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Vietnam_Flag_0An article in the Asian Times by US-based economist Anh Le Tran has highlighted the extent to which Vietnam's free trade obligations have aggravated its widening trade deficit (12.8% of GDP in 2008). Le Tran argues the situation is exacerbated by a lack of supporting industries to allow it to extract greater benefits from its current exports (primarily garment and footwear, currently very reliant on imported raw materials), as well as an affluent middle class with a healthy appetite for imported goods. As a result, Vietnam's scope for macroeconomic maneuvering to contain inflation has been very limited. A TPP agreement may limit this further: note the USTR report on Vietnam's trade barriers for 2010, which expresses concern about a draft regulation issued late last year to establish a price registration and stablisation regime over a broad range of goods and services.

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australasia_1APRIL 2 2010: The possibility of a broad regional trade agreement in the Pacific is reportedly leading Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to consider reopening the market access arrangements in their own existing bilateral trade agreements. While sources are suggesting this is being done with an intention of creating a single, unified market access schedule to eliminate a 'spaghetti bowl' effect ahead of a TPP Agreement, a USTR official has already expressed doubts about reopening these agreements at a sensitive time. An Inside US Trade story follows below the break...

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