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LEUVEN, BELGIUMNational Association of Manufacturers president John Engler today called for in-depth study of a “Transatlantic Free Trade Area” between either the European Union and the US, or the EU and the North American Free Trade Agreement nations.
 
In an address today to Voka, the Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Engler said that despite the rise of China, India and other emerging economies, the US and EU together account for 56% of Gross World Product. “This gives us tremendous clout, but also tremendous responsibility,” he said. “The time has come when we should give serious thought to the Transatlantic Free Trade Area.
 
“If we were to have such a huge free trade area, a real integrated transatlantic marketplace, it could well be a magnet for other countries wanting to join,” Engler said. “We could set a high standard for totally free and open trade and invite others if they agree to our high standard.”
 
Engler pointed out that one-third of tariffs on US exports to the world are paid to the EU, even though most rates are low. “A Transatlantic Free Trade Area could make a lot of sense,” Engler said. “In the US, we already have free trade with Canada and Mexico, and the EU already has a free trade agreement with Mexico. And, I understand the EU and Canada agreed at their Summit meeting last week in Montreal to launch negotiations on a Canada/EU free trade agreement.”
 
Engler emphasized the NAM continues to actively pursue an “ambitious, market-opening Doha round agreement,” but acknowledged little chance it will be achieved this year. “The reluctance of countries like India, China and to a lesser extent, Brazil, to contribute to a comprehensive, market-opening trade deal concerns me because they themselves are very substantial markets, and they are also increasingly substantial exporters.”
 
Engler said, “It has become more difficult for countries like the United States to accept this growing flow of products without reciprocity. We continue to feel that the (Doha) negotiations must achieve sufficient ambition in terms of improving market access for manufactured goods, especially in the fast-growing advanced developing countries.” He said it is still possible to overcome resistance through use of sectorals – negotiations focused on specific industrial sectors – “but we must get past agriculture.”
 
Engler said the NAM does not regard last summer’s failure of the July WTO Ministerial to be the end of the Doha Round or the death of the WTO. “The Kennedy Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in the 1960s took four years,” he said. “The Tokyo round took six years. The Uruguay Round of the ’80s and ’90s took eight years. No one should be surprised if the Doha Round – the most difficult yet – would take 10 years.”
 
“Rather than spell the WTO’s doom, as some might warn, a US – EU agreement could jog the rest of the world into realizing that they will be left behind unless they adopt a pro-liberalization attitude and press for quicker negotiations in the WTO,” Engler said.
 
As a first step to a possible Transatlantic FTR, Engler vowed to work with NAM’s European counterpart BUSINESSEUROPE and business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to review the concept carefully. He said NAM would also press European and US business leaders to actively consider negotiation of a Transatlantic Free Trade Area. “We must not allow a financial crisis or unfounded political accusations to frighten us into inaction,” he said. “Let’s instead find what benefit we can in these difficulties, including a renewed appreciation of manufacturing’s role in creating prosperity for our citizens.”
 
The full text of Engler’s address can be accessed at: http://www.nam.org/belgium.
TAIPEI -- Asustek Computer is forecasting a 77% jump in notebook production next year on higher demand for low-cost laptops.

The company hopes to ship some 20 million units next year. If so, it would make Asustek one of the world's four largest laptop makers, behind Dell, HP and Acer.

Asustek is forecast to ship 11.3 million notebooks this year. The figures include the ultra-low-cost line of PCs known as netbooks.

The overall notebook market is forecast to grow 20% next year.
SAN FRANCISCO – A Webinar on on how article manufacturers can comply with REACH requirements is coming Oct. 29.
 
While the majority of products, known as articles under REACH, will be exempt from registration, all articles imported into or manufactured and sold in the EU will be subject to disclosure requirements for certain substances that could be used in articles, says Design Chain Associates. These disclosure requirements are expected to begin this week or next.
 
Manufacturers producing for consumer markets should be especially concerned about these requirements since REACH permits any consumer to request information about certain substances in articles from any manufacturer, says the firm. The manufacturer is obligated to reply within 45 days.
 
DCA's 90-minute Webinar will address REACH concepts and timelines; what an article is; legal requirements for articles; candidate list for substances of very high concern, and related issues; what to do now to comply with REACH; ongoing issues and strategies to ensure continued compliance with REACH; strategies to prepare more broadly for environmental compliance and competition.
 
Visit http://www.reacheu.com for more information and to register.
SILVER SPRING, MD – The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative is offering a medical electronics forum on Nov. 14 in Silver Spring, MD.
 
This free event, hosted by the US Food and Drug Administration, will discuss requirements and recommendations developed for the electronics industry to ensure reliability of components used in medical products. 
 
Forum topics include existing and related standards and test methods; use conditions for life-critical medical components; test and extrapolation methodologies; sampling population assessment; range and conditions of applicability; test methodologies and criteria; medical grade guidelines; failure modes and effects analysis of MLCC failures, and accelerated life test methods to determine long-term leakage and breakdown failures of MLCCs.
 
Register by Oct. 31 at http://www.inemi.org/register.php?id=63.  
ARLINGTON, VA – Nearly 70% of electronics companies surveyed for a just-released Consumer Electronics Association study are actively recycling their products.

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ARLINGTON, VA – Consumer spending on electronics will grow 3.5% in the fourth quarter, down 50% year-over-year, the Consumer Electronics Association revealed in a report set to be released today.
 
Affected markets include video games, cameras, music players and laptops, the trade group said. The results are based on separate telephone and online surveys of 1,000 persons each, conducted in late September and early October, respectively. The margin of error is three points.
 
The problem is not one of interest but of economics, CEA said. “There’s still a desire for these products, but the intensity of that desire has declined somewhat in light of economic concerns,” said Tim Herbert, senior director for market research.
 
The studies forecast cellphone demand to grow 11%, A/V equipment (including TVs) 3.9%, and video games 5.6%. PC demand will drop 1%, CEA said.

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