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Phuket Gazette: Asian economic news round-up

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette: Asian economic news round-up | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Top Asean/EU trade officials to convene in Cambodia
PHUKET (The Nation): The 2nd ASEAN-EU Business Summit will be held in Phnom Penh on April 1, to bring together entrepreneurs, private investors and public policy-makers from both the EU and ASEAN to address key issues related to ASEAN-EU trade relations, while identifying new business and investment opportunities on both sides.

Organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the EU Delegation to Cambodia, Eurocham Cambodia and the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, the summit will convene more than 300 business leaders from ASEAN and Europe.

ASEAN Secretary General Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht, and Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce and Chairman of the ASEAN Economic Ministers, Cham Prasidh, are hosting the event and will actively participate in the Summit, together with all other ASEAN Trade and Economic Ministers.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen will welcome participants and officially open the event.

“I expect this year’s ASEAN-EU Business Summit to contribute significantly to the promotion of trade and investment flows between the two regions by exploring ways to reduce barriers and minimize constraints in trade and investment between the ASEAN countries and the EU common market,” stated Ambassador Jean-François Cautain, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia.

This follows the first summit in Jakarta in May 2011.

The upcoming summit builds on previous discussions and helps to intensify business-to-business relations while promoting dialogue between governments and the private sector. The EU aims to explore new business opportunities in this fast growing region and to further improve the strong partnership that helps to support ASEAN’s economic integration.

“Business communities from both sides will utilize this second AEBS to deepen the networks that have been established. It will further enhance ASEAN-EU economic cooperation and engagement,” said Secretary General of ASEAN Surin Pitsuwan.

International business leaders are expected to convene during a day of meetings, discussions and closed door sessions on how to further improve business in the most relevant trade and investment sectors between the two economic communities. Sectorial discussions will be preceded by an open debate on promoting ASEAN-EU Business Partnerships based on responsible and sustainable business models and practices , CSR.

The industry sectors to be discussed include Agri-Business (food processing, beverages), Infrastructure/Connectivity (logistics, trade facilitation); Manufacturing (automobile, pharmaceutical); and Services (finance, insurance, ICT).

On April 2, there will be a Business2Business (B2B) meeting with ASEAN and European business leaders as well as leading Cambodian businessmen who network and discuss insight into and opportunities offered by the Cambodian legal services, tourism industry and the Garment industry.

Winston Set Aung, economic advisor to the president of Burma, will also give presentation on building business in the country. He will be joined by U Win Aung, president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, who will elaborate on this exciting market’s trend for 2012.

Time for Japan to break the vicious cycle of low pay and slumping business
PHUKET (The Nation): The outcome of this year’s spring labor offensive, known as shunto, has been bleak for Japanese, with major companies in such key industrial sectors as automobiles and electronics not offering any pay increases.

Offers regarding bi-annual bonuses have also been harsh, falling below last year’s levels at most companies.

Because of the historic appreciation of the yen and the deterioration of economic conditions overseas, the business performance of the nation’s companies has been stagnant.

Under the circumstances, many trade unions had to abandon the idea of demanding a uniform pay-scale increase, a base pay raise referred to as “base-up” in Japanese, to prioritize job security instead.

Curbs on wage hikes meant to keep companies in business and workers employed tend to dampen domestic demand, thus further worsening the national economy. This vicious cycle must be brought to an end at all costs.

All businesses have a pile of knotty problems that have been left unresolved in this respect.

In this year’s shunto, labor came to the negotiating table intending to achieve regular pay raises based on employees’ age and length of employment, known as teiki shokyu or teisho.

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the country’s largest employers’ organization, expressed caution, saying it was no longer possible to consider implementation of teisho raises as a matter of course.

Most major companies, however, have managed to accept labor demands for the teisho portion of pay raises.

Salaried people in the prime of their lives have seen their living expenses increase year after year, especially for the rearing and education of their children. It is reasonable and proper for management to have paid due attention to such realities.

The pay hikes offered by some companies in this year’s shunto likely reflect corporate managers’ desire to reward, even slightly, their employees’ dedicated efforts to rebuild factories struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake and their perseverance in working late at night and early in the morning to save electricity.

However, corporate managers are naturally limited in what they can do.

Electronics giant NEC Corp presented in a meeting with its trade union today a set of proposals to cut ordinary employees’ wages, including a 4 per cent cut in monthly salaries for nine months.

Another major electronics firm, Sharp Corp, is also said to be considering a freeze on teisho raises for a certain period of time.

Although the uptrend in the yen’s exchange rate has paused in recent days, the Japanese currency is still too high from the perspective of export industries.

The economies of Europe are expected to log negative growth this year, while the swift growth of such emerging economies as China seems to be weakening. The future of overseas demand is increasingly shrouded with uncertainty.

In addition, manufacturers in China and South Korea have become increasingly formidable rivals for their Japanese counterparts, in terms of price competitiveness and product quality. International competition is bound to keep intensifying.

However, positive signs have begun to emerge. The Nikkei Stock Average at the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s First Section has climbed back above 10,000, spurred by such factors as improvement in the US economy.

Major Japanese companies are recovering from the serious blow dealt by the March 11 disaster and are expected to post higher profits in fiscal 2012, compared to huge drops in revenues for this fiscal year that ends on March 31.

We strongly hope they will have the momentum for a come-from-behind surge in business activity.

It is critically important for businesses to carve out private-sector fields with high growth potential to ensure greater corporate profitability. Now is a good time to create new demand on the strength of recovery projects from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster, such as new energy-saving businesses and transportation systems.

The government, for its part, must flexibly support corporate endeavors, through such me

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Tourism

Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors

May Taylor

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Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors | The Thaiger

PHOTO: aawsat.com

American and European passport holders, along with those from most Asian countries, can now apply for Saudi Arabian tourist visas either online or on arrival, provided they meet certain criteria.

Prior to this, the only foreigners allowed to visit Saudi Arabia were usually those travelling on business, resident workers and their family members, or Muslim pilgrims on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

In an attempt to boost tourism and diversify the economy’s reliance on oil, the Kingdom has expanded the availability of tourist visas beyond what was initially 49 countries. Visitors from eligible countries no longer need to apply for a visa at an overseas Saudi embassy but can do so online or on arrival.

The multiple-entry visa costs approximately US$120, is valid for a year, and permits a stay of up to 3 months on each entry.

However, authorities in the Kingdom were quick to implement a public decency code following the visa announcement.

“Immodest dress and public displays of affection are banned, but foreign men and women may rent hotel rooms together without having to prove they are married.”

A strict ban on alcohol remains in place.

Last weekend the South Korean band BTS became the first foreigners to hold a solo concert in the Kingdom, allowing teenage and older woman to attend without a male escort and allowing them to dance and sing along (in Korean of course). The band, in turn, turned down some of their ‘ab flashing’ and physicality during their record-breaking “Love Yourself” stadium concert in Riyadh.

The septet were invited to perform in Saudi Arabia as part of the Kingdom’s attempts to become more open to foreigners and diversify their income away from oil production.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

The Thaiger

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Hong Kong

1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally

May Taylor

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1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally | The Thaiger

PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Last night, Chater Garden, located near government headquarters in the Central district of Hong Kong, was the scene of the city’s first approved rally since the face mask ban came into being about 10 days ago. So far, the face mask ban has been largely ineffectual.

A day after an explosive device was detonated during protests, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in the park. They were calling on Washington to approve proposed US legislation that could see some Chinese officials face sanctions.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to review the territory’s special trading status and sanction those responsible for undermining the rights of Hong Kong citizens. It passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last month.

The Chinese Government has responded angrily, accusing the US of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with the aim of harming its interests, and says the law will only serve to worsen the situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been the scene of often violent pro-democracy protests for over four months now, as its citizens call for greater democracy and less interference from Beijing.

SOURCE: The Nation

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