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TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Laos and Vietnam to boost cooperation through infrastructure projects
(18 June 2019) Vietnam is now Myanmar’s ninth largest trade partner with two-way trade totalling US$860 million in 2018. This was revealed during Vietnamese deputy prime minister Vuong Dinh Hue’s working visit to Myanmar, where he met Myanmar planning and finance minister Soe Win on June 18. A report from the meeting also revealed that Vietnam is now Myanmar’s seventh largest source of foreign investments, with a total of 18 projects worth almost US$2.2 billion. Speaking during the meeting, the Vietnamese deputy prime minister lauded the Central Bank of Myanmar’s recent announcement allowing foreign credit institutions to establish and expand their presence in Myanmar, and asked that the Myanmar government do more to facilitate investment and trading with Myanmar. According to him, there are presently four Vietnamese financial firms with representative or branch offices in Myanmar.
Myanmar, Thailand sign agreement to facilitate overland trade
(12 June 2019) Vehicles transporting goods across the Myanmar-Thailand border will soon have the legal backing to do so as both governments have agreed to allow overland cross-border trade starting at the end of July. Under the agreement, 100 vehicles from each country will be given temporary one-year licences to transport goods along the Yangon (Thilawa)-Myawaddy-Mae Sot-Bangkok (Laem Chabang) route. This will allow Thai vehicles to access Myanmar’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone and Myanmar vehicles to access Thailand’s Laem Chabang deep sea port. According to a Myanmar transport ministry official, Myanmar has already granted international cross border operator (ICBO) licenses to 40 trucks and will issue another 21 licences in the initial phase.
Thailand, Laos, sign agreement on 5th bridge across the Mekong River
(14 June 2019) Thai transport minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and Lao public works and transport minister Bounchan Sinthavong witnessed the signing of an agreement for the development of a fifth Thai-Lao friendship bridge linking Thailand’s Bueng Kan province with Laos’ Bolikhamsai province. In his speech during the ceremony, Arkhom expressed his hope for the two provinces to serve as a gateway for bilateral trade between their countries. For instance, he said, the bridge would enable Thai goods to be transported across Laos to southern China, while Lao goods could reach the Laem Chabang deep seaport in eastern Thailand. The bridge will cost an estimated US$126.77 million, a portion of which will be financed by the Lao government by borrowing from Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency. The 1.35km concrete bridge is estimated to take three years to complete.
Cambodia plans Da Nang flight to boost tourism with Vietnam
(14 June 2019) The Vietnamese and Cambodian civil aviation authorities announced on June 13 that they have inked an agreement to establish a new route connecting both countries. The route, which will be operated by Cambodia’s national airline Cambodia Angkor Air, will connect its capital Phnom Penh with Vietnam’s Da Nang city. The announcement was well received by players in Cambodia’s travel agents association, with a representative saying that increasing the number of international flights was the best way of fulfilling the government’s goal of attracting 15 million tourists each year by 2030. According to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, the country saw a 1.2% year-on-year increase in Vietnamese tourists in the first four months of 2019 reaching 260,000 visitors, making it Cambodia’s second largest tourism market after China during the period. Cambodia aims to attract about 1 million Vietnamese tourists a year by 2020.
Oil palm farmers, government ask retailers to abstain from lowering prices
(18 June 2019) Thai oil palm farmers are turning to retailers for support in their bid to maintain the prices of fresh palm nut by asking retailers to avoid selling bottled cooking palm oil at a discounted rate. The farmers’ calls follow similar ones made by Thai internal trade department head Whichai Phochanakij, who recently called on retailers to avoid promotional activities for cooking palm oil to avoid price competition between retailers, which would subsequently pressure farmers to lower palm nut prices. According to Whichai, this was crucial since palm oil for consumption accounts for around 40% of overall crude palm oil consumption. As part of the government’s efforts to bolster palm nut prices they have lowered its crude palm oil stocks, bought 160,000 tonnes of crude palm oil for power generation, and is promoting the use of B10 and B20 biodiesel for big trucks and B100 pure biodiesel for agriculture machinery.
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.