Green recovery

As the world emerges from Covid-19 and faces stagflation and war, climate crisis remains one of the greatest threats to humanity. A green recovery has become a priority for policymakers in Southeast Asia and around the world, who aim to create a more sustainable path that focuses on the environment, climate change and disaster preparedness.

8 Aug 2022

NEWSPAPER SECTION: ASIA FOCUS

WRITER: PATTAMA KUENTAK



Sri Lanka syndrome: Is Bangladesh out of danger?

With global inflation rising and the fear of fuel and food crises looming large, clouds are gathering on the economic horizon of South Asian countries. Sri Lanka in particular remains mired in a crisis driven by a mix of high indebtedness, soaring inflation and poor economic management.

8 Aug 2022

Delayed Rohingya repatriation becoming a regional crisis

The future of the Rohingya people is not only a Bangladeshi issue, it is now a global issue. Bangladesh has been seeking the cooperation of regional countries and the United Nations to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya since they were first driven from Myanmar in 2017. But the results have not materialised, and the security risk is growing.

8 Aug 2022

Empowering SMEs

2022 has seen an "unprecedented confluence" of challenges for businesses across the world, from the protracted Covid-19 pandemic, economic slowdown and heightened inflation to geopolitical uncertainties. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally are among those hit hard by such an unfavourable environment.

1 Aug 2022

AROUND ASIA

Buzz

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) says it is "deeply disappointed" by the limited progress made by Myanmar's military rulers in implementing a peace agreement to end the conflict in the country. The comment came in a communique issued on Friday by the bloc's foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, where Asean chair Cambodia was hosting a broader international gathering, including counterparts from the United States, China, Russia, Japan, Britain and Australia. The gathering was overshadowed by tensions over Taiwan, where a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi infuriated Beijing. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a meeting on Friday when their Japanese counterpart spoke, a person in the room said. China has expressed displeasure over a G7 statement urging it to resolve tension over Taiwan peacefully. Asean had warned on Thursday of the risk of "serious confrontation" among major powers, but Friday's communique did not mention Taiwan.

  • Philippines

    Inflation in the Philippines rose in July by the fastest pace in nearly four years, government data showed on Friday, maintaining pressure on the central bank to further tighten monetary policy at its Aug 18 meeting. The consumer price index rose 6.4% in July from a year earlier, driven by higher transport and food prices. Inflation in the first seven months of the year averaged 4.7%, well above the central bank's 2-4% target band.

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  • Laos

    The Thai energy conglomerate B.Grimm Power Plc and EDL-Generation (EDL-Gen) of Laos have signed an agreement to collaborate on power-related ventures and meet clean energy demand. They plan to jointly explore the feasibility of developing hydropower, wind power, solar energy, transmission systems and power trading in domestic and overseas markets. Vientiane-based EDL-Gen has total installed capacity of 1,949 megawatts with 1,683MW from 27 plants in operation.

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  • Malaysia

    Malaysia will end its export ban on chicken on Aug 31, saying it now has a slight oversupply following the imposition of the ban in June to secure domestic supplies and rein in rising food prices. "At this point, we are able to produce 106% of our self-sufficiency level. That means we have the capacity to export chicken from our country," Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Ronald Kiandee said.

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  • Indonesia

    Indonesia's economy expanded more than expected in the second quarter, with 5.4% growth powered by a commodity-led exports boom and robust spending that could nudge the central bank to begin raising interest rates. Compared with the previous quarter, GDP expanded 3.7%. "Indonesia's economy grew impressively in the second quarter amid global inflationary pressures and recession risks, showing that our recovery trend continues and even strengthens," said Margo Yuwono, head of the statistics office.

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  • Myanmar

    A Japanese documentary filmmaker held in Myanmar faces charges of breaking an immigration law and encouraging dissent against the ruling military. Toru Kubota, 26, entered Myanmar on a tourist visa on July 1 and was arrested while covering a protest in Yangon 30 days later, according to an official statement seen by Reuters. The immigration and dissent charges Kubota is facing carry maximum jail terms of five years and two years respectively.

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  • Singapore

    Singapore is aiming to raise S$2.4 billion (US$1.7 billion) via its first green bond, choosing a 50-year term as it joins countries from South Korea to Egypt looking to fund the battle against climate change. The debt maturing in 2072 was priced with a yield of 3.04%, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore. More than S$5.3 billion in orders were received, it said. Hong Kong raised HK$20 billion ($2.5 billion) via its first green bond for retail investors earlier this year.

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  • Vietnam

    Vietnam has imposed an anti-dumping levy of 47.6% on some sugar products imported from five Southeast Asian countries but originating from Thailand for a period of four years, the trade ministry said. Hanoi first imposed the penalty last year on Thailand alone, but local firms have been getting around the measures by importing Thai-made sugar via Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar. "In the case where products imported from those countries have sufficient proof of being produced and harvested in their own countries, anti-dumping tax measures will not be applied," the ministry said.

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  • Cambodia

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday urged Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to be fully transparent about Chinese military activities at its Ream naval base, a spokesperson said. Mr Blinken, who was attending the Asean regional forum in Phnom Penh, said that "an exclusive presence would risk damaging Cambodia's sovereignty, regional security and Asean unity," spokesperson Ned Price said. He also pressed Hun Sen to free all activists held on politically motivated charges and create more democratic space ahead of next year's national elections, Mr Price said.

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  • Japan

    The value of Japan's agricultural and seafood exports in the first six months of 2022 expanded 13.1% from a year earlier, marking a record high for the period, as waning coronavirus cases encouraged more people to eat out, government data showed. Exports in the January-June period totalled ¥652.5 billion (US$4.9 billion), supported by robust shipments to the US as well as a weaker yen. Japanese sake exports increased 33.7% to ¥23.4 billion, lifted by online shopping. Exports of strawberries, immensely popular in Asia, also rose by 29.7%.

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  • India

    The Indian government on Wednesday unexpectedly withdrew a proposed data protection bill that lawmakers had been labouring over for more than two years, saying it was working on a new law. The abandoned Personal Data Protection Bill would have required internet companies such as Meta and Google to get specific permission for most uses of a person's data and would have eased the process of asking for such personal data to be erased. Countries worldwide have been adopting such steps. But privacy advocates and some lawmakers complained that the bill would have given the Indian government excessively broad powers over personal data, while exempting law enforcement agencies and public entities from its provisions, ostensibly for national security reasons.

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  • China

    China halted some trade with Taiwan in retaliation for the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island. Some fish and fruit imports were suspended due to excessive pesticide residue detected "multiple times" on products since last year, as well as some frozen fish packages that tested positive for coronavirus in June, the General Administration of Customs said. The Ministry of Commerce said it had banned sand exports for construction based on provisions of related law, but gave no further details. Beijing has often targeted Taiwan's agricultural industry for punishment over political issues. China caught Taiwan off guard last year when it suddenly blocked pineapple imports. The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba reported flat revenue growth on Thursday for the first time ever, as the country grappled with an economic slowdown and Covid-19 resurgences kept consumers jittery. Revenue was 205.6 billion yuan (US$30.7 billion) in the April-June quarter, slightly below the same period last year, it said. "Following a relatively slow April and May, we saw signs of recovery across our businesses in June," chief executive Daniel Zhang said.

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  • South Korea

    South Korea's first lunar orbiter was launched from the US Thursday on a year-long mission to observe the Moon, with a payload including a disruption-tolerant network for sending data from space. Danuri — a portmanteau of the Korean words for "Moon" and "enjoy" — was carried on a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida by SpaceX. It aims to reach the Moon by mid-December. "This is a very significant milestone in the history of Korean space exploration," said Lee Sang-ryool, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. "Danuri is just the beginning, and if we are more determined and committed to technology development for space travel, we will be able to reach Mars, asteroids, and so on in the near future."

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  • Australia

    Australia enshrined deeper cuts to carbon emissions in new legislation on Thursday, aiming to shed its decade-long reputation as a fossil-fuel-addicted climate laggard. Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted 89-55 in favour of a 43% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, on the path to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. It is expected to go to the Senate for final approval in September. The centre-left Labor Party government came to power in May promising swifter action to curb global warming. Australia is heavily reliant on coal for its electricity and one of the world's top exporters of fossil fuels. Australians hit by increasingly ferocious bushfires and floods voted in large numbers for climate-aware candidates at the last election, helping to oust the previous conservative coalition government. "Passing this legislation sends a great message to the people of Australia that we are taking real action on climate change," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

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  • Hong Kong

    The majority of stocks listed in Hong Kong since the start of last year are trading well below their initial selling prices, dimming prospects for a pickup in share sales for rest of 2022. Of 132 initial public offerings (IPOs) and secondary listings on the exchange since the start of 2021—collectively raising US$47.6 billion — 111 are currently trading in the red, according to data from the analytics firm Dealogic. New IPO volume has plunged 90% so far this year in Hong Kong. The benchmark Hang Seng Index is down 14%.

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  • Taiwan

    Taiwan blasted its "evil neighbour next door" on Friday after China encircled the island with a series of huge military drills that were condemned by the United States and other Western allies. China fired ballistic missiles and deployed both fighter jets and warships around Taiwan. The People's Liberation Army declared multiple no-go danger zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at some points coming within 20 kilometres of the island's shores. Beijing called the war games a "necessary" response to a visit to the democratic island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Washington countered that China's leaders had "chosen to overreact".

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IN NUMBERS

Nareerat Wiriyapong

COMMENTARY

Time to tone down Taiwan tensions

It was a picture-perfect shot, really. That was my thought when I saw US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing side by side with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei last Wednesday. But the one-day visit to the self-ruled island by the 82-year-old American politician has created no end of tension, not only for the US and China but also many of their allies across the Asia Pacific region.

READ MORE >

Other News

8 Aug 2022

Time to tone down Taiwan tensions

It was a picture-perfect shot, really. That was my thought when I saw US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing side by side with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei last Wednesday. But the one-day visit to the self-ruled island by the 82-year-old American politician has created no end of tension, not only for the US and China but also many of their allies across the Asia Pacific region.

8 Aug 2022 1
1 Aug 2022

Why Bangladesh won't face a Sri Lanka-style crisis

The economic and political disaster in Sri Lanka has been a hot topic in recent months, with commentators looking around for signs of similar trouble in other emerging market economies.

1 Aug 2022
1 Aug 2022

Sri Lanka's next test

In a win for democracy, mass protests in Sri Lanka recently led to the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

1 Aug 2022
1 Aug 2022

Myanmar's twin crises loom

While the rest of the world continues to be preoccupied by Covid-19 and fallout from Russia-Ukraine war, the downward spiral of Myanmar continues. A once-promising frontier market risks slipping into a Sri Lanka-like economic crisis, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis created by the cruelty of its military junta.

1 Aug 2022
25 Jul 2022

Digital dividend

The digital economy is playing an ever-increasing role in business, trade and human capital development. As countries emerge from the pandemic and steer through new economic headwinds, digitisation is taking on even greater importance.

25 Jul 2022
25 Jul 2022

How to turn the tide on marine plastic waste

A few weeks ago, I had the honour of speaking at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference (UNOC), which called for a new chapter of ocean action driven by science, technology and innovation.

25 Jul 2022
25 Jul 2022

Chinese perceptions of the US role in Asia

China must exert and strengthen its sphere of influence in Asia to win against the United States on the battlefield of a complex and changing geopolitical landscape, and ally with Asean states to maintain Beijing's status quo.

25 Jul 2022 4
25 Jul 2022

Hope for the marginalised in India

While the final no-confidence debate targeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his crew was under way at home last week, my focus was on India's presidential election. The result was widely welcomed as veteran tribal politician Draupadi Murmu made history.

25 Jul 2022
18 Jul 2022

Collaboration for the climate

A commitment to cooperation between countries in Southeast Asia remains the key to tackling climate change as its impact continues to take a greater toll on the region's economy and people, say experts.

18 Jul 2022
18 Jul 2022

Funding the future

Makhtar Diop is energetic, always eager to learn new things, and a humble leader. Since becoming managing director of the International Finance Corp (IFC) in March last year, the Senegalese economist has been actively exploring potential areas where the World Bank affiliate could expand as a financial backer, including the health sector, with a focus on Africa.

18 Jul 2022