CARI Captures 380
ASEAN ministers sign first e-commerce agreement
(13 November 2018) The ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce was inked after 9 rounds of negotiations ahead of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council meeting at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore. The agreement includes provisions to encourage cooperation on policies and legal frameworks related to consumer protection, e-payment, intellectual property rights and cyber security; promote paperless trading between businesses and government; enhance e-commerce data protection and dispute resolution mechanisms; and enable businesses to access and move data across borders more easily subject to appropriate safeguards. ASEAN is the world’s fastest-growing internet market with 330 million users online, but e-commerce adoption in the region represented only 2% of total retail sales in 2017, compared with 20% in China and 12% in the US. The pact aims to bolster trust and confidence of ASEAN consumers and businesses in e-commerce and accelerate digital connectivity in the region.
ASEAN leaders committed to achieving a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial RCEP despite failing to conclude
(14 November 2018) Heads of state and government of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Participating Countries gathered for the 2nd RCEP Summit on 14 November, held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. Seven chapters of the RCEP has been concluded so far, with 11 chapters still in negotiation. According to the group, substantial progress has also been made in market access negotiations, though due consideration will need to be given to existing sensitivities, gaps and agreements between the many RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs). However, the group reaffirmed their commitment in ensuring that the agreement will be both relevant to current realities and adaptable to future developments to allow RPCs the flexibility to respond to challenges arising from their diverse circumstances. The group aims to conclude negotiations in 2019.
ASEAN Connectivity 2025 Master Plan moves forward with priority deliverables
(13 November 2018) The ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) launched three priority deliverables for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the ASEAN Connectivity microsite at the 22nd ACC Meeting held on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit. The MPAC 2025 is a multi-year roadmap that aims to integrate ASEAN countries in five strategic areas, namely sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility. The key deliverables are: (i) the establishment of a rolling priority pipeline of ASEAN infrastructure projects to attract more public and private infrastructure investments, (ii) the development of a sustainable urbanisation strategy for ASEAN which is tailored for cities to use as a template to mitigate urban challenges, (iii) a study of methods to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to better adopt digital technology and amplify their reach in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution.
ASEAN leaders commit to promote green jobs
(13 November 2018) The ASEAN Declaration on Promoting Green Jobs for Equity and Inclusive Growth was adopted by heads of state at the 33rd ASEAN Summit. The declaration is a result of extensive discussions and information sharing during the regional workshop organized by the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resource in December 2017. The declaration provides that ‘green jobs’ shall be defined as ‘decent jobs in economic sectors which reduce negative environmental impacts’. Further, the declaration emphasized the importance of promoting green jobs especially in the renewable energy, agriculture, construction, energy, forestry, manufacturing, transport, waste management, urbanisation, tourism, industry and technology sectors. ASEAN Labour Ministers will convene in Kuala Lumpur on 28 November 2018 to deliberate next steps.
Singapore and China sign upgraded FTA
(12 November 2018) Premier Li Keqiang’s began his first official visit to Singapore by inking an upgraded China-Singapore free trade agreement (FTA). Under the agreement, Singapore will gain greater access to China’s legal, maritime and construction services sectors, while China will gain greater access to Singapore’s air transport, courier and environmental sectors. Further, Singapore will be ensured greater protection for their investments in China, while a third Chinese bank will be granted full bank privileges in Singapore. The upgraded FTA also encompasses improvements to customs procedures and trade facilitation and includes new chapters on competition, e-commerce and the environment.
Southeast Asia’s venture capital and private equity landscape boom will likely persist
(13 November 2018) Southeast Asia continues to be a magnet for venture capital and private equity investments according to a report by Bain & Company. The study indicated that total contractual value over the next five years will likely reach US$70 billion, double the value of the previous five years. Over 1,300 companies in Southeast Asia received their first round of seed funding since 2011, 261 of which was secured in 2017 which was five times the level of 2011. Technology companies reaped the major share of the fresh capital, accounting for 40% of the deal count in 2017 from 20% in 2014. Further, since 2012, the region has produced 10 unicorns (companies with a market value of US$1 billion or more), and Bain projects that at least 10 new unicorns will emerge by 2024.
24th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting
(9 November 2018) The 24th ASEAN Transport Ministers (ATM) Meeting which was chaired by Thailand was held on November 8 in Bangkok. According to the joint ministerial statement, numerous agreements were signed and initiatives adopted during the meeting. This included the signing of a protocol to strengthen the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), ratification of protocols to advance seamless cross-border movement of passengers and goods, intensification of efforts to realize the ASEAN Single Shipping Market (ASSM), and adoption of documentation to enable the establishment of sustainable transportation practices. The 25th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting will be held in Vietnam in 2019.
Singapore unveils US$5 billion fund to boost private market activities
(14 November 2018) The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched a US$5 billion fund to encourage global private equity and infrastructure fund managers to start business in the island country. In order to access this resource, fund managers must either commit to grow their existing presence in Singapore or establish a significant one. The move comes as Singapore looks to position itself as the hub of choice for private equity, venture capital and infrastructure investments through the strengthening of its fund management ecosystem. Under its Financial Services Transformation Map, Singapore has also passed legislation to enable the establishment of a new class of entity known as the Variable Capital Company which allows funds to be managed from and anchored in Singapore. According to the chairman of the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SVCA), the fund will have a ripple effect not only in the private equity fund management industry but also in the financial, professional and legal services industries.
OECD cuts growth forecasts for the Philippines
(12 November 2018) The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adjusted downward its projected growth forecast for the Philippines in a bi-annual report on the region’s economic outlook published this week. The OECD projects that the Philippine economy will grow 6.4% and 6.5% in 2018 and 2019 respectively, down from the 6.7% previously forecasted for both years. The report attributed this outlook to the country’s high inflation rate in the second half of 2018, as well as the high economic costs of natural disasters such as the recent typhoon Mangkhut. However, OECD still expects the economy to sustain a healthy performance over the next five years.
The future of ASEAN-UK relations post-Brexit
(14 November 2018) The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Mark Field spoke about the country’s ongoing and future efforts to strengthen relations with ASEAN during his recent visit to the region. According to the minister, UK-ASEAN trade is worth US$47.16 billion at present, and US$29.94 billion worth of foreign direct investment flows from the UK to ASEAN every year. Further, 42,000 students from Southeast Asia attend UK universities each year. Also, the UK contributes up to US$23.43 million per year to scientific partnerships in the region and that there are government programmes in a wide range of areas that will total around US$885 million by 2020. The minister stressed that the UK has always had deep ties with countries in the region and it intends to continue building on these ties in the coming years.