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WASHINGTON--U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told lawmakers Wednesday President Barack Obama will send the South Korea free-trade agreement to Congress in the coming weeks, and hopes to finalize similar deals with Colombia and Panama as soon as several issues can be resolved. The Obama administration faces a tight time frame for passage, if the Korea deal is to take effect before a pact between South Korea and the European Union comes into force July 1. If the deal passes after that date it could cause U.S. manufacturers to lose out to European competitors.

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The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) is aiming for a 4.5 per cent rise in tuna exports for 2011, at 120,000 tonnes worth USD 300 million, which would be an increase of 16,400 tonnes and USD 13 million compared to last year. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean region, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) agreed to a 40 per cent-cut in the bluefin tuna catch, and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) will slash catches by 20 per cent in 2011.

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India's restrictive trade policy is impeding foreign investment and it needs to work harder to free up its economy, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Monday, despite growing economic ties between the countries. India is only the 14th biggest trading partner for the United States despite its growing global weight and obstacles from outsourcing controversies to the Doha world trade round and market access have put the brakes on faster integration.

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Japan and Australia will hold talks in Tokyo on Monday aimed at securing Japan's first free-trade agreement with a major agricultural exporter. Negotiations fell apart last April over calls to open up Japan's farming sector. For years Japan has protected its inefficient farming industry, and has put high tariffs on imports. But Japan's sluggish economy could be causing a shift in policy and thinking, analysts said.

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The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a double-edged sword as it brings both opportunities and challenges to Vietnamese exports, said economic experts. Dr. Nguyen Minh Phong from the Hanoi Institute of Socio-economic Development said that the FTA signing has provided Vietnam with an equal position on all aspects with member countries in the agreement and as a result, the country’s exports have seen remarkable improvements in turnover, products and markets year by year, except 2009 when the world suffered an economic crisis.

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Apparel enterprises have proved to be the best in capitalising on the country’s WTO membership to increase export earnings. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, apparel exports expanded 32 percent more than the 2006 figure to 7.8 billion USD in 2007, the year Vietnam joined the world’s largest trade organisation. The value then steadily rose to 9.1 billion USD on average in 2008 and 2009, the time when orders were trimmed down due to effects from the global financial crisis.

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The Vietnam National Cement Association reported that the country is expected to export 1.5 million tonnes of cement in 2011, an increase of 0.5 million tonnes from 2010. Nguyen Van Diep, an office manager of the Vietnam National Cement Association said that this year Vietnam will put additional 12 cement plats into operation, with a total capacity of 10.18 million tonnes. This will bring the total production output of the cement sector to nearly 60 million tonnes in 2011.

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Feb 3 (Reuters) - Blossoming trade between Brazil and China has brought benefits to both economies but also caused increasing strains as Brazilian manufacturers struggle to compete with a wave of Chinese imports. Here are some facts about trade between the two fast-growing emerging market economies. * Just three commodities -- iron ore, soy and crude oil -- account for more than three-quarters of Brazil's exports to China. Overall, raw materials accounted for about 84 percent of Brazilian exports in 2010, up from 79 percent the year before.

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The coffee price on the Central Highland provinces reached VND40,200 per kilogram on February 4, up VND1,000 compared to the days before Tet and a record price for recent years. The price of robusta coffee in the London market was US$2,239 per tonne on February 3, the highest since the beginning of this year, and this made the world coffee market hotter. In Vietnam, coffee buying and purchasing were delayed because farmers are taking time off for the Tet holiday. This impacted the coffee exchange in London and partly contributed to raising the price.

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The United States on Friday rejected a Mexican government proposal to break the deadlock in long-stalled world trade talks, saying it failed to achieve the amount of new market opening needed for a deal. Trade ministers agreed last week to push for an outline deal in the decade-old talks by July, and instruct their negotiators at World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva to make the necessary compromises to reach an agreement.

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