Photo Credit: Xinhua
Economy, Investment and Trade
China looks to intensify financial cooperation with ASEAN
(12 January 2019) China’s central bank announced its plans to develop the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and turn it into a key channel for economic and financial cooperation between China and ASEAN. The central bank’s five-year development plan includes initiatives to encourage the promotion of the use of Chinese yuan in the region by allowing qualified issuers to issue yuan-denominated bonds in domestic markets and encouraging businesses from the region to purchase Chinese government bonds. Further, Guangxi will also serve as a pilot area for China’s Qualified Domestic Investment Enterprises initiative, which allows qualified institutions to invest funds raised domestically in overseas markets.
China tourism to ASEAN slowing
(15 January 2019) Most ASEAN countries saw a dip in the number of visitor arrivals from China in late 2018, according to a report by a regional financial institution. Singapore saw a decline of 12% in November, the Philippines by 3% in October, Vietnam by 2% in December and Thailand by 15% in November. This ease in Chinese tourists has been attributed to a slowing economy, a weaker yuan, and waning consumer confidence. The report also found China to be the largest contributor of tourists arrivals to four ASEAN countries, namely Vietnam (31%), Thailand (28%), Cambodia (22%) and Singapore (19%). Further, analysts expect ASEAN’s tourism outlook to remain bright in the long term, as it was noted that only 9% of Chinese citizens own a passport and China will have built 31 new airports by 2020.
Cambodia looks to boost cultural and tourism exchanges with China
(15 January 2019) Meanwhile, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared 2019 the ‘year of tourism exchange between Cambodia and China’ in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister added that Cambodia received 6.2 million international visitors in 2018, of which 1.6 million were Chinese tourists — thus making China the country’s largest source of tourists and biggest foreign investor. As such, the Prime Minister noted that tourism exchange between the two countries will be key to powering Cambodia’s economic growth, and the country aims to attract up to three million Chinese tourists in the next few years. These statements came as a prelude to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official visit to China on January 20-23.
China was the Philippines’ top foreign investor in 2018
(11 January 2019) China topped the list of foreign investors in the Philippines in 2018 with investments worth US$930 million, of which a large part came from Hebei Iron & Steel Group’s investment in an integrated iron and steel plant in the southern Philippines. According to trade and industry secretary Ramon Lopez, foreign investment in the country reached US$2 billion last year. Other major foreign investors in the country were from Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.
Laos, Chinese firm cooperating in clean agriculture
(15 January 2019) The Lao government signed an agreement with a Chinese agriculture firm to develop clean agriculture projects in Vientiane and in provinces along the Laos-China railway line. Under the agreement, Meixiang Agriculture Development Co. will invest approximately US$13 million in the project over nine years. According to Lao agriculture and forestry deputy minister Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham, the project also aims to increase the capabilities of technical staff and farmers in the areas of green agriculture and the building of modern greenhouses, in hopes that this would enable them to export the produce to China. The project will commence with the building of five modern greenhouses as models, with each covering 3,000 square meters and producing 50,000 kg of 20 to 30 kinds of crops.