Mekong Monitor


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Photo Credit: AP

 

TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT

 

MYANMAR

Myanmar’s Financial Inclusion Roadmap focuses on fintech
(24 August 2018) The latest inclusion of forming a digital services working group that will be supervised by the Myanmar’s Central Bank and Financial Regulatory Department (FRD) will be embedded in the new Financial Inclusion Roadmap (2018-2022). The digital services working group will include personnel from the private sectors, such as insurance companies, private banks and micro-finance institutions. Only 8 per cent of Myanmar’s population use digital financial services, a minuscule percentage compared to the 74 per cent of the populace who use mobile phones. However, Myanmar’s financial inclusivity is improving as the growth of a formal financial system is on the rise due to the strong growth in microfinance and cooperative sectors coupled with an increase in the private bank sectors. Apart from that, the new roadmap will include pressing forward with financial literacy and protecting customers. According to a research conducted by Myanmar’s Financial Regulatory Department on 12,000 pensioners, only 5 per cent were able to use digital financial services.
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VIETNAM

Vietnam to accelerate cashless economy
(25 August 2018) Vietnam aims to move from being a cash-based society by encouraging public services payments such as taxes, electricity, water, hospital fees, social and public welfare programmes to be transacted via banks, according to the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) Deputy Governor, Nguyen Kim Anh. The government envisions collecting 80 per cent of tax payments through banks and allowing treasuries in all provinces to have cashless options by 2020. Non-cash electronic payments will be accepted by 70 per cent of electricity and water suppliers, including all universities and colleges and 50 per cent of all hospitals in the major cities. In addition, 20 per cent of social welfare transactions will be made through banks. Vietnam is progressively transforming the landscape of payments in order to develop a cashless society so it can reduce the cash in circulation, reducing the costs of printing, tallying, transporting and destroying old money.
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CAMBODIA

Cambodia’s bilateral trade with the UK surpasses US$1 billion
(23 August 2018) Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK in 2017 exceeded US$1.2 billion in 2017, thanks to a 7 per cent increase in bilateral trade Y-o-Y between both countries. Currently, the UK is Cambodia’s fourth biggest export market, behind the EU, US and ASEAN. However, it ranks second in terms of bilateral trade. Cambodia’s exports to the UK grew by five per cent in 2017, peaking at US$1.16 billion. Apart from that, US$48 million of goods were imported from the UK into the Kingdom this year, a significant increase of 112 per cent, underscoring the close economic relations between the two countries. The UK is one of the biggest buyers of Cambodia’s garments, importing 24.3 per cent of total Cambodia garment exports to the world.
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THAILAND

Property developers tap Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)
(27 August 2018) Property developers and hospitality companies will invest more than US$3.38 billion in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), one of the mega projects initiated by the Thai government to transform a large part of Thailand to create an industrial hub which stretches across the provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong. The EEC development plan, designed to accommodate Thailand 4.0 initiative, has already attracted infrastructure investments to develop a high-speed train project to link three main airports, which is projected to generate an economic return of US$22.3 billion. Details include the development of U-Tapao airport, the expansion of the Laem Chabang and Map Thaput deep-sea port, as well as a joint venture between Airbus and Thai Airways to build maintenance facilities in the region. Apart from local investors, foreign investors from China and Japan are eyeing to invest in developing residential projects in the region such as Chinese conglomerate, HNA Group and CT Bright. According to a survey by the Government Housing Bank Real Estate Information Centre, Chonburi remains an attractive centre for property development, with the largest number of new projects launched, comprise 53,000 units worth US$4.8 billion, followed by Sri Racha with 18,300 units worth US$1.53 billion.
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LAO PDR

Laos to offer electronic payments of land taxes
(29 August 2018) Lao’s Ministry of Finance is set to launch an electronic payment system next year, through which Lao citizens could pay their land taxes through internet banking, mobile applications, Automatic Teller Machine (ATMs) or counter services. The new land tax system will be leveraging the existing road tax payment system via Banque pour le Commerce Extérieur Lao Public (BCEL). Lao’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working together with other agencies to ensure successful implementation of this new system and to calculate the number of land ownership in Vientiane, which will be supplied to the Taxation Department. Currently, almost all landowners in the targeted villages are now registered in a software programme, where the launch of the new system will be the next step.
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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.