Economy, Investment and Trade
Laos urges China to increase import quota for Laotian rice to 50,000 tonnes
(21 February 2019) Lao industry and commerce minister Khemmani Pholsena asked China to consider increasing its import quota for Laotian products during Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) vice chair Ning Jizhe’s visit to Vientiane on February 19. Among the products touted by Pholsena were Lao rice, rubber, tobacco and other industrial goods. Ning’s official working visit comes as the countries look to enhance bilateral cooperation, notably expediting the ongoing construction of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and China-Laos railway project.
Indonesian province sees sharp increase in exports after Chinese investment
(25 February 2019) The Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi recorded a 16-times increase in exports in the past five years from US$297 million to US$5.11 billion after Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan turned the province’s Morowali district into the world’s largest nickel industrial park, according to a report by The Straits Times, which earmarked the project as an example of a private sector endeavour that does not come under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Investors and tenants have thus far invested US$4 billion in the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) to develop processing plants and facilities including an airport. Further, the IMIP has created 25,662 jobs as of the end of 2017, of which 18,556 are manned by Indonesians.
Malaysia will resume ECRL project “if the price is right”
(26 February 2019) Malaysia will build the China-backed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) if the project cost can be reduced to a level that is affordable for a country saddled with debt — or it will have to be postponed to a later date, said Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. To that end, a Chinese delegation will be in Kuala Lumpur this week to discuss the project’s scope and price. Construction of the 690-kilometre railway line stretching from Malaysia’s largest port Port Klang to the northeastern town of Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan state came to a halt in July 2018 after a change in the country’s administration in May 2018.
Huawei allocates US$81 million to develop its Southeast Asia market
(26 February 2019) Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Group has allocated US$81 million to develop its Southeast Asian market from 2019 to 2021, said the group’s regional head James Wu. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Wu said that the company will spend up to US$23 million on ecosystem development OpenLabs in Bangkok and New Delhi, US$50 million on developing the Huawei Cloud Developer Programme, and US$8 million on developing industry talent in the region. According to Wu, the company remains confident about its prospects in the region and it will continue consolidating its Southeast Asian market, especially through its new regional headquarters in Thailand.
Study shows that the Philippines distrusts China but recognises its influence
(25 February 2019) A recent study by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute found that 52.3% of Filipino experts surveyed believe that the global economic, political and strategic influence of the US has declined, while 61.3% believe that China is now the most influential country economically. Further, 77.1% of respondents believe that China will vie for regional leadership in the wake of perceived US indifference towards Southeast Asia. Having said that, the survey also found that the Philippines generally does not trust China, with 66.4% believing that China intends to turn the region into its sphere of influence — a view shared by approximately 45.4% of all respondents surveyed in Southeast Asia.