Australia, ASEAN agree to start regional infrastructure cooperation Thomson Reuters 19th Mar 2018
Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed during a weekend summit in Sydney to establish a regional infrastructure pipeline, Australia’s foreign minister said, as the bloc seeks to balance rising Chinese influence. The project “will develop a pipeline of high-quality infrastructure projects, to attract private and public investment”, according to a statement from Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued on Sunday.
Australia challenges China on infrastructure Financial Review 20th Mar 2018
Australia has taken the first step in joining Japan, India and the US in creating an infrastructure body to counter the rising influence of China's multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.The government used a meeting of regional leaders in Sydney to quietly unveil the so-called "ASEAN-Australia Infrastructure Co-operation Initiative", which aims to channel private and public money into projects across the region.At the conclusion of the three-day summit focused on terrorism and trade, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there were "no protectionists around the table" and hailed the 10-member ASEAN group as the region's "strategic convenor".In a weekend of high diplomacy for the Prime Minister, it emerged Australia and Indonesia were hopeful of concluding a free trade deal by the end of this year, while a new regional deal is also working to a similar timetable. "It's a security and stability question in south-east Asia which will affect all ASEAN countries if it goes wrong," he told a joint press conference with Mr Turnbull."This is an issue which we can manage, which we can help to prevent from escalating, but it is not an issue which can, in a definitive way, be solved in any short period of time."On the Rohingya crisis, Mr Lee acknowledged the bloc's impotence in bringing an end to violence and persecution after Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi briefed leaders during a lengthy discussion on Sunday."It is a concern to all ASEAN countries and yet ASEAN is not able to intervene and force an outcome," Mr Lee said.
Why Cambodia's beach town Sihanoukville could be the region's next big tourist hub Southeast Asia Globe Magazine 27th Mar 2018
The beach town of Sihanoukville has great tourism potential, but industry experts say proper planning and infrastructure must come first. “I think Sihanoukville will be the biggest city in Cambodia in 20 years,” says Christophe Forsinetti, chief operating officer for real estate investment firm JSM Indochina. “Look: available land, cheap labour, cheap construction costs, an international airport, Chinese proximity and even the rest of Asia. I mean, that’s a no-brainer.” The beachside town has the potential to be the next Cancun – a Mexican tourism hub for travellers from around the world that was once an impoverished and unsafe town filled with marshes and mosquitoes before it was transformed by development, he says. If it’s designed and developed with intent, Sihanoukville could be the equivalent destination for travellers from East Asia seeking a temperate climate on holiday.
Belt and Road could bring risks for Cambodia debt Phnom Penh Post 27th Mar 2018
China’s financing of Belt and Road Initiative projects in Cambodia could lead to increased debt distress, according to a recent analysis, though the Kingdom’s low overall debt makes it unlikely to default in the near future. According to a policy paper released by the Center for Global Development, Cambodia will likely see a significant rise in debt to China as a result of the Belt and Road Initiative. At the end of 2016, Cambodia’s total public and publicly guaranteed debt was $6.5 billion, a relatively low percent of the country’s $20 billion GDP. About half of that $6.5 billion debt was owed to China, according to the report. Miguel Chanco, lead Southeast Asia analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), noted that the report was accurate regarding the risks to Cambodia, but also said any prediction of future debt levels was complicated by the overall lack of transparency of BRI projects.
The Indonesian Tourism Industry: A Bright Future and Opportunities for Australia Future Directions International 22nd Mar 2018
The tourism industry is a major economic driver for Indonesia. In 2016, foreign exchange earnings from tourism totalled $16.3 billion. When indirect and induced incomes from travel and tourism are included (such as investment spending and spending by employees), that figure increases to $72.4 billion, or approximately 6.2 per cent of GDP in 2016. This level ranks Indonesia’s tourism industry as the twenty-second largest in the world, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. It is larger than the average tourism industry in South-East Asia, but smaller than those of Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. Strong growth is expected for the Indonesian industry, with indirect and induced incomes predicted to reach $141.3 billion annually by 2027, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council report. The Indonesian Government, however, may be too optimistic in its growth projections. In 2016, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya claimed that he wishes to double the number of international visitors coming to Indonesia to total over twenty million by 2019. Yahya has made similar ambitious claims before. In 2014, he told Reuters that he wished to double the number of Chinese visitors by 2016, but, in reality, the number grew by only 45.6%; although that is still an impressive figure.
Plans on track for commercial development at Khonphapheng waterfall Vientiane Times 26th Mar 2018
Preparations for a vast development around one of Laos’ most stunning sights – the Khonphapheng waterfall on the Mekong River in Champassak province – are going ahead as planned. The massive cascade is the largest in South-East Asia and lies about 80km from the provincial capital Pakxe, not far from the Cambodian border. It is a popular tourist attraction. Now provincial authorities and a Chinese company are setting up the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and officials are discussing various issues with the Chinese firm to find common ground before a concession agreement can be signed.
Xayaboury-Luang Prabang road upgrade over 70 percent complete Vientiane Times 26th Mar 2018
The upgrade of National Road No. 4B running from Hongsa district in Xayaboury province to Chomphet district in Luang Prabang province is currently more than 70 percent complete and is on track to be finished at the end of this year. Project head for the first section of the upgrade, Mr Sengchan Khongsavan, told Vientiane Times last week that work was taking place over a total distance of 114km. The upgrade is taking place over two sections and he was in charge of the first section of 42km from Napong village to Phousamphan mountain in Hongsa district.
Rural development on target NST Online 2nd Apr 2018
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised, in 2013, to transform rural areas in Malaysia. This was to raise the standard of living of the rural communities so that they were on a par with the urban people, he had said then. In the Barisan Nasional’s manifesto for the 2013 general election, the government announced pledges, including plans to build the Pan-Borneo Highway, West Coast Expressway and rural roads. These would be complemented with supply of clean water, electricity and high-speed broadband. Five years later, the government has met the objectives of building world-class infrastructure and transforming the rural landscape. Within that period, the Federal Government built 16,114km of tarred roads in rural areas, installed piped water for 131,969 houses and electricity in 60,473 houses. For the people in Sabah and Sarawak, they will enjoy better road networks through the implementation of the Pan-Borneo Highway, which is due to be completed in three years.
Development Co to Build New City West of Yangon River The Irrawaddy 2nd Apr 2018
The Yangon regional government has formed the New Yangon Development Co Ltd (NYDC) to build a new city west of the Yangon River that it said will be twice the size of Singapore. U Phyo Min Thein, the Yangon chief minister, introduced the company at The Lotte Hotel in Yangon on Saturday. The company is fully owned and managed by the Yangon government, said U Phyo Min Thein. “The regional government will take responsibility for the project in order to reduce red tape,” he said. “The area west of the Yangon River is less developed, and we’ll strive to develop it with this project. We will industrialize the area and create job opportunities,” he added. The main aim of the project is to provide around two million jobs, he said. The NYDC was established with capital of 10 billion kyats (US$7.5 million) from the development funds allotted by the Union government to regional and state governments, said chairperson of the NYDC and Yangon regional minister for electricity, industry and transportation Daw Nilar Kyaw.
AirAsia in Talks to Set Up Myanmar Airline The Irrawaddy 20th Mar 2018
Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia Bhd is in talks with a potential partner to open an airline serving Myanmar, in a move that would help the low-cost carrier cover up to 95 percent of the Southeast Asian travel market. In an interview with Reuters on Monday, the airline’s group chief executive said he also expected AirAsia’s Vietnam joint venture to be flying by October. AirAsia now has businesses in Malaysia — its home — along with India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Thailand, as well as plans to launch an airline in China. “Once you’ve covered Vietnam and Myanmar, you’ve got all the big [Southeast Asian] populations,” Fernandes said. “Vietnam, we’re talking about October. We’ve had great support from the Vietnam government and we have a great partner. My team is very bullish.”
NEDA body approves San Miguel's Bulacan airport, 8 other projects Rappler 3rd Apr 2018
San Miguel Corporation's P700-billion proposal to build, operate, and maintain an airport in Bulacan – along with 8 other infrastructure projects – has been approved by a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) body. Approved by the NEDA Investments Coordination Committee (ICC), among others, are the Bulacan airport, Subic-Clark Railway, bridges across the Pasig River, as well as the National Development Company (NDC) 25-hectare agro-industrial estate economic zone in Toril, Davao. NEDA Undersecretary for Investment Planning Rolando Tungpalan told reporters on Tuesday, April 3, that these 9 infrastructure projects, cumulatively worth P900 billion, will now be tabled for final approval by the NEDA Board, which is headed by President Rodrigo Duterte. Once approved by the NEDA Board, these infrastructure projects can now be implemented by their respective agencies. Unsolicited proposals, like the Bulacan airport, will undergo a Swiss challenge. This is when the government invites private groups to make competing offers, while giving the original proponent the right to match them.
More major infrastructure projects up for final OK BusinessWorld 4th Apr 2018
THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee approved more big-ticket projects on Wednesday last week, including San Miguel Corp.’s proposed airport in Bulacan, a senior official of the socioeconomic planning agency said on Tuesday. “Nine more projects have been approved in the ICC Cabinet, moving to the NEDA Board,” NEDA Undersecretary for Investment Programming Rolando G. Tungpalan said in a press briefing. “These nine projects add up to about P900 billion that are (part of) our big-ticket projects,” he added. “Last Wednesday, the new Bulacan airport and the joint venture project in the property in Davao to be converted into an agro-industrial complex [were approved].”
Consortium: Government needs an upgraded Naia to make inclusive growth a reality | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 3rd Apr 2018
UPGRADING and modernizing the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) could generate “inclusive and significant economic growth,” an official of Naia Consortium said on Tuesday, as it renews its pitch to develop the decades-old facility that is currently overutilized but underdeveloped. Naia Consortium Spokesman Jose Emmanuel P. Reverente said a more efficient airport can help drive a country’s GDP growth, citing a 2014 study conducted by Oxford Economics and the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
Gov't to lease retail, dining spaces at Metro Manila Subway stations Rappler 29th Mar 2018
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III says the revenues would help pay off Japan's loan for the construction of the subway. An underground shopping and dining experience will be part of the planned subway in Metro Manila. To help pay off the loan extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government will lease retail and dining spaces around the stations of the P356.96-billion Metro Manila Subway. Dominguez said in a statement on Sunday, March 25, that the retail concept will be similar to Japan's underground shopping experience, where shops and restaurants thrive around subway stations.
WTO members press PHL to relax procurement rules Business Mirror 28th Mar 2018
Several members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are pressuring the Philippines to harmonize its government procurement regime with multilateral trading rules by acceding to the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). According to documents obtained by the BusinessMirror from a Geneva-based trade official, some WTO members even told Manila that liberalizing the country’s government procurement rules will boost the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure program. The European Union, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States sent separate papers to the WTO calling on the Philippines to participate in the WTO’s GPA. Parties to the GPA must implement a national treatment and nondiscriminatory policy for suppliers with respect to procurement of covered goods, services and construction providers. It also details procedural requirements framed to ensure a transparent and competitive procurement process that does not have a bias against products, services and suppliers of other parties. On the other hand, developing and least-developed countries are allowed to avail themselves of special and differential treatments under the procurement deal.
NGCP joins hands with DPWH for nation’s growth | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 26th Mar 2018
THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to forge a partnership to align and expedite current and future projects. The MOU was signed by NGCP OIC, President and CEO Anthony L. Almeda and Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar on March 20. “As both the NGCP and DPWH are entities that spearhead nation-building and national economic growth through infrastructure projects, it is imperative we institutionalize our coordination efforts, align and synchronize our project planning and execution,” NGCP said. “With the signing of the MOU, transmission projects can co-locate with national highways, bridges and access-road projects of the DPWH,” the company added.
How Singapore is solving public sector challenges with innovative solutions from research institutes and the private sector | OpenGovAsia Open Gov Asia 3rd Apr 2018
Public sector innovation is a key aspect of Singapore’s Smart Nation journey. As government agencies seek to deliver better service and to improve the lives of citizens, they face a variety of challenges. These challenges could be addressed through technologies being developed by Research Institutes (RIs), Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and commercial entities. But how can the two be connected? The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)’s Innoleap Programme and Translational Research and Development for Application to Smart Nation (TRANS) Grant aim to bridge this gap and bring government agencies and the RIs, IHLs, and commercial entities together to tackle these problems.
Singapore is ranked first in Asia again and 25th globally for quality of living: Mercer survey Business Insider Singapore 20th Mar 2018
Singapore has retained its position as Asia’s highest ranking city when it comes to quality of living, according to global human resources consulting firm Mercer. Using data largely analysed between September and November 2017, Mercer’s 20th annual Quality of Living survey tracked and ranked 231 cities to enable multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. In Asia, Tokyo (50) and Kobe (50) were tied in second place while Yokohama 55) came in third. Seoul fell three places from 176 to 179 as a result of ongoing political instability while Tokyo fell from 47th place. Globally, Singapore was ranked 25th.
Singapore's improvements in livability are the ninth best in Asia Singapore Business Review 4th Apr 2018
Mercer’s 2018 Quality of Living survey revealed that in the span of 20 years, Singapore was able to its livability score by 4.7%, making it the ninth best grower in Asia. This improvement is important for companies when relocating their executives from one country another, the company revealed. Mercer global mobility practice leader in Asia Mario Ferraro told Singapore Business Review, “Singapore’s strengths in quality of living and infrastructure consistently outperform the other cities in Asia and these factors continue to be important considerations for companies when relocating executives from one country to another, as well as for determining hardship allowances that are fair and consistent,” he said.
Airport rail links get B112bn Bangkok Post 2nd Apr 2018
The government is committed to investing up to 111.9 billion baht in high-speed railways linking the three main airports -- Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao -- to serve the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said the new high-speed railway will be developed under the public-private partnership scheme, with the government paying the first 3.57 billion baht for land appropriation and the remaining 108.33 billion in 10 years after the trains begin operation.
Strong opposition to Pattani airport runway extension Bangkok Post 28th Mar 2018
PATTANI: Villagers are opposing plans to extend the runway at Pattani airport for another 1,100 metres, arguing it would cause major disruption to their communities - including schools and mosques. Residents said there was plenty of abandoned farmland in the area and the airport should be moved. They expressed their discontent when authorities called a meeting of residents of Moo 3, 5 and 6 villages in tambon Bo Thong of Nong Chik district on Tuesday to sound out their views on the expansion of the aviation facility, also known as “Bo Thong” airport.
Cabinet approves high-speed train project linking 3 main airports Bangkok Post 27th Mar 2018
The Cabinet on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a 200 billion baht high-speed train network connecting three international airports. Nattaporn Jatusripitak, an adviser to Prime Minister's Office, told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the terms of reference, defining what is to be achieved and how, will be drafted as soon as possible, following by a bidding process. He said the investment will be in the form of a public-private partnership, allowing the private sector to engage in the project in cooperation with whatever government agencies are in charge of it.
B300bn to lift average traffic speed by 2kph Bangkok Post 24th Mar 2018
The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) plans to invest nearly 300 billion baht to tackle traffic congestion in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces over the next 12 years. A total of 289 billion baht would be spent to finance 204 projects in the pipeline. These schemes are to be executed in three phases -- 2019-2021, 2022-2023, and 2024-2029 -- according to Chayatan Phromsorn, deputy OTP director. He said the 12-year plan is designed with a focus on urban development to increase the metropolitan area's capacity to handle traffic.
PM approves $921m infrastructure investment for economic, industrial zones vietnamnews.vn 2nd Apr 2018
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has given the green light for infrastructure development worth up to VNĐ21 trillion (US$921 million) for economic zones and industrial parks in the 2016-2020 period. The programme aims to develop comprehensive technical and social infrastructure for these areas, which will lay the foundation and create favourable conditions for calling and promoting large-scale investment projects. The plan comprises five components, including infrastructure investment for coastal economic zones, border gate economic zones, industrial parks and industrial clusters, hi-tech parks, and hi-tech agriculture zones.
Level infrastructure playing field for private sector: experts vietnamnews.vn 30th Mar 2018
Countries in the Greater Mekong region need billions of dollars to meet the increasing demand for infrastructure, but institutional barriers are stopping the private sector from investing. The region, consisting of Việt Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China – particularly the Yunnan Province and Guangxi Autonomous Region, is a young and developing region, Vietnamese Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể told economic experts, representatives of international organsisations and local and international businesses at a sideline conference on regional infrastructure and financing of the 6th Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Summit on Friday. “Apart from China or Thailand, other countries like Việt Nam are yet to modernise and fully develop their infrastructure,” he said.
Mechanical engineering sector to lift exports by 2020 VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 26th Mar 2018
Vietnam’s mechanical engineering industry is striving to apply advanced technology, produce high-quality products meeting international standards and join the global value chain by 2035. The targets were set out in a strategy approved by the Prime Minister for the industry’s development by 2025, with a vision to 2035. The industry will also focus on the efficient use of energy, maintaining competitiveness during international integration and establishing a disciplined, professional and qualified work force that is proactive in conducting research, designing products and manufacturing.
State dials up reforms of property market rules vietnamnews.vn 24th Mar 2018
The State will have breakthroughs in the reform of legal regulations and business investment conditions for the domestic real estate market this year, according to experts. The Ministry of Construction will prioritise completion of the reforms. Nguyễn Mạnh Khởi, deputy director of the Ministry of Construction’s Department of Housing Management and Real Estate Market, said this at a seminar on property business held by the Vneconomy newspaper and the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this week.
Investors interested in Vietnam’s commercial property VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 19th Mar 2018
Commercial property is attracting much interest from investors in Vietnam’s property market, which is still an attractive destination for foreign real estate firms. Real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) said hundreds of millions of US dollar is waiting to be poured into almost all segments of Vietnam’s property market, including housing, office, retail, hotels, and industrial zones. Investors are from many countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore. Country head of JLL Vietnam Stephen Wyatt said housing is usually the most attractive segment, but investors are switching their attention to commercial property, especially grade-A office projects with ideal locations and high growth potential.