26.02.21 - 04.03.21 Sup SEAkers!
The Southeast Asian bloc is being asked to prove its diplomatic mettle in a fast-moving and increasingly volatile crisis.
This Week's News Spotlight:
Investment meant for Myanmar may seek refuge in Vietnam and Cambodian | Phuket aims to become ‘immunity island’ for tourists | ASEAN eyes digital vaccine certificate for post-Covid-19 travel | China worries over rare-earth supply disruption from Myanmar coup | Myanmar suffers more deaths than in 2007 crackdown
Investment meant for Myanmar may seek refuge in Vietnam and Cambodia - Nikkei Asia
Instead of Myanmar, investors are looking to other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia.
Investors in Myanmar have been forced by the military coup to look for nearby alternatives to park their capital. Funds which have only focused on Myanmar so far, such as Delta Capital and Anthem Asia, are adopting a wait-and-see approach, whereas those with more overseas operations are channeling funds into other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and Vietnam instead.
In the past five years, the regions of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam have clocked more rapid growth than its Southeast Asian neighbours. Foreign investment has also increased, as overseas funds look to these growing economies. In 2019, Myanmar registered the most growth of 55.9%.
However, with the military coup that started on Feb 1, many plans for foreign investment are on hold. Many businesses have terminated partnerships with companies that have ties to the military, such as Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings.
Phuket aims to become ‘immunity island’ for tourists - SCMP
Thailand’s tourism industry comprises about one-fifth of the country’s economy.
Tourism-dependent Phuket has launched a plan to fully reopen by October 1, with 80 percent of tourism businesses on the island having gone bust because of Covid-19. Last year, Thailand’s GDP dropped by 6.1 percent, largely due to the collapse of the tourism industry.
The island’s plan hinges on getting 70 percent of its population vaccinated, at a rate of 2,500 people a day, in order to fully reopen by October 1. This would mean they can open up without quarantine, which authorities hope will boost tourism numbers.
ASEAN eyes digital vaccine certificate for post-Covid-19 travel - Nikkei Asia
Many ASEAN member countries have launched their own vaccination campaigns by starting with vulnerable populations like healthcare workers and seniors.
ASEAN member states are weighing a digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate, which will help open up borders to those who have been vaccinated against the virus, in order to revive the region’s tourism industry, which clocked more than 50 million annual visitor arrivals before the pandemic.
At a two-day meeting that ended on Wednesday, representatives from the member countries discussed the idea of a common certificate, with ministers sharing their efforts on national vaccination programmes to speed up economic recovery. The proposed certificate would likely be digital and based on the smartphone, similar to other countries or regions which have or are considering launching such certificates, also referred to as vaccine passports.
China worries over rare-earth supply disruption from Myanmar coup - Nikkei Asia
In November 2018, Myanmar authorities informed Beijing of a ban on all exports of rare earths.
Though China is the largest producer of rare-earth elements, the military coup in Myanmar has emphasised the country’s reliance on its Southeast Asian neighbour. Though China owns the largest reserves of these minerals, which are crucial for tech products, it also relies on imports from the United States and Myanmar.
China is one of the largest importers of rare-earth ores and concentrates. For heavy rare-earth elements, like terbium and dysprosium, more than half of China’s domestic supplies come from Myanmar.
Myanmar suffers more deaths than in 2007 crackdown - Nikkei Asia
Military and police use live fire on protestors, killing 38 in one day.
Compared to the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2007 that were largely led by monks, Myanmar has already experienced more deaths in the most recent coup that started on Feb 1.
On Wednesday, 38 people were killed, with the military and police continuing with their hardline stance despite calls for restraint from other countries, according to the United Nations.
Since the coup started, more than 50 people have been killed. In comparison, 31 people died in the 2007 crackdown.