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Sunday, 30 May 2004
Brazilian president has ambitious trade plans
Topic: Business
Last June, Brazil, India and South Africa had formed the G3 to boost trade and combine their political muscle in world forums like the United Nations. Now, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil thinks the group can be expanded.

"We dream that in the near future it will be a G5, which will be with Russia and China," President da Silva told reporters on 27 May during his trip to China. "We want to build a political force capable of convincing rich nations...they can ease their protectionist policies and give access to the so-called developing world."

The United States, however, is unimpressed.

"We need to focus on the substance [of talks], not what the gamesmanship is," US Commerce undersecretary Grant Aldonas told reporters in Brazil's Congress when he was asked for his opinion of President da Silva's proposal. "Whatever the grouping is that's not that much of a concern."

Even if the G5 proposal does not make any headway, President da Silva's visit to China may already have. His delegation of eight cabinet ministers, six state governors and 450 business leaders has already sealed a number of commercial agreements. These include US$5 billion worth of deals for Brazil's CVRD group, the world's largest iron ore exporter, and an accord that will see Brazilian and Chinese oil companies working together in South Asia, Iran and South America.

As it is, Brazil and China -- the two biggest economies in the developing world -- have already seen trade between the two nations grow five-fold between 2000 and 2003 to a value of US$8billion.

Posted by lim_cs at 9:48 PM JST | post your comment (0) | link to this post
Thursday, 20 May 2004
Sikh to become prime minister of India
Topic: Politics
So, Sonia Gandhi will not become prime minister of India after all. The appointment will instead go to Dr Manmohan Singh.

The possibility of a foreign-born woman becoming prime minister -- Sonia Gandhi had been born in Italy -- had aroused considerable protest throughout India even though she is popular among her Congress party supporters.

Dr Singh is the architect of India's economic reforms, and the business community is likely to react favourably to his appointment as prime minister. Yesterday, the day he was named as the next prime minister, the Mumbai Sensex stock index rose 129 points to 5,006.

Dr Singh will become India's first Sikh prime minister.

Posted by lim_cs at 8:57 PM JST | post your comment (0) | link to this post
Friday, 14 May 2004
Return of the Gandhi dynasty?
Topic: Politics
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP-led coalition has been ousted from power by the opposition Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi. Congress and its allies won 279 seats, a majority of the 545-seat Parliament. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies had 187.

Analysts attribute the Congress victory to discontent among poor rural voters who felt left behind by the economic reforms championed by outgoing Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Italian-born Gandhi looks set to be India's next prime minister. This means that the Gandhi family, the ruling dynasty of India for much of its post-colonial history, is set to return to power.

Posted by lim_cs at 9:23 PM JST | post your comment (0) | link to this post
Saturday, 8 May 2004
Abuse of Iraqi detainees
Topic: Politics
So much is being said and written about the abuse of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers. The latest development being President George Bush's apology.

But where have we seen this sort of thing before? Yes, for those with long memories, it happened in Vietnam, back in the 1960s and 1970s.

The circumstances were slightly different then, and so was the manner of abuse. The fact, however, is that prisoners -- in war, in criminal detention -- are always vulnerable to abuse and torture. That is the unfortunate reality. And the reason why rules have to be in place for such situations.

Whether US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigns or not, as many have demanded, the American government must now do everything it can to repair the public relations damage resulting from this episode. Otherwise, it would invite further terrorist activities against the American nation.

Posted by lim_cs at 5:58 PM JST | post your comment (0) | link to this post

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