China will speed up the development of mixed-ownership economy by letting non-state capital into more state projects, including those in oil, railways and telecoms, according to a government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
“We will formulate measures for non-state capital to participate in investment projects of central government enterprises,” Li said at the opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature.
Non-state capital will be allowed to participate in a number of projects in areas such as banking, oil, electricity, railway, telecommunications, resources development and public utilities, according to the report.
The government pledged to reform the railway investment and financing system, and to open competitive operations in more areas to encourage full participation of private capital.
The government also announced some reform moves targeted at the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
“We will improve the system for managing state-owned assets, clearly define the functions of different SOEs, and carry out trials of investing state capital in corporate operations,” Li said.
A reform masterplan released after a key plenum of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in November pledged to let market play a decisive role and recognized the private sector’s role in fostering growth and creating jobs.
The November document said China shall actively develop a mixed ownership economy, allowing more SOEs and other firms to develop into mixed-ownership companies.
China’s top oil refiner Sinopec announced in mid-February that it would bring in social and private capital to jointly market and sell its oil products, the first opening up of the largely monopolized sector.
Source : Xinhua | March 5, 2014
More Japanese companies are choosing the Asean region over China as an investment destination as rising costs and concerns about the environment make Asia’s biggest economy less attractive, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.
Seventy five percent of the 3,471 Japanese companies surveyed said they’re considering an expansion in the Asean nations of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, the organization known as Jetro said yesterday in a report. That’s up from 56 percent in 2011. The number of firms looking at China dropped to 57 percent last year from 68 percent two years ago, according to Jetro.
“We’ve seen a shift in the last two years and it looks to continue with more investments turning to Asean and also moving from China to Asean,” Akira Kajita, a director at Jetro’s overseas research department, said at a briefing in Tokyo yesterday.
The shift coincides with the push by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to build stronger ties with Southeast Asian nations as a buffer against China’s growing military and economic reach. Tensions between China and Japan have peaked since 2012 as both nations assert claims to an island chain in the East China Sea.
While Japanese auto and chemical manufacturers still plan business expansions into China, firms with Chinese trading, textile and metal processing assets look to transfer these to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations, Jetro said.
Half of the respondents to the December survey said rising costs in China were the main reason for shrinking capacity there, with currency risks and environmental pollution among the other key factors, Jetro said.
Source : Thahn Nien Daily | March 1, 2014
Singapore’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) strengthened in February, as factories reported a rise in new orders and production levels.
The PMI edged up to 50.9, up from the reading of 50.5 in January and staying above the key 50-point level for a second month.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates manufacturing is expanding, while a figure below that shows activity is contracting.
The corresponding index for the electronics sector came in at 51.2 – supported by growth in new orders from domestic and overseas markets.
This is a dip of 0.8 point over January, but it is now the 13th straight month that the sector is expanding.
The readings indicated further growth in new orders from domestic and overseas markets.
The uptick in Singapore contrasts with PMI data from the region, which generally showed manufacturing weakening in economies such as China and South Korea.
Singapore’s PMI numbers are closely-watched because manufacturing accounts for more than 25 per cent of GDP.
Source : Channel News Asia | March 3, 2014
Indonesia swung to a trade deficit in January as a controversial government ban on mineral ore shipments by Southeast Asia’s biggest economy crimped overall exports, data showed on Monday.
The January deficit of $431 million compared to a $1.5 billion surplus in December, the official Statistics Agency said.
“The 5.75 per cent drop in exports is due to the annual pattern and the coming into effect of the mineral law,” said Adi Lumaksono, a senior official at the agency.
Indonesia imposed a ban on exports of mineral ore including bauxite, nickel and copper beginning January 12.
The move is one of a series of industrial policies pushed by nationalist politicians who argue foreign firms reap an inordinate share of the profits from exploiting resources and business opportunities in the fast-growing economy.
The mineral export ban contributed in December to Indonesia’s biggest trade surplus in two years as mining firms ramped up exports to key markets like China ahead of the impending ban.
The January deficit is Indonesia’s first monthly shortfall since September.
However, inflation eased in February, the agency said Monday, the latest sign the economy was stabilising after a rough 2013.
Inflation came in at 7.75 per cent, lower than analyst estimates, and compared to 8.22 per cent in January.
Indonesia was hit hard last year by expectations the US Federal Reserve would start to wind down its economic stimulus programme, which analysts said could cause investment capital to exit emerging markets.
Meanwhile, HSBC’s manufacturing purchasing managers index — a gauge of future manufacturing activity — expanded for the sixth straight month in February albeit at a slower rate than in the previous month, the bank said.
Source : Channel News Asia | March 3, 2014
China’s state-owned grain giant COFCO said on Friday it had bought a majority stake in Netherlands-based commodity trader Nidera for a reported US$1.2 billion, as it seeks to become a global player in agribusiness.
COFCO’s deal to buy 51 per cent of Nidera, which trades grains and soybeans among other agricultural commodities, is the latest in a string of major overseas investments by Chinese companies seeking to meet rising demand for food and energy in the world’s second-largest economy.
The deal would give China greater control over pricing on the world’s grain markets as well as better access to major grain-growing regions, such as Latin America and Russia, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
Financial terms of the COFCO-Nidera deal, which awaits regulatory approval, were not disclosed while the press release described Nidera as having “annual turnover in excess of US$17 billion”.
“Investing in Nidera is in line with COFCO’s strategy to become a global player in the agricultural industry … and represents a significant step towards COFCO’s global expansion,” Frank Ning, COFCO’s chairman, said in a press release.
Nidera’s total enterprise value is about US$4 billion, Dow Jones Newswires reported citing people familiar with the matter, adding that the equity value of COFCO’s stake is about US$1.2 billion.
Nidera’s operations in Brazil, Argentina and Central Europe and global trading network “can further extend COFCO’s global presence and create new opportunities,” Patrick Yu, COFCO’s president, said in the release.
As China’s population grows wealthier, foreign companies are widely seen by consumers as offering safer and higher quality products in contrast to a climate of constant food safety scares in the fast-growing Asian economy.
Ton Van Der Laan, CEO of Nidera, said the deal would “generate great growth opportunities”, emphasising the importance of Chinese and Asian markets for the company.
“We were looking for a strong partner to jointly invest in future growth and a strategic partnership with COFCO is an ideal choice for Nidera and will benefit both sides,” Van Der Laan said.
China’s overseas investment rose 16.8 per cent to US$90.17 billion in 2013 as its companies bought more foreign assets, particularly in energy and resources, to power its economy.
Source : Channel News Asia | March 1, 2014
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Friday approved anti-dumping and countervailing investigations on crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China, paving the way for the Department of Commerce to set preliminary duties in the months ahead.
The trade panel voted in the affirmative that there was a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry was materially injured by imports of these products, the ITC said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Commerce will continue the investigations, launched on Jan. 23, on imports of these products and is expected to make its preliminary countervailing duty determination in March and its anti-dumping duty determination in June.
The investigations are in response to the petition filed by SolarWorld Industries America Inc. based in Oregon, which alleged that crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China were sold below the fair value of the products in the U.S. market, while Chinese producers and exporters also received “improper” government subsidies.
The crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China under investigation were estimated at 2.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, according to U.S. official data.
The investigations would not include crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells imported from China that the U.S. Commerce Department decided to levy anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties in 2012.
Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington to honor its commitment against protectionism and work with China to maintain a free, open and just trade environment.
Source : Xinhua | February 19, 2014
Malaysia will enhance various opportunities in business and investment with Australia after the enforcement of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement on January 1 last year.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said he welcomed more Australian trade missions to explore and seek the wealth of investment opportunities in Malaysia.
“Among the potential areas are financial, insurance, telecommunication and the manufacturing industries,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop at Wisma Putra on Monday.
Bishop, who is on her first official visit to Malaysia, also welcomed more Malaysian investment to Australian.
Earlier, Bishop made a courtesy call and held a bilateral meeting with Anifah where they both discussed the progress of the ongoing bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and Australia.
On education, Anifah said it will continue to be an integral part of Malaysia-Australia bilateral relations. There are currently more than 13,000 Malaysian students pursuing higher education in Australia.
“Malaysia looks forward to encouraging more Australian students and researchers to study and to do their research in Malaysia,” he said.
Anifah said other topics discussed at the meeting included Australia’s new government foreign policy which would focus on economic diplomacy and public diplomacy via its flagship initiative, the new Colombo Plan.
“In this respect, Malaysia welcomes Australia’s interest to invite Malaysia to take part in the New Colombo Plan next year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bishop said Australia would continue to cooperate with Malaysia in tackling the issue of human trafficking and finding ways to stop the illegal activity.
She congratulated Malaysia as the country would chair the ASEAN Summit in 2015, and said that ASEAN had played an important role in the region to overcome various issues such as the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea and other regional and international issues.
Allegations of Australia spying on Indonesia were also touched on during Bishop’s visit.
She has vowed to revive relations with Indonesia which were hit by the scandal.
Jakarta has said ties will be frozen until a code of conduct to govern intelligence gathering is put in place.
Bishop said she has been constantly communicating with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to resolve the issues.
Australia’s ties with Malaysia were also affected by the spying allegations, but Anifah appeared ready to move on.
He called Australia — Malaysia’s close friend and an important regional neighbour.
Source : Channel News Asia | February 20, 2014