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* Negotiators for nine nations working towards a Pacific-region trade pact made "significant progress" in areas including customs, telecommunications, cross-border services and government procurement, a US official said as the latest round of talks ended. Participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks will now seek approval from their governments in these areas, Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative's office, said Tuesday from San Diego, where discussions began July 2. Nations that join the talks must adhere to any agreements already established by the participants: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

* Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, the state-owned oil company known as PetroVietnam, said consolidated pretax profits rose to VND30.1 trillion (US$1.4 billion) in the first six months of the year. Consolidated revenue also increased 20 percent to VND203 trillion in the same period, PetroVietnam said in an e-mailed statement Monday. The Hanoi-based company said crude output reached 8.13 million tons, or 105.2 percent of its first-half target, and 13 percent higher than the same period last year, according to the statement.

* General Electric Co. signed two deals with Vietnamese companies on Tuesday. The US company will supply one steam turbine generator for Cong Thanh, a private Vietnamese company, for its 660-megawatt thermal power plant in the Nghi Son Economic Zone, in Thanh Hoa Province. GE will also work with the Vietnamese National Power Transmission Corp. to supply electricity transmission capacitors to the company in a three-phase project valued at $50 million. The capacitors are meant to help Vietnam increase energy efficiency and better regulate its national energy grid.

* Vietnam's exports of coffee fell 31 percent to 140,917 tons in June from a month earlier, according to a report posted on the General Customs Department website Wednesday. Exports in the first half of 2012 rose 20 percent to 1.05 million tons from a year earlier, according to the report.

* The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association (VAMA) said auto sales fell 24 percent year-on-year in June to 5,858 units. Vietnamese carmaker Truong Hai and Toyota led domestic sales among 18 manufacturers in the country. The Transport Ministry said it would take several more years before a fee aimed at limiting personal vehicles and cutting down on traffic congestion could be imposed. VAMA had said earlier it had sought government approval to quash the plan for imposing such a fee, which had affected car sales.

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