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koreaIndia is seeking to utilize the economic and geographic features of the South East region to enhance its inhabitants’ quality of life. This demographic is one of the most highly populated in the world. As such, according to Sumitra Mahajan (Speaker of the Lok Sabha), it has tremendous growth potential. Yet at the same time, she understands it has to deal with “challenges in realizing our goals.” In addition, big picture goals of sustainable development are very much connected to matters of “regional connectivity and regional cooperation.” Since Parliaments are representative bodies, they too have to take a principal position in the implementation of sustainable development targets.

This sentiment was echoed by Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Minister Senator. He said that South Asia and Pakistan’s future path for economic expansion will require the deep involvement of “all the SAARC states.” The connectivity gap (involving transportation and infrastructure matters) will have to be greatly reduced. Plus, with the operation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the entire South Region will benefit, due to the connection that will be made to Europe, the central Asian states, and beyond. Other noteworthy initiatives for this development include: the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, the CPEC, the CASA-1000 (Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project) and AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank).

Thanks to the efforts of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Government, the budget deficit dropped from 8.8 percent to 4.3 percent, engineering a 33 percent hike in tax growth within two years. It also stimulated foreign exchange reserves up to $21 billion, while the tax to GDP ratio escalated to 11 percent (a jump of 2. 5 percent) when the government began in office.

Collaboration between the national parliaments is crucial for advancing a poverty-free South Asia in pursuance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Speakers of South Asian countries said yesterday at a summit in the city.

Ultimately if South Asia is to thrive, experts seem to agree on one thing: the importance of “regional cooperation,” which was also a sentiment repeated by speaker of the Bhutan national assembly Tshogdu, Jigme Zangpo. He added that: “We need to redefine and rejuvenate our cooperation for a happy South Asia with 1.7 billion people.”

CVC Capital Partners Ltd’s fourth Asian fund is looking forward to significant investments from Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. The firm initially hoped to raise around $3 billion, having recently secured $3.3 billion from investors for its latest Asia fund, which began its campaign last year.

JBIC’s investment will be its first in a traditional private equity buyout fund, likely a result of increased interest overseas as home markets struggle. According to a statement from the bank, it will invest up to $50 million in the fund. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank agreed to a similar investment in a separate statement.

CVC, a London-based fund, plans to invest the fund in companies throughout the region, including Malaysia, the Phillippines, Indonesia and China.

“Having JBIC as a partner will raise CVC’s profile in Japan, and potentially help CVC to sell portfolio companies to Japanese investors,” a source said.

CVC’s 2008 Asia fund was $4.12 billion.

It looks like Asia has really been putting their money where their mouths are, proving their huge support of Yukon industries.  Indeed, according to a report in CBC News Canada, they have invested more than $1bn in its mineral and gas industries over the last five years.  Ex-Minister of Economic Development Jim Kenyon, spent his time in this position really pushing Chinese companies to make investments in Yukon’s mineral resources.

Intelligent Investments

It has made sense that the investors have poured all this money in.  According to Kenyon, it has been a great way of “securing access to the territory’s resources.”  At least three mining projects and one gas play in the territory have been the recipients of Chinese investments.  Over the last four years, government officials claimed that there had been six deals that had taken place between Asian investors and Yukon-based companies.  As well, as Kenyon said last Thursday in a CBC News interview, “if you’re willing to go that route, then you are going to be very successful in the long run, if you’ve got a good product.”

In total, according to a government official, more than $460m worth of Asian investments has been put into Yukon projects.  But vis-à-vis related spending, that figure automatically increases to more than $1bn.

It looks like those who want to make a sound investment might benefit from taking a peek at what’s been going on in Malaysia in recent times. The country’s “political stability and gateway to the huge market in the region,” is making it an increasingly good choice. As well, the region has received a significant economic boost due to implementations carried out under Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the country’s Prime Minister.

America Ambles Towards Malaysia

So it now makes sense for Americans to make investments in Malaysia which it is doing. Since the South East Asia has a high population of nearly 600 million, this makes it a very large market. Just today, Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, the country’s Ambassador to America gave a brief to US journalists to prep them for the visit from Najib who is currently in England.

But the question on everyone’s lips is why would Americans be turning outside their already fragile-economy country to make investments elsewhere and not instead choose to help their own economy? Apparently Malaysia’s advantages render it a perfect “platform [through which] to enter the region.” In addition, America views Malaysia as “a serious player in protecting intellectual property rights and had a reliable work force with a good command of English.”

American-Malaysian Stats

If you just start looking briefly at the history of trading between the two countries, you will start to understand why there is so much excitement at future coalitions. Just last year for example, America was the fourth largest trader in Malaysia, resulting in $36.43bn, a jump of $5.4bn from the previous year. There are further investments predicted too, with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) anticipating American investments to jump 10 percent this year from 2010.

More Business Opportunities in SE Asia

There are continuously more and more business opportunities becoming available in South East Asia. Just yesterday, South Korea’s SK Telecom announced its $16.5m additional investment in a Malaysian broadband operator with a view to developing its presence in the SE Asian market. By 2020, it is expected that around 36 percent of the country’s population will be able to access broadband services. Right now that figure stands at half – 18 percent.

Malaysia Goes Muslim?

Another attractive feature about Malaysian investments is that the country could be used as “a partner to enter Muslim countries.” Various businesses are working with Malaysians in America in an attempt to “use our citizens as a bridge to the Muslim countries.”

Just two days ago, the American army in Iraq shared news of its investment projects in Karbala and Najaf “to support active armed groups in Iraq.” It also once again accused Iran of trying to control Iraq vis-à-vis economics, military and politics and attacked Asaib Ahl Haq (the League of the Righteous) for the missiles attacks and assassinations that have been commonplace over the last few months.

Iraq and Hezbollah

According to a spokesman for the American army (Jeffrey Buchanan), the Hezbollah brigades remain active in Iraq receiving support from Quds Forces. As well, “some trade businesses and investment projects including hotels and restaurants in Karbala and Najaf are funding Iranian Quds Forces.” He also said that the relationship between Iraq and Iran had not exactly been a positive one this year. Asaib Ahl Haq is a prime example of criminal gangs that have been active in the past and have increased their attacks in recent months which have been “receiving external support from Iran sap Iraq’s sovereignty.”

This group has been blamed for a whole slew of recent assassinations and has also “claimed responsibility for some armed operations against US Forces in central and southern provinces.”

Perhaps the American army needs to rethink its investment policies. There is a lot going on in Iran and Iraq and the violence has to end. The gangs like Asaib Ahl Haq have to be stopped vis-à-vis their violent activities and behavior that seem to be extremely characteristic of the group.

Saudi Arabia hopes to make significant investments into Turkey over the next two decades. Figures for this are up to $600 billion. The main areas of investment will probably be manufacturing and agriculture, according to the National Commercial Bank’s chair, Abu al-Nasr. He commented that agriculturally, Turkey has come out as “one of the top recipients of Saudi investment, as the kingdom seeks to boost its food security.” In this vein, Planet Food World is set to put a $3 billion investment into Turkish agriculture over the next five years. The goal is to ultimately “export food products to the Gulf region.”

Investments Good for King?

Maybe this is what is helping Saudi Arabia’s King get well again. According to reports from his daughter, King Abdullah is getting so much better that he will soon be making his way back to is country. Currently King Abdullah is in America where he went for back surgery on November 22 for a debilitating herniated disc complicated by a haematoma which put pressure on his spine. The surgery was successful but he also required a supplementary surgery to repair other vertebrae. That too went well.

Of course, any good news like financial improvement for his country would make King Abdullah happy. But perhaps this really good news about working with Turkey helped facilitate his recovery even further.

Mega-Millions for Qatar Investments

Qatar is on its way to making mega-millions; at least that’s what it is hoping for at the upcoming Business and Investment Opportunities forum due to take place in Washington this week. Indeed, H E Mohamed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi (the country’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow-up Affairs) is looking at a staggering $5bn worth of investments. To kick-start this, five contracts will be signed in an attempt to expand trade links between the two sides. It seems that Qatar is looking into forging business deals with Americans, following the conference which will have around 400 US trade and industry members and 200 Qatari officials participating in.
This makes sense. Both sides have quite a bit to offer in the field. Qatar has a reputation for being the world’s greatest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas and America the world’s largest energy consumer.

Qatar and America: More than just Resources Merger

What’s interesting about the investment opportunities that are set to take place between Qatar and America is that it looks set to go beyond the country’s natural resources. By joining together in some areas, Al Rumaihi belives other areas will develop too including banking, communications, education and health. This is particularly the case since American companies are already predicting the benefit of playing a part in Qatar’s health and water management areas since it already acts as the country’s “largest trade partner,” as indicated by the existence of Doha’s America Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

US-Qatar Expanding Trade

Truth is, all this isn’t such new news for the two countries. Already figures have shown how trade has been expanding between Qatar and the US with a staggering 340 percent increase from 2003 to 2009 of trade between Doha and Washington. And America clearly takes pride in the country, having established eight universities in Qatar (more than they have done in any other country).

Qatar Cleans Up

Other good news in Qatar is that the country is showing its “commitment to preserving Qatar’s natural habitat and wildlife at the ongoing Qatar Petroleum 2011 Environment Fair at the Doha Exhibition Centre.” Clearly, the better a country’s environment, the more attractive it will be to other country’s vis-à-vis investment opportunities as this also indicates greater stability. Environmental bodies in Qatar have been working closely with RasGas Company Limited to further this goal. At the conference, individuals were also presented with the opportunity of becoming an environmental ambassador for the company and “make a positive impact on sustainable development in Qatar.”

Turkey Makes Strides in Africa

Abdullah Gal, the President of Turkey, was said to have had a “fruitful” visit to Africa vis-à-vis his country’s political, economic and military strategy. “I am glad to learn that our companies interested in mining have made significant pre-agreements during this visit,” he said. He met with President John Evans Atta Mils (of Ghana); Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), marking the first time a Turkish president has formally made such a visit.

Syria Set to Spoil Turkey’s Economic Advances?

News in Syria impacting Turkey is that there has been disturbance between anti-government protesters and security forces, resulting in at least 15 dead from two days ago, which is likely to impact more than a $1 billion in Turkish investments around the country. So far it appears that these events haven’t yet affected business life, but it is still early days.

<h3>Persian New Year Celebrations Boost Armenian Tourism</h3>
There’s nothing more proactive than a big party to get things moving.  And that’s exactly what’s been happening to the economic situation in Armenia, spurred on by the Norvuz’ two-week Persian New Year celebration.  It is expected that the streets of Yerevan will attract tons of Iranian visitors who will be enjoying “a different culture,” nightlife and entertainment that they are not accustomed to in their home town.
It seems that if you are looking for a place to party, you should look no further than North Armenia.  At least, that is, if you are an Iranian who has been deprived of such fun for way too long.  Indeed, for the last three years, liberal-minded Iranians have visited the region for the mega Norvuz’ celebrations that are prohibited in their home country.  There they can enjoy alcoholic beverages and pop music concerts, which are outlawed in Iran.  It is expected that the 7,000 seat Hamalir arena will be packed to capacity, but for the festivities a staggering 10,000 visitors are anticipated.  According to Sabeh (an Iranian tourist), the reason for this peak in the country’s tourism during this time is simple:  “In Iran, they have restrictions on wearing clothes and we have no fun. I hope to have fun here.”
<h3>Armenian and European Relations Get a Boost</h3>
Currently Armenia’s government is putting in a program of reforms.  With this, according to Tigran Sargsyan (the country’s Prime Minister), major assistance will be given from the European Union as there is tremendous potential for the establishment of bilateral relations between Europe and Armenia.  In addition, the EU’s role will be strengthened with this as well as European values.  According to experts in the field, this is quite a historical precedent, being the first time ever that Armenia has invited the EU to replace Russia on such a level.  As well it seems that those in Armenia see them as priority issues “which is important for the development of business and investment spheres.”

So with all the Armenian celebrations set to take place and improved communications and negotiations with the European Union, this part of Asia looks like it has a good chance of developing its economy and investments in the very near future.  Things are looking up for Armenian culture and finances.