Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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One year before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to bring greater mobility to the region, Vietnamese labor productivity has been found lagging behind its neighbors.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently announced that labor productivity in Vietnam is among the lowest in the Asia – Pacific region.

A survey conducted last year by the organization found that Singaporean productivity was nearly 15 times that of Vietnam’s, while Japan’s was 11 times higher and South Korean 10 times higher.

Vietnam’s productivity was just one-fifth of Malaysia’s, and two-fifths that of Thailand, according to the ILO study.

The report also pointed out a recent slowdown in Vietnam’s productivity growth.

From 2002-2007, productivity increased by 5.2 percent on average every year, among the fastest in the region.

Since 2008, however, that rate has fallen to 3.3 percent.

One year before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to bring greater mobility to the region, Vietnamese labor productivity has been found lagging behind its neighbors.

During a conference held by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee last August,  Vietnamese labor productivity was described as 61.4 percent of the region’s average and down near the bottom of the list with Myanmar and Cambodia, VnExpress reported Tuesday.

Vietnamese laborers’ were below average, in terms of height, weight and strength, the wire service quoted Dr. Bui Sy Loi, vice chairman of the NA’s Social Affairs Committee as saying.

Loi also claimed that Vietnamese laborers failed to exhibit the physical requirements to operate high-tech construction equipment.

He also said that Vietnamese laborers’ discipline was poor compared to other regional countries.

ILO also recently announced a major concern among employers about the region’s lack of a skilled workforce, even though they believe that greater labor mobility will be among the benefits brought by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is set to start next year.

The organization said that nearly 50 percent of ASEAN employers interviewed found secondary school graduates do not have the skills they need.

Over 50 percent of respondents, meanwhile, said university graduates had value-adding skills, but enrollment in tertiary education remains low.

The skills most in demand are management and leadership, followed by vocational and technical skills, and customer service, according to the report.

YANGON, May 13 — Hong Kong’s commerce chief on Tuesday expressed hope for earlysigning of ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement to push for the further developmentof economic and trade cooperation between Hong Kong and the Association of SoutheastAsian Nations (ASEAN).

In an interview with Xinhua, Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and EconomicDevelopment Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(SAR) expressed hope for the early signing of the agreement, which in accordance withASEAN’s previous agreement, needs two to three years’ time.

Hong Kong SAR will host the first negotiation talks for ASEAN- Hong Kong free tradeagreement in July, Greg said ASEAN countries also support the move, said Mr. So.

So stressed the importance of the ASEAN-Hong Kong free trade agreement, saying thatASEAN has already been Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner in terms ofcommodity trade.

He cited that in 2013, Hong Kong-ASEAN commodity trade under the ASEAN economicsystem amounted to 96 billion U.S. dollars.

As ASEAN stands also as an important trading partner of Hong Kong in terms of servicetrade, he said in 2012, ASEAN has become Hong Kong’s fourth largest trading partner interms of service sector, which a trade volume of 14 billion dollars.

He held that the agreement is not only concerned with Hong Kong and ASEAN but alsocontribute to enhancing trade between China and ASEAN.

Of China-ASEAN trade, about over 10 percent go through Hong Kong, registering 45 billiondollars in 2013.

He said China’s strategy of “Going out of the country” can be carried out through the use ofHong Kong and its service profession.

Using global supply link is also a good trend of development, he also said.

Asked about the economic and trade relations between Hong Kong and Myanmar, Sodescribed the way of the development as positive, adding that many friends in the businesscircle are interested in coming and investing in Myanmar, especially in the sector ofmanufacturing, and that Hong Kong attaches importance to the development opportunityin Myanmar.

Myanmar’s small and medium enterprises, using Hong Kong as a platform, can develop itsmarket in Chinese mainland of its traditional brands and local products through packageand distribution in Hong Kong.

So also emphasized the importance of subregional cooperation by adding Hong Kong to thefree trade area that China and ASEAN have already had.

Describing Hong Kong as possessing its own special characteristics playing its special role asa super communicator linking different economic systems, So said Hong Kong’sinternational experience can be used to link the economic systems of ASEAN and otherglobal system.

So attended the 11th forum of ASEAN leaders in Nay Pyi Taw on May 11-12.

According to Hong Kong Trade Development Council, in 2013, Hong Kong exports toASEAN rose 4.1 per cent to 30.4 billion dollars, while imports from ASEAN to Hong Kongincreased 2.4 per cent to 65. 9 billion dollars.

Hong Kong companies still face trade barriers, compared with those in China, Japan orSouth Korea, all of which have FTAs with ASEAN.

Hong Kong’s investment in Myanmar comes after Chinese mainland and Thailand, with 6.4billion USD being injected into Myanmar’s 68 projects as of Jan. 31 this year, accounting for14.92 percent of the country’s total foreign investment.

Hong Kong-Myanmar trade stood at 438.98 million dollars in 2013, of which Myanmar’sexport to Hong Kong took 423.06 million dollars, while its import from Hong Kong wasvalued at 15.92 million dollars.

ASEAN CHIEFS back hun sen call for statement despite some hesitation.

Asean yesterday adopted a recommendation by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that the grouping – which has had a policy of non-interference in other members’ affairs – issue a statement on Thailand’s ongoing political crisis.

The statement called for all conflicting parties in Thailand to end the ongoing political crisis peacefully and democratically.

“Asean member states continue to follow closely the recent developments in Thailand and emphasise their full support for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing challenge in the country through dialogue and in full respect of democratic principles and rule of law,” the statement by Asean foreign ministers said.

“Asean expressed confidence in the resilience of the Thai nation to overcome the present difficulties and stand ready to extend all appropriate support based on the principles provided in its charter.”

Hun Sen suggested before the leaders summit in the Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Taw yesterday he would propose that the regional group issue a statement on the political crisis in Thailand to reflect Asean’s view.

But it was Asean foreign ministers who issued the statement, an official said.

Hun Sen was regarded as a close political ally of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been at the core of conflict in Thai politics for many years.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, who represented Thailand in the Asean summit, said his government listened to all voices and views on the political crisis.

Phongthep had to attend the summit as he was assigned to oversee the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Surapong Tovichakchaikul was dismissed from the office following the Constitutional Court’s verdict last week regarding the unlawful transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri.

Yingluck Shinawatra was also ousted as prime minister by the court.

“I understand that Asean leaders gave importance to political development in Thailand and I reassured them that Thailand has a long history of democracy and we will go along this democratic way,” Phongthep told reporters in Nay Pyi Taw.

The government had put a lot of effort into trying to solve the conflict by peaceful means and stage a new election in accordance with the constitution, he said.

There was some reluctance to issue the statement on the political crisis.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa had initially prepared a draft statement when Surapong was still foreign minister. It was later adjusted by the Myanmar chair. But some ministers had second thoughts over recent days, suggesting it might be too difficult for the group to take a proper stance on the rapidly changing situation in Thailand, a source said.

Asean ministers tread the finest line in order to avoid Thailand’s warring parties from misinterpreting the statement and believing it to take the side of one group.

Asean leaders issued a statement on the political crisis on December 14 when they gathered in Tokyo for the Asean-Japan summit. They called for Thailand to solve the problem within a democratic framework and rule of law, promote national reconciliation and return of normalcy in accordance with the will and interest of the people of Thailand.

Ministers of Asean Saturday sought a collective stance over the recent development in the South China Sea, where fresh rows between China and Asean members the Philippines and Vietnam are looming.

Foreign ministers of the regional grouping gathered on Saturday in Myanmar’s Nay Pyi Taw prior to the 24th summit of their leaders due Sunday.

China and Vietnam are in the loggerhead this week, only days before the summit, when Beijing sent an oil rig and other vessels into the area near Paracel islands where Vietnam claimed its exclusive economic zone. Vietnam said its ships were damaged and crews were injured when Chinese vessels fired water cannon to them.

Meanwhile the Philippines arrested 11 Chinese fishermen on Wednesday in the area near Half Moon shoal where both Beijing and Manila claimed.

The Asean would collectively express concern over the latest development in South China Sea but would not antagonize China or target to put blames on any particular parties in the incidents, said Thailand’s Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow.

The group would call all party to respect the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, said Sihasak who represented Thailand in the ministerial meeting in Myanmar.

The Asean needed to address its common stance over the situation which might affect regional security and also to prove that Asean centrality really existed for regional security architecture, he said.

Ministers of the group are now discussing whether they should issue a separate statement on the issue of South China Sea or made the stance included as a part of Chairman statement to be issued after the Asean summit on Sunday.

In the ministerial meeting Saturday, foreign ministers of the group would also discuss preparation for transformation of 2015 Asean community where many tasks remained to be completed before the end of next year as well as explore post 2015 community vision.