A special thank you to those of you who were able to join us for the grand opening of our newly renovated Singapore office. In case you missed the celebration, I encourage you to stop by the office when next you are in Singapore. We hope this new space will be enjoyed as much by our members as by our staff.
Ambassador Michalak and I attended the NCAPEC executive roundtable in Singapore on February 16-17. The Council is co-Chair of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition for 2017 as APEC is chaired and hosted by Vietnam this year.
According to the website “Insidertrade.com”, the caucus will focus on important matters to the security and economic interest of the US in the relationship with Southeast Asian countries.
In their speeches, the two congresspersons highlighted that the 10 ASEAN member countries represent the world’s seventh largest economy and the third biggest labour force.
“The Congress must recognise the need for enhanced dialogue with our Southeast Asian peers,” they said, expressing hope that the congressional caucus on Southeast Asia will help increase the US administration and congress’ attention toward ASEAN.
The surprise US decision to lift economic sanctions on Myanmar in October was hailed as a landmark step in the march from decades of near-isolation — and as a boon for American companies seeking to tap a big market where many had feared to tread. But critics say the move also had a darker side: it freed up the sprawling commercial interests of a military that ruled for almost 50 years.
These companies include Myanmar Economic Corporation, a secretive conglomerate owned by the defence ministry that operates in strategic sectors ranging from ports to telecommunications. Another is Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, which enriches military officers and veterans with proceeds from lucrative businesses including cigarettes and petroleum imports.
An industry leader said the Senate should junk the House-approved bill seeking to revert to the two-tier system of taxation for cigarettes, charging that it is being openly pushed by cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corporation, which is currently being investigated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for alleged use of fake tax stamps.
“How can the Senate act on a tax bill openly being pushed by a company now under investigation for tax evasion?” Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman Jesus Arranza asked in a statement.
Arranza was referring the investigation against Mighty ordered by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Cesar Dulay after receiving field reports from his agents who discovered fake tax stamps affixed on Mighty products.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd backed Dulay’s move and ordered tighter monitoring and enforcement. Tax stamps on cigarette packs are proof of excise tax payment.
Happy New Year from Washington D.C. May the Year of the Rooster be a great one for you, your families, your organizations, ASEAN and the United States.
Last week the world watched as the United States peacefully transferred power from one President to another for the forty-fourth time. The Council is committed to working with the new administration to ensure that the importance of the US-ASEAN relationship remains a focus. 2017 ushers in the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN in 1967 as well as the 40th anniversary of formal US-ASEAN relations. These two milestones offer an opportunity not only to celebrate but also highlight all that has been accomplished and all that ASEAN represents especially for American business.
KUALA LUMPUR: The US-Asean Business Council is confident that trade between the US and Malaysia will continue to grow under the Donald Trump administration, considering Malaysia’s positive trade environment.
Senior vice-president and regional managing director Michael Michalak said although the new US administration did not favour the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the fact that Malaysia had taken several reform measures based on the negotiation would make business environment here more positive.
“This also reflects favourably on the relationship between the new US administration and Malaysia, thus fostering trade between the two economies,” he said after the launch of Advancing the Asean Economic Community: the Digital Economy and the Free Flow of Data report.
The report was produced by the US-Asean Business Council and Deloitte.
Vietnamese clothing maker NhaBe Garment Corp. had a lot riding on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The supplier to brands such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole has seen its exports more than doubled since 2011 to $729 million last year--and it increased its factories two-fold to 35, betting on a big drop in tariffs from Vietnam’s membership in the 12-nation trade pact.
With a pen stroke, President Donald Trump killed the ambitious trade agreement, a deal that promised to deliver an estimated 8 percent boost to Vietnam’s gross domestic product by 2030, according to the World Bank. Yet that hasn’t dented enthusiasm among multinationals for the communist country, which was on track to be the top exporter of goods to the U.S. last year among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
With the rapid rise of the digital economy for the Southeast Asia, many of the growth efforts within the region are being thrust into the spotlight. While these changes are thoroughly welcomed, more needs to be done. The latest report from the US-ASEAN Business Council sheds some light on what else can be considered.
Called 'The Digital Economy and the Free Flow of Data: Advancing the ASEAN Economic Community', it had been presented to the Malaysian government and the business community, detailing how ASEAN Member States can advance their digital economies with one key measure. Beyond collaboration between the states, ASEAN has to start implementing pro-growth digital data management policies.
Cambodia Update | January 18, 2017
Authors: Jack Myint and Timotheos Tan LOOKING AHEAD