Empowering a skilled digital workforce, increasing regional connectivity, and understanding the impact of technology on jobs and productivity were central themes for this year’s meetings between the US-Asean Business Council (US-ABC) delegation and the Asean Telecommunications and IT Ministers.
The meetings took place in Vientiane last week as part of the annual Asean Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting (Telmin).
The US-ABC delegation included seven leading US technology companies led by US-ABC president and CEO Alexander C Feldman, US-ABC senior vice-president and regional managing director Michael W Michalak and US-ABC Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Committee chair and Cisco Systems Asean president Naveen Menon.
“Southeast Asia’s digital economy topped $100 billion this year for the first time and is now projected to grow to $300 billion by 2025,” said Feldman.
MANILA, Philippines — The former US military bases in Clark and Subic should attract more American investors given the soon-to-rise big-ticket public infrastructure projects in Central Luzon, the head of the Duterte administration’s economic team said.
During the Philippine Economic Briefing Roundtable held in Washington, D.C. last week, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III noted in a speech that on several occasions, the US business community already expressed interest to participate in the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
However, Dominguez lamented that “no serious offer has come [from American firms], and this is to bid in an international bidding program.”
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York was chock-full of talking points, but the one that stood out was his declaration that Thailand would become a rich country by 2036.
"Thailand will become a high-income country with fairness, respect for basic human rights and participation in all sectors of society," Gen Prayut said, according to the US-Asean Business Council.
The remark bears no relation to the current reality, and analysts question whether Southeast Asia's second-largest economy can vault from a middle-income trap to the high-income segment within 17 years.
Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said the prime minister's remark came as no surprise, as the lofty goal is stipulated in the country's 20-year national strategy (2017-37).
Big American corporations are looking at investing in Philippine infrastructure projects, especially in the former US air base in Clark, to foster closer ties between Manila and Washington, the US-Asean Business Council said.
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, the US-Asean Business Council said its delegation composed of 21 top American companies visited the Philippines on Sept. 16-18, led by council president and chief executive Alexander Feldman and senior vice president and regional managing director Ambassador Michael Michalak.
“This mission was a timely opportunity for US business to renew engagement and better understand the government of the Philippines’ priorities,” Feldman said.
During their visit, “mission themes focused on existing activities underway to promote free and open trade and remove barriers to investment,” the US-Asean Business Council said.
Reports from the Bank of Thailand’s Monetary policy committee on Wednesday this week indicated that Thailand’s tourism sector in 2019 is in decline while the Financial Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Unit on Friday indicated that tourist figures are up by 7.4%. The contradiction comes as Thailand pins its hopes on a surge in both tourism and exports to achieve its target of 3% growth this year. The Bank of Thailand has projected a growth rate of 2.8% but all the economic indicators suggest that this figure may also be challenged if the upswing does not come to pass by year’s end.
The Thai prime minister put the best foot forward in New York over the last few days in key speeches and meetings with senior figures such as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He pledged that Thailand would stand with the US as a friend in the region and that the kingdom would become a high-income society by 2036 with a greater emphasis placed on human rights and inclusion.
NEW YORK: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it is most likely he will be in power for no more than three years before bowing out.
“I promise that I would step down before the next election and give way to another candidate. So, I may have at the most three years, perhaps, ” he said at a dialogue held at the Council on Foreign Relations here on Thursday.
With its headquarters here, the council is a US think-tank specialising in US foreign policy and international affairs.
In town for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr Mahathir said he needed to accomplish a few things during the three years, and he expects his work to be very tough and that he currently puts in 18 hours a day.
At a meeting with members of the United States-Asean Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce, Dr Mahathir, 94, touted Malaysia’s business-friendly stance as he went about wooing American investors.
AMERICAN investors are more inclined to set up shop in Vietnam than in the Philippines, as they find Hanoi the best investment destination in Southeast Asia due in large part to its fiscal incentives menu and regulatory policy on businesses, a former United States ambassador has said.
Michael W. Michalak, senior vice president and regional managing director of the US-Asean Business Council, said Vietnam is the most preferred investment site among Southeast Asian economies for American investors. The preference may be attributed to the country’s competitive incentives package, as well as to its management of investments, explained Michalak, who was former US ambassador to Vietnam.
Michalak said it also works to Vietnam’s advantage that it is enhancing its menu of incentives to net some of the investments flying out of China in the face of its trade conflict with the US.
THE trade conflict between the United States and China may be benefiting the Philippines in the short run, but the country, as with fellow Southeast Asian countries, is bound to take a stronger hit from an overall slowdown in export demand if the tariff war is protracted.
That’s why the Philippines has to take stronger action in pushing for the end of the trade conflict, according to Michael W. Michalak, senior vice president and regional managing director of the US-Asean Business Council. “It is kind of hard to separate Asean from the rest of the trade figures because most of the trade figures are all put together,” he said.
“We have obviously seen an impact on trade as exports are down, and exports are down all over the world. I guess the most important thing about the conflict is that nobody wins a trade war. President Trump has said over and over again, trade wars are easy to win, [but] I don’t know on what he bases that,” Michalak said.
On the sidelines of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed confidence Thailand will become a high-income nation in 17 years.
"By 2036, Thailand will become a high-income country with fairness, respect for basic human rights, and participation of all sectors of society," he said.
The premier made the remarks during a speech about Thailand's perspective on the evolving international landscape at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday.
In his speech, Gen Prayut said he has laid the foundation for development over the past five years and moved the country forward under the leadership of an elected government.
Gen Prayut also said Southeast Asia -- which is a part of the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy -- is a region of opportunity.
"It has a high working-age population, above-average economic growth, and the region itself is manufacturing hub," he said.