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1.

Key elements of the EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements

On 18 April 2018, the European Commission presented to the Council the EU-Singapore Trade Agreement and the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement. The EU-Singapore trade and investment agreeme ......

  • Singapore
  • Services
  • 18 Apr 2018
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Description On 18 April 2018, the European Commission presented to the Council the EU-Singapore Trade Agreement and the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement. The EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements will take EU and Singapore relations to a new level and create more opportunities for EU and Singaporean businesses to grow and create new jobs. The negotiation of the trade and investment agreements was done in parallel to the negotiation of a soon-to-be-signed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Once in force, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will provide the legal framework to further develop the strong and longstanding partnership between the EU and Singapore. Stepping up the EUs engagement with Southeast Asia The EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements are the first bilateral trade and investment agreements concluded between the EU and a Member State of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). They are an important step towards the EUs ultimate goal of a trade and investment agreement with ASEAN, for which negotiations were launched in 2007 and paused in 2009 when they reached a stalemate. Both sides are currently engaged in preparatory work towards agreeing on a possible resumption of talks. The agreements with Singapore are a good reference point for the other trade and investment agreements the EU is negotiating with ASEAN Member States. Since launching negotiations with Singapore in March 2010, the EU has also started bilateral talks with Malaysia (2010), Vietnam (2012), Thailand (2013), the Philippines (2015) and Indonesia (2016). Singapore is by far the EUs largest ASEAN partner. With total bilateral trade in goods of €53.3 bn in 2017 and trade in services of €44.4 bn in 2016, Singapore accounted for just under one-third of EU-ASEAN trade in goods and services. At the same time, with bilateral investment stocks of €256 bn in 2016, Singapore accounted for roughly two-thirds of investments between the two regions. Over 10,000 EU companies are established in Singapore and use it as a hub to serve the whole Pacific Rim. The EU-Singapore trade agreement The EU-Singapore trade agreement is one of the first new generation bilateral agreements. On top of the classical removal of customs duties and non-tariff barriers for trade in goods and services, it contains important provisions on intellectual property protection, investment liberalisation, public procurement, competition and sustainable development. The agreement establishes the conditions for EU businesses to take full advantage of the opportunities created in Singapore as the business and transport hub of Southeast Asia. The agreement: (1) Eliminates customs duties Singapore will remove all remaining tariffs on certain EU products (like alcoholic beverages, including beer and stout) and will commit to keep unchanged the current duty-free access for all other EU products. On the day the trade agreement enters into force, over 80% of all imports from Singapore will enter the EU duty-free. For the rest, EU tariffs will be removed within three or five years, depending on the product category. Sectors that will benefit from the immediate removal of tariffs are electronics, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and processed agricultural products. Tariffs on certain types of textiles and carpets will be dismantled over three years; tariffs on bikes, fruits, cereals, and sports footwear will be removed over five years. (2) Facilitates regional and global value chains In todays global economy, both large and small companies often operate along global value chains and their products generally contain domestically produced components as well as inputs sourced from abroad. The rules of origin agreed in the trade agreement seek to strike a prudent balance between leaving companies some degree of flexibility to source parts from other countries, and establishing sufficient clarity on the minimum conditions to be met for products to qualify as European or Singaporean and benefit from preferences under the agreement. The EU-Singapore trade agreement recognises the integrated nature of supply chains in Southeast Asia. It includes the concept of ‘ASEAN cumulation to allow Singapore-based manufacturers to include components sourced from other ASEAN Member States as originating content when determining whether a specific product can meet the rules of origin requirements. The agreement foresees further facilitating regional cumulation in a wider range of products once the EU has concluded additional trade agreements with other ASEAN Member States. (3) Removes technical and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods Without compromising on health, safety and the environment, the agreement addresses regulatory divergences in some key sectors that constitute non-tariff barriers to EU-Singapore trade: Electronics The EU and Singapore agree to base their standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures on relevant international standards. This will avoid duplicative and unnecessarily burdensome conformity testing procedures with respect to product safety and electromagnetic compatibility. The idea is that a product that is considered to be safe to market in the EU should also be considered to be safe in Singapore. The agreement will also eliminate mandatory third party conformity assessments for product safety schemes for certain categories of electronic products and prioritise other forms of conformity assessment, such as the suppliers declaration of conformity and post-market surveillance mechanisms that are the norm in the EU. Motor vehicles and vehicle parts The EU and Singapore agree to promote international standards for cars and car parts and to refrain from introducing measures which deviate from international standards. The agreement also provides for new motor vehicles and car parts from the EU to be accepted by Singapore without any additional testing or certification requirements, provided that the products are certified in accordance with international standards accepted in the EU, notably United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) -type approval regulations. Pharmaceuticals and medical devices The EU and Singapore agree to use international standards, practices and guidelines for pharmaceutical products and medical devices, particularly those developed by international standard setting bodies. The agreement encourages transparent and non-discriminatory procedures for listing, pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals. This is important for both partners. Equipment for renewable energy generation The EU and Singapore agree to use international or regional standards, where these exist, for products used to generate energy from renewable and sustainable non-fossil sources. Singapore will accept EU declarations of conformity or test reports and the EU will accept Singaporean suppliers declarations of conformity under the same terms as from EU suppliers. Raw and processed products of animal and plant origin Most jurisdictions in the world - including the EU and Singapore - have in place stringent laws and procedures for agricultural and food-related products known as sanitary and phytosanitary measures. These will not be changed by the agreement. While maintaining strong safety requirements, the trade agreement aims to facilitate EU-Singapore trade in food products. For instance, Singapore will evaluate the performance of the EUs inspection and certification systems for meat producing establishments rather than requiring its own authorities to inspect each individual abattoir or food processing plant individually before it can export. (4) Facilitates trade through enhanced customs cooperation The EU and Singapore will enhance customs cooperation to simplify, harmonise, standardise, and modernise trade procedures so as to cut transaction costs for business. Both sides will be vigilant about the safety and security of legitimate trade. The agreement will bolster supply chain security through strengthened cooperation, including steps towards the mutual recognition of trade partnership programmes (such as the EU Authorised Economic Operators programme). (5) Opens up services and investment markets in a comprehensive way The trade agreement aims to make the business environment more predictable and create further opportunities for EU and Singapore businesses and more choice for consumers. It provides extra market access for a wide range of services. Thanks to this agreement, Singapore will make it easier for EU companies working in the fields of telecommunications, environmental services, engineering, computing and maritime transport. In financial services, European commercial banks will, under specific conditions, be able to increase the number of customer services locations. In certain sectors domestic and foreign services providers will be treated alike in terms of rules and regulations, creating predictability and a level playing field. The EU and Singapore retain the right to establish quality and safety standards and to regulate and introduce new regulations to pursue legitimate policy objectives such as security, public health and safety. The agreement protects certain sensitive sectors (like TV, radio and film, public health and education, social services and water distribution) in which no commitments are made. The trade agreement will present new opportunities for firms wanting to establish a commercial presence, by improving market access in services and many non-services sectors such as manufacturing. This means new opportunities to attract investment for instance for industrial production. (6) Brings new tendering opportunities for EU bidders As members of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, Singapore and the EU have already taken substantive commitments when it comes to open public tendering, have modern procurement regimes and apply high standards of transparency and procedural fairness to their public tendering. In many cases foreign firms are already able to compete for public contracts above a certain value. In the agreement, both sides agree to improve and simplify the tendering process and have committed to expand the number public contracts available for bidding, notably in the railways sector and for the Singaporean National Environment Agency. (7) Protects intellectual property rights Both the EU and Singapore already have modern systems to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. The trade agreement consolidates this and sets out basic rules on enforcement (other than criminal enforcement), including at the border. Intellectual property right-holders will be able to get help from customs authorities to detain counterfeit trademarked or GI-protected goods, pirated copyrighted content and registered designs. On copyright, the agreement provides for equitable payment for both performers and producers of recorded music played on the radio, TV or in places open to the public (such as shops, restaurants, bars)– which will improve the current situation in Singapore. Singapore has agreed to strengthen its existing geographical indications (GI) regime by setting up a system to register GIs in Singapore. Once registered in Singapore, around 190 GIs for wines, spirits and certain agricultural products will enjoy levels of protection equal to those in the EU thanks to this agreement. This includes Bordeaux wines, Parma ham, Champagne and Bayerisches Bier. Better protection for such products will also improve Singapore consumers awareness of authentic top-quality EU GI products. (8) Includes binding commitments on trade and sustainable development The EUs aim is to ensure its trade policy supports sustainable development within the EU, in its partner countries and globally. The agreement includes a robust, comprehensive and binding chapter to ensure trade supports environmental protection and social development. The agreement has binding commitments to ensure that domestic levels of environmental and labour protection are in line with core international standards and agreements. The EU and Singapore also agree to prevent "race-to-the-bottom" practices as regards labour and environmental laws to attract trade or investment. The agreement aims to enhance the contribution of trade and investment to sustainable development, including issues related to corporate social responsibility, sustainability assurance schemes (eco-labelling initiatives, and fair and ethical trade), and the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. The agreement sets out how social partners and civil society will be involved in implementing and monitoring it. This includes making use of new or existing consultative mechanisms to engage stakeholders. It foresees a mechanism to settle any disagreements on the chapters implementation. The EU-Singapore investment protection agreement The Investment Protection Agreement will ensure a high level of investment protection, while safeguarding the EUs and Singapores rights to regulate and pursue public policy objectives such as the protection of public health, safety and the environment. The agreement contains all aspects of the EUs new approach to investment protection and its enforcement mechanisms that are not present in the existing bilateral investment treaties between Singapore and EU Member States. The agreement replaces the 12 existing bilateral investment treaties and establishes a modern common investment protection framework for all EU investors in Singapore. Under the agreement, the EU ensures that its investors and their investments in Singapore will be granted fair and equitable treatment and not be discriminated against compared to Singaporean investments in comparable situations. At the same time, the agreement protects EU investors and their investments in Singapore from expropriation, unless it is for public purposes, in accordance with due process, on a non-discriminatory basis and against payment of prompt, adequate, and effective compensation according to fair market value of the expropriated investment. The agreement sets up a modern and reformed Investment Court System for resolving disputes similar to the one in the EU-Canada trade agreement. This system ensures that investment protection rules are adhered to and seeks to strike a balance between protecting investors in a transparent manner and safeguarding the right of a State to regulate in order to pursue public policy objectives. The agreement sets up a standing international and fully independent dispute resolution system. The cornerstones of the new system are: A permanent Investment Tribunal of First Instance and an Appellate Tribunal that will ensure legal correctness and certainty about the interpretation of the agreement; All members of the Tribunals will be appointed by the EU and Singapore in advance and be subject to strict rules of independence, integrity, and ethical behaviour. All Tribunal members shall comply with a binding code of conduct included in the agreement; The EU and Singapore will only appoint Tribunal members who have demonstrated expertise in public international law and possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to judicial offices or be jurists of recognised competence; Proceedings before the Tribunals will be fully transparent. All documents will be made publically available and all hearings will be open to the public. Interested third parties will be allowed to make submissions in proceedings before the Tribunal; Prohibition of parallel or multiple proceedings; and Provisions against abuses of the system – for example, rules to prevent fraudulent or manipulative claims such as the re-structuring of a business for the purpose of submitting a claim. Next steps Once approved by the Council, the agreements will be sent to the European Parliament, aiming for the entry into force of the trade agreement before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019; the investment agreement will also have to go through the relevant national ratification procedures in all Member States.
Industry Services
Source http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-3327_en.htm
2.

Inflation rate in Angola exceeds 35% in July

The inflation rate in Angola stood at 35.30% in July, while prices increased 4.04% year on year, according to a statement released recently in Luanda by the National Bank of Angola (BNA). The BNA s ......

  • Angola
  • Financial Services
  • 15 Oct 2016
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Description The inflation rate in Angola stood at 35.30% in July, while prices increased 4.04% year on year, according to a statement released recently in Luanda by the National Bank of Angola (BNA).

The BNA statement, which included the main decisions of the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, said particular attention had been paid to recent price trends within the economy, which have been increasing due to a drop in supply because of reduced exports.

The categories of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Miscellaneous Goods and Services and Health were the ones that showed the biggest variation and contributed most to inflation in the month under review, the statement said.

In July, credit to the economy increased 2.10% year on year and gross credit to the central government increased by 4.28%, while government deposits in the banking system increased by 4.21%.

The statement issued by the central bank also said that taking into account the development of the main macroeconomic indicators, the Monetary Policy Committee decided to keep all benchmark interest rates unchanged, including the BNA Rate that remained at 16%.
Industry Financial Services
Source http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/2016/09/09/inflation-rate-in-angola-exceeds-35-in-july/
3.

No ‘strong need’ to change policy stance – Tetangco

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. yesterday said there was still no “strong” reason to change its current monetary policy stance. Tetangco made the comment after the ......

  • Philippines
  • Financial Services
  • 15 Oct 2016
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Description Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. yesterday said there was still no “strong” reason to change its current monetary policy stance.

Tetangco made the comment after the government released its latest inflation data for the Month of August which dropped to 1.8 percent compared to July’s 1.9 percent, below the target range of two percent and four percent.

“There appears to be no strong need to change stance of policy,” he said. “But we are mindful of possible weather-related supply disruptions as well as financial market volumes from investor rebalancing. We will make adjustments as needed.”

The August inflation was within the BSP’s forecast range of 1.6 percent to 2.4 percent for the month.

“The August turnout was slower than prior month (1.9 percent) due to slower increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages. This also brings year-to-date average to 1.5 percent,” said Tetangco. “These are consistent with our view that inflation remains manageable and will move to within forecast by 2017-2018.”

ING Bank economist Joey Cuyegkeng said inflation expectations for the next 12-18 months remain within the inflation target range of BSP even as inflation is expected to be on an uptrend. BSP forecasts 2017 average inflation of 2.9 percent from this year’s forecast average of 1.8 percent. Monetary policy is expected to remain steady in the very near term, he said.

“Monetary system’s indicators remain supportive of the economy while inflation remains at low levels. Liquidity growth seems to be at a range (of 10-15 percent) that is not inflationary while supportive of economic activity,” said Cuyegkeng.

He added, “uncertainties and risks affect sentiment for now after investors have discounted the government’s economic program. Fiscally induced inflation pressures from additional taxes (that are together designed to generate more government revenues than revenue losses from income tax cuts envisioned starting in 2017) is an outstanding concern and could affect monetary policy.”

The BSP continues to see a manageable inflation environment and assessed that average inflation is likely to settle slightly below the two percent to four percent target band for the year and that it will “rise toward the mid-point of the target range in 2017 and 2018.”

The BSP also sees overall balance of risks surrounding the inflation outlook is also seen to be broadly balanced, with upside risks emanating from pending petitions for adjustments in electricity rates.
Industry Financial Services
Source http://www.mb.com.ph/no-strong-need-to-change-policy-stance-tetangco/
4.

Philippines consumer prices rise in Aug, likely to average out by end-2016

Consumer price inflation in the Philippines rose during the month of August, despite easing in annual gains of food and non-alcoholic beverages. However, the headline inflation is still expected to av ......

  • Philippines
  • Consumer Products, Financial Services
  • 15 Oct 2016
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Description Consumer price inflation in the Philippines rose during the month of August, despite easing in annual gains of food and non-alcoholic beverages. However, the headline inflation is still expected to average out by end of 2016, before possibly rising next year.

The Philippines’ consumer prices rose 1.8 percent y/y in August. Annual gains in food and non-alcoholic prices slowed down. As expected, the sub-indices for utilities and transport posted monthly contractions. Over the month, the supply of electricity improved as reflected by the decline in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Core inflation maintained its slow rise to 2.0 percent y/y.

"We still expect headline inflation to average 1.9 percent in 2016 before rising to 3.0 percent in 2017," ANZ said in its latest research report.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) most recently cut its 2016 and 2017 inflation forecasts to 1.8 percent and 2.9 percent, from 2.0 percent and 3.1 percent respectively). The BSP estimates that the planned increase in excise taxes in oil of PHP6/litre is likely to raise average 12-month inflation by 0.6ppt. Diesel and other types of fuel are currently exempted from excise tax.

However, the weekly auction size of the term deposit facilities (TDFs) will need to be adjusted further before it emerges as the main liquidity management tool of the central bank. Until then, there remains limited room for the BSP to adjust its policy stance and lower its reserve requirement ratio (currently at 20 percent).

Meanwhile, ANZ believes that the BSP is likely to maintain its policy tools through Q2 2017. Less than half of the excess liquidity in the banking system has migrated to the 7-day and 28-day term deposit facilities (TDF) of the central bank.
Industry Consumer Products, Financial Services
Source http://www.econotimes.com/Philippines-consumer-prices-rise-in-Aug-likely-to-average-out-by-end-2016-273463
5.

Economists see inflation inching up in August

INFLATION likely inched up to 2 percent in August on the back of increases in the prices of “sin” products and in transport costs, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. In an economic bulletin last ......

  • Philippines
  • Financial Services
  • 15 Oct 2016
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Description INFLATION likely inched up to 2 percent in August on the back of increases in the prices of “sin” products and in transport costs, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In an economic bulletin last week, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the rate of increase in prices of basic goods last month was seen faster than the 1.9-percent headline inflation posted in July and the 0.6 percent recorded in August last year. The August inflation report will be released on Tuesday.

“In August, prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco may rise from July’s 5.8 percent to 6.4 percent; transport could reverse from -0.1 percent to a faster 0.3 percent; and housing, utilities and fuels could increase from -0.2 percent to 0.1 percent,” he said in a report to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

“Likewise, prices of clothing and footwear may increase from 2.5 percent in July to 2.7 percent; health could jump from 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent; furnishings, households equipment may rise from 2 percent to 2.1 percent while restaurants and miscellaneous services could inch up from 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent,” Beltran added.

Economists polled by the Inquirer see inflation in August either flat or just slightly up from a month ago.

University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor A. Abola has the same forecast as Beltran “due to the big increase in fuel prices.”

“However, food prices have been relatively stable, and electricity rates slightly softer,” Abola said.

Standard Chartered Bank economist for Asia Chidu Narayanan said headline inflation in August edged up to 2 percent as food inflation rose 2.7 percent, offsetting steady utility costs, low transport inflation and lower housing prices.

A similar 2 percent year-on-year inflation was expected by ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng, “with the expectation that inflation would trend higher in the next 12-18 months.”

Land Bank of the Philippines economist Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan sees a 2.1 percent inflation, citing that “the drag from lower oil prices softened last month.”

“Oil prices fell by about 23 percent year-on-year in August, lower than July’s 26-percent plunge. On a monthly basis, oil prices rose by about 6 percent. The peso’s annual depreciation against the dollar and the country’s robust domestic demand continued to push domestic prices higher, while the easing impact of El Niño on farm production kept the increase in food prices modest,” he said.

Metrobank Research analyst Pauline May Ann E. Revillas expected inflation last month at 2.2 percent “on the back of high food and oil prices.”

Three economists expected steady inflation in August compared to a month ago.

“We expect inflation in the Philippines to remain below target in August at 1.9 percent year-on-year. Electricity prices declined over the month. The Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) decreased as the supply situation improved. This should be partially offset by the seesaw in retail gasoline and diesel prices,” ANZ Research economist for South and Southeast Asia Eugenia F. Victorino said.

Joseph Incalcaterra. Asia-Pacific economist at HSBC, said August inflation was likely steady from July at 1.9 percent year-on-year “as sequential price pressures stay subdued.”

“Retail petrol prices subsided during the month in line with global oil prices, and although food prices likely accelerated somewhat during the month, they are still relatively contained, Incalcaterra explained.

“Our estimate is 1.9 percent due to the monsoon effects on food prices,” Ateneo de Manila University economics professor Alvin P. Ang said.

Inflation averaged 1.4 percent at the end of the first seven months, below the government’s 2-4 percent target range for 2016.
Industry Financial Services
Source http://business.inquirer.net/214500/economists-see-inflation-inching-august
6.

Economists see inflation inching up in August

INFLATION likely inched up to 2 percent in August on the back of increases in the prices of “sin” products and in transport costs, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. In an economic bulletin last ......

  • Philippines
  • Transportation, Financial Services
  • 15 Oct 2016
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Description INFLATION likely inched up to 2 percent in August on the back of increases in the prices of “sin” products and in transport costs, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In an economic bulletin last week, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the rate of increase in prices of basic goods last month was seen faster than the 1.9-percent headline inflation posted in July and the 0.6 percent recorded in August last year. The August inflation report will be released on Tuesday.

“In August, prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco may rise from July’s 5.8 percent to 6.4 percent; transport could reverse from -0.1 percent to a faster 0.3 percent; and housing, utilities and fuels could increase from -0.2 percent to 0.1 percent,” he said in a report to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

“Likewise, prices of clothing and footwear may increase from 2.5 percent in July to 2.7 percent; health could jump from 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent; furnishings, households equipment may rise from 2 percent to 2.1 percent while restaurants and miscellaneous services could inch up from 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent,” Beltran added.

Economists polled by the Inquirer see inflation in August either flat or just slightly up from a month ago.

University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor A. Abola has the same forecast as Beltran “due to the big increase in fuel prices.”

“However, food prices have been relatively stable, and electricity rates slightly softer,” Abola said.

Standard Chartered Bank economist for Asia Chidu Narayanan said headline inflation in August edged up to 2 percent as food inflation rose 2.7 percent, offsetting steady utility costs, low transport inflation and lower housing prices.

A similar 2 percent year-on-year inflation was expected by ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng, “with the expectation that inflation would trend higher in the next 12-18 months.”

Land Bank of the Philippines economist Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan sees a 2.1 percent inflation, citing that “the drag from lower oil prices softened last month.”

“Oil prices fell by about 23 percent year-on-year in August, lower than July’s 26-percent plunge. On a monthly basis, oil prices rose by about 6 percent. The peso’s annual depreciation against the dollar and the country’s robust domestic demand continued to push domestic prices higher, while the easing impact of El Niño on farm production kept the increase in food prices modest,” he said.

Metrobank Research analyst Pauline May Ann E. Revillas expected inflation last month at 2.2 percent “on the back of high food and oil prices.”

Three economists expected steady inflation in August compared to a month ago.

“We expect inflation in the Philippines to remain below target in August at 1.9 percent year-on-year. Electricity prices declined over the month. The Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) decreased as the supply situation improved. This should be partially offset by the seesaw in retail gasoline and diesel prices,” ANZ Research economist for South and Southeast Asia Eugenia F. Victorino said.

Joseph Incalcaterra. Asia-Pacific economist at HSBC, said August inflation was likely steady from July at 1.9 percent year-on-year “as sequential price pressures stay subdued.”

“Retail petrol prices subsided during the month in line with global oil prices, and although food prices likely accelerated somewhat during the month, they are still relatively contained, Incalcaterra explained.

“Our estimate is 1.9 percent due to the monsoon effects on food prices,” Ateneo de Manila University economics professor Alvin P. Ang said.

Inflation averaged 1.4 percent at the end of the first seven months, below the government’s 2-4 percent target range for 2016.
Industry Transportation, Financial Services
Source http://business.inquirer.net/214500/economists-see-inflation-inching-august
7.

Policy rate stays

FIJI'S foreign reserves stand at $1920.7 million, which is sufficient enough to cover 5.3 months of retained imports, according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji. A statement from the RBF yesterday said ......

  • Fiji Islands
  • Financial Services
  • 03 Sep 2016
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Description FIJI'S foreign reserves stand at $1920.7 million, which is sufficient enough to cover 5.3 months of retained imports, according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

A statement from the RBF yesterday said the board, in its meeting this month, decided to maintain the overnight policy rate at 0.50 per cent.

The RBF board decision was made on the fact that the domestic economy continued to be driven by strong consumption and continuing investment activity.

RBF governor and board chairman Barry Whiteside said "sectoral performances remain mixed. Apart from the sugar and timber sectors, most other sectors recorded higher output annually including gold, electricity and visitor arrivals".

Mr Whiteside said financial conditions continued to be favourable indicated by adequate bank liquidity and low lending rates, while credit growth had slowed over the year.

"The subdued global growth performances and prospects imply a possible dampening in our remittances and tourism earnings although annual projections are still higher than last year's record levels," said Mr Whiteside.

According to the RBF reflecting the impact of the natural disasters, inflation increased for the fourth consecutive month in July to 5.5 per cent.

It said the increase was mostly driven by the shortages in market related items after the tropical cyclones and floods earlier this year, higher excise duty on alcoholic beverages and tobacco and the increase in fuel prices in July.

The central bank said the year-end inflation forecast remained about 3.5 per cent, however, it said over the medium term, the impact from the natural disasters was expected to taper.

"Monetary policy will remain accommodative and focus on supporting the domestic economic recovery while the bank will continue to monitor all macroeconomic developments and align monetary policy accordingly," said Mr Whiteside.

Meanwhile, RBF said notwithstanding any significant risks from higher commodity prices, particularly crude oil and food, inflation was expected to normalise.
Industry Financial Services
Source http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=368455
8.

Fiji maintains rate, will keep accommodative policy

Fiji’s central bank left its Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 0.50 percent and said its “monetary policy will remain accommodative and focus on supporting the domestic economic recovery while the Bank w ......

  • Fiji Islands
  • Financial Services
  • 03 Sep 2016
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Description Fiji’s central bank left its Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 0.50 percent and said its “monetary policy will remain accommodative and focus on supporting the domestic economic recovery while the Bank will continue to monitor all macroeconomic developments and align monetary policy accordingly.”

The Reserve Bank of Fiji, which has maintained its rate since October 2011, added that the bank’s twin objectives remain intact and the impact of this year’s natural disasters on inflation was expected to taper with the year-end inflation forecast still at “around 3.5 percent.”

Fiji’s inflation rate rose to a 2016-high of 5.5 percent in July from 5.3 percent in June, mainly driven by shortages of items following the tropical cyclones and flooding, higher duties on alcohol and tobacco, and an increase in fuel prices.

Fiji was hit by Tropical Cyclone Winston in February, the worst cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, leaving 42 people dead. The government estimated damage of 1 billion Fijian dollars, or US$460 million. Fiji was also hit by flooding in April.

The Reserve Bank added that Fiji’s foreign reserves amounted to $1.920.7 billion as of Aug. 24, enough to cover 5.3 months of imports, down from $1.978 billion as of July 28.

Fiji’s economy – which grew by an annual 4.2 percent in 2015, down from 5.3 percent in 2014 – continues to be driven by strong consumption and investment, according to Barry Whiteside, governor and chairman of the central bank’s board.

But Whiteside cautioned that subdued global growth could dampen remittances and tourism earnings though the bank is still forecasting an increase from last year’s record levels.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji issued the following statement:

“The Reserve Bank of Fiji Board at its August meeting decided to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate at 0.50 percent.

In making the decision, the Governor and the Chairman of the Board, Mr Barry Whiteside highlighted that “the domestic economy continues to be driven by strong consumption and ongoing investment activity. Sectoral performances remain mixed. Apart from the sugar and timber sectors, most other sectors recorded higher output annually including gold, electricity and visitor arrivals. Financial conditions continue to be favourable indicated by adequate bank liquidity and low lending rates, while credit growth has slowed over the year.”

On the growth outlook, the Governor highlighted that “the subdued global growth performances and prospects imply a possible dampening in our remittances and tourism earnings although annual projections are still higher than last year’s record levels.”

The twin objectives of monetary policy remain intact. As of 24 August, 2016, foreign reserves were $1,920.7 million, sufficient to cover 5.3 months of retained imports. Reflecting the impact of the natural disasters, inflation increased for the fourth consecutive month in July to 5.5 percent. This was mostly driven by the shortages in market related items following the tropical cyclones and floods earlier this year, higher excise duty on alcoholic beverages and tobacco and the increase in fuel prices in July. The year-end inflation forecast remains at around 3.5 percent. Over the medium term, the impact from the natural disasters is expected to taper. Notwithstanding any significant risks from higher commodity prices, particularly crude oil and food, inflation is expected to normalize.

In conclusion, the Chairman stated that “monetary policy will remain accommodative and focus on supporting the domestic economic recovery while the Bank will continue to monitor all macroeconomic developments and align monetary policy accordingly.”
Industry Financial Services
Source http://countingpips.com/2016/08/fiji-maintains-rate-will-keep-accommodative-policy/
9.

Ex-Arkansas state senator Gilbert Baker charged with DWI

Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, who fought efforts to allow Conway restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages, was arrested Friday night on allegations including drunken driving. An online inmate ros ......

  • United States
  • GRC
  • 02 Sep 2016
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Description Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker, who fought efforts to allow Conway restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages, was arrested Friday night on allegations including drunken driving.

An online inmate roster for the Faulkner County jail lists Baker, 59, as being released Saturday morning. It says bail for Baker, who now teaches music at the University of Central Arkansas, was set at $1,395.

The online roster displayed someone else's picture beside Baker's name. A sheriff's office employee said the office was working to correct the problem Saturday afternoon.

Baker was arrested by Conway police on charges of driving while intoxicated, refusal to take a breath test and driving left of center.

Baker, a Conway Republican, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Bud Cummins, an attorney who has represented Baker in an unrelated federal criminal investigation, said he had no comment.

Baker, who also is a lobbyist, helped raise money for former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio's later-halted campaign for the Arkansas Court of Appeals. In January 2015, Maggio pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge and implicated two other people -- his fundraiser and a nursing-home owner -- in a plea agreement that did not give their names.

Baker and nursing-home owner Michael Morton have denied wrongdoing but have said they believe the plea agreement was referring to them. Neither Baker nor Morton has been charged in the bribery investigation, and Maggio is appealing a federal judge's decision refusing to let Maggio withdraw the guilty plea.

When Baker was a state legislator, he actively opposed some private-club liquor permits in Conway. Faulkner County does not allow the sale of alcoholic beverages, but numerous restaurants there now have permits to serve them.
Industry GRC
Source http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2016/aug/28/ex-senator-baker-charged-with-dwi-20160-1/?f=crime

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