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Largest Indonesia Bank Posts Strong First-Half Profit - 2004-09-06


Bank Mandiri says its net profit surged 37 percent in the first six months of this year, compared with a year ago.

The Indonesian bank says its $330 million profit was a result of a sharp rise in lending, and gains from the sale of government bonds.

Julian Wee is an economist at Ideaglobal, a financial research firm. He says that although Bank Mandiri posted a strong first-half profit, it is not an indication that Indonesia has fully recovered from lingering effects of the financial crisis in the late 1990's.

"The main problem is investor confidence, the political turmoil of the financial crisis period. I think there's still concern there. Hopefully with the passing of this election, confidence might return and the recovery might continue," he said.

Later this month, Indonesians will elect a new president in the country's first direct presidential election.

In Manila, Tadao Chino, the president of the Asian Development Bank, says he will resign next year.

ADB spokesman, Tsukasa Maekawa, says Mr. Chino feels he has chosen a good time to leave. "He has helped to procure enough funds for very poor countries for the time being. He feels he's done a lot and thinks it's about time," he said.

The ADB helps developing countries in Asia fund infrastructure projects and other efforts to cut poverty.

India and Thailand aim to complete free trade negotiations by March, but have already started slashing duties on 82 of each other's products by 50 percent. Duties on these goods will be eliminated by 2006. They include auto components, iron and steel products, mangoes, grapes and wheat.

India says more products will be added to the list in the future as trade talks continue.

Thailand has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bayer Technology from Germany and Thai food firm ACG Group to study the feasibility of building a plant to produce biodiesel fuel using palm oil.

If built, the plant is expected to produce up to 300,000 liters of biodiesel a day - a fuel that would be two percent palm oil and 98 percent diesel.

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