Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged 750 billion yen ($6.1 billion) in financial aid to the "Mekong Five" countries that include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam at the Japan-Mekong summit held in Tokyo over the weekend. The scale of this Official Development Assistance (ODA), which will be granted over three years from fiscal 2016, is the largest since the summit was launched in 2009, with 500 billion yen offered in 2009 and 600 billion yen in 2012. This move comes amid China's active efforts to promote the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which Japan sees as a challenge to the Asian Development Bank led by itself. In recent years, the deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations have overshadowed Japanese investment in China and bilateral trade. With some other factors such as China's rising labor costs and the devaluation of the yen, Japan has looked to the ASEAN nations for investment opportunities. During the weekend summit, Abe said, "The peace and stability of the Mekong region is of great importance to Japan." Due to the region's vast market, rich resources, economic potential and low operation costs, ASEAN remains Japan's important trade partner. After Abe became prime minister in 2012, he chose Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia as his first destinations, in an effort to expand trade relations with Southeast Asian countries and to raise Japan's regional clout. Infrastructure is a potential area for investment in the region. Not long ago, Japan announced it would invest $110 billion to support Asia's infrastructure, in an apparent bid to compete with the China-led AIIB which aims to help the region achieve sustainable economic growth. Japan has advantages in environmentally-friendly innovation and advanced industrial structures, while China has the upper hand in industrial capacity and cost-effectiveness, project construction ability and ability to adapt to different environments. There has already been a heated competition between China and Japan over the two over the construction of high-speed trains in Thailand. It is expected they will also face similar contentions in countries like India, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is worth noting that Japan is not only courting influence in the region to boost its image economically, it is also becoming increasingly vocal against China in territorial and other disputes. At the summit, Abe and other leaders made an implicit warning against China's land reclamation on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea, saying the recent developments in the South China Sea will "further complicate the situation" and may "undermine regional peace, security and stability." Japan is not a South China Sea claimant, and it has its own disputes with China over islands in the East China Sea. Japan does not want to see a close relationship between China and ASEAN. Under current circumstances, by picking up the South China Sea disputes and intensifying the situation, Japan wants to alienate China and ASEAN. This will help Japan further woo ASEAN and add to its own clout in its disputes with China over the East China Sea. Over the weekend, the nations in the Mekong region, except Vietnam, were reluctant to lean on Tokyo. Economically, the region can gain more assistance and investment from the rivalry between China and Japan. Diplomatically, it will have more leverage to seek a balance between big powers and maximize its own interests. Therefore, as China necessarily promotes its own strategies, it should emphasize its vision of long-term strategic cooperation with ASEAN. On some concrete issues, China should take ASEAN's demands and interests into consideration. For example, it should not only provide technological assistance and cultivate local talent, but also care about labor welfare and environmental issues. This will prove conducive to a win-win outcome. By globaltimes.cnThe post Japan is trying to court influence in Southeast Asia through ODA appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
China is expected to import more than $10 trillion in goods and services and invest $500 billion abroad in the next five years, offering opportunities for Viet Nam and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.Speaking at a seminar held yesterday in HCM City, Li Zhenmin, commercial and economic counselor at the Chinese Consulate General, urged Viet Nam to seek Chinese partners for long-term cooperation in trade and investment.Viet Nam's trade deficit with China has ballooned in recent years, and now stands at $9.8 billion.While Vietnamese officials have urged China to increase imports, Zhenmin said that China had opened its doors to Vietnamese exports.Citing statistics from China's Customs department, he said China's import turnover from Viet Nam had recorded an average growth of 15-20 per cent per year in recent years, a relatively high rate.For many years, China has been the largest buyer of agricultural exports from Viet Nam.Viet Nam is the second largest trade partner of China in the ASEAN region.This year, bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to reach $100 billion, Zhenmin said."To increase cooperation, a transnational e-commerce floor for the two countries should be established. We can take advantage of the internet to increase information transparency, which would create favourable conditions for the two countries' businesses," he said.Chinese importers did not understand the Vietnamese market fully, he said, adding that Vietnamese businesses also encountered obstacles and should seek only competent and reliable Chinese importers.Zhenmin advised Vietnamese businesses to increase export quality, avoid violations of intellectual property rights, and refuse to make or buy counterfeit products.Nguyen The Hung, deputy director of the HCM City branch of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said bilateral relations between Viet Nam and China had shown impressive growth but there was still unexploited potential.Last year, the total export-import turnover of the two countries reached $58.7 billion, an increase of 16.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.Viet Nam's exports in 2014 totalled $14.9 billion, up 11.8 per cent. Imports were $43.8 billion, an increase of 18.2 per cent.In the first five months of this year, Vietnamese exports to China reached US$6.1 billion, a decrease of 1.2 per cent over the same period last year.Viet Nam's imports totalled $15.9 billion, an increase of 19.1 per cent in the first five months.Viet Nam's main exports to China are crude oil, telephones and parts, rubber, rice, fruit, vegetables and seafood, while it imported machinery, equipment, steel and fertiliser from China.Last year, China had the largest number of tourists to Viet Nam (1.9 million), an increase of 2.1 per cent over 2013.In the first five months, the number of Chinese tourists to Viet Nam reached 700,000.China had a total of 1,112 projects with total registered capital of $8 billion by March this year, ranking ninth among 100 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam.China had 99 investment projects in Viet Nam with total investment capital of $253 million in 2014. By VNSThe post VN urged to tap China trade, investment appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
London-based Religare Capital Markets has made another move to expand its operations in Southeast Asia with the appointment of the Asean trading head. Stephen Conway's appointment is the second senior hire disclosed this month by the investment bank, coming three weeks after Matthew Lutter, who joined as managing director and head of Asean equities. Religare has also added seven senior executive partners to its team since the start of the year and is looking to fill 10 or more positions in sales, trading and research in Singapore and Hong Kong in the coming months. The banking and securities company has been building up a strong backlog of deals in India, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. Earlier this month, it said it had formed an exclusive joint venture with Trinity Securities in Thailand for the provision of advisory, execution and investment banking services. In April, Religare Capital Markets signed an agreement with FSG Capital of the Philippines to provide investment banking services to rapidly growing companies. The investment bank is also in discussions to form strategic tie-ups in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan and China. The firm has a staff strength of 110 across India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the UK. "We are pleased to have Stephen on board to lead our next phase of growth and expansion in Southeast Asia. Steve has very strong credentials and a proven track record. I am confident he will be a real asset as we focus on building our business in the region," Lutter said. "We are definitely on a roll. We believe we have hit the sweet spot in identifying the underserved segment of the market and we have responded by attracting talents with an entrepreneurial approach in the way we conduct our business and compensate our people." By nationmultimedia.comThe post UK investment bank eyes bigger Asean share appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
MANILA - The Philippines is one of the top 10 foreign direct investment (FDI) recipients in East and Southeast Asia, the World Investment Report (WIR) 2015 of United Nations Conference on Development and Trade (UNCTAD) said on Wednesday. The WIR 2015 showed that the Philippines has attracted some US$6 billion worth of FDI in 2014, up from US$4 billion in 2013. This lifted the country's ranking in East and Southeast Asia from 10th in 2013 to ninth last year. The UNCTAD report said China remained the highest recipient of FDIs in 2014, with inflows of US$129 billion, followed by Hong Kong with US$103 billion. Other ASEAN member-countries that topped the Philippines were Singapore with US$68 billion, Indonesia with US$23 billion, Thailand with US$13 billion, Malaysia with US$11 billion, and Vietnam with US$9 billion. South Koreaâs share of US$10 billion placed it at seventh in the region. For East Asia alone, FDI inflows increased by 12 percent to US$248 billion. Southeast Asia has attracted FDI worth of US$133 billion in 2014, up by 5 percent year-on-year. "Combined FDI inflows to East and Southeast Asia grew by 10 percent in 2014, despite a slowdown in economic growth, to reach a historical high of US$381 billion," according to the UNCTAD report. The report said global FDI inflows in 2014 declined by 16 percent to US$1.23 trillion brought by fragility of the global economy, policy uncertainty for investors and elevated geopolitical risks. By msn.comThe post Philippines remains among top 10 recipients of foreign investments in East, Southeast Asia appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
VietNamNet Bridge – The possibility of China becoming a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement remains open. Experts say China’s membership, to some extent, would affect Vietnam. According to Dr. Le Van Sang, former deputy head of the Institute for the World Economics and Politics Research, the US has not invited China to join TPP but does not oppose the country’s membership. Meanwhile, Chinese press report that Beijing may consider joining the free trade area. “Both the US and China remain inconclusive about Chinese membership. But I think China would join TPP, sooner or later,” Sang commented. Analysts have every reason to believe that TPP would be inked soon, which means China may not join TPP from the very beginning. However, the door to TPP remains open for China. According to Bui Ngoc Son, a renowned analyst, in the past, the US did not want to admit China into TPP for some reasons. First, the US did not welcome the Chinese foreign exchange policy. Second, rising China may overcomE the US plan to increase its influences in Asia Pacific. However, though wanting to establish a free trade area with no China, the US has no reason to oppose the presence of China in TPP. What will happen if China joins TPP? The strategy China has been following for the last years is that it tries to prevent other countries to benefit in its land. However, the analysts both affirmed that China, if joining TPP, will have to change its ways. What will happen if China joins TPP? An economist said that if China stays outside TPP, it will be put at a disadvantage as TPP members, or China’s rivals, can do business with the US and benefit from the world’s largest economy. Meanwhile, if China joins TPP, its products sold among TPP member countries will be exempted from tax. If China joins TPP, its great advantages will be fully exploited. If not, it will face big difficulties because of increasing labor costs. Meanwhile, the Chinese TPP membership, to other TPP member countries, would not be good news, because they will have to share benefits with China. As for Vietnam, the great benefits it expects from TPP membership would shrink with China’s presence, because the Vietnamese economy is smaller than Chinese and is quite similar to Chinese. The two countries have similar export products and therefore, they compete with each other. If China can also enjoy tax preferences like Vietnam, Vietnamese products will have no more advantages over Chinese. By Dat Viet - vietnambreakingnews.comThe post If China joins the TPP, will Vietnam would lose its advantages? appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
ASEAN is expected to remain one of the world's fastest-growing regions in the medium to long term, Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon said on Friday. "Barring shocks, overall growth in ASEAN should remain firm this year - at about 5 per cent, not spectacular, but very respectable, considering the state of the global economy," he said in his keynote address at the ASEAN Banking Council Meeting. Last year, ASEAN's combined gross domestic product was nearly US$2.5 trillion (S$3.3 trillion) - larger than that for India, he noted. The World Bank had on Thursday cut the global growth rate for this year to 2.8 per cent, from 3 per cent in January. But for East Asia and the Pacific region (excluding China), the World Bank has pegged growth to hit 4.9 per cent this year and 5.4 per cent in the next two years, driven by the large ASEAN economies. The ASEAN 4 - namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines - are projected to grow by at least 4 per cent per annum on average over the next five years. But Mr Menon said that growth could be as high as 6 per cent - on condition that the region becomes more integrated, and if these countries implement domestic structural reforms to raise their productivity and competitiveness. Aside from the ASEAN 4 and Singapore, the other ASEAN states are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The key to higher growth lies in integration - both economic and financial, he said. Substantial progress has been made towards economic integration in the implementing of the blueprint for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). This was adopted in 2007 as roadmap towards achieving a free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled people within the region by 2015. More than 90 per cent of the key deliverables targeted for completion by 2015 have since been implemented; virtually all goods traded within ASEAN are at zero tariff. "There are agreements in place to enhance protection for investors, liberalise sectors for investment and to provide greater transparency on investment rules," he said. "The pace of financial integration has, however, lagged behind trade integration," he said, noting that this is despite financial integration being a strong complement to trade integration and a critical component of the overall AEC project. The ASEAN Financial Integration Framework, adopted by ASEAN's central bank governors and endorsed by ASEAN finance ministers in 2011, envisages the financial markets in the region being more linked up by 2020. "In part, this is deliberate. In part, this is disappointing," said Mr Menon of the slow progress. "The slower pace is deliberate in the sense that financial integration is more complex than trade integration and requires more time." He added that the financial systems across ASEAN are at very different stages of development and levels of sophistication. But policymakers are intent on making up for lost time, he said. ASEAN's finance ministers and central bank governors are therefore determined press ahead with liberalisation in the post-AEC phase leading up to 2020. he added. By Siow Li Sen - business.asiaone.com The post ASEAN ‘among fastest growing in the mid to long term’ appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
Vietnam will actively join regional efforts to speed up the implementation of the Master Plan on Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Connectivity (MPAC) on the three pillars of infrastructure, institutions and people. Ambassador Nguyen Hoanh Nam, Head of the Vietnamese Permanent Representative delegation to the ASEAN made the statement at the second meeting of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) that took place in Parapat, Indonesia, on June 7 and 8. The Ambassador confirmed that priority will continuously be given to projects on strengthening connections in terms of infrastructure, education and human resources training in the Sub-Mekong region. The MPAC, which was approved during the 17th ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi in 2010, sets three pillars for strengthening regional connectivity on infrastructure, institutions, and people via 125 action plans. They include 55 projects on regional traffic system networks, telecommunications and the power grid; 50 on developing a favourable legal framework for regional trade and the investment environment; and 20 on education cooperation, human resources training, and cultural and tourism exchanges. Reports made during the meeting showed that of the 125 total action plans, 24 have been completed, 50 are expected to be completed within this year and the rest are facing either financial or management difficulties. Participants suggested applying the public-private partnership (PPP) model in implementing the MPAC and including MPAC projects in national development programmes. They also called for the ACCC to strengthen their coordination role and cooperation with National Coordinating Commitees in monitoring and supervising the implementation process. Promotion activities should also be expanded to draw the attention and participation of partner countries, international financial organisations and businesses. During the event, participants also discussed the Post-2015 Agenda for ASEAN Connectivity and agreed upon the schedule for regular meetings between the ACCC and its partners including China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and the European Union late this year. The third 2015 ACCC meeting is scheduled to take place in September in Malaysia. By VNAThe post Vietnam pledges to implement master plan on ASEAN connectivity appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.
Chinese investment in Sri Lanka is causing major problems for Sri Lanka’s President Mathripala Sirisena and has become a point of tension in Sri Lanka–China relations.
With Vietnam just becoming the first Asian country to sign off a Free Trade Agreement with the Moscow backed Eurasian Economic Union, the relevance of how Vietnam plays its bilateral trade agreements has suddenly taken on a more interesting slant. Vietnam has been a member of ASEAN since 1995, and has been embarking on a specific set period of reform and opening up since 2012, when its “Three Pillars” scheme was announced, intending to restructure public investment, state-owned enterprises and the banking sector. This has reached some urgency with Vietnam set to attain ASEAN Economic Community compliance by the end of this year. When completed, Vietnam, like the other major ASEAN nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, will reduce tariffs on 97% of all imported products to zero. This mutual agreement also extends to the Free Trade Agreements ASEAN as a bloc has with both China and India – and is the primary reason that China-Vietnamese trade is expected to significantly increase from January 2016. This will bring Vietnam up to speed with its larger ASEAN counterparts. However, as the FTA with the EEU has shown, Vietnam is confident enough to embark on its own negotiations, and to take a leading regional role. An upcoming negotiation of note is the Vietnam-European Union FTA, which has been under discussion for some time. Such discussions always take time, however it is understood that the negotiations between the two parties are at a highly advanced stage. A deal could be signed off later this year, which would be the first time the European Union has committed to an FTA in Asia. EU agreements with Singapore and South Korea are both pending, but Vietnam, which as is common amongst all ASEAN nations, is engaged in separate FTA discussions rather than collectively under the ASEAN bloc. Should Vietnam succeed in both agreeing a deal with the EU and then implementing that, it would be a game changer for the region. It would push more China and Asian based manufacturers to invest in Vietnam in order to access the wealthy EU markets, and practically deliver Vietnam as a very serious competitor to China for a share of the global manufacturing market. While the other ASEAN nations, China and India are all engaged in various stages of discussions with the EU, the Vietnam negotiations promise to lead the way. EU negotiators will have learned a great deal about emerging Asia as a whole during this process, which may make future EU agreements with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand easier to navigate. But as regards Asian relations with the EU, eyes are all on Vietnam to see what can be delivered as the first agreement to be put on the table. By aseanbriefing.comThe post For ASEAN Future FTA Deals, Look Towards Vietnam appeared first on Asean Investment | Marc Djandji Blog.