South East Asia

Date

Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, has succumbed to the new coronavirus, which is projected to infect one million people around the world in the next few days. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Catalla passed away at 12:30 a.m. at a hospital in Beirut where she was confined.....


Tier-1 or Tier-2 aircraft components suppliers in Malaysia will likely be ousted from commercial aircraft original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) supply chain if they cannot continue operating amid the temporary movement control order (MCO). Local aerospace players urged the government to allow their operations to resume after 14 days of closures to avoid disruption in the global supply chain. “A minimum level of operations will allo…


Local system in solid financial position Thailand's banking sector is strong enough to cushion against a potential upsurge in bad debt and debt restructuring cases stemming from the coronavirus outbreak and official measures to contain the spread, says a senior official at the Bank of Thailand.......


The number of internet users in Indonesia reached 171 million, or 64.8 percent of the total population, in 2018, according to a survey conducted by Polling Indonesia in cooperation with the Indonesian Internet Providers Association (APJII) in 2019. Progress on creating widely accessible and affordable internet access in Indonesia is slow, with a recent study placing Indonesia 57th among 100 countries on the Inclusive Internet Index, indicati…


HCM City earned 9.85 billion USD from exports in the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 7.5 percent, thanks to support policies and effective trade promotion.However, the export value of agro-forestry-fishery products fell due to lower prices.Agricultural exports dropped by 3.2 percent to 860 million USD, with coffee shipments declining by 11.1 percent to 143.2 million USD, and rubber shipments by more than 37 percen…


THE Philippines recently received new testing kits and ventilators from the Republic of Singapore. In simple turnover ceremonies, Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert EA Borje received the 40,000 testing kits and two ventilators from Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong. The Temasek Foundation based in the city-state donated the medical equipment....


THEY may be free from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 2019), but overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in China are experiencing “economic difficulties,” Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said on March 30. In a “Laging Handa” public briefing, Sta. Romana bared that Filipino workers, especially those under a “no work, no pay” scheme, are reaching out to the Department of Labor and Employmen…


Around 500 tonnes of Vietnamese products, including coffee, instant noodle, sweet potato, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon, and dragon fruit, were exported to Singapore in March, according to the Vietnamese Commercial Affair Office in SingaporeAmid COVID-19 outbreak, the agency has actively connected with industry associations of the host country and those in Vietnam in order to support Vietnamese firms in taking advantage of opportu…


VENTURE firm TNB Aura has launched a new special situations fund to invest in startups hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, with cheque sizes of about US$2 million each, the company announced on Thursday.  The special situations fund may be structured as a sub-fund of TNB Aura’s upcoming second venture fund, which is targeting a US$100 million final close, TNB Aura’s co-founder and managing partner Vicknesh Pillay told The Business…


Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. (FNI) on Tuesday said it is has requested the local government of Surigao del Norte for exemption from the temporary suspension of mining activities in the province....


The new economic stimulus measures will bolster household incomes and boost companies’ cash flow but the challenge is most of the package would have been disbursed by May, says Cassey Lee Malaysians have lived in extreme uncertainty and fear since the country came under a type of lockdown beginning Mar 18, when the Movement Control Order came into effect.   These restrictions were slapped to slow the spread of the COVID-19 ou…


Aid in the form of the Resilience Budget is welcome but more can be done to show how the Resilience Budget has achieved objectives, says OCBC’s Selena Ling The Resilience Budget, coupled with the Unity Budget announced earlier, amounted to a stunning S$55 billion, equivalent to 11 per cent of Singapore’s GDP.   The S$48 billion Resilience Budget was unique in two aspects – it came just five weeks after the&nb…


A NEW Bill in Singapore aims to grant temporary relief for six months to those who cannot fulfil contractual obligations such as rent payments or planned events because of the fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak. The Bill is designed to provide "breathing space" for companies, in that the obligations are only suspended - not removed. So although the Bill will seek, for example, to protect tenants from eviction or deposits from being automatically …


Owners of more than 58,000 qualifying retail and food and beverage properties, including shophouses, will not need to pay property tax for this year, but some tenants say landlords are dragging their feet on passing on the savings. The Government expanded the property tax rebates announced earlier to allow about 60,000 commercial properties that qualified for Budget 2020's rebate of 15 per cent or 30 per cent to now pay zero property tax for this…


An explosion of freight costs for agricultural goods and limited capacity have prompted the Federal Government to put forward $110 million to help agricultural and fishing exporters reach export markets. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the International Freight Assistance Mechanism will help secure freight flights into Australia's key export markets, with an initial focus on China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the U…


Vietnam’s agriculture sector gained a trade surplus of nearly 2.9 billion USD in the first quarter of 2020, up 48.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.During the three-month period, the sector achieved a total trade value of approximately 15.2 billion USD from horticultural, forestry and aquatic products, with exports worth 9.06 billion USD, equal to the same perio…


Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) says the containment of palm oil plantations in Sabah needs to be balanced with considerations so that it will not jeopardise the sector.   Palm oil is one of the industries recognised by the National Security Council (NSC) as essential to avoid potentially adverse and severe implications arising from the decision.   On March 31, Sabah state government announced that it was closing palm oil operations in …


Thailand's digital payments jumped 93% in March from a year earlier, the central bank said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus outbreak pushes up demand for online services. The number of transactions made via the PromptPay platform averaged about 11 million per day in March, up from 5.7 million per day in the same period last year, the central bank said.....


Officials with telecommunications companies in Myanmar say that the use of internet data has risen 25 percent over the past four weeks. “As people use the internet more than before to learn the latest information and announcements about the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the world, including Myanmar, internet usage has risen more than 25 percent over the past four weeks, said U Tint Naing Htut, head of corporate communications for Ooredo…


Diversified petrochemical giant PT Barito Pacific Tbk plans to donate Rp 30 billion (US$1.8 million) worth of medical devices to help a number of hospitals in Jakarta, Banten and West Java treat COVID-19 patients. Funds sourced from the company’s two subsidiaries, petrochemical company PT Chandra Asri and geothermal company Star Energy Holding Pte Ltd., as well as its Yayasan Bakti Barito foundation, would be used to buy medical devices for…


Norway’s Telenor says it will follow Myanmar’s other mobile operators and comply with the government’s order to block a list of “fake news” sites, including prominent ethnic media outlets, after initially refusing to do so.   Myanmar has directed all four of its mobile operators to block access to a total of 221 websites, but it has not made a list of the sites public or clarified the legal basis for the mov…


Indonesia is strengthening its financial crisis protocol in a new regulation that will provide policymakers with immunity from criminal charges when issuing policies deemed necessary to safeguard the economy as recessionary risks rise in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government Regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) No. 1/2020 stipulates that everything spent by the government on COVID-19 economic recovery programs will be regarded as a measure to …


All operations related to the palm oil industry need to be continued to avoid worse financial and social implications, FGV Holdings Bhd (FGV) said.   This was in line with the announcement by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recognising the industry as an essential service.   FGV said it supported the concerns raised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) and the Malaysian Estate Owners Association (MEOA) over the decision …


JSCCIB sees 10,000 fewer cars produced The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) will discuss the coronavirus pandemic's effect on GDP and exports next week, as the nation braces for an estimated 5.3% GDP contraction and 8.5-10% drop in exports this year.....


Megah Port Management Sdn Bhd (MPM) has taken over the management of Labuan Liberty Terminal today and will be handling the operation and facility management of the port for the next 6 years.   Further, MPM has also allocated RM10 million for upgrading works.   “We need to optimise the usage of Labuan Port by upgrading some of the facilities. Some of the works include repairing container yards and enhancing fire safety systems and…


Thailand's exports are likely to shrink by as much as 500 billion baht this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, trade wars and the US-Iran conflict, leading the country's outbound shipments to contract by 7%, the worst showing in 10 years, according to a university study.


The real estate sector continued to post double-digit growth in prices for the second straight quarter in the fourth quarter last year amid the steady rise in the cost of acquiring residential units particularly condominium units in the National Capital Region (NCR), according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Based on BSP data, the residential real estate price index (RREPI) increased by 10.2 percent to hit a record high of 130.2 in the fourth…


Resale prices in the public housing market held steady in the first quarter of 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a contrast to the decline in the private property sector. The resale price index was 131.5, unchanged from the fourth quarter of last year, according to flash estimates released by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) on Wednesday (Apr 1).   This compares with two consecutive quarters of increase in the third and fourth q…


More businesses are seeing the value of increased digitalisation in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said yesterday. While the Government has long encouraged companies to intensify the use of digital technology in their processes, the coronavirus has brought into stark relief its relevance and merits at a time when businesses have had to act to minimise disruptions in the face of the virus…


The Ministry of Transport has asked airlines to stop carrying passengers to Vietnam as from 00:00 of April 1 until the end of April 15 as part of measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.   In an urgent dispatch to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the ministry stated that the suspension will not be applied to those entering Vietnam for diplomatic and official purposes, for participation in major diplomat…


The country’s biggest airlines admits they are “facing an existential threat to their survival” and as such, are in urgent need of government intervention to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic to their operations. The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), in a letter dated March 25, is requesting for government assistance to the airline industry in the form of relief on current…


SOUTH-EAST Asian venture capital (VC) firms have rallied together to help startups weather the storm of Covid-19, with ground-up initiatives looking to boost revenues and keep staff employed. Openspace Ventures, 500 Startups and Cocoon Capital have joined hands to aggregate all promotional activities offered by startups across the region under a single website, supportstartups.com Through this, they hope to “leverage the strength …


It holds virtual foundation-laying ceremony for multibillion-dollar expansion of complex ExxonMobil held a virtual foundation-laying ceremony yesterday for its multibillion-dollar expansion of its Jurong Island integrated refining and petrochemical complex to increase its production capacity for higher-value products and cleaner fuels. This investment, which the international energy company announced in April last year, will create 135 new jobs. …


Companies that do not allow telecommuting wherever possible may be issued a stop-work order, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Mar 31).  In a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, Mrs Teo said the manpower ministry is looking at levelling fines and other penalties on such companies, who do not arrange for flexible work arrangements that might help to stop the spread of the coron…


THE novel coronavirus outbreak has caused a global surge in demand for private jet services, and it has been no different for flights in and out of Singapore. However, unlike in previous crises such as the Sars outbreak, supply is being restricted by heightened safety...


MALAYSIA'S curbs amid the Covid-19 outbreak may mean slower full-year household spending growth of 4.2 per cent, down from a previous projection of 6.3 per cent, said Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research in a Mar 27 report. This is also down from the estimated 5.6 per cent growth in 2019. The four-week Movement Control Order from March 18 to April 14 entails the closure of Malaysia's borders, its schools, and all non-essen…


Individuals can apply to their banks and insurers to defer repayment of property loans, as well as premium payments for life and health insurance plans, as part of a package of measures to ease their financial strain arising from the Covid-19 outbreak. The package, rolled out by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the financial sector on Tuesday (March 31), also offers cash flow support to small and medium-sized enterprises, such as by …


Asia Pacific is failing to meet most of the measurable environmental targets set by the United Nations, revealed a report released on 25 March on the region’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The region is struggling the most with two SDGs: advancing responsible consumption and production (Goal 12) and climate action (Goal 13), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asi…


Cambodia exported 72,182 tonnes of fresh yellow bananas to international markets during the first three month of this year, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said. Most of the bananas were exported to China, with the rest being shipped to Vietnam and Japan.   Cambodia’s yellow banana exports to China have increased rapidly since the first shipment of bananas was sent in mid-2019. Last year, Cambodia exported a to…


2020-03-31

The government will disburse between $500 and $600 million in low-interest loans to financial institutions to enable them to provide loans to businesses at lower interest rates. Speaking at a press conference at the National Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the move aims to alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the Kingdom’s enterprises.   “We are evaluating the ability of the government to disburse bet…


Some small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have started suffering from the effects of coronavirus outbreak, business owners say.  “It has already affected the country’s economy very much. Especially, hotels. As they have lost customers, they have no money to pay for their employees’ salaries. Restaurants and shops are facing difficulties also. Many SME businesses are now relying on delivery apps and messengers but th…


The National Digital Economy and Society Committee (NDESC) resolved on Monday to allow the telecom regulator to divert 3 billion baht from its funding to support a free 10-gigabyte data usage scheme for mobile users as well as upgrade internet speeds for people working from home during the pandemic.....


Myanmar banks will continue to provide daily services including cash withdrawals during office hours. The banks have been advised by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) to ensure there is sufficient cash at their branches and ATMs across the country at all times. The move comes after a surge in cash withdrawals since March 24, when the first two positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country.     The CBM first sent inst…


Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Monday said the government will not allow ailing flag-carrier Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) to collapse and dismissed rumours of impending lay-offs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.....


President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered his Cabinet to impose stricter rules on physical distancing coupled with "civil emergency policies" in an effort to contain the worsening COVID-19 outbreak. (JP/Budi Sutrisno) ...


The Sunshine aerospace components manufacturing facility was recently inaugurated in the central city of Da Nang, according to the Da Nang Hi-Tech Park and Industrial Zones Authority. The plant was built at the cost of 170 million USD invested by the Universal Alloy Corporation Vietnam. Its construction began in March 2019 and is expected to speed up investment and labour attraction in the city, thereby serving as a driving fo…


Eagle Cement Corp., the listed cement company of the Ang family, posted a 25 percent net income growth to P6 billion last year from P4.8 billion a year ago, the company said in a filing. This was on the back of a P19.8 billion in net sales, up 20 percent from P16.5 billion a year ago, spurred by robust demand from private consumption. Eagle president and CEO Paul Ang said the strong growth reflects the company’s solid strategy, helped by th…


Three state-owned firms under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) added P10 billion to government’s war chest against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. The DOTr turned over last week to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) the dividend contributions of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).....