Photo credit: The Irrawaddy
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Vietnam to collaborate with Thai energy developer on US$7.8 billion LNG project
(21 March 2019) The provincial government of Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan province announced that it is in discussions with Thailand’s Gulf Energy Development to develop four gas-fueled power plants with a combined 6000-megawatt capacity and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities. According to Vietnamese industry and trade deputy minister Hoang Quoc Vuong, the US$7.8 billion project will help ease the country’s dependence on coal-fired power. Meanwhile, Gulf Energy Development chief executive Sarath Ratanavadi was previously quoted in December 2018 saying that the company will invest US$4.7 billion to develop new power plants across Southeast Asia in the coming few years. He added that the company was also in talks for other energy projects in Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Cambodia to buy electricity from Laos due to growing domestic power consumption
(25 March 2019) Cambodia’s primary electric utility company Electricite du Cambodge announced that it has inked an agreement with Laos to procure 200 megawatts of electricity from 2019 to 2021, according to a report by the Khmer Times. The energy will be sourced from Laos’ Don Sahong hydropower dam near the border and transmitted through transmission lines that are being developed. According to the Cambodian mines and energy ministry state secretary Ty Norin, the country will increase energy imports in order to meet the country’s growing power consumption. Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to the private sector for assistance as the country’s hydropower dams are unable to meet domestic demand due to the dry weather.
Thailand to manufacture trains for domestic use and other CLMV markets
(27 March 2019) Thai deputy transport minister Pailin Chuchottaworn announced in March that the country hopes to establish train assembly plants in the northeastern region to reduce the country’s dependence on train imports and lower government spending. The kingdom has previously imported train carriages from Germany, China, Japan, Austria and Turkey. According to Pailin, the government intends to build three plants to produce 900 carriages every year by 2027. If the plan comes to fruition, the government will only need to pay 10% or less of what it currently does for new trains. Procuring a new train costs an estimated 70 billion baht (US$2.2 billion). Moreover, the government hopes that the new factories will provide much-needed employment opportunities in the northeastern region and that the country will eventually be able to export trains to its CLMV neighbours.
Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank to open its first branch in Vietnam
(22 March 2019) Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) welcomes and pledges to facilitate the establishment of Thai Kasikorn Bank’s first branch in Vietnam, said HCMC municipal committee vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen. Tran expressed his hope that the bank will assist in the development of local banking services, diversify local credit offerings, and help develop financial management capacity in the country through the sharing of experiences. In response, Kasikorn Bank representative Pattanapong Tansomboon said that the bank is keen to support the city’s financial services, including through the development of digital banking services, cashless payments, and supporting SME development. According to Viet Nam News, the bank is still in the process of obtaining a license to establish its first branch in HCMC.
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.