Photo credit: Bangkok Post
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Laos-Vietnam trade cross US$1 billion mark in 2018
(13 February 2019) Trade between Laos and Vietnam reached US$1.28 billion in 2018, according to the Vientiane Times. Of the sum, Laos’ exports to Vietnam recorded US$723.5 million in transactions, while it imported US$552.2 worth of goods. Laos’ key exports to Vietnam were drinking water, minerals, wood products and agricultural products, while its key imports from Vietnam were petroleum, fertilizer, steel, machinery, electrical equipment, construction materials and spare parts. Vietnam remained Laos’ third largest trading partner last year behind Thailand and China, and it has thus far invested in 409 projects in Laos valued at US$4.1 billion.
Rail link to boost Lao and Thai economies
(11 February 2019) Lao and Thai citizens are looking forward to increased trade and cooperation between the two countries after the completion of the Laos-China railway, which is part of a larger rail network that aims to connect China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia. For instance, the governor of the northeastern Thai province of Khon Kaen said that the rail link means that Lao goods will be able to pass through Thailand to reach Myanmar and India. According to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Laos-Thailand bilateral trade reached US$4.6 billion in 2016, US$5.3 billion in 2017, and US$4.4 billion as of the end of October 2018.
Thai oil and gas firm to increase investments in Myanmar offshore projects
(13 February 2019) Thailand’s PTT Exploration Production Public Company Ltd (PTTEP) plans to increase its exploration and production efforts to maintain its future gas production volume by pumping in an additional US$3.3 billion in Myanmar’s Zawtika gas field project. The project is located approximately 300 kilometers south of Yangon. The sum is only a fraction of the US$16 billion budget the company has allocated towards expanding their oil and gas footprint in Myanmar between 2019 and 2023. This comes as Myanmar’s Ministry of Energy and Electricity (MOEE) is expected to call for international tenders for up to 31 oil and gas exploration fields this year — its first wave of exploration and production tenders released since 2014.
Myanmar still relies heavily on steel imports for construction
(13 February 2019) Only 5% of steel that Myanmar consumes is produced locally and the other 95% is imported from foreign sources, according to the Myanmar Iron and Steel Association. At present, only one foreign manufacturer from Vietnam — PEB Steel Co. — has set up shop in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone to help meet local demand. PEB currently produces 25,000 tonnes of steel products every year which it circulates locally as well as to other ASEAN countries. According to PEB, more foreign investors would be willing to set up shop in Myanmar if the government supported local steel product producers and discouraged imports.
Thai producers rush to meet Cambodia’s rising demand for consumer goods
(8 February 2019) Around 20,000 visitors thronged the Top Thai Brand 2019 trade fair held in Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich convention centre from January 31 to February 3 as international producers look to capitalize on Cambodia’s growing middle class. The convention centre itself is expected to host 24 international trade fairs this year, a sign that Thai producers see Cambodia as a strong potential market, as argued by a senior official at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh. Bilateral trade between Thailand and Cambodia crossed US$7 billion in 2018 and there are now 32 daily flights between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.
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.