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US to Sign Trade Pact With ASEAN, Including Burma

The United States is to sign a trade and investment pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, later this month.

The pact is to include Burma.

ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong told the Associated Press that the deal will be signed in Malaysia. He says the pact will be an "arrangement" instead of an "agreement" so that it does not need U.S. Congressional approval.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Burma.

Also, Malaysian Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said Monday in Kuala Lumpur that Thailand said it will continue to impose import duties of 20-percent on automobiles from Malaysia because of opposition to a permit policy in Malaysia.

The Malaysian government gives permits to import cars only to ethnic Malays or ethnic Malay-owned companies. Malaysia, which says the policy is meant to help ethnic Malays, says it will phase out the permit system by 2010.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.