ASEAN working group discusses environmental progress Borneo Bulletin Online 26th Jun 2019
THE two-day 11 ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education (AWGEE) Meeting convened at The Rizqun International Hotel yesterday. The AWGEE oversees and coordinates the implementation of the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) guided by the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint which aims to establish a clean and green ASEAN with environmentally literate citizens, ensuring the region’s sustainable development through environmental education and public participation. The meeting discussed the progress of projects and activities under the working group outlined in the AEEAP and the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN), which include regional activities and efforts involving the youth of ASEAN.
Timor Leste says Brunei will support its bid to join ASEAN The Scoop 5th Jul 2019
Timor Leste’s foreign minister said Brunei has “given assurance” it will support the country’s bid to join ASEAN, which the tiny nation hopes will happen sooner rather than later. “I am very pleased to have Brunei by our side, they are very supportive and yesterday I got the assurance directly from His Majesty the Sultan,” Dionisio Babo Soares told The Scoop in an interview Thursday. “So I think that it’s now time for Timor Leste to join ASEAN, so that is the message to the rest of the ASEAN countries.” Soares is on a diplomatic swing to all 10 ASEAN member states, hoping to shore up support for the former Portuguese colony’s bid to join the regional bloc. The quest for ASEAN membership has been the keystone of Timor Leste’s foreign policy since independence from Indonesian occupation in 2002. Its accession would mean access to the ASEAN free trade zone and free trade areas with China, South Korea, Japan, India and Australia.
ADB President reaffirms support for sub-regional cooperation Borneo Bulletin Online 25th Jun 2019
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao last Sunday reaffirmed ADB’s support for two sub-regional development initiatives, the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP–EAGA) as well as the Indonesia–Malaysia–Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT–GT) during the 13th BIMP–EAGA Leaders’ Summit. The subregions’ economies continue to show resilience in the face of rising global trade tensions, with robust domestic demand helping to sustain growth, and policymakers well positioned to deal with any potential volatility. The two sub-regional initiatives constitute important building blocks for the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
ASEAN leaders to adopt regional strategy for Indo-Pacific Asia Customs & Trade 24th Jun 2019
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have agreed to adopt a self-developed regional strategy for closer cooperation and enhanced community building in the Indo-Pacific region amidst elevated global trade tensions. In a statement the ASEAN leaders said they have approved the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” a document that “intends to enhance ASEAN’s Community building process and to strengthen and give new momentum for existing ASEAN-led mechanisms to better face challenges and seize opportunities arising from the current and future regional and global environments.”
Asean region faces two key economic challenges, SCB Abacus chief tells forum The Nation 13th Jun 2019
The Asean region faces two key economic challenges in this age of disruption, Sutapa Amornvivat, CEO of SCB Abacus, told a recent Institute of International Finance forum held in Japan. The first challenge is how economic integration and connectivity within the region can be leveraged to maximise Asean’s potential as an exporting hub...
A message of hope for the ASEAN’s threatened biodiversity Philippine Information Agency 9th Jul 2019
The ASEAN region’s relentless campaign to conserve and protect its rich but highly threatened biodiversity and ecosystems took centre stage with the recent International Conference on Biodiversity hosted by Thailand. With no less than the Princess of the Kingdom of Thailand, Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn gracing the opening ceremonies, the event highlighted the conservation collaboration among the 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
Protesters in Thailand urge Asean leaders to ban trash imports The Straits Times 20th Jun 2019
Protesters in Bangkok on Thursday (June 20) dumped plastic waste in front of a government building and called on South-east Asian leaders to ban imports of trash from developed countries. The protest comes ahead of a weekend meeting of the 10-member Asean, with many countries struggling to deal with the flood of plastic waste unleashed by China's decision last year to stop importing recyclables from abroad. Countries in Asean now receive more than a quarter of global plastic waste, most of which comes from developed economies like Canada, the US, Australia and Japan.
The West has been dumping tens of millions of tons of trash in Southeast Asian countries for more than 25 years — now they want to send it back Business Insider 28th May 2019
Countries in Southeast Asia, long the recipients of huge consignments of Western trash, have decided to take a stand and send tons of the waste back to where it came from. The world's richer nations have been exporting waste for at least 25 years, particularly plastic waste that is sorted for recycling, Channel News Asia reported. Countries like the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia are among those to send large consignments to Asian countries including China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Many of those countries lack environmental regulations as stringent as those in Western nations, making them an attractive place to dispose of plastics, according to The Guardian.
US Firms Actively Rerouting Goods To Southeast Asia To Avoid Trump's Tariffs Business Times 27th Jun 2019
US companies who still have Chinese business partners are reportedly now finding ways to dodge Trump's tariffs by rerouting their shipments to other Southeast Asian countries. Billions of dollars worth of goods are reported being sent to countries like Vietnam, which are then sent to China masquerading as Vietnamese shipments. Following Trump's increased tariffs, raised from 10 percent to 25 percent, on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese exports, US companies have been secretly evading the added levies through a practice known as transshipment.
Report highlights impact of ASEAN non-tariff barriers in 3 key sectors Asia Customs & Trade 26th Jun 2019
Two business groups in a new report expressed concern over the large number of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the automotive, agri-food, and healthcare sectors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) in the joint report launched June 22 aired concern over the slow progress in NTB removal in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the continued impact this has on holding back intra-ASEAN trade and achieving the full benefits of economic integration.
Trade disputes to dominate as ASEAN meets in Bangkok The Jakarta Post 20th Jun 2019
Southeast Asian leaders will dissect the impact of the US-China tariff war this weekend at a Bangkok summit, with Beijing determined to drive forward a trade pact sweeping in 40 percent of global commerce -- but excluding America. Disputes in the flashpoint South China Sea and Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims are also likely to make the agenda at the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting starting Saturday in the Thai capital. But commerce will dominate, with the trade war between the world's two biggest economies pushing some major manufacturers to flee China to Southeast Asia and casting doubts over the future of free trade.
ROK eyes customs deals with 3 ASEAN countries to bolster trade Asia Customs & Trade 14th Jun 2019
The Republic of Korea’s (ROK) customs agency is in discussions with counterparts in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam about signing customs deals that aim to facilitate trade between Korea and the three member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Korea Customs Service said its commissioner Kim Yung-moon held separate bilateral meetings with customs officials from the three countries on the sidelines of an annual conference between South Korea and the 10-member bloc of the ASEAN in Laos. They discussed authorized economic operator and mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) deals, according to the Korean customs agency.
Opening of the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors General Meeting Customs News 13th Jun 2019
On June 11, the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting was held in Vientiane, Laos. The meeting was chaired by Bounpaseuth Sikounlabout, Acting Director General of General Department of Lao Customs. All 10 Customs authorities of ASEAN member countries and the Secretariat attended the meeting. The Vietnam Customs delegation was led by Deputy Director General Hoang Viet Cuong. At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Lao Ministry of Finance Thiphakone Chanthavongsa mentioned Laos’ opinion on ASEAN cooperation and its commitments in promoting customs cooperation towards a sustainable ASEAN development community and bring prosperity to ASEAN people.
Lufthansa's time:matters expands network to Asia | Air Cargo World Air Cargo World 10th Jun 2019
Lufthansa Cargo‘s wholly owned time:matters subsidiary, which specializes in urgent shipments, plans to expand its presence to cover the Europe-China, intra-Asia and trans-Pacific markets, according to the company’s CEO. Speaking to Air Cargo World during Air Cargo Europe 2019 in Munich, Alexander Kohnen said that time:matters had just established a legal entity based in Shanghai to prepare for the expansion. “We plan to develop our Asian network and to open around 10 stations in the region in the next few weeks,” he said. “We’re also looking to develop an intra-Asia network soon.”
ASEAN, Hong Kong FTA comes into effect The ASEAN Post 13th Jun 2019
Defense & Security
Trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN will be boosted with yesterday’s implementation of the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA), building on the already solid economic foundation both parties share and countering the escalating United States (US)-China trade war. Five years in the making, the AHKFTA kicked off on Tuesday with reductions and eliminations of customs duties in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for Hong Kong imports. Bilateral investment agreements with the five countries will come into effect on Monday as part of the ASEAN-Hong Kong Investment Agreement (AHKIA).
Joint Drill With US Won’t Upset China, Prawit Says at ASEAN Summit Khaosod English 11th Jul 2019
An upcoming naval exercise between the ASEAN community with the United States will have no impact on the group’s relations with China, defense minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Thursday. The joint drill is set to take place later this year and will mark the first such cooperation with the Americans, raising speculations among some analysts that the U.S. is attempting to counter growing Chinese influence in the bloc. But Gen. Prawit said ASEAN has engaged in similar efforts with China before.
ASEAN defense ministers discuss security proposals The Republic 11th Jul 2019
Defense ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations met Thursday in the Thai capital to discuss issues including border controls, terrorism and illegal fishing. The host, Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, said the annual get-together of the ministers “guarantees the friendship, security and cooperation between our ASEAN members, which in turn reinforces liberty and stability in our region.”
Asean-USA Plan Maritime Military Exercise by the end of 2019 prensa-latina.cu 11th Jul 2019
Defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on a maritime exercise in the region with the participation of the United States forces at the end of this year. During a meeting held on Thursday in Bangkok under the slogan Sustainable Security, the owners did not give details about the maneuvers, but signed a joint statement that emphasizes the importance of working to safeguard security and stability in the area.
Southeast Asian aerospace takes off on back of budget carriers Nikkei Asian Review 8th Jul 2019
Southeast Asia is building a reputation as a producer of aircraft components, parlaying jet demand from the region's low-cost carriers. The region as a whole made the rough equivalent of $14 billion in aircraft parts and related services in 2018, fast approaching Japan's $16.7 billion or so. It is expected to become an even bigger player as global supply chains shift toward the region. Malaysia has rolled out the red carpet for overseas aerospace companies, allowing full ownership of local units and offering tax breaks. Companies including Honeywell International have set up manufacturing bases there, leading to the rise of local players like UMW. A variety of aircraft parts are now made in Malaysia, including wings and brakes. But Singapore was the region's pioneer in the field. More than 60 foreign and domestic companies, including Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, carry out research, manufacturing and maintenance operations at a dedicated industrial park there. The government-affiliated park employs 6,000 and comes with its own 1,800-meter landing strip. Revenue in Singapore's air and space industry, including maintenance and repair operations, totaled 11.1 billion Singapore dollars ($8.18 billion) in 2018. Malaysia's came to 14.4 billion ringgit ($3.49 billion), which the government wants to roughly quadruple to 55.2 billion ringgit in 2030. Southeast Asia's aerospace sector earns roughly half its income from maintenance and repairs. But parts manufacturing is also a growing field. The trend is propelled in part by the rise of budget carriers. The Asia-Pacific commercial airplane market will top 17,000 deliveries through 2038, according to Boeing projections published in June -- far more than the roughly 9,000 each for Europe and North America. About 70% of Asian demand is seen coming from single-aisle models for medium-haul flights.
After 17 Years, China, Southeast Asia Aim to Sign Initial Deal for Disputed Sea within Months Voice of America 26th Jun 2019
China and a group of Southeast Asian countries, long at odds over control of the sea between them, aim to finish phase one of a maritime code of conduct within months after 17 years of trying to resolve Asia’s widest-reaching sovereignty dispute.
US State Dept Confirms Drone Package For Southeast Asian Nations Eurasia Review 13th Jun 2019
Washington is supplying four Southeast Asian countries with 34 aerial drones through security assistance funds from the U.S. government, State Department officials have confirmed. The United States is sending a U.S. $47.9 million package of ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, with officials in Manila and Kuala Lumpur saying the drones will be used for surveillance of local waterways, including the disputed South China Sea.
How US Allies Can Keep An Electronic Eye On China Breaking Defense 12th Jun 2019
As it seeks to contain a rising China, America’s great advantage is its larger network of Asian friends and allies. Not all of these nations have the combat power to deter Chinese aggression, let alone fight alongside the US in the nightmare scenario of war. But even our smaller allies can play a vital role as what President Kennedy called “watchmen on the walls of world freedom” by using radar, drones and long-range networks to monitor Chinese moves.
Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine Troops to Train for Possible Regional Ground Force BenarNews 12th Jun 2019
After starting coordinated air and sea patrols in recent years, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will launch joint ground exercises in August, in a counter-terrorism initiative that could see a regional force deployed in the southern Philippines one day, Indonesian officials said Wednesday. The Indomalphi 2019 exercise will take place on Tarakan island in Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province and include trainings on shooting techniques and close-range combat, Indonesian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Sisriadi told BenarNews.
Military spending is soaring in the Asia-Pacific region. Here’s why latimes.com 7th Jun 2019
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the fastest-growing markets for arms dealers. Economic growth, territorial disputes and long-sought military modernizations there propelled a 52% increase in defense spending over the last decade to $392 billion in 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Acting US Defense Secretary calls on Asian allies to boost arms spending CNBC 1st Jun 2019
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan called on America's allies in Asia Pacific to invest more in national security — a move that's reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump's well-worn script to NATO nations on burden-sharing. Speaking Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Shanahan highlighted an exhaustive list of U.S. contributions to the region before asking allies to commit to more.
Senior officials of China, ASEAN nations meet on South China Sea cooperation - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 19th May 2019
Senior officials from China and ASEAN member countries met Saturday in Hangzhou to further coordinate on the South China Sea, agreeing to continue efforts for peace and common development in the area. At the meeting, all sides made in-depth exchanges of views on comprehensive, effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), further pragmatic maritime cooperation as well as consultation of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), according to a Foreign Ministry press release.
Is the United States about to ramp up its Indo-Pacific strategy? South China Morning Post 27th May 2019
When US acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan steps up to address one of Asia’s biggest security forums this week, he is expected to reveal details of a “new” phase in the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy. The strategy is mainly aimed at curbing Beijing’s growing clout in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and a change in the approach was signalled last month when a senior US defence official said Shanahan would explain the Indo-Pacific’s role as a “priority theatre”.
J.P. Morgan notes Philippines luring relocating businesses Business World 27th Jun 2019
THE PHILIPPINES, along with neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, can expect to benefit from decisions to relocate by companies adversely affected by the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, investment bank J.P. Morgan said in a June 26 report e-mailed to journalists on Wednesday evening. “Our analysis indicates [that] Southeast Asia benefits over other regions from supply chain shifts,” read the report that was authored by research analysts Ranjan Sharma, Rajiv Batra, Gokul Hariharan and Pranuj Shah.
SE Asia defies global foreign investment downturn Asia Times 12th Jun 2019
While global foreign direct investment (FDI) dipped in 2018 for a third consecutive year, Asia bucked the global trend with rises nearly across the board, including record inflows to Southeast Asia’s booming economies. New United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) data released today (June 12) shows total worldwide FDI fell 13% to US$1.3 trillion in 2018, as global economic uncertainties grew over the US and China’s increasingly antagonistic trade and investment policies, particularly in strategic sectors such as digital and mobile technology. But “developing Asia”, a region encompassing most of the continent aside from wealthy countries such as Japan, saw a 4% rise in foreign direct investment to $512 billion, representing 39% of the global total, according to UNCTAD’s 2018 World Investment Report. Southeast Asia in particular saw a new FDI record in 2018, with $149 billion flowing into the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, $10 billion more than went to China minus Hong Kong, the data shows. Around half of the Southeast Asian total went to the tiny city-state of Singapore, long a magnet for banking and finance giants seeking an affluent hub in a region made up of bigger, often resource-rich but mostly poor to middle-income economies. Singapore’s influx was substantially greater than the FDI attracted by all of Africa combined and far exceeded giant neighbors such as India ($42 billion) or Indonesia ($22billion). But Indonesia, along with Thailand and Vietnam, saw significant increases in FDI last year, the latter possibly benefiting from production shifts caused by the China-US trade war and the former two bouncing back after recent years of declines.Overall Southeast Asian investment trends suggest a growing role for China, the region’s biggest trade partner. By 2017, investment from China had nearly caught up with that from the US, after the American share shrunk by a third over the previous five years.
Southeast Asia faces more trade obstacles after slow Q1 growth Nikkei Asian Review 21st May 2019
Southeast Asia saw slower growth in the first quarter of this year, with its six big economies all expanding at a more moderate pace in the January to March period than in the previous three months. With trade tensions between the U.S. and China likely to escalate, the region could face more headwinds in the second quarter. The slower growth may prompt Southeast Asian central banks to reverse course on monetary policy and lower interest rates later this year, economists say. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all slowed in the first quarter, the first time that has happened since the U.S.-China trade tensions flared early last year. Many economies in Southeast Asia are export-driven. According to the World Bank, exports accounted for 173% of Singapore's GDP in 2017, 101% for Vietnam, 71% for Malaysia, and 68% for Thailand. With the region's two biggest trading partners -- China and the U.S. -- at loggerheads, export-dependent economies have been hit hard since the second half of 2018. Looking ahead, economists warn of the possibility of further weakness in the second quarter and beyond.
ERIA and Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jointly Launch ASEAN Vision 2040 ERIA 29th Apr 2019
ERIA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand jointly launched the report titled 'ASEAN Vision 2040: Towards a Bolder and Stronger ASEAN', which examines future challenges facing ASEAN in the next two decades. The Deputy Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Thani Thongpakdee, welcomed the four-volume report in his opening speech on behalf of Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Don Pramudwinai. Thani said that he was pleased that many of Thailand’s priority deliverables for the 2019 ASEAN Chairmanship coincide with the recommendations of ASEAN Vision 2040, particularly the aspirations to advance towards a Sustainable ASEAN, a Digital and Green ASEAN as well as a Seamless ASEAN. The study was commissioned by Thailand to examine challenges ASEAN will face in the next two decades. ERIA invited 60 regional experts and specialists to work on this important report. Thailand, as the current chairmanship of ASEAN, has adopted the theme, 'Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.'
China lobbies ASEAN on yuan use, cracking dollar dominance Nikkei Asian Review 25th Apr 2019
ASEAN and its East Asian partners are considering adding the yen and the yuan to their $240 billion currency swap safety net, a move that would reduce the framework's overreliance on the dollar while increasing China's economic clout. The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and South Korea will discuss the proposed change to the Chiang Mai Initiative at a May 2 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Fiji. China, which is chairing the meeting together with Thailand, has added language to the draft joint statement mentioning use of local-currency contributions to the pool as "one option" to enhance the arrangement. Allowing participants to access Asian currencies in an emergency could encourage their use in other contexts, including foreign exchange reserves, the thinking goes. The idea also anticipates a long-term rise in demand for these currencies in regional investment and trade. China in particular sees it as another step on the path to internationalizing the yuan and expanding its economic influence in the region. But the proposal is likely to be complicated by U.S. alarm at the prospect of Beijing expanding its currency's role at the dollar's expense. The greenback remains the most popular currency for international payments by a sizable margin, with a 45.6% share by value, while the yuan -- despite Chinese efforts -- accounts for just 1.2%, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the global interbank messaging provider known as SWIFT. The yen's share sits at 4.3%.
ASEAN economic ministers discuss AEC progress, global economy at retreat ASEAN 24th Apr 2019
ASEAN ministers deliberated and exchanged views on the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as well as current issues pertinent to the global economy at the 25th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Retreat in Phuket, Thailand from 22 to 23 April 2019. The ministers endorsed 13 priority economic deliverables under Thailand’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019. Recognising the changes being brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which underpins a number of the priority economic deliverables for the year, the top officials noted the next steps in advancing ASEAN’s work in preparing a strategic response for the 4IR. The ministers also discussed matters regarding ASEAN’s external economic relations, including the progress towards the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations and the ongoing debate on reforming the World Trade Organization. Two agreements were signed at the sidelines of the AEM Retreat on 23 April. The first agreement, ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement, encompasses all achievements that ASEAN Member States have made to date under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services. It also provides the mandate for countries to transition towards a negative list approach for even deeper integration in the future. The second agreement, the Fourth Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, incorporates obligations on prohibition of performance requirements that will ensure ASEAN investors continue to get the best treatment through this agreement.
East Asia and Pacific Growth Expected to Moderate as Global Headwinds Persist, World Bank Says World Bank 24th Apr 2019
Growth in developing East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) is projected to soften to 6.0 percent in 2019 and 2020, down from 6.3 percent in 2018, largely reflecting global headwinds and a continued gradual policy-guided slowdown in China. Still, the region’s economies weathered the financial markets volatility of 2018 relatively well largely due to effective policy frameworks and strong fundamentals, including diversified economies, flexible exchange rates, and solid policy buffers. While trade policy uncertainty has abated somewhat, global trade growth is likely to moderate further, according to Managing Headwinds, the April 2019 edition of the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update released here today. Domestic demand has remained strong in much of the region, the report adds, partly offsetting the impact of slowing exports. China’s ongoing, policy-guided slowdown will lead to 6.2 percent growth in 2019 and 2020, down from 6.6 percent in 2018. Growth in Indonesia and Malaysia is projected to remain unchanged in 2019, while growth rates in Thailand and Vietnam are expected to be slightly lower in 2019. In the Philippines, a delay in approving the 2019 national government budget is expected to weigh on GDP growth in 2019, but growth is anticipated to pick up in 2020. Growth prospects among the smaller economies in EAP remain favorable. Large infrastructure projects are expected to accelerate growth for Lao PDR and Mongolia. Cambodia’s growth is projected to remain robust, although at a slower pace than in 2018, mainly due to weaker-than-expected external demand. Expansionary fiscal policy is expected to boost growth in Myanmar in the short term, while recent structural reforms are expected to support growth in the medium term.
Asia-Pacific investors head to Southeast Asia for acquisitions Bangkok Post 24th Apr 2019
Corporate executives in the Asia-Pacific region remain upbeat on international investments, although interest in Southeast Asia has begun to displace previously favoured destinations, according to a survey by law firm Baker McKenzie. Destinations such as Europe, Britain and the United States have fallen out of favour, overtaken by Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations, according to the survey, which polled 600 executives in the Asia-Pacific. The report’s authors found that China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” remained important to the strategy of Hong Kong and Chinese companies. The report noted that Southeast Asia offered good economic growth rates and substantial market size, as well as a degree of cultural affinity for Chinese companies that may not exist in the US or Europe. The survey found that gaining access to new markets was a major drawing card for international companies, while lowering production or labour costs was considered relatively less important. Asset valuation was also deemed more reasonable than in China or developed economies. Munir Abdul Aziz of Baker McKenzie Kuala Lumpur said that Southeast Asia was expected to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030, and that multinational corporations were deepening their foothold in the region.
US demand not enough to save Q1 Asean exports The Business Times 23rd Apr 2019
SOUTH-EAST Asian electronics factories have been hard hit by the US-China trade war, especially amid a Chinese slump, an OCBC economist has said. That’s despite exports to the United States rising in some Asean markets over the same period. Exports from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia contracted year on year in the first quarter while Thailand was flattish, according to data compiled by economist Howie Lee. The electronics sector suffered more than others - led by the downturn in semiconductors, which, along with integrated circuits, make up most of the region’s electronics exports. Mr Lee wrote in a recent report that the US may have turned to Asean amid its trade feud with China, either from “a textbook demonstration of substitution effect”, or because the US tends to import finished products - rather than intermediate goods like semiconductors. “China’s ability to engineer a soft landing and establish a bottom will be key in driving an uptick in exports from the Asean bloc and beyond,” he added.
ASEAN manufacturing index falls as operating conditions worsen Asia Customs & Trade 2nd Jul 2019
Manufacturing conditions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) deteriorated in June 2019 as employment fell at its quickest pace in 20 months and output recorded only marginal growth, according to the IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). The PMI fell below the crucial 50.0 mark separating improvement from deterioration, posting 49.7 in June, down from 50.6 in May. It was the first slowdown at ASEAN manufacturing firms in four months, but was only fractional. In fact, five of the seven monitored countries continued to report stronger business conditions, although three of these saw growth weaken compared to the previous month.
ASEAN+3 shows sharp decline in extra regional demand Asia Customs & Trade 12th Jun 2019
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three (ASEAN+3) remains resilient amid the escalating U.S.-China trade tensions as the region’s dependence on extra-regional demand continues to decline, according to regional economists. Experts said ASEAN+3 economies are in a position to mitigate economic headwinds from rising global trade tensions that have dampened the economic outlook in the region. This encouraging outlook was bared during a seminar co-organized by the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore in late May 2019.
Southeast Asian nations chase high expectations for their bloc The Edge Markets 21st May 2019
More than a half-century after five nations came together to form a regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is weighing a strong growth outlook with the reality of political and economic change. The now 10-nation group boasts a combined economy that’s bigger than India’s, and is forecast to be the fourth-largest by 2030. It will have three of the seven fastest-growing economies over the next decade, based on Standard Chartered Plc’s projections. Much of that outlook will depend on how nations are able to tackle some key challenges ahead: from infrastructure demands to financial inclusion and surging e-commerce.
Asean+3 growth forecast lowered to 4.9%: report The Business Times 24th Jun 2019
In the wake of escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) has lowered its regional growth projections. Baseline growth is now expected at 4.9 per cent in 2019 and 2020, down from the previous 5.1 per cent estimate in early May, AMRO said in the June edition of its monthly update of the Asean+3 regional economic outlook. In the adverse trade scenario where the US places a 25 per cent tariff on remaining China imports, growth is expected to slow to 4.7 per cent in 2019 and 4.5 per cent in 2020. "Regional economies with greater GVC (global value chain) participation oriented towards final demand outside the region will be more affected," said the report. With the exception of Vietnam and the Philippines, export values around the region have weakened since October, led by Japan and China.
Future tense: Fastest-growing market Asia rethinks coal's prospects Reuters 8th Jul 2019
After riding China’s demand train for nearly two decades, Asia’s coal industry is looking to a future of smaller markets and slimmer pickings, as buying declines in the world’s second-biggest economy and climate change concerns blunt demand. By far the biggest user of coal-fired power, China is buying less thermal coal from global markets, said delegates to Asia’s premier coal conference last month in Bali, both as renewables gain market share and as it digs up more of its own supply. As China takes less, economies like India, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines are also expected to pick up the slack, delegates said.
SE Asia solar energy space seen up for faster growth Inquirer.Net 3rd Jul 2019
Vietnam is now the fastest-growing solar photovoltaic (PV) market in Southeast Asia, overtaking the Philippines but thanks partly to investments made by the Ayala group’s AC Energy and its local partners, according to SolarPlaza. The Rotterdam-based consultancy said in a report that Southeast Asia was quickly becoming one of the most promising regions in the global expansion of the solar energy industry.
From smokestacks to solar panels: Asia starts embracing renewables strategy+business 25th Jun 2019
Environmental devastation, routine brownouts, and pollution from coal power plants so thick it coats buildings, cars, and lungs. These are the images many people associate with Asia’s energy infrastructure... Yet this grim picture does not tell the whole story, and it certainly doesn’t necessarily indicate what the future of energy consumption will be in this burgeoning region of the world.
Cost of developing renewables in Southeast Asia put through new mapping tool pv magazine International 24th Jun 2019
To realize the regional goal of generating 23% of energy from renewables within six years, quality data and analyses are needed to support investment decisions made by member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One such piece of analysis has used a new mapping application to visualize the costs of developing solar and wind projects in the region.
American investors eye energy sector under Asia Edge initiative The Nation 22nd Jun 2019
“The US recognises the centrality of Asean within Asia and will support the rise of the energy sector in this region,” said Francis Fannon, assistant secretary for the US Bureau of Energy Resources. Fannon was speaking to the press after meeting Thai government officials to discuss how Asia Edge can help Thailand pursue its energy policies. The energy sector, he said, plays a key role in US foreign policy because it is fundamental to regional security and economic development and can foster bilateral cooperation.
ADB not yet ready to quit coal Eco-Business 19th Jun 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has plans to stop funding coal-fired power plants—except in selected countries where the bank considers the alternatives to be limited. Unveiled in July last year, ADB’s updated climate strategy promises up to US$80 billion in climate adaptation and mitigation spending primarily to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and highlights the bank’s shift of focus from poverty reduction to creating climate resilient and inclusive growth for the region.
US govt, ADB sign agreement mobilizing US$7 billion investment for energy projects in Asia Manila Bulletin News 19th Jun 2019
The United States government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday launched a US$7 billion worth of investment through an agreement that seeks to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, secure, and market-driven energy sector in Asia. At the Asia Clean Energy Forum held in Manila, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Asia Bureau Acting Assistant Administrator Gloria Steele and ADB Strategy, Policy, and Review Department Director-General Tomoyuki Kimura signed the partnership agreement to promote energy efficiency, energy sector reform, and good governance of Asia’s energy sector. Under the pact, USAID and ADB will mobilize the $7 billion for energy projects in Asia, boost the capacity of deployed energy systems by six gigawatts, and increase regional energy trade by 10 percent over the next five years. As it follows decades of development collaboration between the US government and ADB, the new partnership is part of Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (Asia EDGE), a key initiative contributing to the US government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
11 Million People Now Have Jobs In Renewable Energy Forbes 17th Jun 2019
Eleven million people around the world were employed by the renewable energy sector in 2018, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports in the sixth edition of their Renewable Energy and Jobs series. This represents an increase of 700,000 jobs from 2017, growing nearly 7% in just one year. The greatest growth came from countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, spreading the renewable sector beyond the primary markets in China, Brazil, the U.S., India and the EU while maintaining Asia’s 60% stake in renewable employment globally. The trend should inspire confidence in renewables by other countries as technologies improve and costs go down. “The prospect of job creation bolsters the global Sustainable Development Agenda,” says IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera, “and should encourage all countries to make bold commitments to renewable energy. “Increasingly, countries envisage a domestic renewable energy industry taking the place of unsustainable fossil-based industries.” Renewable energy technologies provide employment along the entire supply chain, including manufacturing, trade and installation. Solar photovoltaic panels generate a third of employment in renewables, driving much of the growth, followed by liquid biofuels, hydropower and wind power. Off-grid renewables have also helped create jobs across formerly isolated communities in Africa and Asia. While jobs grew in India, Southeast Asia and Brazil, they declined in the U.S., Japan and the EU.
Russia to boost LNG output fivefold to supply Asia Nikkei Asian Review 13th Jun 2019
Russia aims to increase its liquefied natural gas output about fivefold by 2035 to capture about 20% of the global market. The country envisions up to 70% of its LNG exports by then going to the Asia-Pacific region, through the Arctic Ocean shipping route. Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Nikkei in Moscow that Russia's government intends to strengthen its cooperation with Japan in terms of funding and technology for the LNG and related sectors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to discuss economic cooperation in areas including energy when they meet in Osaka on June 29 on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. The leaders will also discuss a peace treaty and other matters between the countries. Russia's current LNG output is about 28 million tons a year. The plan is to raise the total, which now represents around 6% of global demand, to between 120 million tons and 140 tons by 2035. Qatar and Australia each accounted for over 20% of the global LNG market in 2018. Russia's goal is to rival these producers as well as the United States in LNG output. Novak said the Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the world's biggest LNG markets, and that Russia expects to boost exports to Japan, China, India, South Korea and Vietnam.
Asean faces key challenge: Go green or choke on air pollution, says US energy specialist The Straits Times 6th Jun 2019
Increasingly foul air from rapidly growing cities and industry could force South-east Asian nations to speed up the switch to cleaner sources of energy and to meet UN climate goals, says a leading energy specialist. Dr Ernest Moniz, energy secretary under former US President Barack Obama, said Asean is poised for rapid economic growth but that the current energy policies for most countries in the region risk committing them to highly polluting electricity generation, transport and industry. The problem is especially acute because rapid urbanisation in the region concentrates people, energy use and pollution.
Asian renewable investment to overtake upstream oil and gas spending in 2020 -Rystad The Business Times 27th May 2019
Renewable energy investment in the Asia-Pacific region will overtake spending on oil and gas exploration by 2020, consultancy Rystad Energy said on Monday. Investment into renewables is being supported by government policies such as solar and wind feed-in-tariffs across the region. Rystad said one big change in the renewable industry was the emergence of oil and gas majors as investors.
Commentary: The oil and gas market in Asia is heating up CNA 21st May 2019
SINGAPORE: In 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted a "golden age" of gas, where natural gas would be a "bridge fuel" between coal and renewable energy over the next two decades. But weak demand for natural gas in Asia in 2013 to 2015 forced the IEA to step back in June 2015 from its previously optimistic projection, concluding: As reported by the International Gas Union (IGU), Asia Pacific markets were the destination for almost 70 per cent of global LNG trade in 2018. The Asia Pacific also hosts some of the world’s leading LNG exporters: Australia, Malaysia, the United States and Indonesia (the world second, third, fourth and seventh largest exporters in 2018, respectively). The Asia Pacific will undoubtedly be the centre of gravity in future gas and LNG markets. While Asia Pacific countries are the major players, the entrance of the world’s largest gas exporter — Russia — into the East China gas market (initially through LNG and later pipeline gas) adds further competition. Natural gas markets are changing in response to new opportunities in the Asia Pacific and globally.
Is ASEAN Moving Forward with Civilian Nuclear Energy? A Look Back at 2018 ASEAN Centre for Energy 20th May 2019
Under ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2016-2025, civilian nuclear energy (CNE) is one of the seven programme areas to develop. Even though none of the ASEAN Member States (AMS) took an affirmative decision to pursue CNE for power generation in the short-term, some have been in the front line in developing it and expressed some interest to move forward with CNE in their future energy mix. According to ACE study on CNE which was published in April last year, it is identified that Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are the front-runners in putting efforts to establish civilian nuclear power by developing legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as establishing nuclear-related infrastructures and organisation. Nonetheless, due to changes in their priorities and political energy landscape, some have slowed down the effort and shelved their nuclear plans. In this insight, we analyse further the current status of nuclear development in ASEAN. Among the five front runners, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam decided to postpone their nuclear plans until indefinite time. Vietnam has also halted its plan to build its first nuclear plant due to economic reasons, especially given the fact that there are cheaper options of energy resource other than nuclear available in the country to support the economic growth. In the recently launched Power Development Plan (PDP) 2020-2037, Thailand has also removed the plan to have its first nuclear plant by 2035 stated in its previous PDP. In contrast, the Philippines still shows great interest in pursuing CNE in the near future, while Indonesia is also moving forward but with a much slower pace.
Singapore banks move to end Southeast Asia's coal addiction Nikkei Asian Review 8th May 2019
A push to end Southeast Asia's addiction to fossil fuels is gathering pace after the region's two biggest banks said they would stop funding coal-fired power plants. Singapore's DBS Group Holdings said last month that it would cease financing new coal power projects from 2021 following the completion of existing projects in Indonesia and Vietnam, and will instead tilt toward renewable energy projects such as solar power. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. announced that it would also quit coal. The move is "a major game-changer for energy finance in the ASEAN region," said Julien Vincent, executive director at Australia-based environment advocacy group Market Forces. The commitments by DBS and OCBC are "not only in line with what the science says is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change," said Vincent, "but also send a massive signal to the financial markets that coal is officially out of fashion." Over the past year several Japanese trading houses have stated they will no longer invest in new coal capacity, as has China's State Development and Investment Corporation of China. Australia's largest insurance company QBE will also stop offering insurance for thermal coal facilities, according to Keisuke Sadamori, director of energy markets and security at the International Energy. Yet despite increasing global concerns over rapidly rising carbon emissions, coal is still considered the cheapest and most efficient power source for most Southeast Asian nations, accounting for 58% of power generation in Indonesia, 50% in the Philippines and 34% in Vietnam in 2017, according to the UK-based Carbon Tracker, with power generation by coal still expected to double by 2030. According to Carbon Tracker, the cost of building a new solar power plant instead of running an existing coal plant won't become cheaper until 2027 for Vietnam, 2028 for Indonesia, and 2029 for the Philippines.
ASEAN wants to go electric The ASEAN Post 7th May 2019
The first image that usually springs to mind when someone mentions any Southeast Asian capital is congested roads filled with honking cars and motorcycles. Congested roads have become synonymous with Southeast Asia, and that is not going to change anytime soon. According to the latest data, vehicle sales in Southeast Asia is set to outpace all other regions in the world. Last year, aggregate new car sales in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines rose five percent to nearly 3.4 million units. Aside from that, it is estimated that vehicle ownership across the region is expected to grow more than 40 percent by 2040. Aside from problems arising due to traffic congestion, another thing to worry about is the air pollution these vehicles cause. Since most vehicles in the region run on gasoline or diesel, they contribute significantly to the worsening air pollution in Southeast Asia’s cities. For example, increasing car ownership in Jakarta has worsened air quality there. Despite phasing out leaded gasoline 10 years ago, Jakarta’s air quality hasn’t improved by much. A study by the Faculty of Public Health University of Indonesia found that 58 percent of all illnesses among people living in the city were related to air pollution. With demand for automobiles increasing, this will only get worse. Electric vehicles (EVs) could however change all that. EVs, including hybrid electric cars can drastically reduce carbon emissions released into the environment. Compared to conventional cars that release unhealthy amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxides and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere, battery-electric cars effectively produce zero-emissions from their tailpipes. In a study commissioned by Nissan and carried out by research firm Frost & Sullivan, it was revealed that a third of Southeast Asian consumers are open to buying an electric car. Titled “Future of Electric Vehicles in Southeast Asia”, the study found that consumers in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia as the most enthusiastic about the future of EVs.
The Case for U.S. Clean Energy Cooperation in Asia Center for American Progress 6th May 2019
Energy demand in Asia will continue to climb in the coming decades, which will have critical economic, climate, and geostrategic implications for the United States. Over the next 20 years, India and Southeast Asia are expected to record the world’s highest carbon dioxide growth rates. For this reason, tackling energy-related emissions in this region must be a part of any meaningful global strategy to curb climate change. Accelerating a clean energy transition in Asia is a critical imperative to both help meet booming energy demand and mitigate against climate change. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s response to these important developments has been shortsighted and mercantile. But a new U.S. Indo-Pacific energy initiative offers a chance for the United States to course correct. This column outlines the Trump administration’s fossil fuel-focused approach to energy in Asia, points to the clean energy transformation underway in the region, and offers recommendations on how the United States can reposition Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (Asia EDGE)—the administration’s energy initiative for Asia—in a way that would enable the United States and its companies to drive the clean energy transition in the region, help curb climate change, and sell U.S. energy goods and services.
Investors turn to Asian bonds to escape slumping yields Pensions & Investments 1st Jul 2019
Never mind the trade war. A looming U.S. interest rate cut is set to replace tariff headlines as the key driver of developing Asian bonds, according to money managers. As traders count down to the Group of 20 summit this week, global funds are looking beyond the outcome to focus on an expected easing in Federal Reserve policy. Portfolio managers reason that regional central banks are likely to follow in the Fed's footsteps, and this would galvanize demand for Asian bonds. "The good news is the high yielders — Philippines, India, Indonesia — have central banks that hiked significantly over the last 18 months as the Fed was tightening policy," said Mark Baker, investment manager of emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Standard Investments Ltd. in Hong Kong. "It's natural to look to these markets as the first places to reverse some of that tightening."
Mobile payment solutions are taking off in Southeast Asia · TechNode 26th Jun 2019
TechNode gathered four industry experts at its ORIGIN conference, during Malaysia Tech Week 2019, for a discussion on “Payment Solutions in Southeast Asia.” Kenneth Ho, CEO of the cross-border business matching engine Beam and moderator for the panel, began the talk by asking, “What is the landscape like for mobile payments in Southeast Asia (SEA)? Who do you think is going to be the dominant player? And will Grab simply kick everyone’s ass? Every country has at least 30 to 40 e-wallets. Competition is definitely going to be high in Southeast Asia because of the low barriers of entry,” said Jeremy Wong, head of partnership at e-commerce company Fave. Aiza Azreen Ahmad, director of strategic partnership at lifestyle e-wallet company Boost, said, “For Malaysians today, I’m sure your phones would easily have three e-wallets.”
CapBridge and UOB sign agreement to provide companies across Asia with access to private capital MSN 25th Jun 2019
Global private capital platform CapBridge has signed an agreement with United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) to offer a range of private capital solutions to private, high-growth companies in Singapore and in the Bank’s key markets including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This is CapBridge’s first collaboration with a Singapore bank to provide companies with such alternative financing solutions and draws upon the combined market expertise of two Singapore-headquartered financial institutions and the country’s strength as a global financial centre. Through its investment syndication platform, CapBridge will match UOB’s clients with anchor investors and accredited 2 co-investors, catalysing private capital as a source of funding and helping these companies to broaden their investor base further.
Major payments, banking, retail, e-commerce, and ID players gather at Seamless Asia in Singapore to discuss the future of commerce in Asia BusinessMirror 24th Jun 2019
Seamless Asia, the region’s largest free-to-attend payments, banking, identity, e-commerce and retail conference and exhibition with 150 exhibitors and over 6,000 attendees, returns to Singapore on 26-27 June to explore innovative digital solutions changing commerce and banking in Asia. Representatives from banks, online & offline retailers, major payments providers and vendors who support the ecosystem will be in attendance.
Asia calls for efforts to address protectionism Phnom Penh Post 18th Jun 2019
Asian political figures and economic experts have expressed common concerns over the intensifying trade dispute between China and the US and are calling for integrated efforts to address global challenges like unilateralism and protectionism. “We are all facing an upcoming economic crisis,” warned Chen Deming, former Chinese minister of commerce. Chen made the remark at a two-day gathering in Tokyo last week at which political, economic and academic leaders from the Asia-Pacific region shared concerns on the region’s future. Chen said Asian countries should unite to build a fair and transparent new international economic order and turn crises into opportunities.
Asian Stocks Mixed As Markets Look To Fed, Mull US Retail Sales DailyFX 17th Jun 2019
Asia Pacific stocks were mixed to start a week which will probably be dominated economically by Wednesday’s monetary policy statement from the Federal Reserve. The central bank is not expected to cut interest rates this month but futures markets still evince strong expectations that it will next month, despite the strength of domestic retail sales data seen on Friday.
Regulator approves guidelines on issuance of Asean Bonds BusinessMirror 1st May 2019
The guidelines on the issuance of bonds in line with the standards of Asean secured regulatory approval. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) en banc approved the “Guidelines on the Issuance of Social Bonds under the [Asean SBS] Social Bond Standards” and the “Guidelines on the Issuance of Sustainability Bonds under the Asean Sustainability Bond Standards [SUS]” through Memorandum Circular 8 and MC 9, Series of 2019. The Asean SBS intend to enhance transparency, consistency and uniformity of the Asean Social bonds, which will also contribute to the development of a new asset class, reduce due diligence cost, and help investors to make informed investment decisions.
Is cash still king in ASEAN? Singapore Business Review 25th Apr 2019
Food & Agriculture
Cash still reigns supreme in ASEAN as 70% of transactions in Indonesia and the Philippines are still done through cold, hard cash, according to a report by Standard Chartered. The report noted that whilst the penetration of bank accounts has shown improving numbers in some countries, card penetration is relatively low at below 50%. In most of the ASEAN countries, the preferred way to pay for online purchases is cash on delivery. According to Stanchart’s report, reasons for high cash usage in the region in spite of the awareness of options for digital payments include the lack of understanding of how digital payments work, privacy concerns for their financial records, the perception that cash is still the simplest payment, and merchants, especially SMEs, that are still reluctant to absorb the costs of e-payments methods. Aside from cash, cheques are also a go-to for transactions in most ASEAN countries, with usage remaining relatively stable in the Philippines and Thailand in the past five years. On the other hand, Indonesia’s cheque usage fell 32%. StanChart noted that governments in Singapore and Malaysia have boosted efforts to reduce cheque usage in their effort to move towards a digital economy. For its part, Singapore aims to lower the use of cheques to 15% in 2020 and be cheque-free by 2025. Meanwhile, Malaysia targets to reduce its cheque volume to 100 million per year by 2020, which is half the usage in 2012.
Sar Kheng orders Prey Lang forest protection Phnom Penh Post 28th Jun 2019
Interior Minister Sar Kheng urged authorities on Thursday to protect Prey Lang forest, saying it is the largest remaining woodland in mainland Southeast Asia, and that amendments to laws that protect natural resources would soon be finalised. “If we protect the forest, it will be great for our natural resources.” Sar Kheng said he was tasked with reforming the law on the protection of natural resources some 10 years ago by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The minister also instructed provincial authorities to educate residents not to log timber in Thailand because the Thai authorities have strict forest protection laws. He said their laws allowed authorities to shoot to kill without waiting for court approval. The Ministry of Interior had discussed the matter with Thailand, Sar Kheng said, asking it not to kill any Cambodian people, but he said his Thai counterparts insisted that that is their law and requested Cambodia to explain the facts to its citizens.
ASEAN meeting reports on global sugar deficit and opportunities for SE Asian countries The Thaiger 18th Jun 2019
Health & Life Sciences
The ASEAN Sugar Alliance says there will be a global sugar deficit of about 2.5 million tonnes in 2019-20, and prices are expected to firm following a number of years of falling prices and surplus stocks. The prediction was reported at the fourth meeting of the ASEAN Sugar Alliance in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday. Market analyst, futures trading and risk manager at Thailand’s MITR Phol Sugar Corp, Sasathorn Sanguandeekul, says that a deficit would occur this year mostly due to a reduction in output in major sugar producing countries, including Thailand. “In 2019-20 with the expectation of reduction in Thailand and India, Asia should have a deficit of around 9.5 million tonnes.”
ASEAN urged fund health care to minimize out-of-pocket spending | BusinessWorld Business World 17th Jun 2019
THE EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) recommended that ASEAN countries address the issue of funding health care, as the healthcare protection gap remains an issue in the region. In its “Driving Comprehensive Healthcare Policy in ASEAN” report, EU-ABC said on Monday, “While households face a health protection gap, the rising costs in healthcare provision poses a material threat to the sustainability of the healthcare system for governments. As reflected in the large healthcare protection gap, healthcare is underfunded in ASEAN.”
Asean Countries Urged to Follow Indonesia's Step to Ban Online Cigarette Ads Jakarta Globe 18th Jun 2019
The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, or Seatca, on Monday called on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, to follow the Indonesian government's step to ban all cigarette advertisements on the internet. Last week, Indonesian Communication and Informatics Ministry announced an outright ban on all online cigarette advertisements.
Policies needed to boost ASEAN’s digital economy Business World 10th Jun 2019
DESPITE high participation in digitally-enhanced services trade among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) between 2010 and 2016, policies to improve broadband penetration are needed to boost economic growth, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia, according to the World Bank. The World Bank’s “The Digital Economy in Southeast Asia — Strengthening the Foundations for Future Growth” report released on late Thursday said the Philippines was the one of the largest participants in digitally-enhanced services trade in the ASEAN in 2010-2016.
Asia Pacific leads digital commerce trend The Star Online 27th May 2019
WITH the rapid spread of mobile technology in Asia Pacific, the region is expected to take the lead in shaping digital commerce trends over the next few years. A recent report by Euromonitor International found that the region accounted for 41% of global spending in digital commerce in 2018. The segment is expected to grow in line with the growth of Internet users in the region.
Journey to the Cloud Bangkok Post 10th Jun 2019
The use of cloud computing has become standard practice for businesses in various industries as they seek to maximise resources and infrastructure, optimise workloads and enhance security. Revenue in the global cloud services market is forecast to reach US$555 billion by next year, according to Allied Market Research. Enterprises are predicted to invest over $3.5 million on average within the next year, accounting for 30% of their total IT budget in 2020, the market intelligence firm IDG has said.
ASEAN told to improve production technology and capacity Bernama 21st May 2019
Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, should focus on improving production technology and capacity, as well as regional integration in order to benefit from the shifting of supply chains due to changes in global trade, says HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd. Country Head of Commercial Banking Andrew Sill said the changes in global trade were causing businesses to revisit their supply chain investment and capacity strategies.
China Admits One Belt, One Road has Commercial and Military Objectives www.theepochtimes.com 11th Jul 2019
China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe publicly acknowledged for the first time that China’s $1.3 trillion “One Belt, One Road” commercial initiative is also infused with military objectives. He made the remarks during a visit with a group of South Pacific and Caribbean military chiefs on July 10, according to Xinhua News Agency.
16 out of 69 infrastructure projects implemented under BEV2025 www.thesundaily.my 10th Jul 2019
A total of 16 out of the 69 priority infrastructure projects (PIPs) under BIMP-Eaga Vision 2025 (BEV2025) with an estimated cost of US$22.7 billion (RM94 billion) have been completed to-date while the remaining projects are in various stages of implementation. Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (pix) said BEV2025 had set a target of being a region that is competitive and sustainable through various strategies, focusing on agriculture and fisheries development, usage of green technology in manufacturing and the development of the tourism sector. BEV2025 is a regional cooperation under the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga).
Cambodia, Thailand reconnect a Cold War-cut link Asia Times 9th Jul 2019
The new rail link ends one of the last infrastructural disruptions caused by the Cold War era conflict and will more tightly connect the peacetime economies of former staunch adversaries Thailand and Cambodia. The two neighbors recently extended an existing Bangkok-Aranyaprathet railway line which crosses eastern Thailand and ends at the Cambodian border. Repairs to a final 5.7-kilometer link between Aranyaprathet and Ban Klong Luk border station on the Thai side of the frontier were recently completed to tie the link together.
China No Match for Japan in Southeast Asia Infrastructure Race Bloomberg.com 23rd Jun 2019
Japan is still winning the Southeast Asia infrastructure race against China, with pending projects worth almost one and a half times its rival, according to the latest data from Fitch Solutions. Japanese-backed projects in the region’s six biggest economies -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam -- are valued at $367 billion, the figures show. China’s tally is $255 billion.
Too little, too late for the US around the Mekong? China’s already there South China Morning Post 16th Jun 2019
US officials say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will “recommit” the United States to supporting the five countries along Southeast Asia’s longest river, the Mekong, when he makes his first duty visit to Bangkok in July. Pompeo has voiced concern that China has tried to “steadily salami-slice its way to control” in the region. Mark Clark, acting deputy assistant secretary for Southeast Asia at the state department, said his boss planned to highlight what had been achieved in the past decade by the US-backed Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). Pompeo will attend a ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and lead talks on the LMI, which was launched 10 years ago by his predecessor Hillary Clinton to boost cooperation between Washington and Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. But experts warn the American pledge might be too little, too late given China’s entrenched interests in the area. Brian Eyler, director of the Washington-based Stimson Centre’s Southeast Asia programme, said the US had promoted its foreign policy goals in the region largely behind the scenes, despite a push by Mekong nations for “real and tangible” pacts with the US. Beijing has set aside more than US$22 billion under the initiative to support projects ranging from technological connectivity and industrial development to trade, agriculture and poverty alleviation. The Mekong is an essential venue for much of the grand infrastructure envisioned by President Xi Jinping under his ambitious strategy to boost global trade and connectivity with the Belt and Road Initiative. A five-year action plan issued last year said the LMC should work in synergy with the belt and road plan.
Myanmar and Lao to get infrastructure boost The ASEAN Post 14th Jun 2019
Myanmar and Lao PDR look to be the biggest winners of an ASEAN plan to boost connectivity with a series of infrastructure projects. The regional bloc unveiled a list of 19 projects in the Initial Rolling Priority Pipeline of Potential ASEAN Infrastructure Projects (Initial Pipeline) on Monday, one of the initiatives under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
‘Youth bulge’ in Asean best draw for financing for infrastructure BusinessMirror 14th Jun 2019
THE young population in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries remains its biggest asset in terms of attracting financing needed to plug the region’s infrastructure constraints like those from the United States. In an Infrastructure forum for Asean journalists at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters on Thursday, US Embassy Counselor for Economic Affairs Lynne Gadkowski said the “youth bulge” in the region ensures the economic growth and presence of various opportunities in the Asean.
Navigating the Belt and Road Initiative Asia Society 11th Jun 2019
The Belt and Road Initiative, estimated to comprise more than USD $1 trillion in Chinese investment, is arguably China's broadest economic engagement effort with the rest of the world — enhancing China’s connectivity through Southeast, South, Central, and West Asia; Africa; South America; and Europe.... ASPI’s new report, Navigating the Belt and Road Initiative integrates international standards, Chinese domestic guidelines, and lessons learned from BRI’s first five years to conceptualize a blueprint for successful projects and to surmount the challenges that BRI projects have faced thus far. The report and a "BRI Matrix" within it offer guidance on the management of BRI projects to improve the likelihood that they yield beneficial and sustainable developmental, economic, environmental, civic, and social outcomes
Travel & Tourism
Making ASEAN travel accessible TTR Weekly 26th Jun 2019
ASEAN’s tourism objectives filtered through during last week’s high powered ASEAN summit in Bangkok with a call for renewed commitment to pursue sustainable, inclusive and balanced tourism development. That was the key takeaway as far as tourism was concerned according to comments made by the ASEAN Tourism Association president, Mingkwan Metmowlee, in an interview with Thailand Today last weekend.
Strong baht could drive tourists from Thailand to neighbouring countries TTG Asia 19th Jun 2019
As travel to Thailand becomes more expensive due to an appreciating Thai baht, tourism traffic could shift to neighbouring countries, according to operators in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. “The Thai baht peaked within the last four months and is now contributing to higher costs and expenses. International visitors will avoid visiting Thailand and look to other destinations instead,” said Luang Prabang- and Bangkok-based Padej Jantarasorn, executive marketing consultant and regional sales representative for Villa Santi and Santi Resort & Spa in the Laotian city, speaking to TTG Asia at the recent TTM+ in Pattaya. Compared to the last three or four months, the average total cost of travel for Europeans visiting Vietnam (including flights, hotels, meals, activities, etc) costs five to 10 per cent less than to Thailand. Cost of travel to Seam Reap in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos seem relatively unchanged but prices for both destinations become more attractive as travelling expenses in Thailand go up.
WTTC study finds low level of future tourism growth readiness among SE Asian cities TTG Asia 14th Jun 2019
The majority of South-east Asian cities in a new study on future tourism growth readiness were recommended to evolve tourism policy and improve infrastructure. The global index report from WTTC and JLL assessed the preparedness of 50 cities for future travel and tourism growth, and placed them in one of five typologies, namely Dawning Developers, Emerging Performers, Balanced Dynamics, Mature Performers and Managing Momentum. Five of the six South-east Asian cities the study looked at were classified under Emerging Performers and Dawning Developers. According to WTTC and JLL, cities in these categories tend to be in emerging countries, with a lower level of urban readiness.
ITB Asia returns with its highest ever number of participating National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) Yahoo Finance 10th Jun 2019
ITB Asia, Asia's leading trade show, is back and with four months to go before it opens its doors on 16 October 2019, it is already attracting unprecedented exhibition demand from National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) and Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs). With a total of 58 NTOs and RTOs, this represents a year-on-year growth of 23.8% and 25% respectively in the securing of exhibition space compared to 2018. This surpasses previous levels set for ITB Asia by this stage in the year.
Asean tourism: room to grow but more needs to be done The Business Times 30th May 2019
Tourism in Asean is set for a significant upside, but more needs to be done in areas such as infrastructure, and there are risks of over-reliance on China arrivals and casinos, according to a new Maybank report, "Asean Tourism: Blue Skies, But Keep Your Seatbelts Fastened." Although Asean visitor arrivals have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent since 2010, with tourism receipts being a sizeable contributor to many of the economies, the sector still has potential to expand further thanks to the falling cost of travel and rising affluence.
ILTM Asia Pacific 2019: Luxury travel 'mindstyle' shifts from indulgence and status to health and wellness Buzz travel 30th May 2019
A new report by ILTM Asia Pacific and Intelligence found that travelers in Asia now have a health and wellness mindset and are looking for travel that supports that lifestyle. Travel brands must significantly upgrade their health & wellness proposition to better connect with the new mindstyle of luxury travelers in Asia Pacific (APAC). Plant-based dining, MediSpa and digital detoxing are just some of the expectations of the new wave of luxury consumers across APAC, while there is huge gap between the simple vegetarian options, massage rooms and ‘free WiFi’ being offered by some travel businesses today.
World Heritage Sites under threat The ASEAN Post 30th May 2019
While Asean nations rely and capitalize on their rich cultural sites to promote tourism, tourists and other factors like climate change puts these sites at risk. These sites are an important asset both in terms of the rich and diverse cultural heritage they exemplify as well as their contribution to the economy through tourism developments. UNESCO recommends that governments incorporate regional planning programmes, implement on-site staff and services, and conduct technical conservation research to ensure the protection of their respective state’s cultural and natural heritage.
Asia-Pacific’s hotel market offers rich pickings South China Morning Post 27th May 2019
Last year, Asia’s hotel sector accounted for just over 5 per cent of commercial real estate deals across the region. Yet the industry’s small share in investment transactions belies the strong performance and growth potential of a market that is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the global increase in spending on travel and tourism. According to a report by property adviser Jones Lang LaSalle in February, the Asia-Pacific hotel market is expected to be “the stand-out region from a growth standpoint” this year, with transaction volumes expected to grow 15 per cent year on year. By contrast, investments in European hotels are forecast to decline by 5-10 per cent – partly because of political uncertainty across the region – while transactions in the Americas are projected to remain flat.