$3b loan for Vietnam

HANOI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Friday it plans to provide Vietnam with three billion dollars in assistance from next year to 2009 if the communist country maintains its economic reform course. ADB country director Ayumi Konishi said concerns remain in some areas, including anti-corruption efforts and the pace of equitising state-run enterprises and reforming the financial sector. “Our ambitious assistance plan really reflects our expectations and our hope that the government will address all these concerns in a satisfactory manner,” Konishi told a Hanoi media briefing.— AFP

Crude prices stabilise

LONDON: World oil prices steadied on Friday as scepticism set in about the OPEC cartel’s comments on a possible emergency meeting to consider production cuts, dealers said. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, eased one cent to 60.02 dollars per barrel in electronic deals before the official opening of the US market. In London, Brent North Sea crude for November delivery firmed eight cents to 60.08 dollars per barrel in electronic trading. — AFP

Rates to rise in EU

PARIS: European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said Friday he did not want to change the market’s expectations that the key eurozone interest rate would rise to 3.50 per cent by the end of the year. The ECB on Thursday raised its key interest rates, increasing the

minimum bid rate on its main refinancing operations from 3.00 per cent to 3.25 per cent, the highest level in five years. —AFP

UK manufacturing up

LONDON: British manufacturing output climbed by 0.4 per cent in August compared with output the previous month. The Office for National Statistics revealed that manufacturing output, which excludes energy and mineral extraction, rose in August for the fourth month in a row. The ONS added that manufacturing output, which accounts for 14.7 per cent of economic activity, had risen 0.1 per cent in July, rather than by 0.2 per cent as initially announced. — AFP

Russia lifts beef ban

MOSCOW: Russia has lifted a ban on beef from two more states in Brazil, the world’s No 1 beef and chicken exporter, which went into effect in December after foot and mouth disease was detected in Brazilian cattle. A statement posted on the Agriculture Ministry’s Web site Thursday said that Russia - which is Brazil’s second-largest beef market after the European Union - had lifted a ban on raw beef and beef products from the states of Goias and Sao Paulo. Russia had earlier lifted a ban on imports from Rio Grande do Sul in April. — AP

Japan works for FTA

TOKYO: Japan said it will begin a sixth round of talks with Indonesia next week on a bilateral free trade agreement, aiming to overcome differences. The two Asian nations agreed last year to begin working towards the signing of a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which includes trade in goods and services, investment, movement of people and competition policies. The Japanese delegation for the talks in Tokyo from Tuesday to Friday will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka. — AFP