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Saturday, February 03, 2007

US eyes closer trade, investment ties with Vietnam

Barbara Weisel, Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
The US hopes to open negotiations with Vietnam on the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) to facilitate trade and investment exchanges between the two nations.

At a meeting with the Ho Chi Minh City administration Friday, Barbara Weisel, Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said TIFA would be an important step towards establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam.

Next week a group of US experts would visit Vietnam to work on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Barbara said. Products in the GPS list are exempt from US import tariffs.
Nguyen Trung Tin, deputy head of the municipal government, hoped trade relations could be developed between HCMC and the US, especially San Francisco, an officially designated twin city.

HCMC was striving to reform its laws and policies to create a friendlier business environment and attract more foreign investment.

In Southeast Asia the US has already held TIFA and FTA negotiations with Thailand and Malaysia.

Over 4600 commodities from 144 countries are present in the GSP list.
Read more!

Thai auto parts maker to ride into Vietnam

Auto parts maker ZF Thailand is mapping out plans to open offices in Vietnam and Cambodia this year, its managing director, Sumate Jaito, has announced.

Jaito said after establishing a firm foothold in Thailand, his company, an affiliate of Germany's ZF Group, was eyeing markets elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Its expansion plans coincide with a Thai curb on the production of commercial vehicles, hitting the auto parts industry.

Jaito believed his company's products, with strict quality control from the parent company in Germany, could compete with others in Asia.

The ZF Group set up a representative office in Thailand seven years ago and expanded operations with the establishment of a CKD (complete knockdown) production line in Rayong town, southeast of Bangkok.

ZF Thailand specializes in making parts for buses and pick-up trucks. It holds around 50 percent of the country's agricultural and construction machinery parts market.

The ZF Group has its Southeast Asian headquarters in Singapore besides another production facility in Malaysia.

Source: Asia Pulse News Read more!

Sam Rainsy said people wanted social justice

Cambodia's opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, says his party will field candidates in a record 99 per cent of communes in this year's elections. The elections on April 1 will mark an important step in the development of democratic institutions in Cambodia.

But they will also play a crucial role in setting the tone for next year's national poll. Sam Rainsy, who is marking his first year in Phnom Penh since being allowed to return from exile, says he is confident the people of Cambodia will put their trust in his party.

The opposition leader told Radio Australia's Linda LoPresti that the Sam Rainsy Party is running on a platform of social justice."The people will react to a state of injustice," he said."They have lived in poverty for so many years while a few people have got very rich because of corruption."People are longing for social justice." Read more!

BCL Coffeeplus To Hold Cambodia Travelogue, AGM

Bandar Seri Begawan - The British Community Link (BCL) announced that this month's BCL Coffeeplus will feature a talk on Cambodia and its places of interest. The talk, which will be held from 9.30 am on Wednesday, February 7 at the Orchid Garden Hotel in Berakas, is to be followed by BCL's annual general meeting at the same venue.

BCL added that Jan Murphy will present a travelogue of the country and "show how some visitors help the villagers to change their lives".

Meanwhile for the AGM, BCL encouraged guests who think they can contribute or help to join the committee.

Admission to BCL Coffeeplus is $7, which includes refreshments, and stalls will be set up for guests to browse through. Guests are meanwhile asked to bring a book to swap. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Read more!

Canadian Arrested for Sex Offence against 13-year old girl in Cambodia

The Future Group Calls for Investigation Under Canada's Child Sex Tourism

CALGARY, Feb. 2 /CNW/ - The Future Group has just learned that Richard Beaulac, a 35 year-old man from Quebec has been charged in Cambodia with the attempted rape of a 13 year-old girl, who was a street beggar.

The Cambodian Daily has reported that Beaulac entered Cambodia on January 1 and has been working in the tourist town of Siem Reap as an EnglishTeacher.

Beaulac allegedly picked up the 13-year old girl and three other female street children and took them back to his apartment at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to Sun Bunthang, provincial anti-human trafficking police chief.

According to the Cambodia Daily, Beaulac allegedly sent three of the girls away before molesting the remaining girl, and told police that he and the girl lay naked on the bed but denies molesting her. The girl is currently in the care of the Cambodia Women's Crisis Centre. Beaulac has been charged by the Siem Reap Provincial Court with attempted rape.

"We are calling on the Canadian government to investigate the serious allegation against this individual, and if they are substantiated to lay charges under Canada's child sex tourism laws," said Sabrina Sullivan, Managing Director of The Future Group.

Only one person has ever been charged under Bill C-27 and C-15, Amendments to Canadian Criminal Code criminalizing child sex tourism. That prosecution of Donald Bakker in Vancouver is largely considered accidental, since it only came out during the course of an investigation for offences in Canada.

"Child sex tourists cause irreparable harm to young children abroad and drive the multi-million dollar human trafficking industry," said Sullivan, "Canada needs to ensure that it is part of the solution."

For the full article from the Cambodia Daily, please refer to Read more!

ADB suspects graft in $27 mln Cambodian loans

01 Feb 2007 06:06:58
Source: Reuters

PHNOM PENH, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is investigating possible corruption in Cambodia's handling of $27.2 million of loans for rural development projects, its country director said on Thursday.

Arjun Goswami said ADB graft investigators were due in Phnom Penh in late March to chase allegations of rigged bidding for contracts that emerged after a joint bank and government audit last year.

"We are in the middle of the process and we should not jump to conclusions," he told Reuters, adding that the Cambodian government was aware of the probe.

The deals under scrutiny relate to loans granted to the impoverished southeast Asian nation from 2001 to 2006 for roads, sanitation and government training in three northern provinces, including Siem Reap, home to the famed Angkor temples.

Last year, the World Bank suspended $7.6 million in funding for three Cambodian development projects plagued by corruption and demanded misused funds be repaid.

International donors plough about $600 million into Cambodia each year, although the country remains one of Asia's poorest, with 30 percent of its 13 million people living on a dollar a day or less.

Cambodia ranked 131st out of 158 countries on Transparency International's 2005 corruption index.

Government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment. Read more!