Top Story of the Week: Indonesia Buys German Tanks
TOP STORIES The 7th ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting, held last week in Brunei, produced a joint declaration reaffirming the commitment of ASEAN countries to enhanced regional peace and security. In addition to reiterating the importance of good communication channels in addressing issues surrounding the South China Sea, the ASEAN countries also signed a joint statement with the US acknowledging the importance of maritime security, transnational crime and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief. Indonesia purchased 104 Leopard 2 tanks and 50 armored personnel carriers from Germany. The sale is one of the most significant purchases of high-quality equipment Indonesia has made thus far, as part of a $15 billion five-year drive to modernize its military.
Top Story: Party Central Committee meets in Hanoi
Top Story: IP protection progress to attract more investments
Brunei’s latest major progress in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection will help set itself in a better position as an attractive investment destination and towards fostering more innovation among local businesses, said a US envoy to Brunei. The US Ambassador to Brunei His Excellency Daniel Shields said, with Brunei's recent removal from the Special 301 Report Watchlist, the Sultanate is becoming a more attractive destination for American and other foreign investors, and that Bruneian inventors and entrepreneurs are enjoying more protection than ever for their inventions and innovations.
Top Story: ASEAN+3 endorse initiative for infrastructure financing bonds
ASEAN countries, together with China, Japan and South Korea, on Friday endorsed an initiative on "Fostering Infrastructure Financing Bonds Development" in order to boost infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries. The finance ministers, central bank governors and senior officials of these countries said the Asian Bond Markets Initiative, or ABMI, has been making continuous progress under the auspices of the ASEAN+3 framework in promoting issuance and facilitating the demand of local currency denominated bonds.
Top Story: First Indonesian Report on Extractive Industries Transparency Released
+ Southeast Asia to reach out to China on sea disputes
+ Microsoft Carbon Fee Funds
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Top Story of the Week: Hagel picks ASD Mark Lippert as Chief of Staff
TOP STORIES Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert will become Secretary Hagel's TSA (chief of staff), leaving the ASD position vacant. Peter Lavoy, PDAS for AfPak & India will be Acting Assistant Secretary for the second time in two years. Participants and observers at the recent ASEAN Summit praised Brunei for restoring optimism for achieving common ground on the South China Sea. Progress was made by focusing on the need to agree to a binding code of conduct with China, rather than a focus on resolving overlapping claims.
Top Story: US Reviews Laos As Possible GSP Beneficiaries
Highlight: USTR has requested comment on extending GSP to Lao PDR. If you would like to offer comments towards a Council submission on Laos, please send to Wanlapa “Fon” Wanlapa at email@example.com. For more information, please click here. IN THIS UPDATE: Economics + National economic survey to start next week
Top Story: U.S. Lifts Visa Ban, Extends Sanctions Authority
Top Stories: Save The Date: May 20th for a very important Myanmar Dinner in Washington D.C. Call for input: Please send comments on extension of GSP for Myanmar to the Council by COB May 8th. The Obama administration extended sanctions authority for one year, but also terminated Presidential Proclamation 6925, effectively lifting a visa ban for many Myanmar officials. This is a key easing of sanctions that will allow much greater engagement between the U.S. and Myanmar. An important Myanmar delegation will visit Washington later this month, following Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis’ April visit to Myanmar. Potentially on the agenda will be a U.S.-Myanmar TIFA and discussions on GSP for Myanmar.
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Top Story: 133 for Barisan Nasional and 89 for Pakatan Rakyat
Barisan Nasional won 133 parliamentary seats at the 13th general election to record a slightly reduced performance compared to 2008, but it managed to wrest Kedah from Pakatan Rakyat. The ruling coalition failed to regain Selangor and Penang but retained Perak with a slim three-seat majority, due to what Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak described as a “Chinese tsunami”.