Photo Credit: GIZ
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
GREATER MEKONG SUBREGION
European Union (EU) trains officials on the safety of transporting dangerous goods in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
(22 July 2018) Thailand has been commissioned by the European Union to conduct training workshops for road-based logistic operations in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The EU funded workshops are based on the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit signed in 1998 as part of the move to prepare GMS countries to embrace the UN-based safety regulations. However, most of the members have yet to utilise the programmes fully. In 1990, a major disaster related to the transportation of dangerous goods when a liquid petroleum gas tanker truck crashed on an expressway exit in Bangkok, leading to 90 deaths.
Cambodia’s internet users increases as network coverage expand
(24 July 2018) There has been a 10 percent increase in the number of internet users to a total of 12 million users for the first half of the year in Cambodia, said an official from the Telecommunication Regulator Cambodia. Social media users continue to multiply too, especially Facebook which represents 69 percent of social media accounts registered in the country. Much of the growth in the number of internet users has come from higher internet penetration to rural areas. In 2015, Cambodia had 20 million mobile phone connections, but it dropped in 2016 and 2017 as they were only 19.9 million and 18.57 million phone connections respectively. Up to June 2018, the number is at 18.9 million phone connections.
Vietnam looks to insulate itself from the global trade war
(19 July 2018) Vietnam is seeking to protect itself from the growing trade conflict between two of the country’s largest export destinations China and the United States. The National Centre for Socio-Economic Information and Forecast, which is under Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment has submitted a report to the ministry on the potential impact of the trade war and how the country’s authorities should prepare to defend the economy. The Deputy Director-General of the centre Luong Van Khoi said the trade tension could reduce the country’s exports, hamper domestic production and foreign investment inflow. Vietnam’s dependence on exports and foreign direct investment to power growth makes it susceptible to the escalating global trade conflict. According to Vietnam’s Trade Ministry, the country imported US$57 billion of goods from China in 2017. Some experts call for the devaluation of the dong against the US dollar of about 2% for the entire 2018 to boost exports.
Thailand to step up investment on digital projects
(24 July 2018) Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will set up a 5G mobile application testbed lab at the Digital Park in Si Racha to help the country’s transition from the current 4G telecommunication spectrum to the incoming 5G era. The country’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is also looking to allocate some spectrum bands for the 5G testing at the programmed test bed. The cyberport would be the centre for start-ups to get extensive support on a one-stop basis, from funding until their participation in a connected ecosystem. Thailand targets the digital economy to account for 25 percent of its GDP in 2018.
Myanmar plans to establish agricultural zones in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw
(20 July 2018) Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has pledged to construct agrarian zones to produce agriculture-based products. Through the country’s agricultural development strategy and investment programme, the ministry will initiate such zones in the agricultural assistance plan stage (2) of Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The zones will allow growers to pioneer innovations and use modern appliances. The areas will be provided with equipment that generates electricity from biogas and water treatment plants.
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.