President's Newsletter - December 2020

Alexander C. Feldman
Alexander C. Feldman
President & CEO
US-ASEAN Business Council

December 2020

Dear Members,

Despite enormous challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a defining year for the Council. We retooled the way in which we organized and executed our programs, celebrated and built upon the relationships rooted in our organization’s 36-year history, delivered value through our seven local offices in Southeast Asia and ensured our members interests were covered even if they could not be on the ground in every country. We achieved significant advocacy successes in the midst of all the hurdles and continued to increase our membership base – now at its highest level in the Council’s recent history – which will ultimately strengthen the Council’s positioning and help to improve our lineup of programming and engagements as we enter 2021.

In Indonesia on December 22, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced his intention to shuffle his cabinet for the first time since the start of his second term and replaced six ministers. President Jokowi faced political pressure to reinvigorate his administration amidst corruption charges and recalibrate his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new ministers have robust track records in business and government, and their primary task will be curbing the public health crisis and recovering the Indonesian economy. Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Muhammed Lutfi, who only presented his credentials to President Trump in September 2020, has been named one of the new Ministers and will return to the Ministry of Trade where he previously served as Minister under President Yudhoyono. More information about Jokowi’s newest cabinet picks can be found in the Council’s recent analytical update here.

The Council conducted its final Board of Directors Meeting of 2020 earlier this month. We kicked off the meeting with a fantastic “fireside chat” between Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Dr. Kurt Campbell (Chairman & CEO of The Asia Group), and Richard Fontaine (CEO of the Center for a New American Security
). Minister Chan recognized his time with our Board on his official Facebook page. His post is accessible here. Following the business meeting, directors engaged in a robust and productive discussion on business realities and trends, the impact of COVID-19 and ASEAN governments’ pandemic responses as well as how the Council can best inform the new Biden Administration’s approach to economic and trade policy in Southeast Asia. We are very pleased to have five new companies represented on the Board for the 2021-2022 term, including Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, SAP and Visa, and to welcome Nigel Hearne of Chevron as the Board’s new Vice Chair. I was elected to continue serving as Chair until the newly formed search committee has successfully identified my successor.

Our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force continues to make significant strides forward. The Council is joining forces with the World Economic Forum’s Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation to stress-test and optimize how ASEAN countries will import COVID-19 vaccines and related medical equipment. Our shared knowledge of trade facilitation, deep regional expertise and links with key private sector players in life sciences, logistics, express delivery and technology will enable our two organizations to help ASEAN countries bring an end to the pandemic. We plan to conduct in-country diagnostics of the processes involved in importing vaccines and related medical equipment to identify the barriers and challenges impeding or delaying their timely delivery, a tabletop test to simulate a real-world shipment, and a physical dummy shipment test to confirm the conclusions of the tabletop exercise. The outcomes will be used to help ASEAN countries remove barriers at the border and in their regulatory systems so that distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and related medical equipment will quickly and efficiently be delivered to distribution points within each country.

On behalf of the Council, I will testify on December 29 at the USTR public hearing concerning its Section 301 Investigation into Vietnam’s Currency Valuation. In my more than 11 years at the helm of the Council, I have seen first-hand how Vietnam has managed its economy and especially inflation by keeping the Vietnamese Dong in a narrow range pegged to a basket of currencies led by the U.S. dollar. This low inflation environment (since 2015) and steady currency has created certainty that has benefited our members. The U.S. Department of the Treasury ruled on December 16 in its semi-annual report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States that Vietnam (and Switzerland) had manipulated its currency using three criteria under the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The U.S. Treasury will therefore “commence enhanced bilateral engagement in accordance with the Act … which will include urging the development of a plan with specific policy actions to address the underlying causes of Vietnam’s undervaluation of its currency.” Given this update to the issue with Vietnam and Treasury’s expertise in handling the subject of currency manipulation, the Council will strongly advocate for USTR to either conclude its investigation amicably or to suspend its 301 investigation until Treasury’s negotiations with the Vietnamese have reached an outcome in accordance with the 2015 Act. To view the Council’s summary of testimony, please click here. To view the U.S. Treasury report, please click here. For more background on the USTR investigation on Vietnam please click here.

2021 marks Brunei’s assumption of the ASEAN Chairmanship. In anticipation of this transition, the Council held our annual Brunei Virtual Business Mission December 7-15, the Council’s final virtual business mission of 2020. During the mission, we engaged several key stakeholders, including Minister of Foreign Affairs II H.E. YB Dato Seri Haji Erywan Yusof and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy and CEO of the Brunei Economic Development Board, Dato Dr. Manaf Metussin. We discussed Brunei’s excellent management of the COVID-19 spread, ASEAN’s preparations for a vaccine and industry’s support for economic recovery, in addition to Brunei’s renewed economic diversification efforts, particularly the government’s support for harnessing digital technology. We also learned more about Brunei’s plans and priorities for its ASEAN Chairmanship, under the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper.” More on Brunei’s chairmanship can be found in the Council’s recent analytical update on the subject here.

In collaboration with Deloitte and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the Council launched the Edges of Southeast Asia program at a panel session held at the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (“SWITCH”) Global Channel 2020. Edges of Southeast Asia features a 25-card information pack, each illustrating an emerging trend that draws upon a real case example in the ASEAN region, reflecting influence from a diverse range of social, technological, economic and political megatrends to better understand the complex dynamics shaping the business world today. Edges of Southeast Asia highlights high growth potential opportunities across ASEAN and goes well beyond the opportunities of digitalization to reveal untold stories of economic inclusion, urban renewal, sustainability, a rising middle-class and an evolving identity and aesthetic.

Thirty-nine member companies joined our annual Thailand Business Mission November 23-27 – the largest delegation of the year to any country in Southeast Asia. Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council piloted a hybrid format for this mission; due to Thailand’s handling of the pandemic, our engagements had both in-person and virtual aspects, further enhancing the experience of the mission and drawing us closer to a sense of normalcy. The Council kicked off the mission with an overview by U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael DeSombre. Ambassador DeSombre devoted considerable time to the Council and our members, hosting a Welcome Reception at his official residence, joining us for our meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and select members of his economic Cabinet and for a dinner with former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The highlight of the mission was the almost three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Prayut and his ministers where the Prime Minister gave an overview of the recent ASEAN Leaders Summit, his government’s stimulus packages to revive the economy especially around SMEs and tourism as well as economic incentives around continued efforts to improve the ease of doing business and encouraging investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor. The Prime Minister also addressed head-on the political situation in Thailand and his commitment to allow peaceful, lawful protests by student groups. The Prime Minister graciously agreed to hear from each of the 39 companies on our delegation. During meetings with the Prime Minister and other separate meetings with members of the cabinet, including with the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Health, the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Energy, the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Thailand and the Minister of the Digital Economy and Society, our delegation discussed critical issues including COVID-19 vaccine delivery, future energy resources of the Kingdom, human capital development and digital inclusivity. The future of trade, especially around the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and how U.S. investors and manufacturers in the Kingdom might tap the agreement to distribute products made in Thailand, were also discussed.

The Council led its fifth consecutive delegation to the 26th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting and engaged top transport officials in a virtual consultation session on November 24. The session was chaired by H.E. Dato Seri Setia Abdul Mutalib Yusof, Minister of Transport and Infocommunications, Brunei Darussalam, and the Council's Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director, Ambassador Michael Michalak. Industry experts from the Council's membership provided an exclusive briefing to reinforce the U.S. business community’s commitment toward ensuring ASEAN's transport continuity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics covered during the session included sanitation standards and management of transport facilities, instilling confidence in air travel (Confident Travel Initiative), connecting businesses and consumers during COVID-19, assisting economic recovery through road safety and leveraging digital technology to enhance bankability and reduce waste in transport development.

The Council’s ASEAN Committee and the Innovation Sub-Committee launched the first 2020 Innovation Series in the Philippines entitled Innovation Series: Philippines “Discover What’s Possible” on November 25. This event was in conjunction with the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) National Science and Technology Week and the first activity executed through the Memorandum of Understanding between the US-ASEAN Business Council and DOST. Discussions revolved around Artificial Intelligence in the field of data analytics as well as agriculture and its vital role in the "New Normal” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. SAS highlighted using AI in government finance, public safety, criminal justice, infrastructure and health care, and members presented technology to improve the agriculture sector, including using seed genetics, data analysis in the environment and climate, and the use of monitoring technology like drones. The event caught the attention of academics and the public sector and was attended by 200 participants across the Philippines.

Following the Philippines program, the Council held a Vietnam session titled “Inclusive Innovation to Boost Vietnam Acceleration Development and Growth” on December 16. Some 100 participants representing government ministries, ASEAN agencies, international organizations and businesses joined the webinar. At the event, members highlighted their efforts to develop the start-up ecosystem in Vietnam. Also in attendance at the event was Vice Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung who commented on the innovation landscape in Vietnam and the important role international communities play in developing this landscape. The ASEAN Innovation Series will continue with an Indonesia Session and an ASEAN-wide Plenary Session in January 2021.

At the Council, we strive to continually improve the services that we provide to you and your company. As part of this effort, I would appreciate a few moments of your time to let us know how we did over this past year and how we might better serve your company's interests in the future. If you have not done so already, please consider filling out our 2020 Membership Survey which provides vital feedback, helps us understand what we’re doing well and gives us insight into what we can improve next year and beyond.

I wish you a joyous holiday season, Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and good health. May 2021 be a wonderful, healthy and successful year for you and yours.



Upcoming Events

2021 Virtual Business Mission to 1st ADGMIN
The US-ASEAN Business Council is pleased to announce that it is now registering senior-level executives for its Virtual Business Mission to the 1st ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN). The mission will take place virtually from January 21 through February 5, 2021. The Council plans to hold its annual plenary session with the ADGMIN as well as bilateral meetings with each of the ASEAN Digital Ministers and the U.S. government’s delegation to the ministerial meeting. This will be the 4th consecutive mission and engagement with the ASEAN Digital Ministers. The mission themes focus on COVID-19 ICT Best Practices, regional and national ICT advocacy issues related to COVID-19, the Virtual Digital Policy Consultative Forum for 2021, and ASEAN digital priorities such as data governance and cybersecurity. To register, please click here. Please contact Ryan DelGaudio at with any questions.



Alexander Feldman Speaks About the Implications of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for Southeast Asia on US-Asia Institute’s Southeast Asia in Focus Series

The Council’s Chairman, President & CEO Alex Feldman joined US-Asia Institute’s panel discussion to provide insights into the implications of the U.S. election in Southeast Asia and how U.S. engagement in the region might change under the Biden Administration.

Alexander Feldman Joins Expert Panel During the Jakarta Development Collaboration Network (JDCN) Forum 2020

On December 18, the Council’s Chairman, President & CEO Alex Feldman joined a panel of industry experts and municipal leaders hosted by the Governor of Jakarta, Governor Anies Baswedan, including the Mayor of Berlin, Mayor Michael Müller. Panelists shared their perspectives on how cities can collaborate to redefine their futures.


COVID-19 Update


COVID-19 Update

As of December 17, Brunei Darussalam only has one active case, bringing its total number of cases to 152. As of September 28, authorities have further eased local restrictions. This includes the resumption of certain sports events without spectators if they have a permit, including badminton, golf, sepak takraw, squash, table tennis and tennis. Additionally, swimming pools can reopen with a user limit of 100 people. Playgrounds and arcades can operate at 80% capacity. Travel to Brunei is still restricted and anyone seeking to enter or exit Brunei must apply for a permit from the Prime Minister’s Office. However, on October 30, it was announced that Japan will lift its entry ban on Brunei, along with a few other nations, for non-tourist arrivals and government officials. Travelers from Brunei will no longer need to observe a 14-day quarantine period, as long as they take similar preventative measures such as limiting overseas travel within seven days of entering Japan and providing a negative test upon their return. Brunei has also continued its green travel lane with Singapore.

The government of Cambodia continues its effort to contain its COVID-19 cases, most of which were claimed to be imported. However, recently, Cambodia has declared its first case of community transmission. As a result, the government has decided on a temporary closure of certain businesses and activities such as KTVs, cinemas, clubs, bars, spas, massage facilities and fitness centers. Gatherings of all sizes such as weddings, religious gatherings and parties are to be avoided. The public is encouraged to stay home unless they have to conduct mandatory business. Public services and transportation are operating at a limited capacity with mandatory social distancing. On December 10, the Cambodian Ministry of Education announced continued restrictions for educational institutions, prohibiting meetings of more than 20 people, suspending in-person classes and banning group sports. The entry and exit requirements remain unchanged.

With nearly 650,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of December 17, Indonesia continues to be the hardest-hit country in ASEAN by the coronavirus pandemic. The nation registered an increase of 180,000 new infections between mid-November and mid-December – almost 60,000 more than the 120,000 new cases that were tallied between mid-October and mid-November. December 3 saw the biggest daily jump in cases since the pandemic began, with 8,369 new infections being recorded. As of December 17, Indonesia’s death toll stood at 19,390. The worst-impacted provinces are East, West and Central Java, as well as the Special Capital Region of Jakarta. On December 16, President Joko Widodo announced that the nation’s forthcoming vaccination campaign will be delivered free of charge for all Indonesians and that he has volunteered to be the first person to be inoculated. Indonesia has already received 1.2 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine and will receive the requisite materials to domestically manufacture another 15 million doses of the same vaccine later this month. However, the Indonesian National Agency of Drug and Food Control has made clear that the earliest the vaccine can be made available to the public is in late January 2021, as clinical trials of the vaccine are still underway. The Indonesian government has also announced that its young working-age population (ages 18-59) will be the first demographic to be vaccinated, beginning with front-line workers, such as healthcare staff, police officers and military personnel.

Laos reported two new cases of COVID-19 on December 7, bringing the country’s total to 41. The death toll remains at zero. Officials are also strictly monitoring land borders to prevent illegal immigration and imported cases after two infected Chinese nationals were found in Ton Pheung district of Bokeo province in early December. COVID-19 prevention measures and the suspension of charter flights are in place until December 31. At a special session of the UNGA in response to the pandemic, Prime Minister Thonglou Sisoulith stressed the need for multilateral cooperation in developing a vaccine and called on the international community to support COVAX, an initiative working towards global equitable access to the vaccine.

As of December 17, Malaysia has seen its total number of cases climb above 87,000 with 429 total deaths. This sharp increase has led the government to declare a state of emergency to stop by-elections in two constituencies scheduled for the next month. Prime Minister Muhyiddin recently stated that the king had agreed to the request to impose an emergency in the Bugaya constituency in Sabah, as health authorities believe this area and the Gerik constituency in the Perak state are the epicenter of the country’s third wave of infections. Sabah, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, four Johor districts, Kulim district in Kedah, and Penang's two subdistricts, Perak's Kinta district, Kelatan's four districts and Negri Sembilan's two districts are all areas where the CMCO has been extended until December 20. States under the CMCO also have to adhere to the previous standard operating procedures (SOP). The RMCO in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perlis, Melaka, Sarawak and Johor will all last until December 31. Police will no longer carry out roadblocks from December 7 onwards and police permission is no longer required for interstate or inter-district travel throughout the whole country. Only entry and exit from CMCO areas will remain prohibited. Regarding Malaysia’s vaccine plan, the country is looking to buy shots for 70% of its population. The government plans to tap the Covax facility to provide vaccines for 10% of the population while reaching out to ten companies with vaccines that are at phase-III clinical trials. Malaysia’s agreement with Pfizer will provide 12.8 million doses to vaccinate 6.4 million people with the first one million doses to arrive in the first quarter of 2021. Furthermore, Malaysia will conduct its first COVID-19 vaccine trial in December as a part of a government-to-government agreement with China. Finally, the Ministry of Health has now reduced the quarantine period for travelers, COVID-19 patients, and close contacts from 14 days to 10.

As of December 13, the Myanmar government has further extended its COVID-19 preventive measures until the end of the year. During the second week of December, the country surpassed 100,000 cases and now has a total of 108,342 cases to date. Yangon remains the place with the highest number of cases followed by Mandalay with the recent increase in the number of patients in hospitals. Despite the failure to contain the spread, the government has permitted domestic and international airlines to resume commercial flights. Domestic airlines have resumed operation since December 16. According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the passengers are required to go through mandatory health screenings in alignment with instructions from the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19, but as of December 17, specific guidance and conditions for flying are still being developed. Locally, businesses are starting to resume their operations. The Yangon Region Construction Supervision Committee has allowed more than 100 construction sites to resume their projects. Mandalay is also allowing factories that received Grade-A health and safety scores to reopen. Stay-at-home rules in several townships of Yangon have also been lifted. The State Counsellor has recently engaged with international organizations to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine can be made available in Myanmar. A team of medical professionals has been formed to oversee the administration and distribution of the vaccines.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,470 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of December 17. Topping the list of areas with the greatest number of new COVID-19 cases were Quezon City with 74, Rizal with 64, the City of Makati with 58, Davao City with 55 and Quezon province with 46. As cases continue to spike, President Duterte has extended the implementation of the general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the year in several areas throughout the Philippines which includes Metro Manila, Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan and Davao City. The rest of the country will be under a modified GCQ. On December 1, President Duterte officially signed Executive Order No. 121 granting authority to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. The EUA, which can be issued by the first week of January 2021, aims to speed up the vaccine's approval process to 21-28 days from the usual six months. The President also asserted that any unregistered COVID-19 drugs and vaccines are prohibited from being manufactured, sold, imported, exported, distributed or transferred without an EUA. The Philippines aims to have at least 50 million vaccine shots next year to inoculate at least a fourth of its population.

As of December 16, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed and verified that there are no new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection. There are 12 imported cases, which had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore.The November 22 launch of the much-anticipated travel bubble to facilitate leisure travel between Singapore and Hong Kong has been further delayed amidst a rising number of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. The exact start date of the arrangement will be reviewed later this month. Singapore and Hong Kong previously agreed that the travel bubble arrangement would be suspended if the number exceeds five in either city. Hong Kong’s local COVID-19 cases rose to 16 in a seven-day average prompting the announcement of the deferral of the air travel bubble on November 21.

Thailand had continued to report small numbers of imported cases daily, with 381 cases reported between November 17 and December 16. On December 20, the highest daily tally of 576 cases was recorded. Another 809 cases were reported on December 21, bringing the country’s case total to over 5,700 cases. The majority of cases are linked to a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon province, which has been put under lockdown until January 3. The nationwide state of emergency was extended for the eighth time until January 15, 2021, to curb infections over the New Year holidays. Additionally, the Special Tourist Visa (STV) long-stay program was amended on December 8 to allow tourists from all countries, irrespective of their home country’s COVID-19 situation, to visit Thailand. The policy was revised after only 825 tourists from 29 countries came to Thailand, a far cry from the 40 million foreign arrivals to Thailand in 2019. On November 27, Thailand also signed a $200 million deal to procure 26 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to be distributed in mid-2021.

On November 30, patient 1,347 was confirmed with COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City, being the first local community transmission case in Vietnam since September 2. Patient 1,347 was infected through contact with patient 1,342, a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who the government said violated quarantine regulations after returning from an international flight. Two more patients, 1,348 and 1,349, who had been in close contact with patient 1,347 were also confirmed with COVID-19. Following the detection, the Prime Minister has suspended inbound international commercial flights, after previously allowing commercial flights to seven Asian destinations including mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. However, domestic flights, repatriation flights, and chartered flights to bring in diplomats, experts, and high-skilled workers will continue. On December 7, in a National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health had tested negative for all 3,263 people who came in contact with the four patients and successfully contained the cluster. No additional local infection has been confirmed since patient 1,949. The Center will coordinate with competent authorities to further supervise and conduct COVID-19 tests on people with a high risk of infection, quarantine all international arrivals and monitor the health conditions of those who had completed their quarantine period.The Ministry of Health is also recruiting volunteers for human clinical tests of a made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccine developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. The test was launched on December 17. Other vaccines are being developed by state-owned Vaccine Biological Production Company No. 1 (VAIOTECH), Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac). On December 15, Vietnam and Singapore have agreed to "expeditiously conclude ongoing discussions" on a "green lane" agreement for essential business and official travel. Since October 8, short-term visitors from Vietnam have been allowed to travel to Singapore after applying for an Air Travel Pass.


Country, Industry and Advocacy Updates


Key Developments

New Indonesian Cabinet Members Announced
Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto will be replaced by Muhammad Lutfi, Indonesia’s current Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Lutfi is a former businessman who has held the high-level public service positions of Trade Minister, Ambassador to Japan and Chairman of the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) previously. Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto will be replaced by Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the current Vice Minister of State Owned-Enterprises and the Head of National Economic Task Force. Sadikin was a former chief executive of Bank Mandiri and state mining company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, who was credited with being an “astute manager.” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio will be replaced by Sandiaga Uno. Uno is a businessman, venture capitalist, and former Jakarta vice-governor to Anies Baswedan who ran as a vice presidential candidate with Prabowo Subianto of Gerindra Party in 2019. Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini (Risma) will replace former Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara following his resignation from the cabinet after being arrested on December 6, for allegedly receiving a bribe during the procurement of Rp 5.9 trillion (US $420m) worth of COVID-19 supplies. Mayor Risma has a 20-year public service record and has helped Surabaya win many awards such as the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City Award in 2012.Sakti Wahyu Trenggono will be the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister replacing Edhy Prabowo who resigned from the cabinet after being arrested on November 25 for accepting Rp 3.4 billion (US $320,800) in bribes in exchange for granting lobster larvae export permits. Although Trenggono currently serves as Vice Defense Minister and is affiliated with Gerindra just like Edhy Prabowo, he used to have important roles in Jokowi’s campaign successes starting from his time as a mayor in Solo through his presidential campaigns. Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi will be replaced by Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, who currently serves as the Chairman of PKB Central Executive Board. He is also the Chairman of Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor) of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's biggest Muslim organization.

Brunei Darussalam's 2021 ASEAN Chairmanship
On November 15, Brunei accepted the baton of the ASEAN chairmanship Chairmanship from Vietnam. His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah acknowledged Vietnam’s success in guiding ASEAN to create a cohesive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and introduced the new chairmanship theme as “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper,” which reflects its goals to care for the well-being, prepare for opportunities and challenges, and allow the region to prosper. Brunei’s chairmanship is unique as it falls at a pivotal momentum of a new era of the post-COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Biden administration. In addition, the Sultan has also stated that although ASEAN has a growing economy and connectivity, the region still faces financial, energy, and climate crises. Despite Brunei’s announcement that all ministerials and summits in 2021 will be virtual, there is a possibility if the COVID-19 situation improves that the November Leaders’ Summits could be in person. The Sultanate has set aside a $2 million chairmanship budget and formed an ASEAN national committee. Beyond hosting the Summits, the 2021 chair has urgent imperatives to drive the development of a post-2025 ASEAN Vision and ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific Outlook, the implementation of RCEP, the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC), and the ASEAN Travel Corridor 2021, just to name a few. To read more on the analysis of Brunei’s 2021 ASEAN Chairmanship, click here.

Singapore Announces Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan
On December 11, the RIE2025 plan was launched following the 12th meeting of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council. DPM Heng, who also chairs the National Research Foundation (NRF), announced a record S$25 billion (US$18.25 billion) to support RIE investments and R&D through 2025. The RIE fund has been crucial in sustaining Singapore’s development, and the blueprint for the next five years targets the intersection of Artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and cybersecurity as the locus of future opportunities. By leveraging deep technology, Singapore aims to be a hub for making the high-value components that power electric and autonomous vehicles.

New Myanmar Economic Relief and Reform Plan (MERRP) Drafted
In the early weeks following Myanmar’s 2020 general election, a cabinet-level draft document entailing Myanmar’s economic plans for the incoming government was released, shedding light on a medium-to-long term blueprint to address macroeconomic and financial stability, along with a roadmap for sustainable business practices. Consisting of 6 Goals and 16 Strategies, the Myanmar Economic Relief and Reform Plan (MERRP) is an extension of the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) that seeks to aid economic recovery in the short term and complement the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan in the long run. The MERRP provides measures to reform the tax system, attract more foreign direct investments (FDI) through streamlined business procedures, support SME development, and liberalize the financial sector through innovation and digitalization. The proposal allows foreign businesses to be able to participate more actively as a result of further liberalization. To read more on the Council’s analysis of the MERRP, click here. Members interested to learn more about the MERRP and its subsequent implementation process should contact the Council's Myanmar Country Manager, Jack Myint at

Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Overcomes Political Hurdle
On December 15, Malaysia’s parliament officially passed the 2021 Budget at its third reading in parliament. Lawmakers voted 111-108 in favor of the budget, with just three votes solidifying a political win for Prime Minister (PM) Muhyiddin’s government. The passing of the 2021 Budget is seen by some as a confidence vote in Muhyiddin’s leadership, as it represents his majority control in parliament. Additionally, the passing puts Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's recent claims that he held majority control in parliament into question. However, Muhyiddin’s razor-thin majority in the bloc vote cannot be interpreted as a signal of overwhelming support in parliament. It is not clear whether members of parliament (MPs) were voting in confidence of Muhyiddin’s leadership or in support of passing a budget to help support Malaysia’s economic recovery plans in 2021. According to the University of Malay socio-political analyst Anwang Azman Pawi, “stopping the budget would portray MPs opposing it as attempting to hinder funding for operational, stimulus, and aid expenditures.” UMNO MP’s support of the 2021 Budget was viewed as a display of their commitment to the current coalition. To read more on Malaysia’s political developments and its upcoming elections, click here.

Senior U.S. Officials Visit Southeast Asia to Enhance Regional Partnerships and Secure Defense Procurement Agreements
The past month has seen a flurry of high-level U.S. defense and security-related diplomatic visits to Southeast Asia, as American officials seek to promote partnerships and defense transfer agreements with governments in ASEAN. On December 8, the recently named Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Miller wrapped up a short tour of the region, where he visited Indonesia and the Philippines to reassure both countries of the U.S. commitment to help modernize their defense capabilities, as well as to reiterate Washington’s continued support for a free and open Indo-Pacific. The first stop on Acting Secretary Miller’s trip was Indonesia, where he met with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, and Chief of Defense Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, to discuss bilateral defense ties and procurement priorities. After months of negotiations, Indonesia has now reportedly agreed to purchase an unspecified number of U.S.-made F-15 and F-18 fighter jets. After visiting Indonesia, Acting Secretary Miller arrived in the Philippines, where he held talks with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. According to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Secretary Miller “underscored the importance of the U.S.-Philippine alliance to national and regional security, and discussed opportunities for greater bilateral security cooperation...” Additionally, Acting Secretary Miller announced that on December 2, the U.S. provided the Philippine Armed Forces with US $29.3 million worth of equipment to support its modernization efforts. To read more on the senior U.S. officials visits, click here.

Establishment of ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Disease
During the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 in April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed the establishment of a regional entity not only to address the immediate threats of COVID-19, but also to serve as a platform to mitigate future public health crises. Later referred to as the ASEAN Center for Public Heath Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (APHHED), the entity would be partially funded by Japan and the ASEAN Secretariat in a one-off contribution of 620 million baht (USD 20.5 million). Thailand has shown its willingness to establish the center by submitting a tentative proposal to the Health Division of the ASEAN Secretariat in October. In early November, the Cabinet approved requests by the Ministry of Public Health, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover the operational costs of the center. Arguments in favor of establishing APHEED in Thailand rest on projecting Thailand as a leader in disease prevention among ASEAN countries and act as a mechanism to urge stronger cooperation between ASEAN and its neighbors. Moreover, as Thailand is renowned for its world-class healthcare, hosting APHEED would drive investments in the healthcare sector and reassure tourists of the priority placed on their safety and wellness. The presence of a facility would also aid disease control among migrant workers – a sizeable population of almost 3 million. If the bid proves successful, the APHEED will be planned for 2021 and initial joint research will be conducted by Japan and the ASEAN Health Sector. APHEED is set to be a core initiative that serves to complement existing functions of national public health agencies and will guide them towards timely information sharing for disease prevention and control.

US Extends Indonesia’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Eligibility and Indonesia Proposes Limited Trade Deal
The day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Jakarta on October 29, the United States announced that Indonesia would retain its GSP recipient status with no loss of benefits. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) initiated an audit of Indonesia’s eligibility in 2018, due to the US $12.6 billion trade imbalance. USTR confirmed that Indonesia will maintain its GSP privileges due to the positive steps it has taken to address market access concerns. The extension makes Indonesia the last ASEAN member to fully access the U.S.’s oldest and largest trade preference agreement. The entire GSP program is set to expire on December 31 of this year. If the U.S. Congress chooses to reauthorize the program in 2021, it may be made retroactive to the expiration date as Congress did in 2018. The GSP renewal gives Indonesia the confidence to propose an expansion of terms in the form of a “limited trade deal.” If pursued, a limited agreement would be an opportunity for both countries to enter into negotiations on an equal footing instead of granted benefits, without requiring congressional approval. It would provide more stability to the arrangements while consuming less time and resources than a fully developed Free Trade Agreement. To read more on Indonesia’s GSP extension and the proposed limited trade deal, click here.

United States and Thailand Partner to Boost Infrastructure Finance
On October 26, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael DeSombre and Thailand’s newly appointed Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith exchanged signed copies of the Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Cooperation. The framework was signed by representatives from the two countries on September 22. This initiative looks to strengthen private sector financing of and investment in Thailand’s infrastructure projects by addressing regulatory, market, and legal barriers to private sector investment. It focuses on boosting project financing in Thailand by improving financial instruments and the local debt market. The framework was highlighted during the Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the end of October, and the partnership supports the United States’ wider Indo-Pacific strategy by complementing ongoing efforts under the Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (Asia EDGE) and the Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network (ITAN). The Kingdom is in the midst of a US$100 billion hard infrastructure upgrade to increase the country’s competitiveness. More notably, PPP projects worth 1.09 trillion THB 9 (US$33.39 billion) have been planned from 2020 to 2027, including 18 high-priority infrastructure projects. To read more on this, click here.

ADB’s $484 Million Funding for Greater Mekong Subregion
In late October, the Asian Development Bank approved a US$483.8 million loan to finance a 64 - kilometer (40 miles) expressway in Myanmar. The new highway will connect Bago in Bago Region with Kyaik Hto in Mon State, the latter of which shares a short border with Thailand. As part of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) East West Economic Corridor, the Bago-Kyaikhto highway will contribute to greater developments in the regional economic environment and help strengthen Myanmar’s connectivity with Thailand and other countries along the GMS. The projected 4-lane arterial expressway will replace the current 2-lane route which has contributed to significant traffic and inefficiencies for the movement of goods and people. According to a feasibility study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), benefits of constructing a new highway outweighs an expansion —resettlement issues combined with road alignment practices indicate that a new asphalt concrete Bago-Kyaikhto expressway with 4 lanes would reduce travel time by half and would be 32 kilometers shorter. The construction of the expressway also aligns with the Myanmar Government’s vision to increase investment in transport infrastructure by 3% by 2030. To read more on this, click here.

Philippines President Duterte to Consider U.S.-Philippines Visiting Force Agreement (VFA) Extension
After President Duterte decided to re-extend the suspension on the termination of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Force Agreement (VFA) by another six months on November 11, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien on November 23 asked the Philippines for a ‘longer’ suspension. O’Brien, who visited Manila in November, said it would be better if the suspension will be a year or longer to address concerns related to the military deal.  The U.S. official added that the United States looks forward to the VFA continuing to facilitate closer U.S.-Philippines cooperation in fighting terrorism. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing that President Duterte acknowledged this request from U.S. authorities and will consider this in his decision. On December 8, the United States Defense Department donated P1.38 billion (USD $29 million) worth of defense gear to the Philippine government to boost to the country’s efforts to secure its borders. To read more on this, click here.

Myanmar Government to Draft Myanmar E-Governance Master Plan (2021-2025)
In an effort to improve efficiency and promote better governance, the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications is planning to draft a new Myanmar E-Governance Master Plan (2021-2025). The new master plan will serve as an updated version to the first Myanmar E-Governance plan of 2016-2020. According to the ministry, the new master plan is expected to “guide the online transition of major public and administrative functions.” It also said that mobile applications such as the Myanmar National Portal, servers and web-hosting services are to be upgraded to cloud technology with affordable prices. The ministry will also set up an e-government integrated data center for increased inter-connectivity across government agencies. Previously, the national government portal only included management systems for citizen ID, civil service and human resources. The new plan will incorporate more systems to include cybercrime, criminal tracking, multi-modal transport, census data management, e-payments, income tax management, aid management and consumer protection. The Myanmar government’s effort in digital transformation will play a significant role in determining digital business operations in the future.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and U.S. Industry
As part of the recent ASEAN Leaders Summits, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement (FTA) was signed on November 15, 2020, by ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) and five of ASEAN’s existing FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea). India previously joined the negotiations but has since dropped out. The trade agreement requires nine signatory countries (minimum of six ASEAN, three non-ASEAN) to ratify the agreement for it to enter into force. Please find the joint leaders’ statement here and the full text of the agreement here. RCEP is the second regional mega-FTA, following the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Seven RCEP signatories including Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Japan and New Zealand are also members of the CPTPP (note Brunei and Malaysia have not ratified CPTPP). The RCEP is also the largest FTA in the world, accounts for 29 percent of the world GDP or US$25.8 trillion (compared to USMCA US$24.4 trillion, EU’s US$11.3 trillion, and CPTPP’s US$11.2 trillion), and 30 percent of the world population or 2.2 billion people. The most significant achievement of RCEP is its simplified Rules of Origin within the 15 economies, offering three different approaches to reducing tariffs that may benefit businesses. To read more on the Council’s analysis of RCEP, click here.

Vietnam Connects Transregional Gas Pipeline with Five ASEAN Countries
During the 38th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting on November 19, the ASEAN Ministers announced that the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) is completed, connecting six ASEAN countries including Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore through a gas pipeline spanning 3,631 km (2,256 miles). The TAGP is one of several regional cooperations to increase energy efficiency and integration. Other projects include the formation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) centers with a cumulative capacity of 38.75 million metric tons a year and the ASEAN Power Grid Projects that helped increase the power exchange capacity to 10,800 MW by 2020 and more than 16,000 MW during the year. During the meeting, the ministers also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of the second phase of the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP) under the ASEAN Power Grid Projects. The LTMS-PIP’s first phase implemented electricity purchase and sales transactions between Laos and Malaysia via Thailand’s power grid since January 2018 and its second phase commits the parties to raising exchange capacity to 300 MW by 2022. To read more about this, click here.

Singapore Signs 10-Year LNG Deal with Qatar
On November 9, Singapore’s Pavilion Energy — a Temasek Holdings-owned gas company — signed a liquified natural gas (LNG) sale and purchase agreement with Qatar Petroleum. Set to come into effect in 2023, the contract will see Singapore import 1.8 million tons of LNG per year from Qatar over a period of ten years. The deal is noteworthy for two reasons: first, it illustrates Singapore’s growing reliance on LNG imports to meet its energy needs, as the long-term continuity of pipeline-delivered gas imports from neighboring countries appears uncertain, and second, its greenhouse gas quantification requirement demonstrates the growing importance of sustainability to the natural gas industry. Between 2001 and 2012, the entirety of Singapore’s natural gas imports came from two countries: Indonesia and Malaysia. Both ASEAN members still provide Singapore with the vast majority of its gas supplies: as recently as 2018, 71.4% of the city-state's natural gas imports arrived via pipeline from the two countries. Since the turn of the millennium, moreover, the share of natural gas in Singapore’s energy mix has risen from 26% in 2001 to 95% in 2019. However, such a heavy reliance on natural gas notwithstanding, Singapore’s gas contracts with Malaysia and Indonesia are set to expire in the early 2020s. And given the growing domestic demand for natural gas within both countries, it appears unlikely that the contracts will be renewed. To read more on this, click here.

Current Advocacy

Indonesia’s Draft National Digital Economy Framework
On December 9, the Council submitted input compiled by members on Indonesia’s draft National Digital Economy Framework. The five-year framework identifies key activities, priorities and barriers to the development of Indonesia’s digital economy through four main pillars: digital talent, research and digital innovation, digital and physical infrastructure and enabling policy, regulations and standards. The framework is a step in the right direction for a more coordinated approach to the development of Indonesia’s digital economy, but its smooth implementation will require greater partnership with industry as well as the political will from multiple government agencies. For more information, please contact Kim Yaeger (, Steven Gunawan (, and Ryan DelGaudio (

Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) x SWITCH 2020
The second edition of SFF X SWITCH took place from December 7 – 11 through a hybrid format. This year, the digitally enhanced, round-the-clock event centers around five themes: (i) Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences, (ii) FinTech, (iii) Smart Cities and Urban Solutions, (iv) Trade and Connectivity as well as (v) Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and 5G. In his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore and Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat emphasized the desire to drive global recovery through innovation and collaboration. DPM Heng also took the opportunity to launch several new initiatives. These newly launched initiatives encourage companies to tap on Singapore’s growing innovation ecosystem and form industry partners for future R&D:

  • The Asian Institute of Digital Finance, hosted by National University of Singapore (NUS) and backed by MAS and the National Research Foundation. Initial work of the Institute will be to develop platforms to improve credit assessments as well as groom FinTech talent for Asia.
  • The Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme is the country’s first major blockchain research and translation programme that will explore scalability and interoperability of blockchain solutions.
  • Business sans Borders (BSB) is an initiative to digitally connect SMEs around the world and further expand their markets. This is in line with bringing small businesses on board the digital economy.
  • Singapore Financial Data Exchange is the world’s first public digital infrastructure that allows a person to sign-in using his national digital identity and provide consent to obtain his financial information from different financial institutions and government agencies. Using encrypted data, Singaporeans can view their consolidated financial information on MyMoneySense, a free financial planning digital service offered by the Singapore government.

Members who may wish to invest in early-stage deep tech start-ups based in Singapore can consider the call for proposals for co-investments open until 17 January 2021, launched by SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore.

ASEAN-BAC and JBCs Recommendations for ASEAN Economic Recovery Plan
The private sector has been advocating various recommendations towards ASEAN recovery and presented a report titled “A Pathway Towards Recovery and Hope for ASEAN” or Pathway 225 to the ASEAN Leaders in July. The document is a package of 225 recommendations jointly developed by ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), Joint Business Councils (JBCs), including from US-ABC and members, Sector Champions and Knowledge Partner CIMB ASEAN Research institute (CARI), to help ASEAN develop concrete and effective actions amidst the COVID-19 crisis and for the post-pandemic economic recovery plan. ASEAN-BAC and JBCs representatives have taken some measures to socialize the Pathway 225 document to various ASEAN working groups, including the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health and Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE) as the main interlocutor coordinating the ASEAN response to COVID-19 as well as with the ASEAN Secretary-General. They highlighted the urgent need to set up an ASEAN High Level Special Commission (AHLSC), supported by a Special Business Advisory Board (SBAB), to fast-track the decision-making process in ASEAN and execute those recommendations in a concrete and timely fashion. To this request, ASEAN responded that the private sector may contribute their support through the existing mechanisms in ASEAN such as through training initiatives, community-building activities or project developments. Furthermore, the ASEAN Secretariat clarified that the Pathway 225 recommendations have been duly taken into consideration in the development of the ACRF and its Implementation Plan. With due respect to the ASEAN process, industry has emphasized the need for ASEAN to be more agile and vigilant in dealing with this crisis. While the lives of many are at stake, a speedy response from ASEAN remains to be seen. There is a crucial window for ASEAN to take action, where the traditional working process shall not apply in this extraordinary time.

Mid-Term Review of the Implementation of the AEC Blueprint 2025
Five years into the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 and its various sectoral work plans, ASEAN is currently undertaking a mid-term review to assess the progress and efficacy of the economic integration efforts. A key analytical aspect of the MTR is the conduct of the outcome and impact assessment, which is being carried out through the analysis of data on key performance indicators developed by sectoral bodies; research studies; and business sentiment assessments, which cover both ASEAN indigenous enterprises and foreign companies (non-ASEAN) operating in the region and conducted through surveys and focus group discussions (FGD). The Council participated in the FGD conducted by the ASEAN Secretariat on November 26 and raised a couple of recommendations that ASEAN may consider in adapting with the changing regional landscape. These include exploring facilitative policies to support the digital economy, empowering SMEs with digital skills, harnessing innovation, increasing harmonization of standards and technical regulations, improving cross-sectoral coordination and enhancing public-private engagements. The Council also emphasized the importance of political commitment of all ten ASEAN member states to unite as ASEAN, cognizant of the many great initiatives that individual member states are undertaking in reforming their trade regulations. ASEAN cohesiveness and solidarity must be strengthened across the region beyond mere soft cooperation to realize the ASEAN Economic Community Vision 2025.

US-ABC E-Commerce Report
The Council has finalized its study on e-commerce and presented the report titled “A Vision for Cross-Border E-Commerce in ASEAN” to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) during the AEM Consultation with USTR on August 27. The Report is planned to be officially launched on the sidelines of the meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Electronic Commerce (ACCEC) in January 2021, followed by a virtual workshop with them and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the best ways forward to implement the 12 initiatives proposed in the Report. The four main themes of the initiatives being proposed include (i) Institutionalizing the cross-sectoral cooperation on cross-border e-commerce; (ii) Enhancing trust and recognition among different e-commerce players; (iii) Harnessing talent, innovation and capacity building for MSMEs; and (iv) Developing seamless connectivity to boost e-commerce supply chain. The dialogue would also serve as an avenue to coordinate issues within the e-commerce ecosystem and therefore complement the existing work by ASEAN sectoral bodies in implementing the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce, ASEAN E-Commerce Work Program 2017-2025 and the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework Action Plan. For more information, please contact Shay Wester ( and Marcella Suwandhi (

Draft Paper on Security and Privacy Considerations for Contact Tracing
At the current moment, many ASEAN member states are considering or already implementing contact tracing applications and infrastructure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for any contact tracing technology to secure the public trust and be effective, cybersecurity and data privacy issues must be addressed. In this context, the Council has the opportunity to help educate ASEAN governments on security and privacy considerations that should be examined as they contemplate introducing or continue to roll out these contact tracing initiatives. For more information, please contact Shay Wester (, Ryan DelGaudio (, and Heidi Mah (

Philippines Internet Transactions Act Passed the House
The Philippines House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 7805, better known as the Internet Transactions Act (ITA), by a vote of 232 to 6. The ITA is one of several legal, regulatory and institutional efforts underway in the Philippines to improve the overall national digital ecosystem, particularly in the area of improving consumer safety and security of electronic commerce platforms. The Council offered comments to Representative Wes Gatchalian, the principal author, this past July and engaged Representative Joey Salceda, Representative Sharon Garin and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on this legislation during the recent Philippines Virtual Business Mission. The House Bill closely mirrors its Senate companion bill, SB 1591, which has yet to be passed. To see a copy of either bill or if you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Magsaysay-Crebassa ( and Kim Yaeger (

Indonesia Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 50/2020 on E-Commerce
The Council recently submitted members’ input on Indonesia Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 50/2020 on E-Commerce business licensing, advertising, development and supervision of business actors. Thank you to those who have provided inputs. Following up on our submission, we have sent a meeting request letter to the Ministry of Trade to have a dialogue with the Ministry on the implementation of the Regulation. For more information, please contact Angga Antagia ( and Rahma Alifa (

Virtual Meeting with Vietnam Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information on Decree 6, 72, 181
On November 11, under instruction by the Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communication, the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) held a virtual meeting with the Council and members to discuss Decree 6 on broadcasting services, Decree 72 on Internet Services and Online Information, and Decree 181 on cross-border online advertising. ABEI and the Council is working to schedule another virtual meeting to continue the discussion on the three decree. For more information, please contact Vu Tu Thanh ( and Minh Vu (

Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade Amendments to Decree 52/2013 on E-Commerce
The Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) recently released the second draft decree to amend decree 52/2013 on e-commerce for public comments. In this latest draft, the decree narrows down the scope of the transactions it proposes to regulate as follows: “Such e-transactions in financial, banking, credit, insurance and lottery services; the purchase, sale and exchange of currencies, gold, foreign exchange and other means of payment; and online game services, betting or reward game services, radio and television services and other services as are already covered by sectoral laws shall not be governed by this Decree.” Please find the hyperlinks to the draft decree in Vietnamese and English. The Council is collecting members' comments on the draft decree. For more information, please contact Hai Pham ( and Vu Tu Thanh (


Country and Industry Updates

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