ASEAN Update: South China Sea Claims In Focus During ASEAN-China Meeting

ASEAN Update | June 23, 2016
Authors: Anthony Nelson, Matt Solomon, Mario Masaya, Dewi Ali, and Anthony Reyes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

The Council is leading its annual business mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting August 3-5. For more information on joining the delegation, please contact Anthony Nelson at anelson@usasean.org 

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

South China Sea Claims In Focus During ASEAN-China Meeting
Concerns over territory in the South China Sea dominated a meeting between ASEAN Foreign Ministers and China’s Foreign Minister held June 14 in Kunming, China. The meeting was intended to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue and address broader issues in the relationship, but with a resolution expected relatively soon in the Philippines submission to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, there was a need to jointly agree with China on how ASEAN would respond to the ruling. ASEAN members do not all see eye to eye on overlapping claims in the South China Sea, a conflict which has been borne out in circumstances such as the infamous failure to issue a communique after meeting in Cambodia in 2012. At the ASEAN-China meeting, ASEAN countries initially intended to issue a joint communique expressing concern over Chinese behavior, before China’s efforts at compromise led to the initial statement being pulled back. Ultimately, the meeting ended without agreement, but the pulled back statement went further than previous communiques in expressing “serious concern” over recent developments in the South China Sea. This issue is likely to remain front and center at more ASEAN meetings this year, particularly once the Hague decision is reached.   

ASEAN Open Skies Agreement Takes Flight
The ASEAN Open Skies framework achieved full ratification on April 15, 2016. The agreement is a series of multilateral agreements liberalizing the regional aviation industry. The framework works to integrate the air transport sector through freeing up the flows of goods and people, facilitating efficiency, reducing transaction costs, and liberalizing market access. The aviation sector for ASEAN nations has experienced tremendous growth, with the period from 2009-2013 seeing a double-digit increasing in airplane passenger capacity. Regional low-cost carriers such as Air Asia also grew to control more than half of the market share within that same period and are likely to be large beneficiaries of the Open Skies framework though enhanced quality, a higher volume of flight, and competitive pricing for passengers, trade, and freight service. This is largely due to the geography of ASEAN, in which most popular routes are typically less than two hours long and serviced by regional carriers. The agreements, which create nearly unlimited capacity for aviation, include the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on the Full Liberalization of Air Freight Services (MAFLAFS) the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on Air Services (MAAS) and the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on the Full Liberalization of Passenger Air Services (MAFLPAS). There is, however, a concern that the regional aviation infrastructure needs to be updated in order to absorb the forthcoming market growth. Congestion and traffic in key airports in Bangkok, Manila, and Jakarta, reflect the growing need for terminals to be developed greater. This creation of a more united external policy enhances international commerce from other countries and regional blocs. The framework is a fundamental step towards the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASAM) which is a much more ambitious plan to enhance regional market growth figuring into the larger economic blueprint from the ASEAN Economic Community, launched in December of 2015.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Multilateral Trade Agreements
Next round of RCEP negotiations in New Zealand from June 12
Asia Trade Deal RCEP Will Undercut Farmers’ Control Over Seeds - IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Regional Affairs
Mekong countries share land governance experience
The human challenges of an ASEAN Community
Clear agreement for Asean to tackle haze
Asean Members Walk Back Statement on South China Sea
ASEAN ministers express 'serious concerns' over South China Sea
Former ASEAN Chief urges equal focus on socio-cultural pillar of regional integration - ...
Why ASEAN must pay more attention to the Mekong Delta
Aireen: Asean market is not saturated
Timor-Leste Keen To Become Full-fledged ASEAN Member
Filipino marketers seek to promote Asean brand
Indonesia suggests minimum wage to protect Asean workers
Asean, Southeast Asia are growing apart
IPOs Start to Flow Again in Southeast Asia
Late To The ASEAN Game, Putin Pitches Energy and Arms
Brunei reiterates support for ASEAN 5-year work plan
Quicken pace, Asean told
+ Four key factors for Asean to realise full potential
Asean has reasons to be optimistic of its future, says Nazir
Japan urged to use Malaysia to tap into US$2.5 trillion Asean economy -
Break down barriers hindering Asean Economic Community, urges Najib.
WEF on Asean set to raise Malaysia's global profile
China asks the Philippines to quit UN arbitration, talk
Removing non-tariff barriers a priority of ASEAN Economic Community 2025 Blueprint: Lim Hng Kiang
+ ASEAN Open Skies a Reality

Customs
Australia backs India’s participation in ASEAN trade pact
Law firms use guile to expand in Asean
Have negotiations for RCEP – world’s largest trade bloc of which India will be a part – run into trouble?
ASEAN region sees favorable climate for plastics
Asean and Russia look to achieve their full potential
China and Asean Share Sea Port Information
AEC working on helping SMEs, removing non-tariff barriers: Lim Hng Kiang
The ASEAN Economic Community and What it means for Intellectual Property
UPS pushes end to Asean trade barriers
Future of Asia: ASEAN plans fresh wave of market liberalization-
Asean-Hong Kong FTA set to be finalised
Greater Mekong connectivity: the path to prosperity
Cambodia Hosts ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting

Defense & Security
Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia Agree on New Joint Patrols Amid Kidnappings
Prayut urges Asean to join force against security challenges
ASEAN defence ministers sign joint declaration to combat terrorism

Economics
ASEAN uses economic analysis to assess anti-competitive practices
Timor Leste and Asean nations up reforms, push for minimum wage: WEF forum
ASEAN SMEs Should Focus On R&D To Ramp Up Revenue - Ka Chuan
Help for SMEs as Asean economies integrate further
Break down barriers hindering Asean Economic Community, urges Najib
ASEAN makes courses and business information easy to be accessed by SME
Quicken pace, Asean told
Four key factors for Asean to realise full potential
Asean has reasons to be optimistic of its future, says Nazir
Japan urged to use Malaysia to tap into US$2.5 trillion Asean economy -
Break down barriers hindering Asean Economic Community, urges Najib.
WEF on Asean set to raise Malaysia's global profile

Energy
Why green growth is the key to Southeast Asia's future
Multilateral projects and renewable energy can address energy needs - Business News | The Star Online
‘Green building’ trend in Asean
Multilateral projects and renewable energy can address energy needs of ASEAN
Late To The ASEAN Game, Putin Pitches Energy and Arms

Financial Services
SE Asia stocks close higher ahead of US jobs data
ASEAN edges toward a more efficient monetary policy transmission

Food & Agriculture
Harmonisation of food standards to promote ASEAN trade
Global Halal food lacks unifying standards: Report
Southeast Asia drought takes a backseat at World Economic Forum ASEAN

Health & Life Sciences
Health groups appeal to RCEP negotiators to remove harmful IP proposals from discussions
Indonesian Medical Emergency Rescue Committee to build hospital in Myanmar

ICT
Rising to the global technology challenge
ASEAN countries should learn from the Philippines’ massive election data leak
South-east Asia must adapt to tech developments to avoid stifling changing regional economy: WEF Asean panel
ASEAN, Japan boost cyber security ties

Infrastructure
Grab announces new ride-sharing service between Singapore and Johor Baru
Infrastructure, skills holding back SEA government ICT adoption
China’s Silk Road ambitions hit speed bumps in S-E Asia
South Korea hopes to secure KL-S’pore HSR project, offers to share technology
AirAsia gets $1.4b offer for leasing company
China Bids for Key High-speed Rail Line in Southeast Asia

Manufacturing
Rooting Out Slave Labor: An Introduction to Sustainable Manufacturing in ASEAN
Southeast Asia stocks soft on China factory data

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

Next round of RCEP negotiations in New Zealand from June 12 The Economic Times 5th Jun 2016
The next round of negotiations for the proposed mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would begin from June 12 in Auckland. "This meeting is crucial and important as it would be followed by a ministerial meet which is scheduled in August. So the members need to work hard this time on all fronts including goods, services and investments, an official said. The one week long meeting is also likely to deliberate on the maximum level a member can eliminate duties on products, he added. India has decided to offer greater access to its market for Asean countries -- with which it has a free trade agreement in place -- and has proposed to eliminate duties or tariffs on 80 per cent of items for the 10-nation bloc under this proposed pact.

Asia Trade Deal RCEP Will Undercut Farmers’ Control Over Seeds - IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters In Depth News 24th May 2016
Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds. RCEP is being negotiated between the ten countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their six biggest trading partners in the region: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Regional Affairs

Mekong countries share land governance experience The Jakarta Post 22nd Jun 2016
Increasing security of land rights and transparency of land governance would contribute to government accountability, reduce costs for businesses and strengthen the climate for responsible investment in the Mekong region, a regional land forum in Hanoi was told Tuesday. The Mekong region land forum, the first of its kind in the region, is a platform for dialogue and information sharing on key land governance challenges affecting vulnerable groups, including small farmers, minority groups and women. The event, themed “Bringing land governance into ASEAN economic integration”, was held in the context of ASEAN economic integration, especially for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. In Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, land has always played a significant role as place of residence and source of livelihood, especially for those vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic minorities in remote areas and poor smallholding farmers seriously affected by inefficient land ownership mechanism and competing interests. Land governance is at the center of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where the governments are revising land policies and practices in order to face these challenges.

The human challenges of an ASEAN Community East Asia Forum 17th Jun 2016
As 2015 drew to a close, members of ASEAN announced the realisation of the ASEAN Community, although it shall remain a ‘work in progress’. The ASEAN Community idea sets a roadmap for continuing the work of regional integration over the next decade. The political, economic and social diversity of ASEAN member states acts as both boon and bane for regional integration. The flexibility built into ASEAN processes to accommodate this diversity has arguably given ASEAN a broader scope to assert its regional role. But the nature of this flexibility also limits the extent to which ASEAN can effectively deal with external influences.

Clear agreement for Asean to tackle haze The Straits Times 16th Jun 2016
Singapore's efforts to bring a director of an Indonesian company to court under its Transboundary Haze Pollution Act of 2014 has caused tensions between the two countries. Indonesia is reportedly embarrassed on grounds of a "derogation of sovereignty" and the blow dealt to its "national dignity" and "pride". At the heart of Indonesia's unhappiness are the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention, by which countries do not become involved in each other's business or problems. And yet, the sovereignty principle is anachronistic if applied to the hilt in the context of cooperation between states to prevent, for example, environmental degradation.

Asean Members Walk Back Statement on South China Sea Wall Street Journal 15th Jun 2016
Foreign ministers from Southeast Asia jointly voiced “serious concern” over rising tensions in the South China Sea, but their unusual show of unity against Beijing appeared to collapse just hours later as their statement was retracted. Their comments, distributed to media by Malaysia before the statement was withdrawn, came amid China’s diplomatic blitz to discredit a coming international legal ruling on territorial claims that is expected to deliver a setback for Beijing. In a Tuesday statement issued after a meeting with China’s foreign minister, top diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations urged respect for international law in resolving disputes, a thinly veiled swipe at Beijing’s refusal to accept the ruling from an arbitration tribunal in The Hague.

ASEAN ministers express 'serious concerns' over South China Sea Rappler 14th Jun 2016
Countries in Southeast Asia have "serious concerns" over recent events in the disputed South China Sea, an unusually strongly worded communique issued by their foreign ministers in China said Tuesday, June 14. In a rare diplomatic slap in the face for Beijing – issued on its own territory – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) offered a sharp rebuke over China's actions in the waterway. "We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea," its communique said without mentioning China by name. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea – a vast tract of water through which a huge chunk of global shipping passes.

Former ASEAN Chief urges equal focus on socio-cultural pillar of regional integration - ... E Turbo News 9th Jun 2016
Former Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Dr. Surin Pitsuwan called on the ASEAN tourism industry to pay equal attention to the socio-cultural pillar of ASEAN integration, and not just over-focus on its economic impact. Dr. Surin delivered the keynote speech on the subject of “ASEAN Brand – Stronger Together” at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion 2016 (TTM+ 2016), which opened today at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC). He noted that ASEAN’s 10 member countries were a “tapestry of contrasts” comprising the largest Muslim country (Indonesia), the largest Catholic country (the Philippines) and the four contiguous Buddhist countries (Thailand, Myanmar, Lao PDR. and Cambodia).

Why ASEAN must pay more attention to the Mekong Delta The Jakarta Post 9th Jun 2016
The recent diplomatic spat between Indonesia and Singapore over the city-state’s effort to prosecute an Indonesian businessman for his alleged involvement in the haze last year was a frank reminder of the devastating impact man-made disasters can have on the region. Yet while the regional haze — considered the worst since 1997 — attracted most of the headlines around the world, another man-made disaster has struck the ASEAN region virtually almost under the radar: the Mekong Delta drought. The great Mekong River — which from its source in the Tibetan plateau of China passes through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before flowing out to the South China Sea — is at its lowest level in a century after experiencing its worst dry spell in 90 years. Experts suggest a combination of the stronger than-normal El Niño weather pattern, climate change and, most worryingly, the construction of dams along Mekong River, are responsible for this disaster.

Aireen: Asean market is not saturated The Star 9th Jun 2016
AirAsia, which flies to almost all major destinations in Asean, says the market remains attractive for more routes and it is a matter of having the right platform and to create demand. “There is potential for more connectivity as well as frequencies” its chief executive officer, Aireen Omar, said when asked if Asean is saturated. AirAsia flies to almost all the major cities in the 10-member nation bloc and some second- and third-tier cities in the region. “There is potential for expansion in the second- as well as third-tier cities but it all depends on how the open sky policy will turn out and the implementation of Asean Economic Community,” Aireen told Bernama recently. Hence, the economic impact of such initiatives is important to create both demand for new routes in the region as well as frequencies, she said, citing the positive effect of the open sky policy on the aviation sector in Europe.

Timor-Leste Keen To Become Full-fledged ASEAN Member Malaysian Digest 7th Jun 2016
Rui Maria de AraujoKUALA LUMPUR -- Timor-Leste is keen to become a full-fledged member of the ASEAN bloc, which upon completion of economic assessments, will see its entry as the 11th member. Timor-Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo said the country has been through the assessments in the the last five years, with the secretariat now having the final report. "We expect that the next ASEAN meeting in Laos will discuss the results of the assessments after which we will know when Timor-Leste will be formally accepted into the group," he told Bernama on the sidelines of the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN 2016 here. Timor-Leste formally applied to be a member of ASEAN in 2011 after holding observer status for several years, with some member states, including Malaysia, already voicing support for its entry.

Filipino marketers seek to promote Asean brand The Standard 4th Jun 2016
The country’s group of marketing professionals hopes to promote the Asean brand, which refers to the products and services of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the regional trade bloc that includes the Philippines. The Philippine Marketing Association hopes to make the Asean Economic Community its launch pad to innovate marketing strategies and facilitate the promotion of Asean products and services around the globe. “There are challenges especially in marketing Philippine brands and we intend to address these challenges. The Philippines is not the only country in Asean that wants to seize opportunities presented in the global market. We will collaborate with other Asean nations to make this happen,” says PMA executive vice president Germaine Reyes.

Indonesia suggests minimum wage to protect Asean workers The Star 4th Jun 2016
Indonesia will propose that a minimum wage be set for workers in South-East Asian countries at the next Asean manpower ministers meeting in an effort to protect employees in the region.Vice-president Jusuf Kalla introduced the idea amid concerns over a lack of protection for nationals of Asean member states. “Vietnam very much supports what I have said about the need for Asean countries to protect their citizens from exploitation,” Kalla was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency on Thursday. He said other Asean member countries had expressed interest in pushing for a minimum wage for workers in the region.

Asean, Southeast Asia are growing apart Bangkok Post 3rd Jun 2016
Nearly five decades after the formation of its regional organisation known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Southeast Asia as a region faces issues and challenges that hark back to its geographic and conceptual coalescence in the post-colonial period after World War II. So rich in diversity and thus so difficult to cultivate and harness a common identity and organisational coherence and thrust, Southeast Asia is an unnatural region. It was initially conceived by external powers but later rationalised into its own entity by resident governments, characterised by divergent regime types and a motley multitude of religions, ethnicities, languages and historical pathways. On the map, Southeast Asia is divided by the South China Sea into two halves straddling mainland and maritime states. As a region compared to others, Southeast Asia is congenitally unwieldy and untidy.

IPOs Start to Flow Again in Southeast Asia WSJ 3rd Jun 2016
In Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, in industries from real estate and cement to power generation, companies are looking to raise nearly $1.5 billion. They are encouraged as global markets begin to regain lost ground—the MSCI Southeast Asia Index is up 4.1% for the year—and investor risk appetite picks up, sentiment buoyed by factors that include signs of an oil-price recovery and positive U.S. economic data.

Late To The ASEAN Game, Putin Pitches Energy and Arms Forbes 1st Jun 2016
Overshadowed by President Obama’s trip to Vietnam and Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a multilateral summit recognizing the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership at the seaside resort of Sochi on May 19-20. This was the first time the summit has been held in Russia; the first was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and the second in Hanoi in 2010. With only three summits convened in eleven years and with mutual trade just $22.5 billion in 2014—Russia’s relationship with ASEAN is relatively insignificant. By comparison, ASEAN’s top ten trade partners are as follows: China ($350.5.5bn), Japan ($246.2bn), United States ($240.8bn), EU-28 ($206.8bn), ROK ($135bn), Taiwan ($108.3), Hong Kong ($93.4bn), Australia ($68bn) and India ($67.9bn).

Brunei reiterates support for ASEAN 5-year work plan The Brunei Times 2nd Jun 2016
Brunei will play a major role in supporting the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under the ASEAN five year work plan, the Deputy Minister of Education said yesterday. Pg Dato Paduka Hj Bahrom Pg Hj Bahar, who was speaking on behalf of the Minister of Education at the opening of the TVET International Conference 2016, said that Brunei will undertake major roles in the ASEAN five-year Work Plan (2016-2020) under its fourth sub-goal of “supporting the development of the TVET sector as well as lifelong learning in the region”

Quicken pace, Asean told The Star 2nd Jun 2016
Asean needs a complete transformation to achieve its potential and speed up the pace to be one of the brightest stars of the Asian century.

Four key factors for Asean to realise full potential The Star 2nd Jun 2016
Asean has great prospects given its huge combined market, favourable demographics and natural resources endowment, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said.

Asean has reasons to be optimistic of its future, says Nazir NST Online 1st Jun 2016
Asean has every reason to be optimistic of its future. However, each of its governments needs to integrate to realise their potential, said CIMB Group Holdings Chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak. He said the great Asean potential would be driven by four key factors, namely execution within the countries, embracing technology, global reform and geopolitical issues.

Japan urged to use Malaysia to tap into US$2.5 trillion Asean economy - NST Online 1st Jun 2016
Malaysia can serve as Japan's gateway to the US$2.5 trillion Asean economy, with its strategic geographical location and sound business policies. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Japan could leverage on Malaysia's investor-friendly policies and benefit immensely through investments in the region. Asean, with a 620 million population, he added, could be developed into a regional hub for Japan's various industries.

Break down barriers hindering Asean Economic Community, urges Najib. NST Online 1st Jun 2016
The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will never reach its true potential if barriers hindering it are not tackled, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Asean today, Najib stressed on the importance on focusing on what AEC can achieve and setting its course in attaining the goal.

WEF on Asean set to raise Malaysia's global profile NST Online 1st Jun 2016
The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Asean 2016 today promises to raise Malaysia’s international profile, underpinned by its growth track record and the successful launch of the regional single market of Asean Economic Community (AEC).

China asks the Philippines to quit UN arbitration, talk MSN 9th Jun 2016
China has asked the Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw the arbitration at a UN tribunal and return to bilateral dialogue to settle the territorial disputes over the strategic South China Sea. The Philippines should stop its arbitral proceedings and return to the right track of settling relevant disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) through bilateral negotiation with China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday. The ministry also issued a statement saying the dispute over the SCS should be settled through negotiations. The door is always open to bilateral negotiation, the statement said and asked Manila to stop turning its back on its agreement to settle disputes through negotiation and end the arbitral proceedings it had initiated against China. The Chinese comments came as the Philippines has brought a case at an international tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) at The Hague contesting China's claims over almost all of the South China Sea. China boycotted the tribunal, likely to deliver verdict this month, saying it will not recognise the judgement. Beijing expects the verdict to go against it.

Removing non-tariff barriers a priority of ASEAN Economic Community 2025 Blueprint: Lim Hng Kiang Channel NewsAsia 31st May 2016
Helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reap the benefits of regional integration, removing non-tariff barriers, driving new businesses and encouraging sustainable growth are the key priorities under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2025 Blueprint. Speaking at ASEAN Conference 2016 on Tuesday (May 31), Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang outlined efforts that the economic grouping will focus on to implement outstanding measures and to deepen cross border relations. He said upcoming initiatives like the ASEAN Single Window and Self Certification Scheme will enable faster clearance and help reduce transaction time and costs for businesses. Mr Lim also cited non-tariff barriers that ASEAN will seek to eliminate, ranging from cumbersome import licensing procedures to other import and export requirements, so that “businesses can operate in a transparent, stable and predictable environment”. The minister added that the AEC 2025 Blueprint will also address new areas relevant to the needs of modern business, and will look for ways to facilitate e-commerce and other emerging trends in manufacturing. As of end-December 2015, ASEAN completed 93 per cent of high priority measures in the AEC 2015 Blueprint, said Mr Lim. Work to implement the rest of AEC 2015 Blueprint measures will continue this year, he added. The ASEAN Economic Community brings together a market worth over US$2.6 trillion, and the region has a population of more than 622 million people.

ASEAN Open Skies a Reality ASEAN Secretariat News 15th April 2016
ASEAN reached another significant milestone in its on-going ASEAN Community building process, with the realisation of open skies for the ASEAN market through the full ratification of the ASEAN open skies agreements. In line with the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015, the air transport sector in the ASEAN region, which is widely recognised as the very basis of the ASEAN economic development and integration given its integral function in the movement of goods and people, has increasingly become an important mode to provide greater support in binding the ASEAN Member States and in building the ASEAN Economic Community that is so vital for the future of the ASEAN peoples.

Customs

Australia backs India’s participation in ASEAN trade pact Tribune India 7th Jun 2016
Australian High Commissioner Harinder Sidhu today said Australia supports India’s growing participation in the economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. The High Commissioner said Australia is keen to work with India to achieve a sufficiently ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) outcome. RCEP negotiations involve the 10 ASEAN members and ASEAN’s six FTA partners, which include India and Australia.

Law firms use guile to expand in Asean Financial Times 6th Jun 2016
Over the past five decades, East Asia’s growth has been aided by a range of factors — key among them reductions in trade barriers and strengthening of the rule of law. Through what the World Bank called “the East Asian miracle” between 1965 and 1990 and beyond, many of the region’s economies succeeded in attracting foreign investment, reduced tariffs and took other measures to boost capital flows. But while most areas of business have opened up, one notable exception is legal services. Lawyers facilitating cross-border deals have not been subject to the same level of local deregulation as their clients. This has not stopped many lawyers prospering. Alan Hodgart, a London-based professional services consultant, predicts Asia-Pacific will become the world’s second largest regional legal market behind North America by 2018 — increasing from $109bn revenues in 2012 to $215bn. This runs alongside the World Bank’s prediction that GDP growth in East Asia will continue at more than 6 per cent a year to 2018.

Have negotiations for RCEP – world’s largest trade bloc of which India will be a part – run into trouble? The Financial Express 3rd Jun 2016
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an initiative to link the ten ASEAN member states and the group’s free trade agreement (FTA) partners—Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. In total, the grouping of 16 nations includes more than 3 billion people, has a combined GDP of $17 trillion, and accounts for about 40% of world trade. RCEP is the largest FTA negotiation in Asia, and also the one with the biggest membership, largest scale and widest influences that India has ever participated in. If negotiated successfully, RCEP would create the world’s largest trading bloc and have major implications for Asian countries and the global economy. Negotiations among the 16 parties began in early 2013 and are scheduled to conclude by the end of 2016. So far, 12 rounds of negotiations have been completed, with the 13th round scheduled to take place during June 12-18 in Auckland.

ASEAN region sees favorable climate for plastics Plastics News 2nd Jun 2016
The plastics industry in Southeast Asia remains strong, thanks to a growing middle class, weakening of most currencies against the U.S. dollar and new trade agreements. Messe Düsseldorf, the organizer of the K 2016 trade show in Germany, recently took a closer look at the market. Members of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) community, which comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, have a combined population of more than 600 million and a combined GDP of US$2.6 trillion.

Asean and Russia look to achieve their full potential The Straits Times 1st Jun 2016
On May 19 and 20, President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the 10 Asean members met in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to take stock of 20 years of dialogue relations. At the summit, they also unveiled a blueprint to strengthen and deepen ties over the next five years, and held a series of bilateral meetings. So are Russia and Asean on the threshold of a new, more substantive and comprehensive relationship? Maybe, but it will take time and effort, especially by Russia. On balance, Moscow needs South-east Asia more than the region needs Russia.

China and Asean Share Sea Port Information Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia | 1st Jun 2016
The People’s Republic of China and Asean member states last week officially launched a logistics information center based in Qinzhou Port in China’s Guangxi Beibu Gulf to promote regional maritime trade and share information on their port cities. Ly Shaolan, deputy mayor and chief director of Pan-Beibu Gulf Office in Qinzhou, said at the launching ceremony that the China – Asean Port Logistics Information Center will help improve the exchange of port information and also provide support for regional economic and trading activities. The China-ASEAN Port Logistics Information Center is a key sub-project of the China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network that was launched at the China – Asean Business and Investment Summit in 2013.

AEC working on helping SMEs, removing non-tariff barriers: Lim Hng Kiang The Straits Times 31st May 2016
Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang outlined on Tuesday (May 31) the work being done by the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in three key areas under its 2025 agenda. They comprise helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit regional integration, removing non-tariff barriers and facilitating news ways of doing business. Speaking at the Asean Conference 2016, Mr Lim said the AEC 2025 Blueprint also seeks to encourage sustainable growth through the use of green technology and energy; to foster productivity growth through innovation, technology and human resource development; and to intensfy cooperation in research and development that is designed for commercial application.

The ASEAN Economic Community and What it means for Intellectual Property ASEAN Business News 31st May 2016
In 2015,  the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was officially fully established. In some ways similar to the economic unity of the EU, the broad aims of the AEC are to develop (1) a single market and production base, (2) a region of more equitable economic development, and (3) a globally integrated economic region. To achieve these, trade barriers will be removed or reduced and standards across a number of sectors (i.e. cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and medical devices) will be harmonized.

UPS pushes end to Asean trade barriers Bangkok Post 30th May 2016
United Parcel Service (UPS) is calling for removal of trade restrictions among Asean countries to boost economic growth in the region. The global logistics provider is also urging Thai companies to take advantage of the easing of US customs policy. Jim O'Gara, president for South Asia at UPS Asia-Pacific, said the region is one of the company's growing markets with a high volume of business activities it could tap.

Future of Asia: ASEAN plans fresh wave of market liberalization- Nikkei Asian Review 30th May 2016
The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are working on further steps to ensure the free flow of goods and services within the region and with the rest of the world, following the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of last year. ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh on Monday said the integration scheme had helped the region liberalize its markets, as evidenced by the "virtual" elimination of tariffs on goods traded among the ASEAN member states. "But tariff elimination is only part of the equation towards market liberalization," Minh told the 22nd International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo. "Efforts will be geared more towards implementing trade facilitative measures and addressing nontariff measures." Among these measures, Minh said, is the introduction of the ASEAN Single Window, which, once fully established, will create a single point of entry for "seamless exchange of electronically transmitted trade-related documents," significantly reducing the time and cost for import and export transactions.

Asean-Hong Kong FTA set to be finalised The Nation 30th May 2016
Ronnarong Phoolpipat, deputy director-general to the Trade Negotiations Department, is leading the Thai negotiation team and co-chairing the seventh Asean-Hong Kong Trade Negotiating Committee and related meetings in Hong Kong that started yesterday and concludes on Thursday. This step is crucial, as there will be only one more meeting in August.

Greater Mekong connectivity: the path to prosperity The Nation 27th May 2016
Driven by international trade, foreign direct investment, and global and regional production networks, economic integration in the GreaterMekong subregion [GMS] has strengthened at a pace faster than expected. Over the past decade, the share of intra-regional trade within the GMS to total trade volumes has doubled to stand at around 8 per cent. This is why I truly believe that the GMS will continue to be an ideal choice for regional and global investors, and Thailand stands ready to connect businesses wishing to benefit from this vibrant subregion. While trade and investment are definitely major aspects of regional connectivity, the integration that has shaped the GMS takes more diverse forms, which profoundly influence each other, including, physical infrastructure, people-to-people, and financial connectivity. To promote regional connectivity on a sustained basis, it is vital that we strive to strengthen all these key aspects by joining forces of both the government and the private sector. Let me now address each of them one by one.

Cambodia Hosts ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting Agence Kampuchea Presse 26th May 2016
Cambodia has been hosting the 25th Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs taking place at Hotel Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra here in Phnom Penh. Key focus of the gathering is to discuss the progress of the implementation of ASEAN Strategic Plan of Customs Development as well as customs integration and harmonization works. Cambodia’s Senior Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Aun Porn Moniroth presided over the opening session of the three-day meeting, from May 25-27.

Defense & Security

Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia Agree on New Joint Patrols Amid Kidnappings The Diplomat 20th Jun 2016
Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines agreed Thursday to conduct coordinated maritime patrols as part of a broader plan to tackle rising security challenges in the waters bordering the three countries. At a trilateral “2 + 2” meeting of their foreign ministers and military chiefs held in the central Java town of Yogyakarta, the Southeast Asian states agreed to have joint patrols in their surrounding waters. They also said they would set up crisis centers within their countries as well as a hotline between them to ensure speedy communication during maritime emergencies.

Prayut urges Asean to join force against security challenges The Nation 4th Jun 2016
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Friday night urged Asean nations to join hands to tackle regional security challenges. Prayut made the call as part of his a keynote address during an opening ceremony of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue 15th Asia Security Summit in Singapore. He urged Asean to adhere to strategic new equilibrium and addressed regional security challenges such as terrorism and extremism, cyber security, irregular migration, climate change, South China Sea dispute and tension in Korean peninsula.Prayut also reiterated a reason the junta needed to perform the 2014 coup as a necessary step in transition toward sustainable democracy.

ASEAN defence ministers sign joint declaration on combating terrorism Channel NewsAsia 25th May 2016
ASEAN defence ministers on Wednesday (May 25) signed a joint declaration after the 10th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) in Vientiane, Laos, laying out common commitments and goals for defence cooperation and regional security. According to a news release by Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), the joint declaration "underscored the ADMM’s resolve to cooperate internationally and regionally to combat the transnational threat of terrorism, as well as its commitment to (practise) and observe international protocols such as the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES)." MINDEF said that during the ADMM, the ministers discussed regional security issues and commended the good progress in practical cooperation under the ambit of the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus, which includes the ASEAN countries and eight "Plus" countries - Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US. There was "strong commitment to enhance cooperation to address the terrorist threat as well as prevent terrorism and violent extremism from gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia," MINDEF added.

Economics

ASEAN uses economic analysis to assess anti-competitive practices ASEAN Secretariat News 6th Jun 2016
A Regional Workshop on Economic Analysis for Competition Law Enforcement was held on 1-2 June in Putrajaya, Malaysia to discuss the role and scope of economic analysis within the context of Competition Policy and Law (CPL). The workshop serves to highlight the significance of economic analysis in the context of enforcing competition law by focusing on assessing abuse of dominance and collusive practices in public procurement. Extensive deliberations were made on the importance of competitive public procurement procedures and economic strategies to ensure a fair procurement process in order to prevent and detect bid-rigging. Experts and ASEAN participants discussed how to incentivize competitive behavior, assess the likelihood of collusion, as well as identify and investigate suspicious bidding/winning or pricing patterns.

Timor Leste and Asean nations up reforms, push for minimum wage: WEF forum New Strait Times 2nd Jun 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: Timor Leste, which is eyeing the 11th place in the Asean grouping, has embarked on numerous reforms to accelerate the level of private investments into the country. Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo said they range from regulatory reforms to enable the public administration respond to the demands of the business investing community. Land reforms are also underway as the country focuses on areas of high priority namely tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors. "In terms of inclusiveness, we are post conflict country hence our priority is to secure peace and stability." He was speaking at a panel discussion "Shaping the Asean agenda for inclusion and growth" which was also attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Its economic development over the past decade has been mostly driven by public investments.

ASEAN SMEs Should Focus On R&D To Ramp Up Revenue - Ka Chuan Malaysian Digest 2nd Jun 2016
ASEAN companies, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), should beef up their research and development (R&D) efforts in order to achieve higher revenues, said International Trade and Industry Minister II, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan. Using robotics technologies alone is not enough, he said, citing countries like China, the US and Korea, which have advanced R&D capabilities. "We have the supply chain so let’s just work together. Advancement in R&D is crucial as it could smoothen things up and increase revenue in the long term," he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2016 here today.

Help for SMEs as Asean economies integrate further The Straits Times 1st Jun 2016
Asean will aim to implement outstanding measures in the AEC 2025 blueprint, including a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), non-tariff barriers, and modern business needs, in the next decade. Asean members agreed on this yesterday when they presented an update on progress towards achieving a fully integrated Asean Economic Community (AEC). The blueprint is a set of broad directions adopted at the 27th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur last November. It aims to integrate the Asean economies by 2025. Singapore Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang spoke at the Asean Conference 2016 at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday. He updated members of the conference on the AEC's key achievements since last November. He said the Asean-6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) have eliminated import duties.

Break down barriers hindering Asean Economic Community, urges Najib NST Online 1st Jun 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will never reach its true potential if barriers hindering it are not tackled, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Asean today, Najib stressed on the importance on focusing on what AEC can achieve and setting its course in attaining the goal. "We need to find efficient ways of ensuring we recognise each others’ documentation whether it is for pharmaceutical products, professional certificates or port entry requirements. "When we talk about the bright future that Asean could have, these are the kind of issues that have to be tackled in order for us to reach that horizon. They are complex, detailed and require an extraordinary amount of coordination.

ASEAN makes courses and business information easy to be accessed by SME ASEAN Secretariat News 31st May 2016
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in Southeast Asia are set to benefit from the ASEAN SME On-line Academy which offers courses and business information for MSME accessible through computers, smart phones, and tablets. The Academy was launched today on the sidelines of the inaugural ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSME (ACCMSME) meeting hosted by SPRING Singapore. “The launch of the Academy supports ASEAN’s efforts to strengthen the development of ASEAN MSMEs through training materials that will contribute to knowledge enhancement and uplift MSMEs’ capacity and capability in doing business in the Community,” said Dr Wimonkan Kosumas, Deputy Director-General of the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP), Thailand, speaking at the launch.

Energy

Why green growth is the key to Southeast Asia's future Eco-Business 9th Jun 2016
Multiple environmental crises facing the planet today such as climate change and dwindling resources send a clear message to the global community: “Business-as-usual” ways of production and consumption are no longer acceptable.  The good news is, there is no shortage of ideas to halt global warming and conserve resources. Frequently-cited solutions include replacing oil, coal, and gas with renewable wind, solar, and hydropower; integrating more public transport into cities; and reducing the private sector’s carbon footprint. Delivering these solutions, however, will require massive investments in new technologies and infrastructure, as well as policy measures which promote efficient, low-carbon practices. The idea of a green economy, heavily focused on the business case for sustainability, has amassed a large following among private and public sector leaders in recent years. Green growth is a strategy with universal advantages, but economic experts note that Southeast Asia is an especially promising candidate to reap its benefits. The rapidly modernising region is expected to grow at a robust rate of 5.2 per cent between 2016 and 2020, according the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Historically, much of Southeast Asia’s growth has placed less focus on environmental protection, thus depleting natural ecosystems such as forests and oceans. This has resulted in consequences like widespread deforestation, air pollution, and water scarcity. But, says the OECD in a recent report, much of the region’s infrastructure and industrial models are developing, and it has “a golden opportunity to leapfrog over the low-performing, polluting, resource-inefficient technologies and practices of more developed countries”.

Multilateral projects and renewable energy can address energy needs - Business News | The Star Online The Star Online 3rd Jun 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: Multilateral projects and renewable energy can be the way forward in addressing the energy needs of the Asean region. Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Loo Took Gee said currently, four Asean countries, namely Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are discussing multilateral projects to transfer electricity from Laos to Singapore. “The value of such a project can be seen in terms of optimisation of the use of energy resources in the region. If it is cheaper to buy, why build the power plant?” she said yesterday. A panelist at the forum, she said the success of the project could attract other Asean members to participate, thus creating an electricity trading market within the regional grouping. Loo said that apart from multilateral projects, renewable energy could also play an important part as a decentralised system in bringing electricity to people in isolated areas. She said to attract funding for such projects, Asean needed to come up with policies that provide certainty to investors as well as harmonisation of the regulatory framework which currently differed from one country to another. “Investors want to ensure their investments yield necessary returns,” she added. – Bernama

‘Green building’ trend in Asean The Nation 2nd Jun 2016
“GREEN BUILDING” is the trend among residential and commercial property development in Asean, according to experts. "When we decided to build our first head-office building, Pearl Bangkok, in Soi Ari two years ago, we designed the project under green concepts by applying to be [recognised for] an energy-saving-building concept with a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design or LEED certificate," Pruksa Real Estate co-chief executive officer Thongma Vijitphongpun said in an interview with The Nation. Meanwhile, Sansiri's latest luxury condominium, 98 Wireless, is the first condo project in Thailand to apply for a Silver LEED certificate. Sansiri president Srettha Thavisin said the project was designed to comply with global energy-saving standards. Currently, Thailand has 42 LEED-certified projects. They include the SCG 100th Year Building, Park Venture Ecoplex, Sathorn Square, HSBC Green Library, and KBank Training Centre. The green architecture concept includes energy saving, water saving, low waste in the construction process along with a system to manage waste in the building after the project is complete, and low pollution. Meanwhile, other Asean countries are also concerned about the environment and designing their buildings under the green concept.

Multilateral projects and renewable energy can address energy needs of ASEAN Astro Aswani 2nd Jun 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: Multilateral projects and renewable energy can be the way forward in addressing the energy needs of the ASEAN region. Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water Secretary-General Datuk Loo Took Gee said currently, four ASEAN countries, namely Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are discussing multilateral projects to transfer electricity from Laos to Singapore. "The value of such a project can be seen in terms of optimisation of the use of energy resources in the region. If it is cheaper to buy, why build the power plant?" she told Bernama on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2016 here today. A panelist at the forum, she said the success of the project can attract other ASEAN members to participate, thus creating an electricity trading market within the regional grouping. Loo said apart from multilateral projects, renewable energy could also play an important part as a decentralised system in bringing electricity to people in isolated areas.

Late To The ASEAN Game, Putin Pitches Energy and Arms Forbes 1st Jun 2016
Overshadowed by President Obama’s trip to Vietnam and Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a multilateral summit recognizing the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership at the seaside resort of Sochi on May 19-20. This was the first time the summit has been held in Russia; the first was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and the second in Hanoi in 2010. With only three summits convened in eleven years and with mutual trade just $22.5 billion in 2014—Russia’s relationship with ASEAN is relatively insignificant. By comparison, ASEAN’s top ten trade partners are as follows: China ($350.5.5bn), Japan ($246.2bn), United States ($240.8bn), EU-28 ($206.8bn), ROK ($135bn), Taiwan ($108.3), Hong Kong ($93.4bn), Australia ($68bn) and India ($67.9bn). Squeezed between Western sanctions over Ukraine, Russia is looking for new markets and alternative sources of capital and technology while pursuing a hedging strategy in response to uncertainty over China’s growing power and influence. Driven by these geopolitical and geoeconomic considerations, Russia is seeking to develop its long neglected ties with Southeast Asian countries on a bilateral basis as well as multilaterally with ASEAN. This time around, Putin is pushing for ASEAN to upgrade its relationship with Russia from “dialogue partner” to “strategic partnership.” Indeed, the Sochi Declaration was subtitled “Moving Towards a Strategic Partnership for Mutual Benefit.” For the Kremlin, this is a matter of national prestige since Russia is the only member of ADMM-Plus (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States) that does not have at least a nominally “strategic partnership” with ASEAN.

Financial Services

SE Asia stocks close higher ahead of US jobs data Bangkok Post 3rd Jun 2016
Southeast Asian stocks closed higher on Friday, as investors braced for US jobs data due later in the day for cues on a possible interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech on Monday would also indicate whether the central bank would raise rates at its policy-setting meeting on June 14-15. "With the release of US jobs data few hours away, we now see a trend where investors turn hopeful ahead of any market-moving data," said Chung Chiang Shiao, an analyst with DBS Vickers Securities (Singapore). Markets expect US employment data due at 7.30pm in Thailand to show a non-farm payroll increase of about 164,000 and 0.2% rise in average wage earnings in May. "We'd have to wait and watch until the release of the data to understand whether the current rise is sustainable. Although hopeful, investor sentiment will remain subdued until stocks re-open for trading on Monday," he said. Singapore's Straits Times Index notched a second straight session of gains, with oil and gas stocks leading the rise. Indonesian shares closed 0.4% higher, rising 0.8% this week. Malaysian stocks extended gains into a third straight session, after data released earlier in the day showed Malaysia's exports in April grew 1.6% from a year earlier on higher shipments of manufactured goods and palm oil. Philippine stocks recovered from the previous session's losses and posted a weekly gain of 1.4%. Bucking the trend, Vietnam shares closed 0.2% lower, but posted a weekly gain of 2.3%. 

ASEAN edges toward a more efficient monetary policy transmission EconoTimes 25th May 2016
The Association of South-East Asian Nations is edging towards an efficient monetary policy transmission with more central banks exercising restraint in cutting policy rates despite ample space created by weakness in greenback and structurally lowers oil prices. Further, central banks appear to be aware of the traditional policy transmission impairment and have taken the necessary remedial actions, including a broader consideration of monetary policy beyond a single policy rate, reports by ANZ confirmed.

Food & Agriculture

Harmonisation of food standards to promote ASEAN trade The Brunei Times 16th Jun 2016
ASEAN’s harmonisation of food standards should not deter less developed countries from competing in the intra-ASEAN food trade, a representative from the ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance said recently. “ASEAN has the foresight that allows these less developed countries to come up to the level of more developed ASEAN nations by providing capacity development to these countries,” said Dr Siti N Abdul Malek, director at the AFBA secretariat. The AFBA is a non-profit body comprising of national associations in Southeast Asia that are involved in the manufacturing, distribution and sale of food and beverage products which aims for regional representation of the industry. The organisation is working to harmonise regional standards in food trade through common measures and mutual recognition.

Global Halal food lacks unifying standards: Report The Brunei Times 8th Jun 2016
Regulation of Halal Foods in the global market face significant gaps, including lack of mutual recognition and a lack of unifying standards, according to a report. The report entitled ‘Resolving the current inefficiencies in the global regulation of Halal Food’ published in April, said that the global halal food market is estimated at over US$800 billion in 2015 and is demonstrating a clear demand for a well-regulated industry that is seeing increasing participation from the mainstream food companies and a high dependence of OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries on meat and live animal imports from non-OIC countries.

Southeast Asia drought takes a backseat at World Economic Forum ASEAN CNBC 31st May 2016
Southeast Asia is suffering from the worst drought in more than 50 years but the issue looks set to fall off the agenda at a key meeting of the region's political and financial leaders this week. The two-day World Economic Forum (WEF) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicks off in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, with heads of state from various ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia slated to attend. "Tackling the impact of drought in Southeast Asia is not on the WEF agenda and needs to be addressed at ASEAN ministerial meetings to galvanize an ASEAN policy response," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Global Insight, in an e-mail to CNBC.

Health & Life Sciences

Health groups appeal to RCEP negotiators to remove harmful IP proposals from discussions Pharmabiz 15th Jun 2016
Even as negotiators from 16 countries have gathered in Auckland, New Zealand for the 13th round of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other health organisations have appealed for the removal of alarming intellectual property proposals tabled by Japan and South Korea that will go beyond what international trade rules require, and would undermine access to affordable generic medicines. These harmful intellectual property provisions could potentially raise treatment costs by creating new forms of monopolies and delay the entry of affordable generics in the market. If the intellectual property provisions proposed by Japan and South Korea are accepted, these health groups fear, the access to essential medicines will be restricted for millions of people across Asia and the world who rely on life-saving affordable generics made in India. RCEP is a regional trade agreement being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP countries are home to nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population, including the most impoverished, vulnerable and marginalised communities living in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Indonesian Medical Emergency Rescue Committee to build hospital in Myanmar Antara News 14th Jun 2016
Jakarta - A humanitarian organization, Indonesia Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MERC), will join hands with the Indonesian Buddhist Representatives (Walubi) organization to build a hospital in Mrauk-U, Rakhine state, Myanmar. "The hospital will be built through a collaboration between Muslims and Buddhists of Indonesia. The vice president has appreciated the plan, and there will be a meeting with Walubi to discuss technical issues," the Chairman of the Presidium of the MERC, Dr. Sarbini Abdul Murab, said here on Monday. According to Sarbini, Vice President Jusuf Kalla has asked the Walubi leader, Hartati Murdaya, to facilitate the meeting in the next two days. Sarbini remarked that the construction of the hospital in Rakhine would serve as an example that people of different religions can coexist in harmony and peace, just as in Indonesia. The MERC has purchased a plot of land in Mrauk-U and has the support of the Rakhine government. The construction would cost about Rp20-30 billion.

ICT

Rising to the global technology challenge NST Online 14th Jun 2016
The Asean Economic Community, launched in Malaysia last year, has positioned the region of 10 countries as a dynamic marketplace with the potential to be a global production hub. But rapid technology changes threaten to be disruptive to their industries, the region and its position as the seventh largest economy in the world, unless it “masters” the opportunities that come its way, according to the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) on Asean. The event also marked the 25th anniversary of the WEF. The meeting provided a platform for 600 business, government and non-governmental organisation (NGO) leaders, including young leaders who are part of the WEF’s Community of Global Shapers, to engage in frank exchange on the challenges for the civil society throughout the region, including human rights and freedom of expression. With 65 per cent of the 630 million population in Asean younger than 35, technology adoption has been faster than anticipated. Take newly-opened Myanmar for instance, a success story of how the country leapfrogged 15 years of digital adoption in 15 months, garnering 15 million customers.

ASEAN countries should learn from the Philippines’ massive election data leak Asian Correspondent 13th Jun 2016
The massive data hack that took place before the Philippines’ national election has raised security concerns in the region, especially among malware-prone member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The colossal personal data leak involving 55 million registered voters in April had threatened to paralyze the polls, prompting the country’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) to engage foreign cybersecurity experts to ensure the integrity and security of the polling results, and to prevent a recurrence of such attacks. The leaked data included voters’ names, birthdays, home addresses, email, parents’ full names and, in some cases, passport details and text markers of fingerprints. The hacking compromised the personal information of 1.3 million registered overseas Filipino voters along with the fingerprints of 15.8 million other voters, exposing them to identity theft.

South-east Asia must adapt to tech developments to avoid stifling changing regional economy: WEF Asean panel The Straits Times 1st Jun 2016
The WEF on the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) commenced with speakers urging quick solutions by parties involved and by tapping into the business opportunities that come from the changing technological landscape. They urged openness and voiced concern over traditional players stifling change by quashing new ventures or technologies. "Regulators and policymakers are still in the old world whereas the world is already in the new world. We have a tendency to over regulate, control and kill some of the innovative ideas," said Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia's former trade minister.

ASEAN, Japan boost cyber security ties Vietnamnet 23rd May 2016
Deputy minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Hung said that the workshop on information safety between ASEAN and Japan will enhance and strengthen the relationship between the two. Hung made the remark at the second workshop on information safety held by the Viet Nam Ministry of Information and Communications and Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Co-ordination Centre in Ha Noi on Wednesday. Hung told participants that at the 15th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting held in Viet Nam in 2015, ASEAN ICT ministers reached a consensus of a comprehensive plan of information technology from 2016 to 2020. In addition, the ministers identified information security and safety as one of the strategic missions of the master plan for ITC during the term. The deputy minister said that with the increasingly important role of ITC in the digital economy, ASEAN countries and Japan should co-operate closely to achieve common goals and interest. He said this workshop was also an opportunity for experts from ASEAN and Japan to exchange views, share experiences and promote the formation of co-operative mechanisms for a more secure network environment for each country and for the whole region.

Infrastructure

Grab announces new ride-sharing service between Singapore and Johor Baru The Straits Times 13th Jun 2016
SINGAPORE - Commuters travelling between Singapore and Johor Baru can soon make use of a new cross-border ride-sharing service. The GrabHitch Johor Baru-Singapore Inter-Country Service will be available from next Monday (June 20), Grab said in a media release on Monday (June 13). Passengers, who can pre-book rides between seven days and 30 minutes in advance, will be matched with drivers based on similar pick-up and drop-off locations. Fares are aimed at offsetting the driver's cost of petrol, and rides will be charged in the currency of the country from which the passenger starts his trip.

Infrastructure, skills holding back SEA government ICT adoption ZDNet 8th Jun 2016
Inadequate ICT infrastructure and the lack of skills are among the biggest barriers governments in Southeast Asia face when it comes to the adoption of new technology. Some 46 percent of respondents from the government sector pointed to staff ability and skills as the top obstacle in the adoption of ICT in the public sector, according to a survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Commissioned by Microsoft, the study polled 150 senior managers each from the public sector and the private technology sector. A further 37 percent of government respondents cited funding and affordability as a barrier, while 36 percent pointed to organisational ICT infrastructure such as bandwidth, speed, and connectivity. Inadequate ICT infrastructure was deemed a bigger problem in some countries than in others, according to the report. In Singapore, for instance, only 12 percent of respondents highlighted this as a concern, while 58 percent of their counterparts in Indonesia and 55 percent in the Philippines thought likewise. This was due, in part, to "the uneven development of affordable broadband infrastructure", which facilitated faster delivery of advanced services such as e-health and e-education, the report said, noting that "first-mile" broadband infrastructure in Indonesia, for instance, was expected to reach all the country's regions by end-2016.

China’s Silk Road ambitions hit speed bumps in S-E Asia TODAYonline 6th Jun 2016
The ambitious plan to build land, sea and air routes reaching across the continent and beyond was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the aim of boosting trade by US$2.5 trillion in the next decade. As China’s economic growth slows, Beijing is encouraging its companies to win new markets overseas. But across the South-east Asia border, China is facing the most complex and possibly most significant obstacles to its ambitions, as its neighbours protest what they say are excessive Chinese demands and unfavourable financing conditions. They have resisted Chinese demands for the rights to develop the land either side of the railway. Beijing says turning a profit on land development would make the rest of the project more commercially viable and allow it to make a greater upfront financial commitment. Myanmar, in addition, had environmental concerns and cancelled its part of the project in 2014. For China, South-east Asia’s concerns are “going to be the first significant hurdle as they implement One Belt, One Road”, said Mr Peter Cai, a research fellow at Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.

South Korea hopes to secure KL-S’pore HSR project, offers to share technology TODAY Newspaper 2nd Jun 2016
South Korea will be presenting the most suitable project cost and planning in direct talks with the Malaysian government in an effort to secure the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project. It will also be offering technology transfer by mid-June, said its Minister of Land Infrastructure and Transportation Kang Ho-in. Having experience in HSR implementation, he said South Korea was willing to share its technology with other developing countries. Mr Kang, who is expected to lead the delegation to Malaysia, hopes that South Korea would be able to promote its prove expertise in the area to the Malaysian government, and work within the project’s budget. The South Korean government has organised a consortium to work on the HSR bid and it includes Korea Railroad Corp, Korea Land & Housing Corp, Korea Rail Network Authority (KRNA), top construction companies of South Korea and South Korean maker of HSR trains, Hyundai Rotem Company. Meanwhile, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Korea Rail Network Authority Kang Yeong Il said South Korea’s ambition to win the HSR project remained positive, despite reports that China was looking ever more likely to secure it.

AirAsia gets $1.4b offer for leasing company The Straits Times 31st May 2016
AirAsia, the region's biggest discount carrier, has received an offer of about US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) to buy its aircraft-leasing company amid a surge in the business on the continent. The carrier's shares rose yesterday to their highest level in more than a year. The airline intends to divest the business at some point, group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes told Bloomberg Television in an interview. The offer for Asia Aviation Capital, the leasing company that is fully owned by AirAsia, needs to be discussed further with the board, Mr Fernandes said, declining to offer further details. "We actually had an offer to buy it and I think this is a very powerful cash generator," he said. "At some point, we will divest in this asset. There's tremendous value and cash equation there."

China Bids for Key High-speed Rail Line in Southeast Asia CRI English 26th May 2016
China is bidding for a high-speed railway in Southeast Asia as the country is eyeing the third key high rail projects overseas after the Jakarta-Bandung and Moscow-Kazan high speed rail. This comes as Sheng Guangzu, general manager of China Railway Corporation, wrapped up a three-day visit to Malaysia on Wednesday to promote the bid for a high-speed rail link connecting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Led by China Railway Corp, the Chinese consortium also includes China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, China Railway Construction and China Railway Signal & Communication Corp. Members of the consortium are discussing details on how to carry out the project. Sheng also brushed off concerns over the safety on China's high-speed railways, citing a research by International Union of Railways (UIC) that put China's railways with one of the best safety track records worldwide. A source from China Railway was also quoted as saying that the Chinese consortium is getting an upper hand, given its relatively low construction costs and its appealing investment plans. The construction of the 350-kilometer railway, the first high-speed rail project in Southeast Asia, is estimated to cost 74.5 billion yuan ($11.3 billion).

Manufacturing

Rooting Out Slave Labor: An Introduction to Sustainable Manufacturing in ASEAN ASEAN Business News 18th Jun 2016
Though more companies than ever are making strides to manage and improve the image of their operations, the constant appetite for cost reduction exposes supply chains to the reputational risk of worker exploitation. With some of the world’s most cost competitive hubs, ASEAN and its regional competitors offer a diverse array of labor conditions. Investors choosing ASEAN as a means of gaining an edge over competitors must therefore be cautious of where they choose to commit capital and the characteristics of the markets in which these investments are made. Of the nearly 21 million people in the world today trapped under forced labor, 56 percent reside in the Asia-Pacific Region. Forced labor refers to any work people are forced to do against their will, including bonded labor, child labor, and all slave practices. Today it is tied closely to construction, manufacturing and agriculture, with 68 percent of forced laborers working in these industries.

Southeast Asia stocks soft on China factory data Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2016
Most Southeast Asian stock markets remained subdued on Wednesday as investors were cautious after China's manufacturing activity showed signs of steadying in May, but remained weak amid soft demand at home and abroad. China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was unchanged from April at 50.1 last month, suggesting the world's second-largest economy is still struggling to regain traction. Investors are also keenly watching for US non-farm payrolls data that is due on Friday and is expected to show the economy created 164,000 jobs in May.