Mekong Monitor


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Photo Credit: Myanmar Times

 

TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT

 

MYANMAR

Illegal trade on the rise across Myanmar due to corruption
(2 August 2018) Illegal trade has been on the rise although Myanmar government has taken efforts to reopen some of the border gates, claimed the legal taxation team for the Shan border gates in Myanmar. Currently, most of the goods illegally transported to Myanmar were from Thailand. The traders also smuggled goods to China via Naung Cho feeder road and Kyaing Tong-Mine. Beer, textiles, electrical appliances, crops and wildlife are amongst the products illegally traded. Illicit trade threatens government’s tax collection, for instance while there is a 40 percent tax on locally produced beer, illegal imported beers got away without any tax. Corruption has been the principal factor of this pervasive black market.
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CAMBODIA

Cambodia’s export to Japan rebounds to 19 percent amid the political instability
(2 August 2018) Cambodia’s level of export to Japan reached a double-digit growth of 19 percent for the first half of 2018, compared to single-digit growth in 2017. The period between January and June in 2017 saw an increase in Cambodia’s exports to Japan by 4.5 percent, while it grew by 4.6 percent for the whole year. Ever since the financial crisis in 2008, Cambodia’s exports to Japan remained relatively constant at single-digit growth. Cambodia imported goods from Japan worth US$191 million for the first half of 2018, marking an increase of 9.1 percent over the same period in 2017. Cambodia’s major exports to Japan are garments and shoes, while the supply of electrical parts and bags are growing. According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Japan’s foreign direct investment in Cambodia was US$822 million in 2016.
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VIETNAM

CPTPP and the EVFTA have benefited Vietnam’s garment-textile industry
(7 August 2018) Vietnam’s garment-textile sector has attracted US$2.8 billion of foreign direct investment into the country during the first half of 2018, making the country’s total foreign direct investment valued at US$17.5 billion. Free trade agreements, in particular, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) have benefited the country by attracting foreign investors. Vietnam’s exports to the European Union are expected to increase following the implementation of CPTPP whereby the current tariffs of 10 to 12 percent will be reduced to zero. Despite the success, the government is wary of the adverse environmental effects of the industry especially the dyeing sector.
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LAOS PDR

Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Myanmar attracts 89 investors from 17 countries
(30 July 2018) The Thilawa Special Economic Zone, located at the outskirts of Yangon, is the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) built in Myanmar. The megaproject has attracted 89 investors from 17 countries, with over US$1.374 billion invested in Zone A. The development of Zone B is underway and will be completed in 2018. According to the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, Japan and Singapore are among the most prominent investors for this project, accounted for over 60 percent of the total investment. Permits have been issued to 86 businesses for Zone-A, and seven for Zone-B.
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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

GREATER MEKONG SUBREGION

Mekong countries and India to cooperate on human resource development, tourism and agriculture
(6 August 2018) Mekong countries and India have mutually agreed to work with a focus on three sectors; human resource development, tourism and agriculture during the 9th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting which was held in Singapore last Tuesday. India will be offering scholarships to students from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam as part of the human resource development programme. Apart from that, Myanmar will be working together with India to print tourist handbooks with main attractions in Mekong-Ganga countries to boost the tourism industry in the region. India also pushed for the first meeting on agriculture working group in New Delhi this November.
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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.