINGTON : The United States, Japan and Taiwan have asked the WTO to settle their dispute against the European Union over its duties on certain high-technology imports, the US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said on Monday.

The US and the two Asian countries claim that EU is violating World Trade Organisation rules by imposing duties on imports of certain products such as "cable boxes that can access the Internet, flat-panel computer monitors, and certain computer printers that can also scan, fax and/or copy."

Global exports of these products were estimated at over 70 billion dollars in 2007, the USTR office said.

A WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) signed in 1996 prohibits duties on certain high-technology products.

"The EU committed to bind and eliminate duties on ITA products in its WTO tariff schedules. We believe that these duties are inconsistent with the EU's commitments on these products, and that they discourage technological innovation in the IT sector," Schwab said.

"However, the EU claims it can now charge duties on these products simply because they incorporate technologies or features that did not exist when the ITA was concluded," she said.

"In effect, the EU is taxing innovation - a move that could impair continued technological development in the information technology industry and raise prices for millions of businesses and consumers."

The WTO dispute settlement body is to consider the joint request at its next meeting, on August 29, according to the USTR office. - AFP/de

UN special envoy arrives in Burma

By Deutsche Presse Agenture
Rangoon- UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrived in Burma Monday for a five-day visit that aims to pressure the ruling military junta to speed up democratic reforms, address human rights and free political prisoners.

The visit is Gambari's fourth since last year to Burma where he has been handed a mandate by the United Nations to deal with the country's military regime in addressing international concerns about human rights violations, slow-paced political reforms and the ongoing detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of other political prisoners.

 The State Peace and Development Council, as Myanmar's junta calls itself, has shown little willingness to comply with Gambari's overall mission.

On August 7 in Rangoon, for example, Burmese authorities arrested three members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions and two members of the 88 Generation Students, two pro-democracy groups, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.  

"Family members are not informed yet by the authorities where they are being detained, what charges they are facing, and whether they are alive or not," a statement issued by the federation said.  

Burma has been under the equivalent of martial law since 1988 when the army unleashed a brutal crackdown on a nationwide pro-democracy movement that left an estimated 3,000 people dead and thousands more in prison.

Bowing to international pressure, the regime held a general election in 1990, which the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Suu Kyi, won with a landslide victory.

Instead of acknowledging the outcome at the polls, the junta has blocked the NLD from power for the past 18 years, keeping Suu Kyi - who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 - under house detention for 13 of those years.

One new development has been the regime's decision to allow Suu Kyi visits from her attorney, Kyi Win, this month ahead of Gambari's visit.
Gambari has been permitted to meet with Suu Kyi on past visits.       

On Sunday, Suu Kyi met with Kyi Win for five hours at her Yangon-residence-cum-prison after meeting with the lawyer for the first time in five years on August 8.
Suu Kyi has been kept in near-isolation since May 30, 2003, when she was charged with disturbing the peace by campaigning in the provinces.

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi meets lawyer as UN envoy arrives Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed another rare meeting with her lawyer a day before a UN envoy arrived Monday on a mission to push Myanmar’s junta to re-open talks with her party, reported AFP.

The Nobel peace prize winner spoke with her lawyer Kyi Win for more than four hours Sunday, in their second encounter this month, said Nyan Win, spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, was quoted by AFP as saying.

Aung San Suu Kyi was also granted a visit by her doctor Tin Myo Win on Sunday, who gave her a medical checkup -- her first since February.

The spokesman Nyan Win called the meetings “significant,” noting that before this month she had not been allowed to see her lawyer since 2004.

The NLD has appealed the latest extension of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest, but has not received a response from the government. Nyan Win said he did not know whether Kyi Win discussed the appeal with her.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 19 years confined to her home. Her latest detention began more than five years ago, and she has been allowed little contact with the outside world.

The meetings came the day before UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrived Monday in Yangon on a five-day mission aimed at jump-starting talks between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.

After the military’s deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks last September, the military sought to ease international outrage at the bloodshed by appointing a liaison officer, labour minister Aung Kyi, to meet with her.

But the two have not met since January, when Aung San Suu Kyi complained about the slow pace of their talks.

One western diplomat, who spoke with Gambari, said the UN envoy’s “mission aims notably to relaunch the dialogue between the opposition and the regime.”

“Since Cyclone Nargis there have been many UN visitors, and Gambari noticed a real will on the part of the government to cooperate on humanitarian issues, and he wants to extend this cooperation to the political sphere,” the diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Officials would not give details on Gambari’s itinerary, but he was expected to meet with the joint UN-Myanmar-Southeast Asian panel coordinating aid for the 2.4 million victims of the cyclone, which devastated the country in May.

Gambari last visited Myanmar in March on a mission that UN officials later described as “disappointing,” after the junta publicly rebuffed his calls for political reform and rejected his offer to send election monitors for a referendum that approved a new constitution in May.

The diplomat warned that Gambari would face a “difficult task” in winning any concessions from the regime, which feels emboldened by the referendum.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. The NLD won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the junta never allowed them to take office.

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