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05.06.20 - 11.06.20 Sup SEAkers!


Many motorists wear face masks in Phnom Penh.


This Week's News Spotlight:

Not so breezy for Brunei hotel industry | Cambodia-China FTA to be signed by end this year | Indonesia faces trade remedies from partners, risks $1.9b losses | Laos declares victory over COVID-19 | Malaysia's durians stay popular in China | Myanmar leaders to run in November polls | Philippines' Department of Tourism Secretary to consider opening Boracay, Bohol first to tourists | Safeguards needed before travel between Singapore and Malaysia | Government eyes easing of entry ban in Thailand | Vietnam's Prime Minister to consider flights from 'safe' areas and bars to reopen


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Not so breezy for Brunei hotel industry

President of Brunei Association of Hotels and Mulia Hotel Operations Director Mohd Iswandi bin Maaruf.


The global effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions to minimise the spread of the infection have led to heavy losses in the tourism and travel industry.


He said hotel room revenue has dropped to minus 41 per cent (January-April 2020), while revenue on food and beverage has dropped to minus 61 per cent (January-April 2020) due to a complete lack of wedding functions, meetings, incentives, conference and events and so on. Since February, hotel employees in Brunei Darussalam have undergone a 35 per cent salary cut, while some are on a 50 per cent salary cut.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This will likely be the new normal for hotels worldwide. The pandemic has left an indelible mark amongst consumer psyche, hotels will be expected to step up in terms of its other offerings when the pandemic is over, consumer demand will remain soft in the short to medium term.


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Cambodia-China FTA to be signed by end this year

Chinese Prime Minister Li Ke Qiang with Prime Minister Hun Sen in early 2018 when the duo held bilateral talks in Phnom Penh.



The third round of negotiations for the free trade agreement between Cambodia and China has completely solved all the remaining issues in the agreement text and approved in principal with regard to market access on goods and services, according to a statement from ministry of commerce.


“The negotiation of the third round of the FTA deal was focusing on market access for goods, service, investment, and economic and technical collaboration and regulation which will be pushing the export of goods from Cambodia and attract more investments from China,’ the statement read.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is definitely good news for Cambodia, but we are curious to know with the signing of FTA, will the increase of Cambodian exports to China as a % of the total Cambodian exports increase substantially because in another recent article, it was reported that the trade volume between Cambodia and U.S. was up 29.31% in the first four months of the year, compared to the same period of 2019.


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Indonesia faces trade remedies from partners, risks $1.9b losses

A crane lifts containers to be placed on a railway at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta.


Indonesia has been hit by trade remedies involving nine trading partners that launched an investigation into alleged unfair practices by the country, resulting in potential foreign exchange losses of up to Rp 26.5 trillion (US$1.9 billion), according to the Trade Ministry.


Indonesia is currently facing 10 antidumping and six safeguard investigations that involve main trading partners like India and the United States, as well as the European Union, Vietnam, Australia and the Philippines.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The Indonesian government must have a major headache, with the infected numbers rapidly increasing, this only adds to their compounding list of problems to solve.


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Laos declares victory over COVID-19

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith Declares Victory over Covid-19


The government of Laos has declared victory over COVID-19 following the discharge of all 19 confirmed cases from hospital, with no new cases for 59 days.


Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced at a press conference yesterday that Laos had “gained an important victory in the first campaign against this vicious enemy,” saying that it was a significant advance in the battle against COVID-19. The last patient in Laos to recover from COVID-19 was released from hospital on Tuesday.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Congratulations to Laos, seriously, there should be more international attention given to ASEAN countries such as Vietnam and Laos on how they managed to control the COVID-19 situation within the countries!


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Malaysia's durians stay popular in China

A worker sorts out durian at a shop in Petaling Jaya on 8th June 2020


With the Covid-19 pandemic waning in both China and Malaysia, durian exports to the Middle Kingdom is expected to rise again, driven by strong demand and consumption.

Commercial Counsellor at the China Embassy in Malaysia Shi Ziming said interest from Chinese consumers in the fruit had not waned, although the supply chain for Malaysian durians was affected early this year.


The Chinese’s fondness for the King of Fruit is evident from the country’s total import of 600,000 tonnes of durian worth US$1.7bil (RM7.24bil) in 2019.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: We like the durians from Malaysia too, glad that the king of fruits is enjoying a royal welcome in China!


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Myanmar leaders to run in November polls

National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (right) talks with then senior member U Win Myint outside of parliament in Nay Pyi Taw on December 1, 2015.


State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will contest this year’s elections, the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) announced on June 9, in a vote that many see as a referendum on the NLD’s performance in the past five years.


The polls are expected to test the ability of the State Counsellor to lead her party to a convincing victory despite heavy criticism by the international community over her handling of the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine State. Some foreign and local observers also said the NLD would be dragged down by its poor handling of the country’s economy.


The 2015 elections were the first free elections in the country after more than half a century of military rule.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This upcoming election will serve as the barometer and the test results for the past 5 years of leadership under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The other option of returning back to military rule is rather unpalatable under other democratic parties can put forth a strong line up of candidates, Daw Aung should have a clear line to another 5 years of leadership.


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Philippines' Department of Tourism Secretary to consider opening Boracay, Bohol first to tourists

Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat.


Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Boracay remains COVID-free while Bohol has recorded only one case.Romulo-Puyat raised the possibility of opening the two-island destinations early to tourists. While it is just mostly domestic tourism that will kick-start tourism in the country once the quarantine is over, Romulo-Puyat said international tourists will follow.


“And eventually, we can open it to foreign tourists, because you can match it with another ASEAN country, and we can market it let’s say Boracay because tourists can go to a safe place. Health protocols must be in place, and we will not open it until these are present,” she added.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: The tourism sector in every country is badly hit. Governments will need to do more to induce domestic tourism spending as the first wave of getting the sector to a new normal.

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Safeguards needed before travel between Singapore and Malaysia

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong speaking at the MTF COVID-19 virtual press conference on Mar 31, 2020.

Measures, safeguards and precautions have to be put in place before travel can resume between Singapore and Malaysia, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (Jun 8).

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, was responding to media queries after Putrajaya said that talks are under way to allow Malaysians in Johor Bahru to commute to Singapore and back for work.


“The same principle will apply … we will welcome these travellers. We want to see the resumption of travel, but it has to be done in a safe way. And that would mean looking at testing protocols in place on both sides,” he said.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This arrangement is beneficial for both countries. A substantial portion of Malaysians living in Johore commute to work in Singapore daily, and Singapore is also dependant on this portion of labour force to keep essential operations going as it slowly eases out of the circuit breaker.

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Government eyes easing of entry ban in Thailand

Customers shop at the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Thailand on 9th May 2020.



The government is considering easing entry restrictions for foreign visitors possibly in the third or final quarter of this year, with priority given to those arriving from coronavirus-free areas, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.


“It doesn’t have to be an entire country — we can allow visitors from towns or provinces which are free from the coronavirus. Travel restrictions will be gradually eased and foreign visitors are

expected to return in the third or fourth quarter of this year,” he said.

Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: This is a welcome move, Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destination globally. We will wait and see how global demand for tourism respond to this move because ‘virus free’ areas globally is in the minority

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Vietnam's Prime Minister to consider flights from 'safe' areas and bars to reopen

Passengers waiting for flights at Nội Bài International Airport.


Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on Tuesday said that there would be no limit on the number of flights that bring Vietnamese people home or foreigners to the country as long as they meet regulated criteria. The Prime Minister also allowed the reopening of bars and karaoke venues after they were closed in the end of March.


Chairing a Government meeting on Tuesday on COVID-19 prevention and control, Phúc said that Vietnam would create favourable conditions for foreign experts, investors and skilled workers to enter the country, seeking investment opportunities and jobs.


Sup SEAkers! editor's thoughts: Looks like Vietnam and Thailand will be in friendly competition in trying to get international visitors to visit them!


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