Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian countries to win from the trade war in the medium term

SINGAPORE (Nov 4): Today, one in five manufactured goods globally comes from China — a great leap from its 3% contribution in 1996. The rapid rise of China’s export engine, especially in manufacturing, and its ambition to produce the highly prized “high-tech goods” set out in its “China Manufacturing 2025” strategy, appears to be the key motivation behind the US-led trade war against China.

The question today is whether other economies in Asia can really benefit from such a trade war, and the answer very much depends on the time frame analysed.

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Southeast Asia's mobile payments face shakeout as market booms

(Oct 17): Just next to Ho Chi Minh City’s financial district, two dozen street vendors’ stalls display colourful adverts for e-wallets backed by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, ride-hailing firm Grab and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, among others.

Between them, the stalls - selling everything from crab soup to Vietnamese Banh My sandwiches - accept payment from most of Vietnam’s 28 different e-wallets, which also allow users to make cash transfers through their mobile phones.

Singapore takes the lead as Southeast Asia grapples with weight problem

(Oct 16): Starting next year, Singapore will treat packaged sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola the way that other countries treat cigarettes. Advertisements will be banned, and a label attesting to a beverage's unhealthiness will be mandatory. The goal is to reduce the high rate of sugar consumption and associated health problems — such as diabetes and heart disease — that are now plaguing Southeast Asia.

Only 1 in 5 Asean business leaders have a plan in place to deal with impending downturn: Bain report

SINGAPORE (Sept 20): On the back of geopolitical uncertainties, a global downturn seems to be inevitable. But the majority of business leaders in Southeast Asia might find themselves caught on the back foot.

According to new research from management consulting firm Bain & Company, some 77% of CEOs and CFOs in the region expect a severe downturn in the region within the next two years.

Yet, only 37% expect a severe effect on their own company, while a mere 20% have significant actions or plans in place.

Asean lagging behind in sustainability efforts, experts say

SINGAPORE (Sept 18): Southeast Asia is lagging behind in sustainability efforts despite being most vulnerable to climate change, say experts at the BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum on Wednesday.

Rintaro Tamaki, president of the Japan Center for International Finance, believes Asia still has far to go in terms of a region-wide, integrated environmental policy to tackle the threat of climate change. And this is despite the region facing numerous cross-border environmental issues.

Signs of end to tech slump offer hope to Asia’s economies

(Aug 2): The worst may soon be over for an electronics slump that has dogged Asia’s export-driven economies.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists said a rebound in technology exports is overdue, citing gradual improvement in South Korean trade and evidence the memory-chip cycle is reaching its low point.

While South Korean semiconductor shipments plunged 28% by value in July, they rose 15% by volume. The nation’s inventories of semiconductors fell a second straight month in June, a sign that orders are picking up.

Political flashpoints could hurt Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE (July 22): With major elections in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines over, talks resuming between North Korea and the US, President Donald Trump calling off a military strike against Iran at the last minute, and China and the US negotiating again on their trade disputes, it might seem that political risks are contained. But this is a complacent view. As we outline below, there are too many political hot spots around the world where there are rising risks of some kind of dislocation that will affect Southeast Asia.

Political flashpoints could hurt Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE (July 22): With major elections in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines over, talks resuming between North Korea and the US, President Donald Trump calling off a military strike against Iran at the last minute, and China and the US negotiating again on their trade disputes, it might seem that political risks are contained. But this is a complacent view. As we outline below, there are too many political hot spots around the world where there are rising risks of some kind of dislocation that will affect Southeast Asia.

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China raises security warning on ships plying Malacca Strait

(July 4): China raised the security level for its vessels heading through the Strait of Malacca, a key Asian trade route and major oil choke point.

The transport ministry advised Chinese-flagged ships to take heightened security steps and increased its security warning to level three, according to a copy of a July 2 notice posted on a website affiliated with the ministry.

Singapore considers cut to growth forecast as trade war hits exports

(June 27): Singapore's central bank is reviewing its 1.5-2.5% economic growth forecast for this year and isn't ruling out off-cycle monetary easing as the US-China trade war roils the export-dependent economy, its chief Ravi Menon said on Thursday.

Singapore's economy is expected to grow at its slowest pace in a decade this year, and some are predicting a recession in 2020, with the high-tech manufacturing hub more vulnerable to the trade war than others in Southeast Asia.

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