Infrastructure Update: April 2, 2019

Infrastructure Update | April 1, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor and Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

April 9: Welcome Roundtable in Honor of H.E. Chum Sounry, Ambassador of Cambodia to the United States

April 11: Dinner in Honor of H.E. Mai Tien Dung, Minister & Chairman of the Office of the Government of Vietnam

April 18: Welcome Luncheon in Honor of H.E. Mahendra Siregar, Ambassador of Indonesia to the United States

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore and United States Sign MOU to Collaborate on Infrastructure Investments throughout Asia

On March 22, during the visit of Singapore Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing to Washington, DC, the Governments of Singapore and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly promote infrastructure development and investment in Asia. The aim of the MOU is to provide an alternative to two major initiatives that are also looking to mobilize capital to decrease emerging Asia’s infrastructure investment deficit--China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a trilateral partnership between the US, Australia and Japan. The MOU will foster a partnership between Singapore's recently launched Infrastructure Asia agency, which serves to connect investors and infrastructure projects in the region, and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which helps U.S. firms invest in emerging markets. These two agencies will spearhead the initiative for the United States and Singapore to collaborate on information sharing, deal facilitation and structuring, and capacity-building schemes in key industry sectors, such as energy, natural resource management, water, waste, transportation and urban development, according to a statement from the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Asian Development Bank estimates that over the next decade, ASEAN nations will require approximately US$210 billion per year, or 5.7 percent of their combined GDP, to address the region’s infrastructure needs by 2030. Signed just prior to the US-ASEAN Business Council’s high-level luncheon engagement with Minister Chan, the Council welcomes the MOU as a positive development for American companies looking to invest in the ASEAN infrastructure market. Please read our press release on Minister Chan’s visit and the MOU signing here to learn more.

ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee Makes Positive Progress in Implementing ASEAN Connectivity Masterplan 2025

On March 25-26, the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee meeting and the meeting of the Lead Implementing Body for Sustainable Infrastructure took place in Jakarta, Indonesia. The discussions centered around positive progress in carrying out the ASEAN Connectivity Masterplan 2025 (MPAC 2025), the full text of which can be accessed here. The MPAC 2025 had placed emphasis on enhancing five priority sectors: sustainable infrastructure, digital creativity, trade facilitation, transportation, and harmonization of technical standards. Based on these priorities, two studies have been commissioned, including the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanization Strategy (which can be accessed here) and the Study on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Participation in the Digital Economy in ASEAN (which can be accessed here). The meetings highlighted the need to popularize the key priorities and benefits of MPAC 2025 and attract higher participation from the private sector, partner countries, and financial institutions in the process. It was agreed that ASEAN member states will pool resources to establish a data center on connectivity for commercial use, which will serve as a framework to assess supply chain efficiency, promote e-tourism, and improve regional vocational. Furthermore, participants agreed to encourage the involvement of ASEAN specialized agencies in MPAC 2025 projects, enhance coordination in the implementation of MPAC 2025 projects, and support regional connectivity initiatives with partner countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

US-ASEAN Business Council Conducts Inaugural Post-ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting Roadshow to Manila, Jakarta, and Hanoi March 18-22

From March 18-22, the Council convened an inaugural Post-ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting Roadshow, bringing a business delegation to Manila, Jakarta, and Hanoi, as a follow-up to the Council-led business mission to the 24th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting in November 2018, where U.S. companies officially participated in and engaged with the ASEAN Ministers of Transport and Senior Transport Officials on priority infrastructure issues. The roadshow continued the 2018 Business Mission themes of High-Quality Infrastructure and Safety. The roadshow aims to serve as a useful platform to deepen public-private collaboration and enhance the ability of key change makers to meet their infrastructure goals. It concluded with definitive plans to deepen partnerships with the ASEAN Transport Ministers in the areas of high-quality infrastructure and safety, in which U.S. companies expressed interest in supporting ASEAN in the holistic implementation of safety across all phases of road transport and railway infrastructure projects. To learn more, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

Opportunities to Collaborate with Singapore’s Recently Launched Infrastructure Asia

Singapore’s Infrastructure Asia (www.infrastructureasia.org), recently launched and setup under Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, reached out to the Council for a meeting to explore possible areas of collaboration in the infrastructure development arena. They have an exciting agenda to work with local and international partners, both government agencies and private entities, in developing bankable infrastructure projects in the region. Members interested in offering ideas for collaboration can contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

Opportunity to Engage the ASEAN Multi-Sectoral Road Safety Working Group (MRSSWG)

The Council has reached out to the ASEAN Secretariat to join an existing working group on transport safety. In line with the ASEAN Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025 / Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan (KLTSP), which can be accessed here, transport safety is discussed within the context of the areas of land, maritime and air transport. For land transport the focus is on Road Safety (LT-5), for maritime transport the focus is in intensifying regional cooperation in improving transport safety (MT-6), and for air transport it is covered under AT-2 (advance safe skies in ASEAN). For railway transport, ASEAN’s focus is on completing the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (SKRL) Project, as covered in LT-1. Each of the transport sectors has its own working groups. For land transport, the ASEAN Multi-sectoral Road Safety Working Group (MRSSWG) handles road safety. To date, no private sector/business council has met with MRSSWG. However, depending on the focus and topics of discussion, the ASEAN Secretariat will check with the Chair of the MRSSWG on the possibility of our participation, if member companies are interested in such engagement. To express interest, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Cambodia
Property developer Creed plots own course in Cambodia
Experts: S Reap ‘next Sihanoukville’
Work begins on Cambodia’s first motorway, thanks to $2bn of Chinese funding
Government says ‘yes’ to Japan’s smart city initiative

Indonesia
Indonesia Offers China Investment Projects Worth $127 Billion, but with Strings Attached
Indonesia's first subway completed in Jakarta- News - - English
Indonesia Proposes 28 Major Infrastructure Projects as Part of Belt and Road
How Can Indonesia Take Advantage of the Belt and Road's Opportunities?
The future of renewable infrastructure is uncertain without good planning

Laos
China’s rail link to Laos is almost half done, on track to start in 2021

Malaysia
World Highways - Malaysia’s major motorway projects – part of infrastructure plans
Construction Market to grow at a CAGR of 6.69% in Malaysia by 2023 – OperaNewsNow
Malaysian agencies to invest in new construction tech
China to cut cost of Malaysia rail link by $3.2 billion. Is it enough?
MyIX invests RM2.5m in infrastructure upgrades
Mahathir warns Philippines about China loans

Myanmar
Construction in Myanmar-Key Trends and Opportunities to 2022 – Honest Businessman
Yangon’s ‘new city’ plan raises a billion-dollar question
Tourism, infrastructure collateral damage in Rakhine fighting

Philippines
Infrastructure maintenance matters too
China, Philippines Boost Economic Relations With New Infrastructure Projects
Philippines' infrastructure program "works in concert" with Belt and Road Initiative: finance secretary - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Philippines won’t fall into a debt trap, minister tells China
Philippine economic team flies to China for infrastructure projects
PH will disclose infra deals with China, Palace assures
Key meetings set in Beijing to nail down infrastructure funding | BusinessWorld
2nd runway to boost capacity of Clark airport

Singapore
Continued innovation the key to Singapore-US infrastructure tie-up
In search for more space, Singapore plans a move underground
Singapore, US ink deal on Asian infrastructure
Singapore, US to cooperate in promoting infrastructure development in Asia

Thailand
Somkid: EEC, SEC on track
Democrats tout 'premium' upgrade to Pattaya City
Airport rail pact 'needs fine-tuning'
E-train scheme sped up to counter jams
B417bn bill for water management
B79bn highway plan takes heavy flak from residents

Vietnam
5G crucial to Vietnam's development: deputy PM
Higher rate of return urged to lure foreign investment in infrastructure
CHINA Debt and inefficiencies come with Chinese infrastructural investments in Vietnam
Vietnam seeks new ways to attract private funds for infrastructure projects
Ho Chi Minh City: How Vietnam’s Emerging Megacity Will Develop
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Cambodia

Property developer Creed plots own course in Cambodia Nikkei Asian Review 18th Mar 2019
Toshihiko Muneyoshi, CEO of Japanese real estate developer Creed, leads a charmed life in Cambodia. His spacious home in northeastern Phnom Penh near the Mekong River -- purchased in 2012 for 60 million yen ($538,000) -- includes a 2-meter deep swimming pool and a live-in cook and chauffeur. The residence is often the destination of powerful business leaders on visits from Japan, with whom Muneyoshi shares insights on Cambodia and the region. Muneyoshi's home is not the only thing whose value is skyrocketing in Cambodia. The economy of the Southeast Asian country is also roaring, hitting 7.2% in 2015 and 7.0% in 2016 and 2017. "Broadly speaking, economic growth is affected by demographics," Muneyoshi said. "An economy keeps growing as long as the population keeps rising." Cambodia exemplifies Muneyoshi's theory: Its young and expanding population is the country's main growth driver. The population increased on average 1.6% annually from 2014 through 2016, marking one of the steepest growth rates in Asia. Though Cambodia is a growing market, investment strategies here differ from other countries in the region. For example, in Vietnam, Creed invested with An Gia Investment, a local property developer, to gain a foothold in the country. But this strategy does not work in Cambodia due to its still maturing economy. In other words, there are no suitable partners for Creed. Hence, the company has adopted a more hands-on approach, doing everything from training green recruits with no knowledge of the construction business to building condominiums and other residences without local contractors.

Experts: S Reap ‘next Sihanoukville’ Khmer Times 26th Mar 2019
Siem Reap has always been the main tourist hub of Cambodia. In recent years, however, southern Sihanoukville has been stealing the real estate spotlight. Chinese investment in the coastal province has fuelled the biggest property boom in the Kingdom’s history. Some say Templetown is set to follow a similar path. Others contend it will be more of a gradual process. Realestate.com.kh’s Ky Kosal spoke to four Siem Reap property experts to get their opinions.

Work begins on Cambodia’s first motorway, thanks to $2bn of Chinese funding GCR 25th Mar 2019
China Road and Bridge Corp has broken ground on Cambodia’s first-ever motorway, a $2bn four-lane link stretching 190km between Phnom Penh and the southwestern port city of Sihanoukville. China Road and Bridge signed a build-operate-transfer contract last year in which it undertook to meet all the costs of the project. The project will widen Cambodia’s busiest freight corridor, a chronically congested two-lane road. When complete in 2023, the journey is expected to be cut from five hours to two.

Government says ‘yes’ to Japan’s smart city initiative Khmer Times 25th Mar 2019
The government has agreed to a Japanese initiative that seeks to drive investment in the development of smart cities in the Kingdom. According to an announcement issued yesterday by the Ministry of Land Management, the government has agreed to a series of ‘smart city principles’ – which deal mostly with urban management and the use of IT to develop modern urban spaces – thus effectively joining the Public-Private Platform for Urban Development between Cambodia and Japan.

Indonesia

Indonesia Offers China Investment Projects Worth $127 Billion, but with Strings Attached Future Directions International 27th Mar 2019
In a meeting between government representatives on 20 March, the Indonesian Government reportedly offered China the opportunity to invest in 28 projects worth approximately IDR 1,287 trillion ($127.5 billion), as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking before the meeting, The Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, told the media that ‘out of those 28, we expect to reach a deal on at least two to three projects.’ The projects offered to China include ports, ore smelters, industrial estates, power plants and tourist sites, in the four provinces of North Sumatra, North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi and Bali.

Indonesia's first subway completed in Jakarta- News - - English NHK WORLD 24th Mar 2019
A ceremony to mark the completion of Indonesia's first subway was held in Jakarta on Sunday, one day before train services begin operation. The 16-kilometer line runs north to south through the center of the Indonesian capital. It is expected to ease congestion in Jakarta, which is said to have some of the worst traffic jams in the world. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a speech that the completion of the subway marks the start of a new culture in the country. A Japanese construction firm and an Indonesian company jointly built the state-of-the-art subway. The Japanese government provided a yen loan worth about 1.1 billion dollars.

Indonesia Proposes 28 Major Infrastructure Projects as Part of Belt and Road EIR 20th Mar 2019
The Indonesian government of Joko Widodo is meeting with Chinese investors today and tomorrow in Bali, where they are presenting 28 projects worth $91 billion, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the projects include seaports, industrial estates, power plants, smelters and tourism estates, according to the Jakarta Post. The timing of this proposal is critical. There is a national election on April 17, in which Widodo is being challenged by former Gen. Prabowo Subianto, the son of Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, the economist who built independent Indonesia with President Sukarno. The race is considered close. A major distinction between them is that Prabowo has adopted the neo-con hysteria against China and the Belt and Road. Widodo is thus focusing on the tremendous potential of big infrastructure projects in the BRI.

How Can Indonesia Take Advantage of the Belt and Road's Opportunities? The Diplomat 20th Mar 2019
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands as they attend the welcome ceremony at Yanqi Lake during the Belt and Road Forum, in Beijing, Monday, May 15, 2017. The BRI is a double-edged sword, how can Indonesia take advantage of the benefits and avoid the pitfalls? There have been reports stating that China’s trade and investments in Indonesia have grown and expanded noticeably since the initiation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. The BRI, which focuses on infrastructure projects as a reconstruction of the old Silk Road across Asia, Africa, and Europe, has led to expanding Chinese footholds worldwide. To date more than 60 countries — accounting for two-thirds of the world’s population — have signed on to BRI projects or indicated interest in doing so.

The future of renewable infrastructure is uncertain without good planning Phys.org 27th Mar 2019
This is the story for many such projects in the region, including solar-powered residential systems. Over and over again, the value of renewable energy investments is lost as the installations are left abandoned as the grid arrives. In Indonesia alone, more than 150 villages have abandoned mini-grid projects since late 2000s. While investing in fossil fuel-based energy has become riskier, there are also unique investment risks with small-scale renewable systems. In developing countries, in many sites relying on off-grid or mini-grid electricity, this infrastructure faces the risk of becoming a "stranded asset" —abandoned infrastructure that no longer holds value —which may work against efforts to limit climate change.

Laos

China’s rail link to Laos is almost half done, on track to start in 2021 South China Morning Post 21st Mar 2019
China’s railway line to Laos is almost half complete, putting it on schedule to begin service in December 2021, said the chief of Lao Railways. Trains on the line can travel at up to 160 km/h (100mph) said Lao Railways’ director general Somsana Ratsaphong. Tickets will start from US$20 a trip. The US$7 billion project is a showcase of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” for rebuilding infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road from China to Africa and Europe, which has garnered an estimated US$460 billion in investments since its inception in 2013. The Kunming-Vientiane link would eventually connect with a railway line to Bangkok, and southward along the Malay peninsula through to Singapore. The Chinese government will bankroll 70 per cent of the cost of the railway, while Laos – where subsistence agriculture makes up half of the economic output – pays for the remaining 30 per cent with loans from Chinese financial institutions. China was the biggest foreign investor in Laos as of 2016, having invested US$5.4 billion since 1989.

Malaysia

World Highways - Malaysia’s major motorway projects – part of infrastructure plans World Highways 27th Mar 2019
New transport infrastructure development plans for Malaysia include projects for three major motorway links. The Works Ministry has set a budget of nearly US$1.3 billion for 20 transport infrastructure projects during 2019. These include constructing three key road links; the Sarawak-Sabah link road, the Pan Borneo Highway, and the Central Spine Road (CSR). Improving Malaysia’s transport infrastructure is intended to help develop the economy by boosting trade, industry and tourism.

Construction Market to grow at a CAGR of 6.69% in Malaysia by 2023 – OperaNewsNow OperaNewsNow 27th Mar 2019
A new research document with title ‘Construction in Malaysia – Key Trends and Opportunities to 2023’  covering detailed analysis, Competitive landscape, forecast and strategies. The study covers geographic analysis that includes regions and important players/vendors. The report will help user gain market insights, future trends and growth prospects for forecast period 2023. In real terms, the Malaysian construction industry’s output grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.69% during the review period (2014-2018). Although output growth slowed in 2018, the general upward trend can be attributed to public and private sector investment in infrastructure, residential and energy construction projects.

Malaysian agencies to invest in new construction tech OpenGov Asia 26th Mar 2019
According to a recent report, all 20 local authorities with city status in Malaysia will be using the building information modelling (BIM) technology in their initial project submissions by 2021, according to the works ministry secretary-general. It was noted that the government planned to run four pilot projects this year through its agency, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), with the collaboration of four local authorities on the BIM eSubmission – a uniform building by-laws auto-checker for building plans.

China to cut cost of Malaysia rail link by $3.2 billion. Is it enough? AsiaOne 25th Mar 2019
The Chinese government has offered to cut 10 billion ringgit (S$3.3 billion) off the price of Malaysia's controversial East Coast Rail Link in an effort to get the project back on track before world leaders gather in Beijing for a summit on the "Belt and Road Initiative". Whether that will be enough to gain a green light for the long-stalled project is anyone's guess. Malaysia's lead negotiator on the China-backed project, Daim Zainuddin, said last week that Beijing was hoping a revised deal could be finalised by April 2, weeks before Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad heads to China for the April 25-27 meeting.

MyIX invests RM2.5m in infrastructure upgrades The Malaysian Reserve 21st Mar 2019
Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) is investing about RM2.5 million in upgrading its facilities to increase the national bandwidth capacity. MyIX chairman Chiew Kok Hin (picture) said the upgrade, which allows the country’s bandwidth capacity to reach 100Gbps (Gigabit per second), will be focusing at the association’s network facilities in Cyberjaya and AIMS Data Centre in Kuala Lumpur. “The upgrade will allow us to reduce the operational expenditure in managing our high-density ports and provide new services. “We are going to ‘refresh’ our network to a 100Gbps capacity and hopefully that will increase the economy of scale of our members as well,” he said in a press conference at MyIX’s 11th AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mahathir warns Philippines about China loans Nikkei Asian Review 20th Mar 2019
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday warned Philippines about becoming too indebted to China as Manila draws down Chinese funds to build much-needed infrastructure. Earlier this week, the Philippine Senate conducted an inquiry into the interest rates and questionable terms offered by China that had been lapped up by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is keen to improve infrastructure in the country. China had opened a $9 billion credit line to Philippines during Duterte's state visit to Beijing in 2016. Of that amount, at least $300 million has been agreed in loans to develop dams and irrigation projects so far.

Myanmar

Construction in Myanmar-Key Trends and Opportunities to 2022 – Honest Businessman Honest Businessman 27th Mar 2019
The pace of expansion in Myanmar’s construction industry slowed in 2017, as investment growth was undermined by low industrial output and gas production. The industry’s growth will pick up pace in 2018, however, in part supported by government plans to boost infrastructure spending. In real terms, the Myanmar construction industry’s output grew by an average annual growth of 10.3% during the review period (2013–2017). Although output growth slowed in 2017, the general upward trend can be attributed to public and private sector investment in infrastructure, residential and energy infrastructure construction projects.

Yangon’s ‘new city’ plan raises a billion-dollar question Frontier Myanmar 21st Mar 2019
At an event in mid February to discuss the building of a “New City” across the river from downtown Yangon, it was revealed that China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd had proposed spending $1.68 billion on infrastructure for the project. This seems to contradict the ambassador’s statement about Chinese investors holding back. It’s time to take a closer look at the New Yangon City project led by the Yangon Region government and discuss its partnership with CCCC.

Tourism, infrastructure collateral damage in Rakhine fighting The Myanmar Times 19th Mar 2019
Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) broke out near Mrauk-U on March 15. “When Mrauk-U became accessible by car from Sittwe, we arranged some trips in the coming tour season to the area. The fighting has changed everything and will be a major concern for the tourism industry if it continues,” said tour operator U Thet Lwin Toe.  Ngapali Beach and the Mrauk-U ancient cultural area are famous tourist destinations in the Rakhine, but because Mrauk-U is difficult to access, tour operators mainly focus on arranging trips to Ngapali and offer trips to Mrauk-U as an alternative or added destination. Myanmar is currently also working on getting Mrauk-U listed as a world heritage site.

Philippines

Infrastructure maintenance matters too Business World 27th Mar 2019
There is so much attention and discussion on the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration. On one side, you have his drumbeaters extolling this administration’s infrastructure spending, presenting numbers that show that the country never had it this good. On the other hand, critics are zeroing in on how this program has given China an inroad into our socio-economic affairs through the loans to fund these projects, not to mention the extended welcome to the labor market our government has given to their citizens.

China, Philippines Boost Economic Relations With New Infrastructure Projects Business Times 22nd Mar 2019
China and the Philippines are ramping up their efforts to significantly improve their respective country's economy through rapid infrastructure expansions. The Philippines "Build, Build, Build" program under the Duterte administration is apparently working in conjunction with China's larger scale Belt and Road Initiative. The Philippine' Finance Secretary, Carlos G. Dominguez announced this week that they havesecured substantial financial and economic support from China following their recent courtesy visit to Beijing.

Philippines' infrastructure program "works in concert" with Belt and Road Initiative: finance secretary - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 21st Mar 2019
Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has said that the Philippines' infrastructure "Build, Build, Build" program "works in concert" with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond. The Department of Finance of the Philippines released a statement on Thursday, quoting Dominguez as saying the Philippines has China to thank for its generous support that has "greatly helped push our infrastructure projects forward."

Philippines won’t fall into a debt trap, minister tells China South China Morning Post 21st Mar 2019
A senior Philippine government official said his country would not fall into a debt trap as it expanded its infrastructure spending with loans from China and other governments. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez made the comments in Beijing on Wednesday after meeting Chinese officials to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure programme aimed at improving the country’s industries and economic development.

Philippine economic team flies to China for infrastructure projects Rappler 18th Mar 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team will be heading to Beijing, China, to discuss the government's infrastructure push. In a statement on Monday, March 18, the Department of Finance said a series of meetings between Philippine and Chinese officials are scheduled this week for the flagship infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program. The delegation will be led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

PH will disclose infra deals with China, Palace assures Inquirer 19th Mar 2019
Malacañang is open to disclosing infrastructure agreements with Chinese companies to promote transparency in the bureaucracy. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the assurance on Monday, as Philippine officials head to Beijing this week to discuss possible infrastructure cooperation with China. “Well, that’s pursuant to transparency, so yes, why not?” Panelo said at a press briefing. But Sen. Leila de Lima said the Duterte administration should heed warnings from the United States and Malaysia, which have cautioned against accepting loans from China, given the sad experience of other countries. De Lima, in a statement, cited the advice of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about loan agreements with China. “This is not the first time that top leaders or experts cautioned us about our dealings with China that could unfavorably affect our country’s future, both in the aspects of financial and territorial security. We need to learn from the unfortunate fate of others who borrowed before us,” she said.

Key meetings set in Beijing to nail down infrastructure funding | BusinessWorld Business World 19th Mar 2019
OFFICIALS are set to meet with the Chinese government this week to discuss infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program. In a statement on Monday, the Department of Finance (DoF) said meetings between officials from China and the Philippines are scheduled this week in Beijing. The Philippine delegation led by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea will meet officials of China’s Ministry of Commerce today to “firm up possible new agreements on infrastructure cooperation between the two countries.”

2nd runway to boost capacity of Clark airport Business Mirror 28th Mar 2019
A SECOND runway will be built for the Clark International Airport, which is being eyed for completion by 2020, the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) has revealed. It is seen to increase the passenger capacity of the airport. During the site inspection for the Clark International Airport Expansion Project on Wednesday, CIAC President Jaime Alberto C. Melo revealed that the construction of a second runway is in the works and is targeted for completion within the term of the Duterte administration.

Singapore

Continued innovation the key to Singapore-US infrastructure tie-up The Business Times 27th Mar 2019
SINGAPORE'S plan to work with the United States on infrastructure projects across South-east Asia will strengthen the economic corridor, but the success of this tie-up will depend upon continued innovation.

In search for more space, Singapore plans a move underground South China Morning Post 27th Mar 2019
The garden city of Singapore wants to be even more green. It also wants more homes in its central business district, and plans to move facilities underground to free up living space. As part of the plan to rejuvenate Singapore’s central area, a variety of homes and amenities in areas such as downtown, Marina South and Rochor will be planned so more people can live near workplaces, the city state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority unveiled in a draft master plan on Wednesday. There will also be about 1,000 hectares of more parks and park connectors, and it is hoped that in future, more than 90 per cent of households will be within walking distance of a park.

Singapore, US ink deal on Asian infrastructure The Straits Times 22nd Mar 2019
Singapore and the United States will work together to promote infrastructure development and investment in Asia, under an agreement inked on Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding signals the development of more options to finance infrastructure in Asian countries, in addition to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a trilateral partnership between the US, Australia and Japan to mobilise investment in infrastructure projects in the region. Asean has been working to attract more private investment to fund its massive development needs. The Asian Development Bank estimates that South-east Asian countries will need US$210 billion (S$283 billion) a year over the next decade for infrastructure.

Singapore, US to cooperate in promoting infrastructure development in Asia The Straits Times 21st Mar 2019
Singapore and the United States will work together to promote infrastructure development and investment in Asia under an agreement inked on Wednesday (March 20). The agreement signals the development of more options for infrastructure financing for Asian countries, in addition to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a trilateral partnership between the US, Australia and Japan to mobilise investment in infrastructure projects in the region. Asean has been working to attract more private investment to fund its massive development needs, as the Asian Development Bank estimates that South-east Asian countries will need US$210 billion (S$284 billion) a year over the next decade for their infrastructure needs.

Thailand

Somkid: EEC, SEC on track Bangkok Post 25th Mar 2019
The current government's major investment projects, particularly in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), are expected to be taken up by the new government, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. "I'm not fretting over the economy because the government has already laid the foundation for significant policies and the next government is expected to continue these projects because they are good and can drive the Thai economy," he said. Mr Somkid said that for the remaining two months before a new government is installed, the incumbent administration will speed up infrastructure development and construction in three areas: the EEC, the SEC and Northeast Economic Corridor, and the bioeconomy project. Both the EEC and SEC are part of the government's strategy to move the economy towards high technology. The EEC, spanning Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong, will be home to 12 targeted S-curve industries: cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical services; defence; and education development.

Democrats tout 'premium' upgrade to Pattaya City Bangkok Post 21st Mar 2019
Deputy Democrat Leader Korn Chatikavanij is vowing to give Pattaya a big upgrade to "premium" tourist attraction status in his party's latest campaign promise. The seaside city in Chon Buri is already known among tourists as a hub of entertainment, but there is still more room for development, Mr Korn said on Wednesday as he helped three Democrat candidates seek votes in the Pattaya area. The upgrade would boost tourism and improve the financial health of people, Mr Korn, also a former finance minister, said. Pattaya is a tourist city, so the way locals make a living will inevitably depend on tourists, he said. The question is, Mr Korn said, how the city can gain trust from tourists so Pattaya always will be on their list of destinations and those who know the place will be happy to come back.

Airport rail pact 'needs fine-tuning' Bangkok Post 20th Mar 2019
Contractual negotiations on a high-speed rail project linking three major airports between the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and a CP-led consortium have become less tense after CP settled for a 50-year contract. Prior to their latest round of talks, rumours were swirling that the consortium wanted the concession almost doubled to 99 years as part of an additional set of 12 proposals for the 220-kilometre project. The SRT committee responsible for selecting the project's concessionaire held talks with the consortium Tuesday to discuss these. The planned line will connect Don Mueang airport in Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan and U-tapao in Rayong. The consortium, which offered the lowest bid of 117.2 billion baht, comprises CP, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd, Ch Karnchang Plc, and Italian-Thai Development Plc. With the discussions ongoing, SRT acting governor Worawut Mala issued a reassurance: "We haven't hit a dead end. The talks will carry on."

E-train scheme sped up to counter jams Bangkok Post 19th Mar 2019
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has been instructed to expedite efforts to construct electric train projects and return road lanes to ease congestion in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak says. Mr Somkid said the MRTA must explain to the public what the benefits of the projects will be and which areas the routes will pass through. "They must also attach importance to traffic jams during the construction of the projects in the capital," Mr Somkid said. "They were asked to rush through the construction and return areas set aside for the construction as well as quickly withdraw the equipment in the spots where the work is completed in order to ease the burden for people in Bangkok." According to the deputy premier, electric train projects are also needed in major cities in the regions to cope with jams and respond better to public demand.

B417bn bill for water management Bangkok Post 18th Mar 2019
State water management agencies will ask the next government for 417 billion baht to improve water management in the Chao Phraya River basin. "Water management is the key to prevent critical damage from floods and droughts. The country needs these tools to manage problems which will only get worse," Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya told media during a trip to Chai Nat province recently. According to the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), over the next 35 years, the area affected by floods will rise from 1.66 to 4.12 million rai, while droughts will also last longer. Severe floods are likely every seven years. The costs incurred by floods could rise to 150 billion baht per year, up from the current 25 billion baht per year, it warned. "The projects we have in the pipeline are not just flood prevention measures, they also involve building facilities to store water for harvesting which will help farmers during the dry season," Gen Chatchai said.

B79bn highway plan takes heavy flak from residents Bangkok Post 13th Mar 2019
Fifty residents of Ban Lat and Muang district submitted a petition to the Department of Highways on Tuesday against plans to press ahead with a 79-billion-baht motorway project. The move came after department director-general Anon Luangboriboon said at the weekend the project was being proposed to the cabinet for approval, and that he was determined to get the stamp of approval from the current government. The residents, along with a local environment advocacy group calling itself Phetchaburi Environment Conservation Group, said the 119-kilometre Nakhon Pathom-Cha-am (M8) would seriously impact the environment and local communities as well as a major agricultural area that serves as a main source of income for people in Phetchaburi. Latda Phuangtaeng, 57, who lives in tambon Rai Sathon in Ban Lat district, said villagers thought the project had already been scrapped due to vehement opposition by the affected parties. At previous forums organised to gauge public opinion toward the project, affected villagers had vented their opposition to the project and thought their voices had been heard, she said.

Vietnam

5G crucial to Vietnam's development: deputy PM Telecom Asia 27th Mar 2019
Vietnam's deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam has thrown his support behind the adoption of 5G in the nation, stating that 5G will be crucial to Vietnam's development. During the recent ASEAN Conference on 5G, the deputy prime minister acknowledged that the government will need to proactively support businesses to ensure they are more confident in investing in 5G, according to Nhan Dan Online, the official newsletter of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Higher rate of return urged to lure foreign investment in infrastructure Vietnam Net 20th Mar 2019
According to Naoyuki Yoshino, dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute, private investors, especially foreign investors, currently remain hesitant about investing in infrastructure projects in Vietnam due to high risks, long-term payout schedules, and site clearance issues, among others. In addition, investors in infrastructure face a variety of risks such as an increase in costs caused by delays in construction or land acquisition, unexpected shortages in revenue due to lower-than-forecast traffic, and unanticipated expenses. Therefore, Yoshino said, it is important to increase the rate of return on infrastructure investment to make things easier for private investors. The higher the expected rate of return, the more that private funds would be attracted, he said.

CHINA Debt and inefficiencies come with Chinese infrastructural investments in Vietnam Asia news 20th Mar 2019
China’s eyes on Vietnam’s major infrastructure projects, on which the country’s development depends, are raising concerns among experts that it might fall into a debt trap and pay the price for the shortcomings of China’s developmental model. For Vietnam, a paved six-lane Highway remains a priority, linking the northern city of Nam Định, which is located some 90 kilometres south-east of the capital, to the southern province of Vinh Long, is a case in point. Stretching for 2,000 km, the road will cross 13 provinces. According to the plans of the National Assembly, it should be completed by 2021 at a cost of 118 trillion of đồng (4US$ 5.3 billion). Of these, 55 trillion (US$ 2.5) will come from China, whilst 63 trillion (US$ 2.8 billion) will be provided by the central government.

Vietnam seeks new ways to attract private funds for infrastructure projects Vietnam Net 19th Mar 2019
Infrastructure projects generate other benefits in addition to operating revenue like toll fees. For example, a highway may benefit a company through cost savings and increase sales from faster transport of raw materials and final products, as well as generate usage fees. In many developing countries in Asia, including Vietnam, I’ve observed heavy traffic congestion in cities, and a lack of sufficient highways, trains and various modes of public transport. In Southeast Asia, infrastructure investment worth a total of US$8 billion is implemented every year. Vietnam lacks public funding to satisfy the country’s infrastructure needs. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been promoted for infrastructure development in Vietnam in recent years, but most of them haven’t been satisfactory, since the rate of return on infrastructure depends mainly on user charges, such as train fares and highway tolls.

Ho Chi Minh City: How Vietnam’s Emerging Megacity Will Develop Vietnam Briefing News 11th Mar 2019
Megacity has become a buzzword associated with rapid urbanization and economic development. For Vietnam, the commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City is often identified within this narrative. Megacities are typically defined as having a population in excess of 10 million. These demographic pressures often inspire governments to produce large-scale development programs designed to integrate infrastructure regionally. In China, this pressure has manifested into a city cluster plan to develop 19 super-regions across the country.