Philippine economy rebounds, joins Asia top performers


The Philippine economy rebounded to post 6.4 per cent growth in the second quarter and regain its status as one of the strongest in Asia, authorities said Thursday (Aug 28). The private sector took the lead as the economy recovered from a relatively modest expansion of 5.6 per cent in the first quarter, which was partly due to the impact of devastating natural disasters, economic chiefs said.

“This higher growth rate, coming from a high base a year ago, shows that the economy is back on the higher trajectory of growth,” Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. “We remain as one of the bright spots in the region, the second-fastest-growing economy among major Asian countries for the period, tied with Malaysia’s performance.” He cited the strong performances of the industry, services and exports sectors for much of the recovery, offsetting lower government spending that was partly due to “administrative bottlenecks”.

The latest figures brought growth for the first half of 2014 to 6.0 per cent and boosted optimism that the country would still attain its target of 6.5 to 7.5 per cent growth for the whole year, Balisacan said.

Independent economists gave guardedly optimistic assessments for the Philippines, a nation of 100 million people which in recent years has seen its economy surge after long lagging behind most of its Asian neighbours. The Philippine economy grew 6.8 per cent in 2012 and 7.2 per cent in 2013, but there are concerns about the sustainability of such strong numbers.

“It’s a decent rebound but there are still challenges ahead,” said Johnathan Ravelas, chief market strategist of BDO Unibank, one of the country’s largest banks. Ravelas cited as among the potential threats the barrage of storms that hit the Philippines, particularly in the second half of the year, and emerging “political noise” as the 2016 national elections get closer. He also told AFP the government needed to accelerate spending to address the need for better infrastructure and more reliable energy sources.

ANZ Research, in an advisory, said it was forecasting 6.9 per cent growth for the whole of 2014, but that this depended on President Benigno Aquino pushing ahead with plans to increase spending on infrastructure. Balisacan told reporters that state spending would increase with urgency, saying “the identified administrative bottlenecks that contributed to the under-performance of the government sector are being addressed”.

He also said the government had dealt with delays in approving rehabilitation projects for communities devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever to hit land, in November last year. The storm left more than 7,300 people dead or missing across farming and fishing areas of the central Philippines.


Source : Channel News Asia | August 28, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 29, 2014 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Singapore manufacturing output up 3.3% on-year in July

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Manufacturing output in the Republic rose 3.3 per cent on-year in July, boosted by a spike in the biomedical sector, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Tuesday (Aug 26).

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output decreased 2.2 per cent from a year ago, the EDB said. On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output rose 2.7 per cent, but declined 0.8 per cent when biomedical manufacturing was excluded.

On a year-on-year basis, the biomedical manufacturing cluster’s output increased 28.5 per cent in July. Robust export demand for medical instruments and supplies led the medical technology segment to record output growth of 30.8 per cent. The pharmaceuticals segment expanded 28 per cent, mainly due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients being produced.

Output for the chemicals cluster rose 9.2 per cent, propped up by the petrochemicals segment which grew 12.1 per cent, partly due to maintenance shut down in some plants a year ago. The specialties segment expanded 11.7 per cent on the back of higher output in additives and industrial gases.

The precision engineering cluster’s output grew 4.4 per cent year-on-year in July, supported by the machinery and systems segment which expanded 10.9 per cent with higher demand for semiconductor-related equipment and mechanical engineering work.

Output for the electronics cluster fell 2.9 per cent year-on-year, with the other electronic modules and components segment and computer peripherals segment growing 20.2 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively. However, this was outweighed by declines in other segments, such as the semiconductor segment which saw its output fall 1.6 per cent.

The general manufacturing industries cluster’s output fell 5.9 per cent in July, with all segments registering declines. The food, beverages and tobacco segment fell 1.8 per cent, while the miscellaneous industries segment contracted 7.7 per cent.

Output for the transport engineering cluster fell 9.9 per cent, dragged down by the marine and offshore engineering segment and the aerospace segment, which contracted 9 per cent and 16.2 per cent, respectively.



Source : Channel News Asia | August 26, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi


August 28, 2014 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Vietnam, EU hail progress on free trade agreement

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Vietnam’s prime minister on Monday (Aug 25) hailed progress in free trade talks with the European Union, saying a deal could be concluded as early as October. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was speaking after meeting European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, who is in Hanoi to discuss issues including trade and security.

Dung told reporters the pair had held “open, candid talks” and called for a deepening of economic ties between Vietnam and the EU, including achieving “the goal of concluding FTA (Free Trade Agreement) negotiations by October 2014.” Discussions were launched in 2012.

In 2013, EU-Vietnam trade was worth around €27.6 billion (S$46 billion). The EU is already Vietnam’s largest export market and second largest trading partner after China. Vietnam exports mobile phones and other electronics, footware and textiles, and agricultural products including coffee, rice and seafood to the EU. The EU is also one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam.

Barroso said there had been “good progress in (FTA) negotiations and I look at this agreement with great optimism.” The FTA will boost employment and growth in both Vietnam and the EU and would help Vietnam with ongoing reforms of its state-dominated economy, Barroso said, adding he had discussed current tensions in the South China Sea with Dung.

Hanoi is locked in a bitter maritime dispute with Beijing over disputed waters and island chains in the South China Sea. In May, Beijing moved a deep sea oil rig into waters that Hanoi claims, setting off violent anti-China riots in Vietnam and triggering a high-seas standoff around the rig. Beijing removed the rig in July, claiming its mission has been successfully completed.

“The EU has high stakes in the region – trade and strategic interests, as well as energy and security dimensions,” Barroso said. “The EU does not take a position on individual claims but we strongly encourage all partners to seek peaceful solutions in accordance with international law,” he added.


Source : Channel News Asia | August 25, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 27, 2014 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme Framework launched


Singapore-based fund managers can now offer their retail funds directly to investors in Malaysia and Thailand under a streamlined process. This follows the launch of the ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) Framework by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Securities Commission of Malaysia, and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand on Monday (August 25).

The ASEAN CIS framework facilitates the offering of a wide range of innovative cross-border funds to retail investors in the three countries. Market watchers say such moves can also help mutual fund houses to enhance their business growth.

Mr Lee Boon Ngiap, Assistant Managing Director (Capital Markets) at MAS, said: “Retail investors in ASEAN will benefit from an increase in the choice of funds for investment with the launch of the ASEAN CIS Framework. Fund managers in an ASEAN country will have a direct and efficient route to offer their funds to retail investors in other ASEAN countries.”

Fund managers using this framework will have to abide by a set of common standards designed to ensure that participating fund managers have the necessary experience and track record.

MAS, SC Malaysia and SEC Thailand have also jointly published a handbook to provide guidance to fund managers on the operational aspects of the ASEAN CIS Framework.

The ASEAN CIS Framework is one of the initiatives undertaken by the ASEAN Capital Market Forum as part of the regional capital market integration plan endorsed by the ASEAN Finance Ministers in 2009.



Source : Channel News Asia | August 25 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 26, 2014 at 9:36 am Leave a comment

Thailand, Myanmar forge ‘landmark’ cooperation agreement


The THAILAND Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is teaming up with Myanmar’s largest business association to hold trade shows and related events in both countries, as Myanmar continues its rapid opening to international business.
TCEB and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) recently signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding at a ceremony in Yangon to improve and expand their meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industries.

Both sides referred to the MoU as a landmark partnership between Thailand and Myanmar.

“TCEB is a large organisation and has [more] advanced knowledge in this area than us. It is organising exhibitions in many countries. Together, we will cooperate to promote trade.

We’ll also work together in renovating and maintaining facilities so that Myanmar can be like Thailand,” said Myo Thet, vice president of UMFCCI.

Myanmar is now holding more than 60 business and commodity exhibitions a year, but shortages of proper venues are hindering the full potential, he said.

TCEB president Nopparat Maythaveekulchai said: “As the Thai government’s official flagship body for the MICE sector, TCEB’s mission is to support connections and linkages through meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

“This bilateral collaboration truly represents a deeper interaction within our respective MICE industries, which will yield profound results in both our countries,” he said. He added that the bilateral relationship between Thailand and Myanmar was very productive. The Kingdom is Myanmar’s second-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade reached US$7.82 billion (Bt250 billion) last year, up 15 per cent from 2012.

“TCEB will do our best to improve and expand trade promotion and the MICE industry in many ways, which includes encouraging public- and private-sector delegations and missions, to deepen engagement and expand collaboration in preparation for the AEC integration in 2015,” he said, referring to the Asean Economic Cooperation pact.

The new deal falls under the framework of the Joint Trade Commission formed in 2012. TCEB’s first ever roadshow in Yangon in partnership with UMFCCI was held in May 2013, helping to accelerate the growth of Myanmar MICE visitors to Thailand, especially in the meetings and conventions sectors, officials said.

Moreover, Thailand’s bustling exhibitions sector also serves as a trading marketplace and responds to the growing industries in Myanmar in various sectors, including food and agriculture, hospitality and services, medical and healthcare services, and machinery.

Last year, 7,101 visitors from Myanmar experienced the strength of Thailand’s MICE industry, injecting more than $24.9 million into Thai economy.

The achievement demonstrates that the relationship has the potential to prepare the two countries ahead of the AEC. In an AEC environment, the MICE industry has the potential to operate as a catalyst, boosting all sectors. “TCEB and UMFCCI are united and share our goal in developing the MICE industry with mutual understanding and friendship through enhanced human, cultural and economic exchange,” Nopparat said.

“We are committed to creating long-term competitiveness and sustainability for our service sectors in the international arena, and we both passionately believe that the best way to do this is jointly to promote and enhance cooperation in the MICE industry, especially through the strength of Thailand’s MICE industry, including diversity of destinations, unrivalled business opportunities, and high-quality professionals and industry standards.”

In building a strategic network of Asean partnerships, TCEB tries to nurture connections between Asean businesses and their counterparts as part of the Asean MICE Collaboration project.

From Vietnam (Vietrade and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry), to the Philippines (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands), to Indonesia (Directorate-General for National Export Development) and Laos (Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Myanmar businesses join a growing partner network through this MoU, as a strategic part to drive the region through trade and investment, officials said.

Last year, Thailand drew 1,013,502 MICE visitors, with receipts totalling $2.94 billion. This year, it is expected that Thailand will see 888,210 international MICE visitors, generating revenue of $2.90 billion.

Source : The Nation | August 21, 2014
Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 22, 2014 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

Indonesia’s Widodo reiterates support for Jakarta monorail


Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo on Wednesday (Aug 20) reiterated his support for the construction of a monorail system in Jakarta.

Mr Widodo said a mass transportation system like the Jakarta Eco Transport Monorail (JET) is much needed for the capital of Indonesia, according to a statement from Singaporean transport operator SMRT International.

SMRT is part of the consortium PT Jakarta Monorail, which is involved in the planning and construction of the monorail project. The consortium and Mr Widodo met at a project progress meeting at Jakarta City hall on Wednesday.

“SMRT is pleased that the project has been given new momentum with the support of (Mr Widodo), and we look forward to working with our consortium partners and local government officials to bring the project to fruition,” said Desmond Kuek, SMRT’s president and group CEO.

The consortium was formed in 2013, after the monorail project was revived. The project was abandoned in 2008 due to financial issues and legal disputes.




Source : Channel News Asia | August 20, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 21, 2014 at 9:41 am Leave a comment

Myanmar implements economic zone in border town with China


Myanmar is implementing a new central economic zone in Muse, aborder town in northern Shan state linking China’s Ruili of Yunnan province, to boostborder trade at the most important crossing between the two countries, according to theproject official saying on Tuesday.

The new Muse Central Economic Zone, being established on over 120 hectares of land at acost of 51.54 million U.S. dollars, comprises 18 estates including jade trading facilities,markets, shops, hotels, restaurants and housing complexes, said the official.

The plan of setting up of the Muse central economic zone was approved by localauthorities in early 2013 and it was targeted to be completed in 2007.

Myanmar’s border trade with China is being mainly done through Muse, Lweje,Chinshwehaw and Kan Pite Tee.

Muse stands as the highest border trade transaction between Myanmar and China,reaching over 3 billion U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2013-14, accounting for over 60percent of Myanmar’s total border trade.

According to Myanmar official statistics, the total value of China-Myanmar bilateral tradeis 6.619 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, accounting for 28.4 percent of Myanmar’s total foreigntrade value which was 23.29 billion U.S. dollars during the year.

Figures also show that China’s investment in Myanmar has reached 14.251 billion U.S.dollars in 65 projects as of June 2014, accounting for 30.5 percent of the total and ranking the first in Myanmar’s foreign investment line-up.




Source : China Daily | August 19, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi

August 20, 2014 at 9:57 am Leave a comment

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