Economy, Investment and Trade
Thailand records 49% jump in transit trade with southern China in January
(4 March 2019) Thailand’s transit and border trade saw a year-on-year 1.84% increase, reaching US$3.73 billion in January as increased transit trade with China counterbalanced a slight dip in overall border trade, according to the Thai Foreign Trade Department. Most notably, the country’s transit trade with southern China saw a 49% increase, reaching approximately US$313 million, of which imports-in-transit amounted to US$224 million while exports-in-transit accounted for US$89 million. Meanwhile, Malaysia remains Thailand’s largest border trade partner, while Vietnam and Singapore trailed behind China in terms of transit trade.
Myanmar and China discuss increase of rice export quota
(27 February 2019) Myanmar and China have discussed increasing the existing rice export quota from the current 100,000 tonnes to 400,000 tonnes. The discussion took place during the Second China Myanmar Economic Corridor Forum in Yunnan, China. Myanmar is looking to boost its rice exports, while China seeks to formalise its trade with neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Currently, Myanmar exports rice and broken rice to China through border trade but the trade is not official. According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce, the country exported 1.7 million tonnes of rice and broken rice between April and December last year, of which 48% was sold via border trade with China.
Malaysia still committed to advancing economic relationship with China
(28 February 2019) Malaysia’s commitment in advancing its economic relations with China persists despite changes in the country’s administration, said Malaysian deputy trade minister Ong Kian Ming, who cited the recent revival of negotiations for the mammoth East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project as an example of Malaysia’s commitment to the “very important” relationship. He further stressed that Malaysia is merely seeking greater clarity on the ECRL’s construction and operating costs to ensure that the parties are able to produce a win-win solution. According to Ong, bilateral trade between the countries rose by 8.5% in 2018, outperforming the 6.2% growth in Malaysia’s total international trade.
Largest Chinese investment project in Brunei to be operational by year end
(1 March 2019) The US$3.4 billion oil refinery and petrochemical plant at Brunei’s Pulau Muara Besar will enter its first phase of operations by the end of 2019, said the country’s energy and industry minister Haji Mat Suny. According to the minister, the joint venture between China’s Zhejiang Hengyi Group and Brunei’s state investment fund subsidiary Damai Holdings is 78% complete and is projected to contribute US$1.33 billion to Brunei’s GDP in its first year. Hengyi Industries chief executive Chen Liancai added that the company plans to kickstart the second phase of the project by 2022, bringing in another US$10 billion in investments.
Business association says US$1 trillion ASEAN-China trade target achievable by 2025
(2 March 2019) Trade between ASEAN and China could very well reach US$1 trillion by 2025 despite uncertainty in the global economy, said the president of the China-ASEAN Business Association (CABA) at a recent luncheon hosted by the association. However, both sides will have to dig deeper in order to achieve said trade target. For instance, ASEAN should look to penetrate markets in China’s secondary cities, such as the Shandong province which has a larger population than Vietnam and a larger GDP than Indonesia at US$1.2 trillion. In 2018, trade between China and ASEAN grew by 14.1% and was valued at US$587.9 billion. Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, said that relations between the countries remain healthy and Malaysia retains its position as China’s second largest trading partner in ASEAN behind Vietnam.