CARI Captures 310
World Economic Forum on ASEAN emphasises on the Fourth Industrial Revolution
(11 May 2017) The World Economic Forum on ASEAN gathered in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to discuss growth in the region. The theme of the summit was Youth, Technology and Growth: Securing ASEAN’s Demographic and Digital Dividend. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte described ASEAN as “an emerging economic powerhouse” and that the young population in the region is creating a demographic dividend for the bloc. In a panel session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution panelists agreed that the key to taking advantage of new technologies was education and to develop infrastructure like the internet to fully utilise the demographic dividend as well.
ASEAN to be the centre of growth in ASEAN
(4 May 2017) According to a report by professional services firm Ernst and Young (EY) in the next five years, 80 percent of businesses in Australia, Europe, and the US are expecting trade and investment with the ASEAN region to increase. The report finds that member countries are expected to post gross domestic product growth rates of between 3-8 percent over the next five years and enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 5.1 percent until 2021. Investor appetite in the region has been strong with two-thirds of merger and acquisition deals in ASEAN between 2010 and 2016 being either intra-ASEAN, or inter-Asia Pacific. The most active sectors for these deals were the consumer, energy, and financial services.
Singapore plans to champion e-commerce in its chairmanship year
(5 May 2017) In 2018 Singapore will take over the Chairmanship of ASEAN and it plans to drive e-commerce and other aspects of the digital economy within the region. Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said that this will be part of a larger agenda to enable companies in the region to expand and grow faster. The idea is to streamline regional trade rules governing e-commerce, improve digital connectivity in the region and lower operational barriers to entry, essentially lowering the cost of doing business.
Poor airports hindering ASEAN’s tourism potential
(8 May 2017) Experts in the aviation industry are of the opinion that ASEAN governments lack an understanding of the importance of aviation infrastructure as the main driver in delivering tourism. International Civil Aviation Organization regional director for the Asia and the Pacific Arun Mishra cited the Ninoy Aquino International Airport an example of a this; a congested airport that badly needed improvement. Chief executive of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said that infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the success of airlines. Thailand tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said would like to see ASEAN improve tourism integration by promoting air, land and maritime connectivity.
Thailand may face struggle to accommodate growing tourist inflow
(27 April 2017) Thailand’s tourist inflows are to nearly double by 2030 with an estimated 60 million visitors expected. However, the Southeast Asian kingdom may face “trouble” if investments are not made in infrastructure to accommodate the expected surge in tourist arrivals according to Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary to the tourism ministry. Thailand is heavily reliant on its tourism industry which has kept its economy growing despite much political instability over the last decade.
ASEAN needs a comprehensive dispute resolution mechanism
(8 May 2017) Singapore diplomat and former Secretary-General of ASEAN Ong Keng Yong said that ASEAN needs to develop a more comprehensive way to resolve disputes. This should include reviewing and making recommendations to improve a 2004 protocol, which covered enhanced dispute settlement mechanisms to resolve economic disputes. He emphasises that to move forward ASEAN needs to be a more rules-based organisation in which all countries adhere to international laws.
World Bank works with ASEAN to examine pipeline of infrastructure projects
(10 May 2017) The Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 was updated in November 2016 to reflect on-the-ground developments and recommendations in the Enhancing ASEAN Connectivity Monitoring and Evaluation report, prepared by the Public-Private Partnerships team based at the World Bank’s Singapore Hub for Infrastructure and Urban Development. Now, a new report examining in detail the pipeline of infrastructure projects across the region is underway. Head of the Infrastructure Finance team at the Singapore Hub Cledan Mandri-Perrott said that the initiative represents a strong collaboration between the ASEAN Secretariat and the World Bank Singapore Hub allowing both to draw on one another’s experience and expertise.
ASEAN works with Canada to enhance role of SMEs
(10 May 2017) During the 14th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue Meeting, both parties agreed to enhance the role of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for regional economic development. Director-General of the ASEAN Cooperation of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Indonesia Jose Tavares invited Canada to intensify digital innovation for MSMEs in ASEAN. Canada will continue to empower MSMEs in ASEAN member states through the Canada-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Project on ASEAN MSMEs worth US$12 million. Canada will also help formulate conducive policies and programs to encourage ASEAN MSMEs to enter the global supply chain through this project.
US Secretary of State and ASEAN foreign ministers discuss SCS and DPRK
and House passes resolution on US-ASEAN relations
(5 May 2017) The issues of South China Sea (SCS) and North Korea were discussed during US Secretary of State’s first ministerial meeting with all ASEAN members in the US. The US top diplomat and ASEAN foreign ministers reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution to China’s continued island-building and militarisation activities in the SCS. Rex Tillerson also called upon ASEAN foreign ministers to cut funding streams for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and to fully implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. On a separate note, Joaquin Castro and Ann Wagner, co-chairs of the recently formed Congressional Caucus on ASEAN introduced a resolution in House of Representatives which recognised the strength of the US-ASEAN economic and strategic partnership and the importance of increased engagement between the two.
Finance ministers of ASEAN meet for the first time in four years
(6 May 2017) Finance ministers of ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea met on the sidelines of the 50th anniversary of the Asian Development Bank. They agreed to enhance each others resilience to financial shocks and to promote trade and investments. During this meeting Japan proposed to form “a new type of bilateral swap agreements” of up to US$40 billion in order to be prepared to address short-term liquidity problems. It was also noted that as economic ties between ASEAN and Japan strengthen amid ASEAN financial integration it is important to promote the use of local currencies in cross-border transactions in the region.
China looks to secure majority stake in Myanmar port
(5 May 2017) China is looking to take a stake of up to 85 percent of strategically important sea port, Kyauk Pyu on the Bay of Bengal, in Myanmar. China is keen to gain preferential access to the US$7.3 billion deep sea port as it is the entry point for a Chinese oil and gas pipeline and the port will give it an alternative route for energy imports from the Middle East bypassing the Malacca Straits. The proposal is led by China’s CITIC Group and is part of a consortium of companies and is part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative to develop infrastructure along the old Silk Road.