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ECONOMIC NEWS

Singapore And US Renew Deepen Through Renewal of Collaboration Platform

Singapore  -  November 2018

Singapore and the United States (US) have renewed the US-Singapore Collaboration Platform Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Both countries agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in traditional infrastructure areas such as energy and standards, and support the digital economy and new growth areas such as FinTech, e-commerce, smart city solutions, and deep technology.

Since the MOU was first signed in 2016, Singapore and US agencies have collaborated on key events such as the Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable (ASIR) and the Singapore FinTech Festival. ASIR 2017 provided a platform for Singapore and US companies to exchange views and best practices on infrastructure planning and development, particularly for Asia. In November 2018, several US companies also formed a US Pavilion and exhibited their innovations at the Singapore FinTech Festival.

Bilateral trade in goods and services between Singapore and the US reached nearly USD 75 billion in 2017. In the same year, the US remained the largest foreign investor in Singapore, while Singapore was the US’ second-largest Asian investor.

Singapore and the United States also signed a Declaration of Intent (DOI) to collaborate on a Singapore-US Cybersecurity Technical Assistance Programme for ASEAN Member States, further strengthening partnerships in regional cybersecurity capacity building. It builds on the strong ongoing collaboration under the Memorandum of Understanding on Cybersecurity Cooperation between Singapore and the US, signed in August 2016. 

(Sources: Business Times; Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore)

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ICT

MAS And Singapore Exchange Leverage Blockchain To Simplify Post-Trade Processes

Singapore  -  November 2018

In the latest phase of Project Ubin, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) announced the successful development of Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities for the settlement of tokenised assets across different blockchain platforms. This will help simplify post-trade processes and further shorten settlement cycles. The DvP prototypes, developed with technology partners Anquan Capital, Deloitte and Nasdaq, demonstrated that financial institutions and corporate investors are able to carry out the simultaneous exchange and final settlement of tokenised digital currencies and securities assets on different blockchain platforms. The ability to perform these activities simultaneously improves operational efficiency and reduces settlement risks.

The collaboration also demonstrated that DvP settlement finality, interledger interoperability and investor protection can be achieved through specific solutions designed and built on blockchain technology. Following its conclusion, MAS and SGX have jointly published an industry report, which provides a comprehensive view of automating DvP settlement processes with Smart Contracts. The report also identifies key technology and operational considerations to ensure resilient operations, and defines a market framework that governs post-trade settlement processes such as arbitration. 

The first phase of Project Ubin, conducted over six weeks from 14 November 2016 to 23 December 2016, achieved the objectives of producing a digital representation of the Singapore Dollar (‘SGD-on-ledger’) for interbank settlement, testing methods of connecting bank systems to a DLT, and making the MAS Electronic Payment System (MEPS+) interoperate with DLT for automated collateral management. The completion of Phase 2 of Project Ubin, conducted together with 11 financial institutions and five technology companies, was announced in October 2017. In this second phase, three software models were developed, which are amongst the first in the world to implement decentralised netting (aggregating and offsetting the value of multiple positions or payments due to be exchanged between two or more parties) of payments in a manner that preserves transactional privacy. The source-codes and technical documentation of the three successful DLT based prototypes developed in Project Ubin Phase 2 were released for public access, so that central banks, financial institutions, as well as academic and research institutions could tap on the open source-codes to facilitate their experiments, research and innovation.

There are three more planned phases for the project:


  • Phase 4: Payment versus Payment for cross-border settlement In this future phase, the objective is to assess the feasibility of cross-border DvP

  • Phase 5: Target operating model In this future phase, the objective is to evaluate the impact of DLT on existing regulatory framework and market processes

  • Phase 6: Cross-border DvP and Payment versus Payment In this future phase, the objective is to apply the learnings garnered to execute cross-border settlement of both payments and securities.

(Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

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Renewables

ENERGY

Singapore Launches New Consortia For Smart Grids And Cooling Technology R&D

Singapore  -  November 2018

The National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) and the Energy Market Authority (EMA) announced on 30 October that they are setting up two new consortia, the Smart Grid and Power Electronics Consortium Singapore (SPECS) and the Cooling Energy Science and Technology Singapore (CoolestSG) Consortium. The two consortia will bring together research institutes, companies and government agencies to come up with solutions in smart grid and cooling technologies. NRF and EMA are setting aside up to SGD 9 million (USD 6.5 million) over three years for both consortia.

SPECS will be hosted at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and it will be co-chaired by the Energy Research Institute @ NTU ([email protected]) and EMA to facilitate the eventual deployment of smart grid and power electronics technologies developed in the Energy Grid 2.0 programme. It will focus on areas in advanced power electronics such as solid state transformers, energy management systems such as load and generation balancing, and cybersecurity. 

CoolestSG will develop and accelerate the deployment and commercialisation of cooling technologies, which can be applied to buildings, data centres and industry. Technologies include both active and passive cooling, and cooling by integrated design. It will be hosted at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and it will be co-chaired by senior management from NUS and BCA (Building  and Construction Authority). A technical committee comprising representatives from NUS, industry and government agencies will provide technical guidance for the consortium and actively engage industry partners to build strong networks and identify pipeline projects. 30 companies including Ascendas-Singbridge, CapitaLand, ENGIE, Mitsubishi Electric, Natflow Pte. Ltd., and Shinhan Tech-Engineering Pte. Ltd, will be joining the consortium. 

This announcement was one of several made by EMA during the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW). EMA also announced the launch of  a program to facilitate adoption of Energy Storage Systems (ESS) in Singapore. The programme, known as ACCESS or ACCelerating Energy Storage for Singapore will kick off with two partners, PSA Corporation Limited and Sembcorp Industries. We will work with them to pilot use cases, design business models, and facilitate regulatory and market approvals to operate ESS in Singapore. Another new program is the Exploiting Distributed Generation (EDGE) programme, which will focus on building capabilities in distributed energy technologies to prepare Singapore for an increasingly decentralised energy landscape, through a collaboration between EMA and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

(Source: Energy Market Authority, Singapore)

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MEDICAL

Singapore Sets Up Multi-Agency Taskforce To Transform Health Promotion

Singapore  -  November 2018

The Singapore government has set up a new multi-agency taskforce led by Senior Parliamentary Secretaries from various Ministries has been appointed by the Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, to drive the national transformation of Singapore’s health promotion landscape and nurture a healthier population. The taskforce will synergise and coordinate efforts towards this objective across public agencies including the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the Community Development Council.

The taskforce aims to establish an integrated approach towards ways in which health can be infused into Singaporeans’ lives through three key thrusts – or three ‘E’s: 

               a. Changes to our lived Environment;

               b. Empowerment of individuals through technology; and

               c. Engagement of our communities with better service delivery and ground programming.

The Taskforce will conduct public consultation sessions from January to May 2019 for the general public. This includes youth, adults, seniors, community partners as well as professionals in fields such as public health, social work, behavioural insights, urban design and sports, to crowd-source ideas and initiatives that can promote health.

(Sources: Ministry of Health, Singapore; Today)

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ENVIRONMENT

JTC and NParks Install Singapore's Largest Purpose-Built Reef Structures

Singapore  -  November 2018

Singapore’s largest purpose-built reef structures were installed on 8 November in the waters off Small Sister’s Island, within the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. The project was initially announced in May 2018 as a collaboration between JTC and the National Parks Board (NParks). NParks is responsible for providing and enhancing the greenery of Singapore, while JTC is the lead agency in Singapore to spearhead the planning, promotion and development of industrial estates and related facilities. 

Since the project was launched it has received support from 11 donor companies from JTC’s estates and developments with contributions ranging from SGD 5,000 to SGD 100,000 per company made towards the “Grow-a-Reef Garden” initiative under the Garden City Fund, NParks’ registered charity and an Institution of Public Character. The contributing companies include Chang Chun Dairen, Denka, ExxonMobil, GSK, Keppel Group, Mitsui, Oiltanking Asia, Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, Siltronic, Sumimoto Chemicals and Vopak Terminals. 

The “Grow-a-Reef Garden” initiative is one of three identified by JTC, as part of its Industry for Sustainability program, the other two being “Plant-a-Tree” programme, and donations to the Seed Bank programme by the Singapore Botanic Gardens. A total of eight structures, including the one installed today, will be installed by the end of 2018 to form the JTC-NParks Reef Garden. The structures, pre-fabricated offsite, are designed to sit on the seabed without piling or major foundation works that would otherwise disturb the underwater environment. The structures replicate a reef slope by occupying the entire water column from sub-surface to the seafloor, and will provide numerous and diverse habitat niches for a wide variety of marine life. 

The reef structures will provide around 1,000 sq m of additional reef substrate to the Marine Park by 2030 for the attachment and growth of coral. In addition, the spaces created within the matrix of the reef structures will provide suitable areas for the recruitment of various fish species. The graded stone pitching on the structure surface, created using rocks recycled from JTC’s projects such as Jurong Rock Caverns, increases the surface texture complexity for corals or encrusting organisms. 

The project will complement NParks’ ongoing reef enhancement efforts. For example, to safeguard hard coral species found in Singapore waters, NParks’ in situ coral nursery will be established within the JTC-NParks Reef Garden. The nursery will play an important role in the conservation of coral species, so that locally rare corals that may be threatened by, for example, coral bleaching, can be moved to a controlled environment to ensure their survival. The reef structures will also provide opportunities for various research initiatives and serve as test beds for new technologies to study coral reef resilience. 

(Sources: National Parks Board, Singapore; Straits Times)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

Singapore Launches New Agency To Facilitate Regional Infrastructure Collaboration

Singapore  -  November 2018

At Enterprise Singapore’s 8th Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable (ASIR) in Singapore on 23 October, Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore officially launched a new agency called Infrastructure Asia to support regional infrastructure development. Plans for the agency were announced earlier this year in February. Infrastructure Asia will serve as a bridge for different industry players across the infrastructure ecosystem, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the public sector, and be a one-stop platform for the information exchange and sharing of best practices in Asia. 

At the launch, Infrastructure Asia signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to foster partnerships. The first is an MoU with the World Bank Group to leverage each other’s networks and expertise to drive knowledge building and exchange within Asia. They will also work together to help Asian countries strengthen capacities for infrastructure project structuring, financing, implementation and operation. The second is an MoU with Singapore Business Federation to i) enhance visibility of regional project opportunities for Singapore-based companies through workshops and marketing initiatives; ii) market and match Singapore-based companies equipped with relevant technical, financial and/or professional services solutions to project opportunities. 

A 2017 report from the Asian Development Bank estimated that Asia will need more than USD 1.7 trillion of infrastructure per year from 2016 to 2030. It also found that infrastructure, mining and oil and gas projects have on average cost 80% more than budgeted and run 20 months late.

To address these issues, Singapore's Ministry of Law announced the Singapore Infrastructure Dispute-Management Protocol to help parties involved in mega infrastructure projects manage disputes and minimise the risks of time and cost overruns. The Protocol is expected to help parties proactively manage differences to prevent them from escalating into disputes. Under the new protocol, parties will from the start of the project appoint a Dispute Board comprising up to three neutral professionals who are experts in relevant fields such as engineering, quantity surveying and law. The Dispute Board will follow the project from start to finish and proactively help to manage issues that may arise, through a range of customised dispute avoidance and resolution processes.  The new protocol has attracted interest from parties who are keen to incorporate it into their projects. These projects are estimated to be worth SGD 500 million (USD 360 million) or more. 

(Sources: Enterprise Singapore; Ministry of Law, Singapore; Business Times)

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MANUFACTURING

Dyson To Manufacture Electric Cars In Singapore

Singapore  -  November 2018

UK-based manufacturer of household appliance, Dyson, announced recently that it is going to set up a plant in Singapore for making electric cars. Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in December 2018 and finish in 2020. The first cars expected to roll off the assembly line by early 2021. The manufacturing facility is described as "a highly sophisticated one, using the latest technologies, including robotics and automation".

Dyson, which is renowned for its stick battery-powered vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans, revealed plans for an electric car last year. In the process of innovating and engineering these household products and others, it is aquired expertise in the areas of electric motors, rechargeable solid-state batteries , and navigation system (for its robotic vacuum cleaner). The Dyson motor used in its V10 cordless vacuum, spins at 125,000rpm – approximately eight times faster than the engine of an Formula One car. The company already manufactures around 6% of all rechargeable batteries in the world. The company plans to leverage on its expertise in these areas and scale them up to build its electric car. It plans to invest £2.5 billion (USD 3.25 billion) towards the venture.

Media reports suggested that unlike all car manufacturers which source parts from suppliers, Dyson is planning to make every part itself. In the current uncertain trade environment, that could be an advantage. In August 2018, Dyson revelead plans for a 10-mile test track for its electric vehicles in Wiltshire, UK. 

In  a Facebook post, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Dyson has selected Singapore for its expertise in advanced manufacturing, global and regional connectivity, and the quality of research scientists and engineers. Dyson has been operating in Singapore for over 10 years. Staring with a small, focused engineering team. today Dyson employs more than 1,000 people in its Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Centres. In 2017, Dyson announcedan addiitonal investment of £330 million (USD 430 million) into a new R&D centre in Singapore.

(Sources: Economic Development Board, Singapore; Straits Times; Channel NewsAsia; BBC; GQ)

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DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

DSTA And NUS Enterprise Partner To Develop New Security Solutions

Singapore  -  November 2018

Speaking at the Defence Technology Prize Award Ceremony  on 30 October 2018, the Minister for Defence, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, announced a new partnership between the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and NUS Enterprise, to work with local start-ups for the development of new defence and security solutions. An open collaboration space called [email protected], will be set up by the end of 2018 at the startup hub, JTC LaunchPad, to partner local start-ups in Artificial Intelligence (AI), data science, robotics and augmented reality. 

DSTA, a statutory board under MINDEF, harnesses science and technology, and provides technological and engineering support to meet the defence and national security needs of Singapore. NUS Enterprise is the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). 

Technological achievements recognized at the award ceremony included securing systems against hardware Trojans, tracking and identifying maritime intrusions, reducing the chance of friendly fire and collateral damage, development of an Integrated Strike Command and Control (C2) System , and the development of a fully unmanned surface vessel designed to navigate Singapore's heavily congested waters autonomously and conduct a wide range of missions from coastal patrols to underwater surveillance.

(Sources: Ministry of Defence, Singapore; Straits Times)

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RETAIL / FMCG

Singapore's First 'Phygital' Store Launched

Singapore  -  November 2018

Leading real estate developer, CapitaLand, launched Singapore's first 'phygital' (physical + digital) store, called NomadX, on 8 November. The multi-label concept store in the Plaza Singapura mall, aims to offer a new blend of physical and digital experience. The shopper journey begins with an onboarding gamification process using facial recognition technology, whereby members of CapitaLand’s CapitaStar programme can opt to register their visits and win attractive gifts and STAR$®.  Based on their profiles and preferences, shoppers will be assigned to one of four tribes – Sea, Mountain, Forest, and Wind – which correspond to The Enigmatic Shopper, The Conquer-It-All Shopper, the Love the Earth Shopper and the Live-It-Up Shopper profiles respectively.  Each shopper profile is tied to a proposed shopping route, as well as product and deal recommendations.

With touchscreen televisions provided by Samsung, shoppers interact with product walls using QR codes as part of NomadX’s screen-to-mobile customer engagement capability. Inside NomadX, Sony powers a Sonic Surf VR (SSVR) audio technology that combines multi-channel speakers and proprietary software to simulate surround and partitioning sounds for an immersive aural experience.  In addition, Sony Music Entertainment Singapore has curated a bespoke NomadX playlist, while Oo La Lab has created a customized lust and green scent. Based on their preferences and the number of visits, visitors to NomadX will be rewarded with exclusive CapitaStar e-deals and STAR$®, which are accessible via the CapitaStar app and redeemable in-store.  NomadX adopts a cashless payment system. In addition to payment by credit cards, NomadX accepts ePayment modes such as StarPay – the in-app ePayment feature on CapitaStar – and NETS.

Retailers can set up temporary homes (like nomads) as NomadX incorporates short-term leases and “plug & play” retail units that are integrated with smart retail infrastructure.  This includes interactive technologies to encourage product discovery and play. The store’s fluid layout and data analytics capabilities are expected to make NomadX a suitable testbed for retailers to trial new concepts and products and respond swiftly to consumer reception and feedback.

NomadX opened with a curated selection of 18 tenants offering a wide range of fashion, beauty, consumer electronics, gadgets and food & beverage offerings.  These include the first physical outlets in Singapore for Alibaba’s Taobao, as well as that of online fashion businesses Digital Fashion Week, evenodd, Révolte and Style Theory.  New-to-market brands include audio products specialist JBL and restaurant Bizen Okayama Wagyu Steakhouse by Aston Soon.

(Sources: CapitaLand; Singapore Business Review)

(Image: CapitaLand)

Malaysia

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ECONOMIC NEWS

Highlights from Malaysia's 2019 Budget

Malaysia  -  November 2018

Malaysia announced an expanded budget for 2019 and forecast a larger fiscal deficit as new administration tussles with shrinking revenue and a large debt left by the previous administration. Below are some of the important budget allocations that been tabled by the Ministry of Finance for the trade and industry development:


  • The USD 1.4 billion Klang Valley Double Tracking Project will be re-tendered through open tender and is expected to provide substantial cost savings.

  • Credit system will be introduced by the government for the sales tax deduction starting from January next year this credit system will avoid double taxation and lower business costs. 

  • Effective Jan 1, 2019, the government will grant SST exemptions to specific services provided by registered businesses to other registered businesses. 

  • Starting Jan 1, 2019, the government will tax imported services to ensure that local service providers such as architects, graphic designers, software developers can compete more competitively.

  • Online services imported by users will also be required to register with the Customs Department from Jan 1, 2020. This includes software, music, videos, or any digital advertising. 

  • USD1.4 billion allocation earmarked for Defence Ministry and Home Ministry.

  • Soda Tax will be imposed by Government to introduce excise duty at 40 cents per litre on two categories of sugary drinks which are manufactured in the form of ready-to-drink packaging, starting April 1, 2019. 

  • The government will implement the National Fiber Optic and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) with an allocation of USD0.23 billion for the promotion effort.

  • Khazanah Nasional, the Malaysian government's sovereign wealth fund, will develop 80 acres of land in Subang as a world class aerospace hub. Khazanah will work MARA in producing high-skilled manpower to meet industry needs.

  • Government allocates USD220 million for building and improving highways, roads and bridges.

  • A total of USD0.47 billion will be provided under the Green Technology Financing Scheme for investment.

(Source: The Star Online; Channel News Asia; Free Malaysia Today)

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ICT

Malaysia To Tax Online Services From 2020

Malaysia  -  November 2018

Under Malaysia’s Budget 2019 tabled in the Parliament in November 2018, the imported digital service segment including online products and services such as software, music, videos and digital advertising will be subjected to digital tax. Providers of international online services must register with Malaysian tax authorities in order to continue offering them in the country.

The tax will be imposed on business-to-business transactions for online services starting January 2019 while the tax on consumer-level online services such as the Spotify and Netflix streaming services and the Steam online game store will begin in 2020.

However, the newly introduced tax will have a threshold to ensure smaller companies are exempted from it. This digital tax is aimed at ensuring a level playing field between local and foreign online service providers, and also neutralising the cost disadvantage faced by physical retailers against their virtual storefront counterparts, especially those operated by foreign entities.

(Sources : The Malay Mail; The Star; Bank Negara Malaysia)

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ENERGY

SEDA Malaysia Announces Multiple Initiatives For Renewable Energy Promotion

Malaysia  -  November 2018

The Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) of Malaysia  signed three memorandums of understanding (MoU) at the 9th International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM) 2018  to advance the renewable energy and energy efficiency agenda. The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) outlined the intention of these MoUs :



  1. MoU with Asian Development Bank (ADB): Under the MOU, ADB will provide three energy experts for a comprehensive peer-review of Malaysia’s Renewable Energy Transition Roadmap (RETR) 2035. ADB will also disseminate the key highlights of the roadmap through briefing sessions and workshops once the RETR is completed.


  2. MoU with Japanese Business Alliance for Smart Energy Worldwide (JASE-W): The MOU will enable SEDA and JASE-W to exchange information on energy efficiency programme including the energy efficiency knowledge, services and technologies on Zero Energy Building (ZEB). They will also drive dissemination and promotion of ZEB concept and opportunities in Malaysia.


  3. MoU with APX Inc: Under the MOU, SEDA and APX Inc will recognize SEDA as an authorized verifier or a Qualified Reporting Entity (QRE) for the Tradable Instrument for Global Renewables (TIGRs) Registry, making it the first entity to be appointed in Malaysia as authorised verifier. The TIGRs Registry operated by APX Inc will provide a platform for trading of renewable energy certificate (REC).

During the event, SEDA also launched Malaysia's first-of-its-kind All Risks Solar PV insurance. The innovative insurance product was by Allianz Malaysia Bhd via Anora Agency Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association (MPIA). Under this protection, the policy holders will not have to bear any costs for repairs or the replacement of parts (including components), they will also be compensated for loss of income or savings should their solar PV system experience down time due to damage or theft up to 6 months. This product aims to serve solar PV owners such as the recipients of the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme implemented by SEDA.

SEDA  also launched the first national solar PV monitoring system (PVMS), which acts as an information platform for solar PV in the country. SEDA has been actively developing this platform since 2015.This PVMS will generate leads to performance database which monitors selected grid-connected solar PV systems for performance and reliability. The performance and reliability of the key components of the solar PV systems such as PV modules and inverters will be monitored. The PVMS also acts as an information platform for solar PV in the country. The monitoring system is available for subscription. Initially, 120 grid-connected solar PV systems (up to 1MW in capacity) throughout Malaysia are being monitored on a realtime basis. SEDA will continue to make more grid connected solar PV systems come onstream in the future. The PVMS is funded by the Malaysian Electricity Supply Industries Trust Account (MESITA) under MESTECC. 

(Sources: The Edge Markets; Sustainable Energy Development Authority, Malaysia)

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MEDICAL

Malaysia Allocates USD 2.6 Billion To Upgrade Health Services At Clinics And Hospitals

Malaysia  -  November 2018

In its 2019 budget the Malaysian government allocated MYR 10.8 billion (USD 2.6 billion) to upgrade and improve health services at clinics and hospitals. This is out a total of MYR 29 billion (USD 6.9 billion) for the Ministry of Health, an increase of 7.8% as compared to the previous year. 

The government will introduce a new B40 National Health Protection Fund from Jan 1, 2019, on a partnership basis with private insurance companies. In partnership with the private insurance industry, the Government will pilot a national B40 Health Protection Fund to provide free protection against top 4 critical illness for up to MYR 8,000 (USD 1,900) and up to 14 days of hospitalisation income cover at MYR 50 (USD 12) per day starting Jan 1, 2019. The Great Eastern Life Insurance has agreed to contribute MYR 2 billion (USD 0.5 billion) to the fund, which will be managed by Bank Negara Malaysia, and expects the size of the fund to grow with more partnership and contributions from other insurance companies.

The government will also continue certain healthcare initiatives, with a MYR 20 million (USD 5 million) allocation for the free mammogram screening, HPV vaccination and pap smear tests at government hospitals and clinics, that is expected to benefit about 70,000 women. It will also provide USD 11 million to treat rare diseases, Hepatitis C, stunted growth among children, as well as to provide more haemodialysis treatments and enhanced primary healthcare.

 The Ministry of Health will pilot a nationwide health screening programme, Skim Perlindungan Kesihatan (PEKA) for 800,000 individuals aged 50 and above in B40 households at a cost of MYR 100 million (USD 24 million).

(Source: Borneo Post Online; New Straits Times)

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ENVIRONMENT

Nextgreen Partnering with Japanese Firms for Development Of Green Technologies

Malaysia  -  November 2018

Nextgreen Global Bhd, one of the leading printing companies in Malaysia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with two Japanese firms, diversfied heavy-industry manufacturer IHI Corporation and financial holding firm Nomura Holdings Inc, on 8 November to form a green technology investment partnership.

Nexgreen is developing technology to convert Empty Fruit Bunch (EFB) into pulp (EFB Pulp) and paper (EFB Paper) in order to solve environmental issues caused by wasted EFB in the palm oil industry. The company has begun construction of an EFB Pulp plant in Pahang, Malaysia. Meanwhile, IHI has begun commercial operation to produce pellet made from EFB and desires to secure a stable procurement route for necessary volume of EFB. Nextgreen and IHI will expore the potential business derived from combining sale of EFB Pulp, EFB Paper and EFB Pellet. Nomura will provide financial advisory services. 

The study may extend to collaborations in further research & development of utilisation of palm waste into usable productsincluding but not limited to utilisation of Palm Kernel Shell, Oil Palm Trunk, Oil Palm Frond and Palm Oil Mill Effluent. 

The preliminary target time schedule of the Study consists of evaluating the profitability of the Business by the end of January 2019; evaluating cash management plan for the Business by the end of February 2019; and decisions by each Party whether to proceed to the studied investment by the end of March 2019.

(Source: The Star Online; Nextgreen Global Bhd)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

MRCB-George Kent Revises Price For LRT3 from Bandar Utama to Johan Setia

Malaysia  -  November 2018

The consortium of MRCB – George Kent Sdn Bhd will continue to work on the Light Rail Transit Line 3 (LRT 3) from Bandar Utama to Johan Setia, following the revised sum of its price tag as indicated in the newly received Letter of Appointment (LoA) for the fixed price contract for the work. The LRT3 project is one of the infrastructure projects reviewed by the Malaysian government following concerns on high price tags, in a series of infrastructure projects assessment since the formation of new government in the aftermath of May 2018 election, which saw several mega scale projects being scrapped, delayed or renegotiated.

The LoA dated 2 November 2018 from Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, the owner of LRT3, contains terms which include the deadline for the project to be completed, which is 28 February 2024, unless extended in accordance with the Contract, and the Contract Sum of the Project which is fixed at MYR 11.856 billion (USD 2.83 billion) inclusive of a contingency/provisional sum of MYR 400 million (USD 95.4 million). Both MRCB and George Kent are also expected to provide a proportionate corporate guarantee to Prasarana.

The negotiations on the fixed price contract shall continue with the contract itself will be executed no later than 12 December 2018. Both MRCB and George Kent indicated that the project would not affect their earnings and net assets for the current financial year, but will positively attribute to their future earnings.

(Sources: The Star; Bursa Malaysia)

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MANUFACTURING

Malaysia Gearing Towards Industry 4.0

Malaysia  -  November 2018

Malaysia launched the National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) on 31 October to boost manufacturing sector through the use of technology, in its effort to attract high-tech investments into the country. Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir in his launching speech said that the policy “envisions Malaysia as a strategic partner for smart manufacturing, primary destination for high-tech industries and total solution provider for the manufacturing sector and related services in the region.” The policy is seen as a crucial step in reforming Malaysia to become a developed nation that is equitable, sustainable and inclusive by 2025 or earlier.

Industry4WRD would facilitate the adoption of Industry 4.0 by companies in a systematic and comprehensive manner, with four specific objectives to be achieved. The objectives are to increase the level of productivity in the manufacturing industry per person by 30% from MYR 106,647 (USD 25,435); to increase the absolute contribution of manufacturing sector to the economy from MYR 254 billion (USD 60.6 billion) to MYR 392 billion (USD 93.5 billion); to strengthen the country’s innovation capacity and capability as reflected in the Global Innovation Index ranking, by improving from 35th spot to 30th spot; and to increase the number of high-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector from 18% to 35%.

Primary focus areas of Industry4WRD include catalytic sectors and high growth potential sectors namely Electrical & Electronics, Machinery & Equipment, Chemicals, Aerospace and Medical Devices. Attention is also given to SMEs since they account for 42% of employment and 98.5% of manufacturing sector in the country. It is hoped that disruptive technologies and innovation brought by Industry 4.0 is hoped will be able to transform and improve SMEs so that they remain competitive in their sectors.

The launch of Industry4WRD is perceived as timely, as the country is attempting to break free from its decade-long problem of the middle-income trap. As a manufacturing economy, the country realizes that it must increase its labor productivity level to keep up with neighboring economies in attracting foreign direct investments. With its global productivity ranking becoming stagnant since 2009, Industry 4.0 might be the remedy to propel the country to become a developed nation by 2025.

In the 2019 budget, the government announced a number of measures in support of Industry4WRD. This included allocation of MYR 210 million (USD 50 million) from 2019 to 2021 to support the transition and migration to Industry 4.0 and assisting the first 500 SMEs to carry out the Readiness Assessment to migrate to Industry 4.0 platforms via Malaysia Productivity Corporation and MYR 2 billion (USD 480 million) under Business Loan Guarantee Scheme (SJPP) where the Government will provide guarantees of up to 70% to incentivize SMEs to invest in automation and modernization which forms part of the Industry4.0, the government has allocated.

(Sources: The Star; The Straits Times; Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia)

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DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Construction Kicks Off For Malaysia’s First Two Littoral Mission Ships

Malaysia  -  November 2018

The construction of the first two Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) ordered by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has started in China. This project is undertaken by way of the signing of a procurement contract between Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) and the Malaysian government on March 23, 2017 to jointly build the warships . China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co Ltd (CSOC) is a partner shipyard of BNS in the LMS project.

This Malaysia-China collaboration will see a total of four LMS to be built for RMN, with two being built in China and the other two in Malaysia.  This entails sharing and transfer of technology between both countries. A two-in-one ceremony, namely the Keel Laying of LMS 1 and the First Steel Cutting of LMS 2, took place in Wuhan, China on 23 October 2018 at the Wuchang Shipbuilding Industrial Group Shipyard in Shuangliu, China.

Meanwhile, the Keel Laying ceremony of the fourth of six Maharaja Lela-class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) of RMN took place at BNS in Lumut, Perak. LCS was designed by French DCNS (now Naval Group) as a modified, enlarged version of its Gowind corvette vessels. The six ships, with a displacement of 3,000 tons and equipped with Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile, MBDA’s VL MICA missiles, a Bofors 57mm Mk3 gun in a stealth casing and an automated MSI Seahawk 30mm gun. For anti-submarine warfare, the ships will be fitted with J+S torpedo launcher systems, manufactured by UK-based company SEA.

LMS and LCS will be crucial assets of RMN’s 15-to-5 Fleet Transformation Programme which is aimed at transforming its armada and reduce it from 15 classes of vessels to five classes.

(Sources: The Star; The New Straits Times; Jane’s 360; Naval Today; Naval Recognition; Malaysian Defence)

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Convenience store mart shop

RETAIL / FMCG

Malaysia Witnessing Emergence Of Cash-Free, Unmanned Convenience Stores

Malaysia  -  November 2018

Malaysian retailers of all categories are fast embracing cashless transactions at their outlets, with convenient stores being the latest to join the bandwagon. For instance, Shell Malaysia opened its first unmanned convenient store at Shell Select Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur which provides services for 24/7 to patrons, in October 2018.

The patrons visiting the store can just put items they have picked up from the shelves on the store counter, which is able to automatically calculate the prices of the items. Payments can be made using debit or credit cards, as well as China-based BingoBox’s mobile app. BingoBox has been working on a joint venture with a local company ,Scientific Retail, to provide its services in the country. By providing unmanned services Shell Malaysia believes it will be able to improve customer service, as site employees will now have more time to address patrons’ needs elsewhere at the said fuel station.

Another local convenience store, Twenty4 has also opened its first cashless outlet in Ipoh, Perak. Operating round-the-clock using self-service machines, customers visiting the outlet can purchase a variety of items including local and international brands of foods and personal care items and make payment using only cashless transactions. Customers have the option of paying via credit or debit cards, payWaves, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and various other e-Wallet options.

(Sources: Inside FMCG; Retail News Asia)

Indonesia

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Indonesia

ECONOMIC NEWS

Indonesia Announces New Economic Stimulus Package

Indonesia  -  November 2018

The Indonesian government launched the 16th economic package focused on relaxing regulations to stimulate investment. The package consists of steps in three areas: tax holiday expansion, adjustments to the negative investment list (DNI) and the provision of tax incentives for the mandatory saving of export earnings in Indonesian bank accounts. The new economic stimulus measures aim to help Indonesia weather external shocks, such as the tightening of monetary policy in the United States and reduce the country’s dependency on imports.

Tax Holiday: The economic stimulus expands the categories, duration and amount of tax holiday. The new tax holiday will benefit smaller industries in the country’s special economic zones (SEZs) and target two industrial sectors, agriculture-based manufacturing and digital economy. The benefits can easily be accessed in the Online Single Submission system.

New Sectors Open To Foreign Investment: DNI has been revised to exclude 87 business sectors. Out of the 87, 54 are open to foreign capital. The newly-opened sectors are offshore oil and gas drilling, clove and white cigarette production, certain categories of medical equipment production, dairy farming and fabric printing. This goes to promote Indonesia’s openness to foreign investors, as foreign ownership in 54 business sectors can now be up to 100% compared to only 30-67% currently.

Incentives For Export Earnings: Exporters who deposit at least 90% of earnings for more than six months, either in US dollars or Indonesian Rupiah, can enjoy zero percent final income tax cut. The new law mandates exporters to save their earnings directly in Indonesia’s domestic banking system. Otherwise, they might face sanctions such as export restrictions, fines and even permit revocation. Indonesia plans to grow its foreign exchange reserves from export revenues.

(Sources: The Jakarta Post; Straits Times)

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Mobile banking

ICT

LINE Introducing Digital Banking Services In Indonesia

Indonesia  -  November 2018

LINE Financial Asia Corporation, a subsidiary of LINE Corporation is acquiring 20% of the total outstanding shares of PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia. Under the agreement, LINE Financial Asia will become the second largest shareholder of PT Bank KEB Hana. The move also makes way for LINE to introduce digital banking service in Indonesia in 2019.

PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia was established under the name PT Bank Pasar Pagi Madju in 1971. In 2007 it was acquired by Korean Hana Financial Group. 

LINE is one of the most popular messaging platforms in Indonesia and it is now looking to grow its fintech capabilities. According to a report in Bloomberg in January 2018, LINE announced an expansion into financial services inluding cryptocurrency trading. It had established a holding company called Line Financial Corp. and applied for a license to open a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan. The report also said that LINE was exploring expanding cryptocurrency operations in to Hong Kong and Luxembourg. In July 2018, LINE announced plans to establish a cryptocurrency exchange called BITBOX, which would offer more than 30 popular cryptocurrencies for global users (except in Japan and the United States), with support in 15 languages.

PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia will be able to leverage LINE’s user base, branding, technology, content and know-how to strengthen its digital marketing strategies. With the partnership, the two companies plan to introduce deposit/microcredit products, remittance and payment services in Indonesia. In addition, they are looking to implement and improve credit rating models through projects with local and international credit rating agencies and optimize identification process in accordance with local regulations.

(Source: Marketing Interactive)

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Biomass

ENERGY

EDF To Develop Renewable Energy Power Plants In Indonesia

Indonesia  -  November 2018

Electricite de France (EDF) Group, the French electricity utility company with a global presence, is partnering with Indonesian companies to build renewable energy power plants. The four Indonesian companies are the state-owned PLN, PLN subsidiary PT Indonesia Power, PT Kencana Energi Dunia and PT Adaro Energy. The collaboration would build upon EDF’s capability in Indonesia.

EDF has started a project with PT Adaro Energy, using the combination of biomass and solar energy to develop power plant on an island with 5,000 people. Furthermore, EDF has teamed up with PLN and PT Indonesia Power to conduct feasibility studies to develop power plants for islands and remote areas utilizing solar and hydro energies.

(Source: The Jakarta Post)

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Hospital

MEDICAL

Kendall Court Invests USD 55 Million In Indonesian Hospital

Indonesia  -  November 2018

Kendall Court, a Singapore-based private equity firm, pledged a USD 55 Million Investment in Indonesia’s Mandaya Medical International Pte Ltd (MMI). MMI is part of Selaras Group conglomerate which has businesses in hospitality, healthcare and property sector. MMI operates a 218-bed hospital in Karawang, located 50 km east of Jakarta.

The fund will be allocated to build a hospital in Jakarta, as the company targets the growing demand of quality healthcare for the local middle-class community. Through the investment, Kendall Court will own a majority stake of MMI’s preference shares. The 70,000 square meter MMI’s general hospital will start operating by the end of 2019, supplying 420 beds. The new hospital will be a general hospital with a neuroscience spine centre, an advanced cancer centre and a cardio-vascular arrhythmia centre. It will also host 10 other specialist centres including centres for women’s health and fertility, dental and oral surgery, medical fitness and rehabilitation. 

This investment follows a change in regulations regarding foreign investment in Indonesia's general hospital sector. Prior to 2017, foreign investors were only permitted to invest in specialist hospitals, and not in general hospitals. Through Presidential Regulation No. 44/2016 in 2017, the Indoensian government allowed foreigners to have a maximum ownership stake of 67% in general hospitals. For ASEAN investors the maximum figure is 70%.Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the healthcare industry of Indonesia rose steeply in the first half of 2017. This is expected to boost foreign investment and help address the issue of Indonesia having one of the lowest bed-to-population ratios in the world at around 1.0.  

Foreign investment in 2015 and 2016 in Indonesia's hospital industry stood at USD 0.8 million and USD 0.2 million espectively, in Indonesia's hospital industry. Investment in the sector rose to USD 14.3 million during the first half of 2017.

(Source: Business Times)

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ENVIRONMENT

International Tropical Peatland Center Established In Jakarta

Indonesia  -  November 2018

Following the 2018 Brazzaville declaration to promote better management and conservation of the world’s largest tropical peatlands, Indonesia, Congo and Peru, three countries with extensive tropical peatland areas, announced a collaboration to form the International Tropical Peatland Center (ITPC) in Jakarta. Indonesia will host an interim secretariat, coordinated by Ministry of Environment and Forestry and assisted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). 

The ITPC will serve as a hub to connect different stakeholders, coordinating and supporting collaborative international relationships in strategies and practices for tropical peatland management. It will also carry out and disseminate scientific research and become a center of excellence for tropical peatland research to support policy development and provide capacity building and technical services.

For the long-term plan until 2025, the center aims to govern peatland knowledge to ensure sustainable ecosystems and human well being for national and international benefits. This include harnessing economic and environmental values of peatlands such as tourism, growing betel nut and paddy, collecting medicinal plants, fishing and hunting across the three countries. In the first year, the center plans to consult all stakeholders to map challenges and opportunities, contributions and commitments and the establishment of the secretariat in Bogor, Indonesia. In 2019, the center will also begin research on broad aspects of peatland management and establishing demonstration plots in Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Peru.

Indonesia is currently at a corrective period, following intensive large-scale agriculture, draining, severe fires and haze that significantly degraded peatland areas. The country is rewetting over two million hectares of dried out peatlands. The private sector could be involved in the restoration efforts.

(Sources: International Tropical Peatland Center; Forest News; Tempo)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

USD 1.62 Billion Syndicated Loan For PLN's 35,000 MW Program

Indonesia  -  November 2018

State-owned electricity company PLN has successfully obtained syndicated loan facilities of USD 1.62 billion from 20 international banks to finance its 35,000 MW power generation program. The Syndicated Loan Facilities consisted of term loan facilities worth USD 1.32b with a five-year tenor and a revolving credit facility worth USD 300 million with a three-year tenor.

The Syndicated Loan facility was initiated with PLN’s presentation to banks in Tokyo and Singapore. Subsequently, PLN appointed seven banks as its Mandated Lead Arranger and Bookrunners (MLABs). They are Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Bank of China Limited, Citigroup Global Markets Singapore Ltd, Mizuho Bank, Ltd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) Singapore Branch / PT Bank Sumitomo Mitsui Indonesia and United Overseas Bank Limited.

The successful credit indicates investors’ confidence in PLN’s credit ability, as the company managed to obtain fund exceeding its initial request of USD 1.5 billion. PLN’s credit rating is Baa2, BBB (Fitch Ratings) and BBB- (Standard & Poor’s).

(Sources: Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Indonesia; The Jakarta Post)

 

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Animal feed

MANUFACTURING

Dutch Feed Manufacturer Acquires Indonesian Company

Indonesia  -  November 2018

De Heus Group, a Dutch feed manufacturer, has acquired Universal Agri Bisnisindo, an Indonesian poultry, fish and shrimp feed producer. Universal Agri Bisnisindo is a private feed company held by a consortium of multiple private shareholders. The company has total annual sales volume of 300,000 feed tons.

The move strengthens De Heus’ position in the animal feed sector in Asia. In 2009, it first entered the Southeast Asian market by acquiring a feed company in Vietnam and now has eight factories across the country. The company also has two feed mills in Myanmar and is currently building a feed mill in Cambodia.

De Heus expects Indonesia’s feed market to continue growing, reaching 22 million tons by 2022. Currently, 83% of Indonesia’s animal feed goes to the poultry industry, while the remaining 11% and 6% are for aquaculture and cattle and swine sector respectively.

Indonesia is the largest protein consumption market in Southeast Asia with a population of 260 million people. The attractiveness of the market draws positive investment from foreign companies. Cargill plans to open a freshwater aquaculture hub in Ciseeng, Parung-Bogor. Farmsco, a subsidiary of South Korean livestock and feed manufacturer, Harim Group, bought the feed and poultry-breeding units of Indonesia’ Sujaya Group. Neovia bought Indonesia’s layer feed producer, Welgro.

(Source: Feed Navigator)

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DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Indonesia Seeks To Expand Submarine Capacity

Indonesia  -  November 2018

France’s Naval Group, present at Indo Defence 2018, is looking to fulfil Indonesia's submarine requirements with its Scorpene submarine. It matches the navy’s requirement as Scorpene offers oceanic with shallow water capabilities. The company is also looking to partner with state-owned shipyard PT PAL and consider building in-country.

Naval Group is a recognized naval platform designer and manufacturer with Transfer of Technology export program, in line with Indonesian government New Defence Bill. Besides Naval Group, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems TKMS and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft are eyeing the same opportunity.

The Indonesian Navy targets a fleet of 10 to 12 submarines. Presently, it has four submarines in its fleet, with one Nagapasa-class still to be delivered. The Indonesian Navy is looking to acquire additional attack submarine, on top of the three Nagapasa-class boats in delivery. The Nagapasa-class is known as Chang Bogo class internationally. 

The next generation of India's conventional attack submarines, the Kalvari Class, is based on the Scorpene Class submarines. India is planning for a fleet of six vessels, with three currently in service and three under construction.

(Sources: Shephard; Defence Connect)

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RETAIL / FMCG

Chinese Dairy Giant Launches In Indonesia

Indonesia  -  November 2018

China’s largest dairy enterprise, state-owned Yili Group, announced its entrance into Indonesia. The decision was made based on Indonesia’s huge market potential.

In Indonesia, Yili Group has a wholly owned subsidiary, Green Asian Food Indonesia Co., Ltd and has launched 11 ice cream products under the brand Joyday. By the end of 2018, Yili targets its products to reach more than 20 cities in Indonesia, and then will it gradually expand to other Southeast Asian countries.

Yili Group is the earliest public listed company in the Chinese dairy industry. Its market capitalization at 2017 stood at around 30 billion US dollars. Currently, it has established branches in the United States, Europe and Oceania. It has also developed a presence in New Zealand through the establishment of Oceania Diary Co., Ltd.

(Source: PR Newswire)

Thailand

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People sign traveling blur

ECONOMIC NEWS

Thailand To Temporarily Waive Visa-On-Arrival Fee For Tourists From 20 Countries

Thailand  -  November 2018

In early November 2018 Thailand decided to waive the THB 2,000 (USD 83.50) visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from more than 20 countries, notably from China, in order to boost the tourism sector. The number of tourists enterinh Thailand through Suvarnabhumi Airport declined from 3.1 million in 2016 and to 2.2 million in 2017 and from January to September this year the number stood at 1.7 million. It is hoped the visa-fee exemption from December 1 till the end of January will attract 30% more tourists.

The decision arrives at the same time that Thailand Deputy Prime Minister made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination to Chinese people. Earlier this year, in April, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Tourism Authority of Thailand and Zhejiang Fliggy Network Technology Company Limited, a travel brand of Alibaba Group, aims to systematically promote Thailand tourism in secondary provinces of China by utilising Alibaba’s online platforms to run marketing activities such as reservations for rooms, tickets and vacation packages around the world, helping to draw more international visitors to the country. 

On November 11, when China celebrated "Singles Day", Alibaba launched a 20-second video on its website to encourage Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand. The targeted audience of the video were as many as 800 million Chinese people.

(Source: The Straits Times)

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Data centres

ICT

Vertiv Opens Facility To Develop Turnkey Data Centers In Thailand

Thailand  -  November 2018

Vertiv announced in October 2018 the opening of its newest IT facility in Thailand. The facility, situated in the industrial area of Rayong, will focus on developing turnkey data centers for customers in the Southeast Asia region. Situated in a sprawling area of 84,000 square meters, the facility is fully equipped with a clean room that can fit 10 modules simultaneously to accommodate multiple projects, as well as a hard stand area to allow customers to preview the products before delivery.

Vertiv claims to have a unique collaborative design-build process which delivers 0.5-30+ MW capacity for greenfield or brownfield sites that is deployed up to 50% faster than traditional construction.

The company said Rayong was chosen as the site because of the available land area that’s conducive to supporting large critical application builds. In addition, Thailand also has a skilled workforce of engineers that support Vertiv’s need for building turnkey data centers.

The Thailand government’s emphasis on technology and IT infrastructure and companies moving down the digital transformation path, is driving increasing demand for data centers and cloud computing in the country. A THB 10 billion (USD 312 million) Digital Innovation Park is an example of government initiatives under Thailand 4.0. Thailand’s location as a potential access hub to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and a small part of China, is also expected to drive demand for data centers in the future.

(Source: Vertiv; DBS Asian Insights)

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Pipes  tubes  cables and equipment at a power plant

ENERGY

Pöyry To Provide Technical Advisory For Thailand's Largest Combined Cycle Gas Turbine P...

Thailand  -  November 2018

Gulf Energy Development Co., LTD (GED) and Mitsui & Co. Ltd, who jointly own the project for Thailand's largest proposed combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) have awarded Pöyry, a Finnish consulting and engineering firm, with a technical advisory services assignment. The 2,500 MW project, consisting of four generating units with each having 625 MW generating capacity, will be located in Sriracha District, Chonburi Province, Thailand.

Pöyry acts as Lenders Technical Advisor in the project, including technical due diligence, construction monitoring and operation monitoring. The commercial operation date (COD) for the first unit is projected to be in March 2021, with the second to fourth units expected to reach COD in October 2021, March 2022, and October 2022, respectively.

The new power plant is expected to be the cleanest and most efficient CCGT plant in Thailand. The power plant will comply with the environmental and social standards and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) - Performance Standard, reducing its environmental and social impact beyond the Thai National Standard requirements. It will also help to ensure reliable and cost-effective power within the country, and support Thailand's goal to develop the special economic zone in the same region - the Eastern Economic Corridor.

(Source: Pöyry, Press Resease)

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MEDICAL

Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital Invests USD 3 Million In Medical App Developer

Thailand  -  November 2018

Thai private hospital Bumrungrad Hospital has announced that it will acquire a 30 per cent stake in Singapore-based medical app developer iDoctor. According to the  Stock Exchange of Thailand the purchase is set at USD 3 million. iDoctor’ founder will own the remaining 70%stake after the share transfer is completed.

Founded in 2016, iDoctor Pte Ltd designs and develops software and mobile applications for medical industry. iDoctor's Raksa app allows patients to consult experienced, certified Thai doctors from ome of the best hospitals in Thailand and the US, including Bumrungrad, Samitivej, Rama, Mahidol, Phramongkutklao, Khon Kaen, Boston Children's, St Jude's etc. 



Bumrungrad’s managing director said that the deal offers an opportunity for the hospital to expand its business into the digital market. As one of the largest private hospitals in the region Bumrungrad plans to fund this investment with its internal cash flow.

(Source: Dealstreetasia; The Stock Exchange of Thailand)

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Electricity bulb light

ENVIRONMENT

Smart Grid Pilot Project Being Developed In Mae Hong Son Province

Thailand  -  November 2018

On October 25 the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the country’s Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) signed an MOU to study technical aspects of s Smart Grid Pilot Project in Mae Hong Son Province. The project aims to enhance the generation and distribution systems of renewable energy.

The technical areas that will be studied include:


  1. Battery energy storage system (BESS) linkage to PEA distribution system in Mae Hong Son Province by following the engineering standard and grid code as well as determining the working of BESS in islanding mode status

  2. Related preventive and control systems in Mae Hong Son Province to support the transition from grid connection to islanding mode

  3. Data exchanging including protocol for communication, connection point, and data applying for improving the working process

  4. Test and control of smart grid system, such as islanding mode, BESS connection, and proposing guidance for developing the system potential to be suitable for the local area.

The smart grid will be controlled by an EGAT-designed controls system. The announcement comes just a year after that EGAT announced battery energy storage to be a 'new dimension' for the management of electricity.

(Source: EGAT, Press Release)

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Road building

INFRASTRUCTURE

Additional Tax Incentives To Support Infrastructure Development In The EEC

Thailand  -  November 2018

Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) has launched an investment incentive scheme aimed to increase investors' confidence related to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). New incentives apply for the U-Tapao Airport’s Passenger Terminal 3 and Digital Park Thailand (EECd) development projects, two among six major development projects in the EEC.

With the biddings for the development of both projects planned for late 2018, BOI has offered the incentive scheme to attract more investors to participate in the biddings. For the U-Tapao Airport’s Terminal 3 development project, the bidding winner will be granted exemption of import duty on machinery and 8-year corporate income tax (CIT) exemption. In case the developer has cooperation with an educational institution to develop human resources, the BOI will grant 50% reduction of CIT for another three years under the EEC investment incentive scheme.

Concerning the bidding winner of the Digital Park Thailand or EECd, BOI will grant import duty exemption on machinery and CIT exemption for eight years. The investment project including cooperation with the educational institution to develop human resources will enjoy an additional four-year tax holiday.

The U-Tapao Airport’s Terminal 3 is part of the Aerotropolis development project, which includes the construction of a USD 7.1 billion (THB 233 billion) Passenger Terminal 3 which will increase the airport’s passenger handling capacity from 5 million passengers to 22 million passengers in 2033, and increase flight handling capacity from currently 25,000 units per year to 120,000 aircraft per year by 2033. When completed, the project will cover additional passenger terminals, cargo zone, cargo & logistics village, commercial gateway, MRO zone, and the aviation training center.

Other infrastructure development related to the EEC includes the construction of the USD 6.8 billion (THB 224 billion) high-speed train linking the three airports -- Don Mueang Airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport and U-Tapao, the USD 4.7 billion (THB 155 billion) development of Laem Chabang Port Phase 3 which increases container throughput from 7.7 million TEUs per year to 18.1 million TEUs per year, and USD 306-million (THB 10.1 billion) Map Ta Phut Port Phase 3 which be able to handle 19 million additional tons of cargo (petrochemicals and natural gas) upon completion. The development of U-Tapao Airport, high-speed train, Laem Chabang Port, Map Ta Phut Industrial Port and MRO Center are included in the Public-Private-Participation (PPP) fast track program which shortens bidding process from 40 months to 8-10 months.

(Sources: Thailand Business News; Board of Investment, Thailand)

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Robotic arm in production

MANUFACTURING

Toyota Thailand Brings Forward Schedule of Battery Plant

Thailand  -  November 2018

Toyota Motor Thailand has decided to move up the start of its battery assembly in Chachoengsao province to mid-2019, up from early 2020. This is part of the company’s total investment of THB 19 billion (USD 0.6 billion)  for hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) at the Gateway plant in Chachoengsao.

The battery assembly plant is expected to produce a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) version that Toyota's hybrid EVs sold in the Thai market have to use. 

Toyota is the first vehicle manufacturer to win BOI privileges Under the government's EV scheme, and start local production at the Gateway plant. According to the Thai The Board of Investment (BOI), Toyota plans to assemble 7,000 hybrid EVs a year, making 70,000 batteries for EVs and producing other parts such as doors and bumpers. 

(Source: Bangkok Post)

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DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Arturius And DTI To Build Counter Threat COE In Thailand

Thailand  -  November 2018

A leading British security and defense company, Arturius International, will build a Counter Threat Centre of Excellence (COE) in Thailand in cooperation with Defence Technology Institute (DTI), a Thai state organization. DTI and Arturius plans to collaborate in order to evaluate and assess the threat landscape faced in the country, as well as developing policies and evaluating the optimal training and technology needs.

The COE will bring together counter-terror, counter improvised explosive device and counter unmanned aerial systems facilities to develop understanding and resistance strategies in collaboration with military partners and academic institutions. It will help conduct research and development into emerging counter threat technologies and provide advanced training and equipment instruction to Thai security personnel. It will also support the development and implementation of new policies, concepts, strategies and doctrines. 

(Sources: www.army-technology.com; Defence iq)

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RETAIL / FMCG

Thai Commerce Ministry Launching App To Assist Traditional Stores

Thailand  -  November 2018

The Thai Ministry of Commerce has announced that it will launch a new application to connect traditional grocery stores directly with their suppliers by December. The application will allow bypassing middlemen, reducing costs, and increasing competitiveness of traditional grocery stores through e-commerce.

The ministry expects up to 100,000 traditional grocery stores to use the new application by the end of 2018.

The new application will also leverage the growing e-commerce industry in the Thai market to deliver products from suppliers to traditional grocery stores.

(Source: Thai Visa News)

Vietnam

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ECONOMIC NEWS

Viet Nam Becomes Seventh Nation To Ratify CPTPP

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Over 96% of Vietnam National Assembly deputies voted yes to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on 12 November, 2018, making Vietnam the 7th nation to ratify this agreement. 

The members of the CPTPP are ew Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam. Vietnam’s total trade turnover with CPTPP member states is in excess of USD 67 billion USD, accounting for 15.8% of its total trade value. 

The CPTPP removes around 90% of trade barriers. The signatories have also agreed on provisions regarding intellectual property protection, e-commerce regulation, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlements.

The reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers will boost the its strong base of exports of cellphones, garments, shoes, seafood, and agricultural products. Furthermore, Vietnam will become a more attractive location for manufacturing since tariffs are on the rise between the United States and China. A government study estimated a boost of 1.3% for Vietnam’s GDP, while exports are expected to increase by 4% by 2035.

With the ratification of Vietnam, after New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Australia, CPTPP will come into effect on December 30, 2018 for these countries. The agreement will enter into force for Vietnam 60 days after Vietnam officially notifies New Zealand, the official depository, in writing of the ratification. The same 60 day period for entry into effect will apply for the remaining 4 members, following each nation's respective ratification.

(Sources: Vietnam Plus; Nhan Dan)

 

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Mobile apps

ICT

USD 14 Million Raised For Vietnam Venture Capital Fund

Vietnam  -  November 2018

An US-based early-stage venture capital investor, 500 Startups has annouced that they exceeded their fundraising target of USD 10 million for a Vietnam venture capital fund  by over 40%. Substantial investments were received from multimedia retailer GS Shop, consumer electronics manufacturer Humax, NCORE, and numerous other investors in Asia, the US, and Europe. 

Till date, 500 Startups invested almost has invested USD 3 million in 36 companies , with a focus on companies serving the Vietnam market and/or leveraging Vietnamese talent. Around two-third of the initial investments have been USD 50,000-USD 100,000. The 14 million raised now will be used for up to 100 deals involving up to 64 new startups. 500 Startups expects its typical first check to be approximately USD 100,000 and potentially up to USD 250,000.

500 Startups has also been educating Vietnamese founders and investors, providing industry feedback to government stakeholders about potential regulatory reform, and providing feedback at pitch competitions and demo days. 

As a fast-growing economy, with low-cost labor and high-tech talent, the population approaching 100 million and more mobile phones than residents, Vietnam has become an attractive market for technology investors. The Vietnam gorvernment has set a target of getting 600 startups funded by 2025.

According to data and analysis by Topica Founder Institute, startup funding in Vietnam has increased from 29 deals in 2014 to 92 deals in 2017. Several new funds have launched recently to invest in more Vietnam-connected startups, including ESP Capital, VinaCapital Ventures, Startup Viet Partners, and Zone Startups Vietnam, to name a few. With unprecedented interest in the region, we’re ready to step on the gas.

(Sources: Businesstimes.com; 500 Startups)

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Biomass

ENERGY

Incentives Announced For Investors of Renewable Energy Plants in An Giang

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Southern Vietnam's An Giang Province has recently announced offering preferential policies to investors in renewable energy plants as part of its strategy on sustainable development.

Investors whose projects are in production and trade of renewable energy will be able to avail attractive incentives, such as the following: 


  • Exemption from land lease fees for seven years;

  • Exemption from fees for infrastructure projects in industrial parks for 11 years, while loans equal to nearly 70 percent of total investment capital will be offered.

  • Investors in economically difficult regions, such as the districts of Tri on, Tinh Bien and An Phu, will have a corporate tax rate of 10 percent.

Currently, there are already a couple of solar energy projects that are being built in the Province, while some are seeking approval from the  Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Aside from the use of solar, An Giang Province also plans to use waste from agricultural production to generate energy under a biomass energy project awaiting approval from the Government. 

According to Viet Nam News, the Province has a huge potential for biomass energy as it has an annual output of paddy of more than 4 million tonnes, ranking second in the Mekong Delta region. It also has 8 million tonnes of straw and 800,000 tonnes of rice husks, and a large amount of other kinds of biomass such as corn husks, sugarcane dregs, and others. The total amount of biomass in the province is 10 million tonnes, which could generate 17 million MWh a year.

Under a project awaiting approval, three plants will be built to generate energy from rice husks, with total capacity of 40 MW. The plants will be built in areas where rice processing factories are located. If the project is approved, the department will ask the Government to provide preferential policies on land, corporate tax and import tax for procurement of fixed assets.

Many investors want to invest in rice husk energy plants, but are worried about the price offered by the Government. They said the prices should be equal to or higher than prices offered for solar energy, according to the Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade) newspaper.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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E health

MEDICAL

New Medical Alliance Launched in Da Nang

Vietnam  -  November 2018

To achieve the goal of improving the quality of community health and initiating the establishment of a health ecosystem in the city of Da Nang, a Health Alliance named HM Group (HMG) was officially launched  on November 14th, 2018, with initial participation of 5 members: Homecares, iKure, INNOTEK, Job Links and AT Group. The alliance aims to serve up to 500,000 patients by 2020 and boosting information technology and human resources for hospitals and clinics.

The focus of this project is to connect patients with the right doctors though an application that be be accessed to even from remote areas. Patients now do not have to see doctors in the hospitals but get connected with medical centres near their homes instead. The alliance will also provide testing service from home, which mobile health workers will collect blood samples or medical waste from patient’s homes for testing in laboratories. This application will also help to ease the overloading at public hospitals as due to the new regulation efective from 2025 that each doctor will only be allowed to examine 25 patients per day. 

There are curently 11 hospitals with 1,000 doctors, and more than 620 consulting rooms and medical care centres in Da Nang. The city's population is around one million; however, 70% of inpatients are from neighboring provinces in central regions. 

(Sources: Vietnam News)

 

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Thermal power

ENVIRONMENT

Vietnam Government Urges Treatment of Ashes, Cinders and Plasters

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has recently assigned relevant agencies to implement measures to treat ashes, cinders and plasters at Vietam's thermal power plants, chemical plants and fertilizer plants so they could be recyled and used in construction. In particular, the Ministry of Construction (MoC) has been tasked with completing technical standards of using ash and cinder in construction and road surfaces.  According to the MoC, ash and cinder have high potential for usage in construction if they meet quality criteria for treatment.

Ash can be recycled in cement projects, helping consume between 6 and 8 million tonnes of ash per year. Hai also suggested working with thermal power plant investors to calculate the number of ash and cinders released as well as put forward waste treatment solutions, focusing on some pressing plants.

This recycling directive came about to due to an increasing amount of ashes and cinders released by thermal power plants, and are causing serious pollution and making waste treatment more difficult in industrial parks.

According to a report from Viet Nam News, Vietnam's Department of Industrial Safety and Environment, a department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, estimated that the country’s thermal power plants generated up to 12.2 million tonnes of coal ash in 2017, while treating only four million tonnes, meaning inventory rose to 8.2 million tonnes. In addition, the number of thermal plants in Viet Nam could rise from the current number of 19 to 43 by 2020.

As Vietnam currently has a low investment in recycling but welcomes massive industrialization, clearly, the government needs to set and enforce quality treatment standards and ramp up its treatment methods to avoid the danger of serious environmental issues. 

(Source: Viet Nam News)

 

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Highways for buses

INFRASTRUCTURE

Multiple Highways Being Upgraded In Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam  -  November 2018

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has been asked to call for investment in the provincial Highway No. 15 (33 km long and 5.5-5.6 metres wide), a main axis of the district and a radial axis of the city. investment required is estimated to be around VND 3 trillion (USD 28.6 million). While waiting for investors, Urban Traffic Management No. 3 unit has been assigned to repair and maintain a 5 km section of the road.       

Together with it, several highways and briges are also in the process of being upgraded, such as highways No. 9 and ten bridges on it; and highways No. 8, and 15. The projects aim to reduce traffic jams in the city's nortwest gateway.

The  upgrading of Highway No. 9 will help enhance connections between Long An Province, HCM City and Bình Dương Province and neighbouring areas, and will connect directly to the inland container depot (ICD) in Bình My Commune. The Dong Nam Industrial Park in Cu Chi District, and other industrial parks in Hoc Mon District and Long An Province’s Duc Hoa and Duc Hue districts, are also the expected beneficiairies. 

In July 2018, the Department of Transport approved a feasibility study on upgrading provincial Highway No. 7. The highway will be eight kilometres long and 20m wide after completion in 2022. Expected investment is around VND 368 billion (USD 15.8 million). Highway No. 7 will connect to provincial Highway No. 8 that runs through Long An Province, HCM City’s Cu Chi District and Bình Duong Province.

(Source: Vietnam News)

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Coca cola cold drink soft

MANUFACTURING

Coca-Cola to Build Fourth Factory in Vietnam for USD 300 Million

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Coca-Cola, the most popular soft drink brand in Vietnam,  has recently announced plans to build their fourth factory at a budget of USD 300 million. The company is currently looking for a suitable location in Hanoi for the construction of the said factory.

The new facility will reportedly produce both traditional Coca-Cola beverages such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Schweppes, and more nutritious products such as Fuze Tea.The project is expected to  generate jobs for thousands of direct and indirect labourers and developing a network of distribution.

Media reports also claimed that the company would seek to build a further production facility in Ho Chi Minh City in the future.

According to Vietnam Economic Times, beverages have been one of the key drivers of growth in Vietnam's fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, as driven by an expanding middle class, increasing affluence, and changes in consumer lifestyles and preferences. In particular, the country’s non-alcoholic drink (soft drink) industry has seen significant growth over recent years and attracted major investment as evidenced by the presence of hundreds of domestic and foreign soft drink manufacturers. According to Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE), with the advantage of natural resources like abundant mineral water, various fruits, the soft drink market has a large-scale, high rate of growth and has gradually met the domestic demand, while eyeing for export markets at the same time. Between 2009 and 2013, Vietnam’s bottled soft drink industry grew at a rate of 19.4%, and is projected to maintain a 14.2% growth rate from 2014 to 2018.

(Sources: VietnamPlus, Vietnam News Agency (VNA), Vietnam Economic Times, Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE), FoodBev Media Ltd.)

 

Missing
Aeroplane aircraft

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

New Aviation Decree Aims To Ease Burden For Investors

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Vietnam business condtions for potential investors in the aviation sector will be simplified by a new governmental draft decree that has been sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for approval. To ease the burden on investors and raise the FDI in the field of aviation transport, the Ministry of Transport has adjusted the minimum capital amount when establishing and maintaining the businesses operation. An airline with less than 11 aircarft will need a minimum of VND 300 billion (USD 12.83 million), from 11 to 30 aircraft will need VND 600 billion, and 30 aircraft and more will need VND 700 billion. These numbers reflect a more than 50% reduction compared with the previous draft decision.

However, there are some conditions for foreign-invested enterprises, such as the foreign charter capital has to be less than 34% and the largest charter capital must be held by at least one Vietnam individual or legal entity. In case the Vietnamese person has foreign owned capital that is the largest charter capital amount, the foreign capital contribution shall not exceed 49 per cent of the Vietnamese person’s own.

(Source: Vietnam News)

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Beer   foodservice

RETAIL / FMCG

Sabeco Lifts Foreign Ownership Cap

Vietnam  -  November 2018

Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corporation (Sabeco), the largest beverage manufacturer in Vietnam, announced its board of directors has approved the removal of a cap on foreign ownership within the company. In order to remove the restriction, Sabeco has removed business lines which require foreign ownership caps, such as trade advertising and tourism operation, which require minimum percentage of local ownership at 51% from their business lines. 

This decision would enableThai Beverage (ThaiBev) to expand their ownership in Sabeco and turn the company into a 100% foreign owned company. ThaiBev owns 54% of shares acquired from the Vietnam government through a USD 5 billion M&A deal. The shares were acquired by a Vietnamese legal entity named Vietnam Beverage Co.,ltd, which received 100% of its invesment from BeerCo., a subsidiary of ThaiBev. This is considered  one of the largest M&A deal in South East Asia in recent years. 

ThaiBev is Thailand's largest and one of Southeast Asia's largest beverage companies, with distilleries in Thailand, Scotland, and China. It is helping bring Sabeco's brands to international market. In August, 2018, the logo of Bia Saigon, the No.1 beer brand in Vietnam has appeared on Leicester City’s jerseys, via a multi-year global partnership agreement with LeiCester City's Football Club.

During the half year since the acquisition was completed, ThaiBev earned VND 2,360 billion (USD 101 million) net profit, and paid out dividends VND 2,000 billion (USD 86 million) of  dividend payment by the end of the year. During the first 9 months of 2018, Sabeco experienced year-on-year revenue growth of 7.8% ; however net profit dropped by 6.3% compared to the same period last year.

(Sources: VietnamNet; Hanoitimes)

Philippines

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Rail

ECONOMIC NEWS

USD 1 Billion R&D Hub For Maglev Trains To Be Set Up In Cagayan Ecozone

Philippines  -  November 2018

According to the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Chinese firms Eminova Asset Management Ltd. and Hunan Goke Maglev Technology Development Ltd. are setting up a USD1-billion training and production center for Maglev trains in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Maglev, or magnetic levitation, is a system of operating trains by way of powerful magnets, which lifts the cars as they are propelled forward.

The scope includes the planning, design, construction, operation organization management, consulting and technical services, R&D center for training and production of low speed, medium speed, and high-speed electromagnetic vehicle, comprehensive development of other related industries, import and export of Maglev technology transportation, and other new rail transit projects.

The Maglev production line in CEZA would roll out light rail vehicles and medium and high-speed Maglev trains from 200 kilometers (km) to 400 km per hour for countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. CEZA would be providing the land area for the project. 

Hunan Goke Maglev,  the largest magnetic levitation line builder in the world, will be responsible for establishing the research and development for training and production center, ensuring technology transfer and generating local employment. For Eminova, its role would be to provide the necessary financial and marketing requirement including financial investment and feasibility studies for the project. Eminova is an independent investment fund management of Australian and European funders with a portfolio covering projects in energy, environment, global entertainment and infrastructure. The Hong Kong-based firm is expected to finance the first phase of the joint venture.

The Maglev research and development project is expected to diversify investments in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. CEZA is positioning the freeport as the “FinTech City” or the “Silicon Valley of Asia” by attracting startup firms engaged in financial technology and overseas trading of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and etherium. CEZA has so far attracted more than two dozen startup firms.

(Sources: The Philippine Star; Philippine News Agency)

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ICT

Udenna-China Telecom Declared Third Telco Player In The Philippines

Philippines  -  November 2018

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in the Philippines have officially proclaimed the consortium of Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) as the third telecommunications provider in the country. The consortium is composed of Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corporation, both owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, and China’s third largest mobile service provider, China Telecom.

The decision came after the NTC had denied the appeal for reconsideration of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (PT&T) and Sear Telecommunications Consortium, the two other groups that vied for the project. The former was disqualified due to incomplete documents and the latter failed to submit a PHP 700 million (USD 13.3 million) participation security bond.    

The selection committee still carried on the computerized bidding process with Mislatel scoring 456.80 points out of 500 based on the criteria of Highest Committed Level of Service (HCLoS). The group assures that 37.03% of the population will be covered on an average internet speed of 27 Mbps through PHP 150 billion (USD 2.9 billion) investment for the first year of operation, while it will boost its capital expenditure to PHP 258 billion (USD 4.9 billion) covering 84.01% of the population on 55 Mbps from the second to the fifth year of operations. Failure to deliver its commitment would cost the company a penalty of PHP 14 billion (USD 0.3 billion) as its performance security bond will be forfeited.

Meanwhile, the group is open for commercial partnership with the country’s two telecom giants, PLDT and Globe, as well as other small players. In terms of investments, Udenna and Chelsea Corporations will hold 35% and 25% ownership respectively, while China Telecom is restricted to a maximum of 40% share based on the country’s equity rule.

(Sources: Yugatech; Manila Times; Department of Information and Communications Technology, Philippines)

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Oil   gas drilling

ENERGY

Philippines, China Sign MOU on Joint Gas, Oil Developement

Philippines  -  November 2018

The Philippines and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation in oil and gas exploration and development in the West Philippine Sea during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jingping in the Philippines.

The MOU will serve as a framework on future negotiations between the two nations on how they can collaboratively explore the oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea. According to the memorandum, Beijing and Manila will create an Inter-Governmental Joint Steering Committee and one or more inter-entrepreneurial working groups that will be composed of government officials, relevant agencies, and other individuals from both the Philippines and China.

The Steering Committee will be chaired by the Foreign Ministries of both countries and the vice chair will be their respective Energy Ministers. The inter-entrepreneurial working groups on the other hand, shall be composed of representatives from enterprises authorized by the two governments, in which China already identified its State-Owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to be its representative in all working groups.

The MOU however, which was among the 29 agreements signed by the two countries, does not indicate the specific areas to be covered by the joint exploration.

(Sources: Oil & Gas Journal; Philippine Daily Inquirer; Business Mirror)

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Clinic doctor health hospital

MEDICAL

Philippines Government Creating Cancer Control Program

Philippines  -  November 2018

the Philippines Senate had passed the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (Senate Bill 1850) seeking to institutionalize an integrated cancer control program in the country. The bill aims to address the gaps in cancer care through:


  • Establishment of a National Integrated Cancer Control Council to focus on implementing programs, not only for providing comprehensive and affordable cancer treatments but also to work on minimizing cases that are preventable.

  • Creation of Philippine Cancer Center (PCC), under the supervision of the Philippine General Hospital, for the treatment and accommodation of patients, and conducting research with universities, hospitals and institutions for cancer prevention and cure.

  • Establishment of a Cancer Assistance Fund to assist on medicines and treatment by ensuring a steady supply of cancer drugs and cancer-control related vaccines.

  • Expansion of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)'s  benefit packages to include screening, detection, diagnosis, treatment assistance, supportive care, survivorship follow-up care and rehabilitation, and end of-life-care, for all types and stages of cancer in both adults and children.

  • Requiring Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to cover genetic counseling and testing, cancer screening, diagnostic and palliative care.

  • Using the State-run Social Security System (SSS) and the disability benefits of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to cover the compensation of cancer-related absences from work of member-employees and voluntary members through their sickness and disability benefits.

Ultimately, the bill would mandate the Department of Health (DOH) to encourage individuals living with cancer to undergo the necessary treatment and care.

(source: Rappler, Senate)

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Waste to energy

ENVIRONMENT

Metro Pacific Investments Setting Up Waste-To-Energy Conversion Facility

Philippines  -  November 2018

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has inked an agreement with Dole Philippines Inc. (DPI) to design, construct and operate biogas facilities for the company’s factories in South Cotabato, Mindanao.

The waste-to-energy project, with an estimated investment of PHP 1 billion (USD 19 million) will be developed by MPIC’s subsidiary Metpower Venture Partners Holdings Inc. (MVPHI) and its unit Surallah Biogas Ventures Corp. (SBVC). The facility is expected to produce 50,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy from the processed organic fruit wastes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 100,000 tons annually.

Prior to the announcement of the agreement, MPIC signed a deal with Union Bank of the Philippines to secure a PHP 5 billion (USD 95 million), 10-year loan with a fixed interest rate to fund several projects and for other general corporate purposes.

(Sources: BusinessWorld, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard)

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INFRASTRUCTURE

ICTSI Offers To Develop Iloilo Ports For PHP 5 Billion (USD 95.3 Million)

Philippines  -  November 2018

International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has submitted a proposal to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to develop two ports in Iloilo – the Iloilo Port Complex and the Port of Dumangas, an investment estimated to cost over PHP 5 billion (SDU 93.5 million).

In line with the future development needs of Iloilo and the Visayas, ICTSI submitted a Letter of Intent to modernize the ports’ infrastructure and superstructure, and to eventually manage and operate the two Iloilo ports. Overall, the company hopes to be able to assist the port authority in its goals to upgrade the Philippine port network in the hope of facilitating inter-island and international cargo movement. 

According to ICTSI Chairman and President Enrique K. Razon, the investment is in line with the company’s belief in the growth potential of the Visayas in general and of Iloilo in particular. That growth is anchored on the building of infrastructure and the delivery of basic utilities and services. 

An integral part of this port investment will include the dredging and deepening of the port itself and the channel to allow the direct entry of new generation, international vessels. New port equipment to be brought in during the first phase alone has been estimated to cost PHP 1.35 billion (USD 25.7 million) and will include modern quayside crane handling equipment. ICTSI is also offering to substantially invest in the development of the Port of Dumangas in order to seamlessly handle the spill over from the city port. 

ICTSI will introduce new systems in operations, engineering and administration. The introduction of automation will further promote efficiency and security. With its excellent relationship with major shipping lines, the ICTSI commercial team will promote the services of the Iloilo ports. And as with its other ports, ICTSI hopes to employ local talent that will operate the ports. Lastly, ICTSI also hopes to roll out engagement programs for port users to ease business transactions. 

(Source: International Container Terminal Services, Inc.)

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Factory plant metal

MANUFACTURING

Chinese Steel Company To Locate Plant In Mindanao

Philippines  -  November 2018

Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez confirmed that Chinese steel company Panhua Group Co., Ltd. (Panhua) will set up a 305-hectare integrated steel manufacturing plant at the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate of the Misamis Oriental-Special Economic Zone (PIEMO-SEZ).

At the sidelines of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines, the Secretary led the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Panhua Chairman Xinghua Li, PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority CEO and Administrator Atty. Franklin Quijano, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Deputy Director General Tereso O. Panga on 20 November.

The USD 3.5 billion investment will be directed towards a port, an integrated steel mill with a capacity of 10 million tons, an industrial park, and other downstream industries. The three-phase project is expected to be completed in 6 to 7 years and will generate 50,000 jobs.

After this MOU, Panhua will proceed to obtain a PEZA registration and an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and to sign a memorandum of agreement to begin the construction of the project.

(Sources: Department of Trade and Industry)

Missing
Police officer

DEFENSE / AEROSPACE / AVIATION

Philippine Government Agency Partners With Korean Armor Company

Philippines  -  November 2018

Ranking officials of the Government Arsenal (GA) and South Korean corporation SAMYANG Comtech Co. Ltd signed an implementing arrangement for the Force Protection Equipment (FPE) co-production agreement Tuesday.

GA is a government agency under the Department of National Defense responsible for the production of basic weaponry and ammunition for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. 

The FPE co-production agreement was crafted on July 4, 2017 with technology transfer as a vehicle towards the local manufacture of force protection equipment in the Philippines. Both parties have agreed on the terms and conditions, which are anchored on the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust between GA and SAMYANG.

The South Korean firm will establish FPE manufacturing and testing facilities in the GA complex, and eventually transfer to the Government Arsenal the technology needed in the production and testing of armor vests and ballistic helmets. This technology, which is equivalent to the quality of South Korea’s Army FPE, is needed by the GA to develop the capability for the in-country production of FPE to support the requirements of the AFP and other law enforcement agencies, in line with the FPE Acquisition Program of the Philippines.

(Source: Philippine News Agency; Department of National Defense)

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Automation factory workers

RETAIL / FMCG

Lazada Expanding Operations In The Philippines

Philippines  -  November 2018

Lazada’s biggest warehouse and logistics facility can be found in the Philippines but the rise of e-commerce in the country prompted the company’s local unit to build an even bigger and more optimized facility located in Clark, Pampanga and four more warehouses within the country in the next three to five years.

The warehouse facilities, dubbed by the company as fifth-generation facilities, will have double capacity and will be equipped with the latest technology and equipment. Apart from these, the company will also enhance its partnership with logistics partners and increase its distribution centers where products land before they are delivered to customers.

Lazada’s 11.11. Shopping Festival that happened throughout its Southeast Asian markets greatly contributed to its parent company. Alibaba-launched Single’s Day event broke its own record sales from last year.

The Philippine e-commerce market is expected to grow to USD 6 billion in the next three to five years, an average of 17% yearly increase, while Google and Temasek have forecasted it to reach USD 9.7 billion by 2025, surpassing Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Lazada dominates the e-commerce sector in the Philippines, receiving over 35 million visits per month. 

(source: PTV News, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Mirror)

 

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