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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs          7  July 2011

Skilled labor an issue in Vietnam

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Vietnamese businesses are more concerned now about access to a skilled workforce rather than capital, according to survey results released yesterday by auditing and consulting firm Grant Thornton.

Its International Business Report (IBR) on business optimism in the second quarter also said the Vietnamese businesses were worried about a fall in the number of orders and the continuing problem of inadequate infrastructure.

"Despite these worries, Vietnam is more confident about the future than some of the other Asean countries," the report said.

Among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines leads the confidence index at 76 percent, followed by Singapore at 64 percent, Viet Nam at 54 percent, Thailand at 48 percent and Malaysia at 16 percent.

Kenneth Atkinson, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton Viet Nam, said, "As with some other countries, inflation is a major worry. The Government has reacted positively to help the availability and flow of finance plus it is keeping a close watch on the performance of the currency. If their plans are successful we should see inflation under control and a growth in confidence return later in the year."

On global scale, the IBR revealed that previously recovering levels of business optimism hit a wall in the second quarter of 2011, with sentiment dipping in the wake of natural disasters, political unrest and economic volatility. With the impact of sovereign debt issues in the eurozone still to be felt, the outlook for business remains uncertain.

The research, conducted in May/June covering 39 economies, showed that across many regions there has been a dramatic quarter on quarter decline in levels of business optimism.

Although optimism levels remain higher now than a year ago, the revival has stuttered badly in the second quarter of 2011, the report said.

Globally, business optimism has fallen by 3 percent from the previous quarter although it is 4 percent higher over the year, the report said.

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International, said: "In global terms the past three months have been challenging and business optimism has been hit hard. Companies are feeling the effects of the unrest in the Middle East and the subsequent volatility in oil and commodity prices, which recently led western nations to release large stocks of oil. In addition, the earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan caused huge disruption to supply chains.


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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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