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Single market seen boosting ASEAN resilience vs supply chain disruptions

Single market seen boosting ASEAN resilience vs supply chain disruptions

By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) needs to make further progress in creating a single market if it is to remain resilient in the face of disruptions to global supply chains, the bloc’s Secretary-General said.

Kao Kim Hourn, speaking at the 21st Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) International CEO Conference on Tuesday at Shangri-la The Fort, said economic downturns, political uncertainty, and a less predictable environmental concerns are combining to disrupt supply chains, in which Southeast Asia plays a key role. 

“It is imperative that we expedite our concerted efforts to be more agile and more resilient and at the same time ensure sustainable and inclusive growth,” he said.

He added that ASEAN needs to focus on making the region a vibrant, thriving, single market and a hub of production serving global supply chains.

“Achieving this goal necessitates the enhancement of partnerships over the last year and beyond,” he said.

He added that such partnerships will allow member countries to form deep and important economic linkages from both in and outside of the region.

Upgrading trade agreements will keep them “future ready and responsive to emerging global and regional developments including those related to the digital, green and blue economies,” Mr. Kao said.

Thailand Management Association (TMA) Chair Nithi Patarachoke said that ASEAN should harness its strategic location to drive future growth.

“(It is) near major economies like China, South Korea, Japan and India. At the same time ASEAN is experiencing an expanding middle class population which means more demand for consumption,” Mr. Patarachoke said.

“ASEAN also enjoys extensive cross-border trade networks so, ASEAN is still viewed as a region of growth with high potential,” he added.

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) Chair Bicky Bhangu “said that the environment we’re living in, the geopolitical tensions, the cost of doing business, inflation, (high) interest rates, supply chain disruptions, (are having) a significant impact on doing business.”

Because of this, Mr. Bhangu said there is an opportunity for ASEAN countries to act collectively.

“The main point here really is that across ASEAN is a huge value chain of opportunities from raw materials, markets, technologies, processes, and from bringing all of that ASEAN capability together gives a much stronger comparative advantage against the geopolitical tensions that were in today,” he said. 

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George T. Barcelon said that one of the key features of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which he said is an extension of the ASEAN, is to address the low levels of intra-region trade and investment, relative to the high levels of economic integration achieved by Europe.

“This is something that concerns us in the Philippines because in our trade among the ASEAN countries, we are on the deficit side,” he added.

Mr. Barcelon also said ASEAN countries can be more economically complementary by removing tariff barriers, improving logistics, and harmonized infrastructure standards.

MAP President Benedicta Du-Baladad said opportunities abound for agile CEOs in the geopolitical shifts.

“Even as alliances are shifting, the bottom line will always be recovery and growth — and these two are shared goals across the globe,” Ms. Du-Baladad said.

“These can potentially usher in greater regional cooperation and fan the flames for innovative and out-of-the-box ideas so that we can all thrive in this post pandemic world,” she added.

The MAP, SICC and TMA signed a two-year memorandum of partnership and cooperation (MPC) at the event.

The MPC calls for the parties to form a technical working group to “study the possibility and feasibility of establishing an ASEAN Management Organization to expand the scope of the MPC and pursue other areas of cooperation.”

Ms. Du-Baladad said that forming a management association within ASEAN is “one way of fostering collaboration, cooperation and sharing of best practices in management.”

#Single #market #boosting #ASEAN #resilience #supply #chain #disruptions

DTI sets sights on No. 2 position within ASEAN for attracting FDI

DTI sets sights on No. 2 position within ASEAN for attracting FDI

THE Philippines will seek to become a top two destination within the region for foreign direct investment (FDI) by 2028, Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said.

“Our dream target is to (have) the second highest FDI in ASEAN,” Mr. Pascual said in an interview with ANC on Monday. 

He said the projections are based on the results of government investment promotion missions overseas.

In a separate interview on the sidelines of the Asian Regional Conference in Support of Accelerated Life Sciences Innovation on Monday, Mr. Pascual said that the numbers suggest there is a basis to aspire to higher FDI.

“As of now the total is $71 billion… So, it is possible to aspire to be at a higher level,” he said, citing the combined value of investment leads generated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Board of Investments (BoI).

Mr. Pascual said that for this year, 16 big-ticket projects worth $1.2 billion are expected to flow in, nine of which are already operational.

He said that the remaining seven are registered with the BoI or the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and are awaiting implementation.

In total, he said 15 projects are being processed via the BoI’s Green Lane.

Some of the proposed projects are not registered but covered by “letters of intent or memoranda of understanding with their local partners, so it’s (only) a matter of time the investment (is realized),” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

#DTI #sets #sights #position #ASEAN #attracting #FDI

Analyst: Marcos should push security agenda at ASEAN

Analyst: Marcos should push security agenda at ASEAN

THE ASEAN Summit in Jakarta this week should help the Philippines push forward its security agenda in the region, where cooperation with neighboring states and the international community is crucial, according to a Manila-based think tank.

“In the context of China’s new standard map, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit comes at the right time for the Philippines to gather support in rejecting these desperate claims that infringe on ASEAN states’ territories,” Stratbase ADR President Victor Andres C. Manhit said in a Facebook Messenger chat on Tuesday.

A few days before the summit, China revised its standard map that now features a 10-dash line. The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and India protested the Chinese action, which they said was illegal.

“Malaysia has also called out this new map, so the summit is an opportunity to encourage a more assertive stance in promoting a peaceful resolution based on international law,” Mr. Manhit said.

The Philippines should lead its ASEAN neighbors in pushing for a maritime policy based on the 2016 arbitral ruling that voided China’s claim to more than 80% of the South China Sea, he added.

The Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations have been seeking to finish a proposed code of conduct in the South China Sea.

But Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu earlier told a Palace briefing the summit would be “too short” for ASEAN leaders to finalize the proposed code of conduct.

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who has pursued closer ties with the US and its allies amid China’s increasing assertiveness at sea, is in Indonesia for the ASEAN Summit.

Before leaving the Philippines, he vowed to promote “a rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea.” — KATA

#Analyst #Marcos #push #security #agenda #ASEAN

Marcos: ASEAN needs to press rich nations on climate pledges

Marcos: ASEAN needs to press rich nations on climate pledges

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. called on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to press rich nations to fulfill their climate commitments, noting that poorer countries have been dealing with disasters that threaten their food security.

The call to action must be made at the United Nations-led climate change conference in December, Mr. Marcos said during the plenary session of the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta.

“At the upcoming COP28 (in Dubai), ASEAN must call on developed countries to heighten the implementation of their commitments,” he said. “Their commitments include climate finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in order to drive ASEAN’s capabilities to prevent, mitigate, manage and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

Mr. Marcos said his focus remains on encouraging international cooperation to make ASEAN climate-smart and disaster-ready.

Climate change is threatening Philippine agriculture, which must absorb damage from an average of 18-20 typhoons a year.

Super Typhoon Doksuri and the southwest monsoon have caused P1.94 billion worth of agriculture damage, with rice accounting for P950 million of the total.

“In achieving food security, we must build on cooperation that will harness the transformative potential of our agricultural sector to ensure that food production is responsible and will be of benefit for future generations,” Mr. Marcos said.

Storms, flooding, and prolonged drought may result in around $124 billion in losses to the Philippine economy between 2022 and 2050, research firm GHD estimated last year.

Mr. Marcos, who is leading a shift towards green energy, has yet to declare a climate emergency, which would authorize the government to mobilize funds to step up climate mitigation efforts.

The House of Representative made such a declaration in 2019, but Greenpeace said last year that the National Government (NG) has yet to “follow through.”

Neither have the US or China made such declarations. The two countries account for 41.89% and 34.75% of world gross domestic product in nominal and purchasing power parity terms, respectively, in 2021.

Mr. Marcos also called on the region’s leaders to maximize the benefits from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and promote digital-economy cooperation.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and convenor of think tank Infrawatch, said the summit is an opportunity for Mr. Marcos to boost ties with non-traditional partners amid mounting economic challenges and in the face of an increasingly belligerent China, which has abandoned some of its commitments to the Philippines’ flagship infrastructure projects.

Mr. Marcos needs to seal partnerships in rice production as the Philippines deals with the commodity’s rising prices and prepares for a possible shortage during the worst of the El Niño, he said.

He said Manila can collaborate with Indonesia, which currently chairs the regional bloc, to accelerate its shift to renewable energy.

“Indonesia and the Philippines should develop a joint nickel policy to help develop and protect this shared mineral resource amid technological developments in the renewables sector,” he said.

Mr. Marcos should also invite ASEAN conglomerates to join Public-Private Partnerships projects, including the rehabilitation of the Philippine capital’s main airport and the development of the Metro Manila busway.

“The summit can be a platform to call on other bilateral and multilateral partners to take another look at abandoned China projects,” he said, “and determine whether they can continue these projects as designed or proposed or (whether) they will require another round of design and planning.”

Transport officials have said the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) has yet to confirm whether it will approve a P142-billion loan for a railway to Bicol.

The Duterte government in February 2022 awarded to China Railway Design Corp. a contract to build the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul project.

Transportation Undersecretary Cesar B. Chavez said the Departments of Transportation and Finance met with Chinese Embassy officials in Manila earlier this year to discuss the loan but they “were given no clear direction” on the loan’s status.

He was speaking at a House appropriations committee hearing.

There have been calls to cancel infrastructure projects that China has promised to fund in light of its aggressive actions within the Philippine exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

Citing the foreign-assisted projects listed in the 2024 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing, Mr. Ridon said six major infrastructure projects are currently depending on Chinese loans, the most expensive of which is the PNR South Long Haul Project, with a price tag of P175.3 billion.

There are also several loan agreements for “flagship projects” as designated by the Department of Finance. They include the loan agreement for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, which had been due for completion in 2022, Mr. Ridon said.

He also cited the P20-billion Safe Philippines project aimed at installing at least 12,000 closed-circuit television cameras in Metro Manila and Davao City.

Before the Department of Interior and Local Government canceled the project, China International Telecommunications and Construction Corp. had signed a loan contract with the government in 2018.

“Now is an opportune time for Congress to review upcoming and ongoing infrastructure projects that will be largely financed by Beijing,” Mr. Ridon said. “Let the deliberations on the national budget be a venue for our legislators to show that they will not allow Beijing to continue currying favor through funding infrastructure projects, while at the same time rapidly creeping into our territory and violently driving out our fisherfolk and our Coast Guard from our seas.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

#Marcos #ASEAN #press #rich #nations #climate #pledges

Indonesia warns ASEAN on ‘destructive’ rivalry

JAKARTA — Indonesia warned on Tuesday against Southeast Asia’s bloc getting dragged into big-power rivalry as leaders gathered for a summit seeking to dispel worry about rifts over peace efforts in Myanmar and to reaffirm the relevance of their disparate group.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, opening a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on the group to devise a “long-term tactical strategy that is relevant and meets people’s expectations.”

“ASEAN has agreed to not be a proxy to any powers. Don’t turn our ship into an arena for rivalry that is destructive,” Mr. Widodo said.

“We, as leaders, have ensure this ship keeps moving and sailing and we must become its captain to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity together.”

Founded at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s to oppose the spread of communism, the politically diverse grouping prioritizes unity and non-interference in members’ internal affairs.

But critics say that has limited its scope for action when it comes to handling issues like fellow member Myanmar, where violence rages two years after the military seized power in a 2021 coup.

ASEAN has banned Myanmar’s military leaders from its high-level meetings but differences have emerged with Indonesia attempting to engage all sides to push an ASEAN peace plan and Thailand trying to engage Myanmar’s military leaders.

Malaysia called on Monday for “strong” measures against the generals saying they had created “obstacles” to the ASEAN peace plan.

Former Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said the bloc must adapt to challenges or risk oblivion.

“Obituaries on ASEAN actually have been written many times over, but somehow all those times, ASEAN has been able to reinvent itself and reassert its relevance. I feel today we are at one of those junctures,” he told an ASEAN business forum on Sunday.

China and its sharpening rivalry with the United States also loom over the meeting.

Some ASEAN members have focused on developing close diplomatic, business and military ties with Beijing while others are more wary.

The summit comes days after China released a “10-dash line” map, illustrating its claim to an extensive portion of the South China Sea that will likely add urgency to negotiations on a long-delayed code of conduct in the strategic waterway.

ASEAN member states Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, which have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, have rejected China’s map.

Later this week, ASEAN leaders will hold an East Asia summit, a wider forum that includes China, India, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Adding to unease about ASEAN’s relevance, US President Joseph R. Biden is not attending the talks. Vice President Kamala Harris will attend instead. Chinese Premier Li Qiang will also attend. — Reuters

#Indonesia #warns #ASEAN #destructive #rivalry