Photo credit: Khmer Times
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Rail connection with Thailand to take place in March
(14 January 2019) Cambodia and Thailand’s railway networks will be connected in March, paving the way for greater trade connectivity between the two countries. Named the ‘western rail line’, the railroad will stretch over 386 kilometres and connect Phnom Penh and Poipet City in Cambodia to Thailand’s Arranyapratet province. Cambodian transport and public works minister Sun Chanthol said that tracks connecting both sides of the border have been completed and the final step will be signing a cross-border transport agreement with Thailand. Both governments have committed to reach US$15 million in bilateral trade by 2020.
Laos-Vietnam trade crossed the $1 billion mark in 2018
(11 January 2019) Combined trade volume between Laos and Vietnam surpassed US$1 billion last year. According to the Cambodian Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Laos’ exports to Vietnam was valued at approximately US$723.5 million, while it spent US$552.2 million on imports from Vietnam. As such, Vietnam remained Laos’ third largest trading partner in 2018, behind Thailand and China. Vietnam has also invested in 409 projects worth US$4.1 billion in Laos, mostly in hydropower, mining, transport, industrial tree plantations and services.
CPTPP tariff cuts may not reduce auto prices
(16 January 2019) The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) took effect in Vietnam on January 14 and with it came the country’s pledge to abolish tariffs for car imports from Japan and Canada in the seventh year from the date the agreement was signed and in the thirteenth year for new cars of all types. However, industry players say that the prices of imported automobiles is unlikely to reduce as much as expected as cars are still subjected to a special consumption tax and other fees. An official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department was quoted anonymously saying that this was a matter of balancing infrastructure and the number of vehicles, and not a trade defence issue. According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam’s car imports decreased by 16.1% in volume and 19.8% in value in 2018 due to stricter regulations imposed by the government across the board. However, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, total sales in the Vietnamese market increased by 5.8% year-on-year in 2018 to 288,683 units.
Private, public sectors keen on new app to promote tourism
(11 January 2019) 30 private institutions and 19 state agencies will work together to establish a social enterprise called Thai Digital Platform Co to provide integrated tourism information on Thailand. The enterprise comes under the government’s Digital Tourism Platform initiative, which hopes to bring together tourism information and related services such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators and small businesses, within a single application. According to tourism and sports minister Weerasak Kowsurat, the new mobile application will feature information in Thai, English and Chinese, and will be fully operational in June. Thailand welcomed over 38 million tourist arrivals in 2018, up from 35 million in 2017. It foresees further growth this year due to the extension of the waiver on the visa-on-arrival fee for visitors from 20 countries and the upcoming ASEAN Summit.
Myanmar-Thailand border trade crosses US$900 million in 1Q FY 2018-19
(12 January 2019) Border trade between Myanmar and Thailand reached US$937.4 million in the first three months of the current fiscal year 2018-2019 which started in October 2018. Myanmar’s exports to Thailand amounted to US$700 million, while imports were valued at US$237 million. Myanmar primarily exports agricultural and fishery products to Thailand, and imports cosmetics, machinery, food products and agricultural equipment from it. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached over US$5 billion in the last fiscal year.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.