ASEAN Market Watch: Indonesian Cinema, Economic Stimulus in Thailand, and Foreign Workers in Malaysia
Philippines: Digital Literacy Hits Roadblocks
In a study by advocacy group Arangkada Philippines, 80 percent of public schools in the Philippines lack internet access. This means that the country will miss its goal of proving digital literacy this year due to a lack of policies to equip schools with Internet access. In the study, out of 38,683 public primary schools, only 14 percent or 5,503 have internet access. The Philippine Digital Strategy formed in 2011 sets the national vision and roadmap to achieve information and communications technology (ICT) development in Philippines. The body sets a target for the provision of basic broadband access and internet opportunities for everyone by 2016. The targets stipulate that 100 percent of secondary schools and 80 percent of elementary schools should have internet access by 2016.
Industry analysts have stated that it is imperative that government policies support the building of digital infrastructure around the country. In addition, analysts say that mobile data, amid growing access to the internet, requires more bandwidth. In order to do this, companies need to build more cell sites to deliver mobile data services. In a study by telecommunications company Tower Xchange, the number of physical cell sites in the Philippines is one of the lowest in Asia, with a combined 15,000 cell sites from two major providers. The government will need to enact policies so that it can empower its population with internet access.
Indonesia: Foreign Investors Flock to Cinema
Foreign investors including those from South Korea and Taiwan are showing interest and have sent proposals to enter the film and cinema exhibition businesses. The development comes after Indonesia’s government announced the lifting of foreign investment caps in a wide range of sectors including the film industry. Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board stated that they received proposals from South Korean investors who were planning to invest up to US $200 million to build new cinema screens at 800 places around the country, while a Taiwanese company plans to infuse around US $5 million in the sector.
Indonesia has one of the lowest penetration of movie screens at just 1,000 screens. The government in February revised the negative list allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in some sectors, including the film industry in areas like technical services, production, distribution, exhibition, and cinemas. The cinema industry in the country has been dominated by Cinema 21 Group and Blitz Megaplex, which is partly owned by a South Korean investor. Other groups such as Lippo Group and Cinemaxx Global Pasifik are expected to enter, further increasing competition in the industry.
Thailand: Government to Infuse 100 billion to Boost Economy
The government is planning to infuse around US $2.8 million (100 million baht) into the economy by mid-2016. The funds have been allocated to several projects including broadband internet developments at US $ 286,000 (10 million baht), the local entrepreneurship stimulus One Tambon One SME program at US $574,400 (20 million baht), and the microcredit scheme village fund at US $860,000 (30 billion baht) among others. In October 2015, the government approved a similar stimulus package to boost business confidence and stimulate the economy. That package introduced a slew of tax incentives for multinational corporations, start-ups and homeowners. The most recent injection focuses on development projects around the country in a bid to further boost Thailand’s economy.
Malaysia: Foreign Workers Boost Economy According to World Bank
A study by the World Bank has declared that the large population of foreign workers has mostly created more jobs for locals in the country. The study titled “Malaysia Economic Monitor: Immigrant Labour” stated that for every 10 new migrant workers in a sector, 5.2 jobs are created for locals. The report also stated that a 10 percent increase in low-skilled foreign workers raised real GDP by 1.1 percent. In addition, the rise in immigration flow also raised the overall wages of Malaysians by 0.14 percent. However, wages of unskilled locals, who make up about 14 percent of the total labor force would see a 0.74 percent decline. In addition, the report also said that immigrant workers who are already in the country would likely see a decline in wages by four percent.
The development comes after the government’s controversial decision to allow 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers to be brought in over the next three years though that plan was shelved after stiff opposition. The World Bank report also recommends that Malaysian authorities should cut discrimination between locals and foreigners for jobs, removing wage discrepancies, and deal with the abuse of migrants. It also stated that such workers need protection and training to upskill and move up the value chain while the government should invest in labor policies to boost the economy.
Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email email@example.com or visit www.dezshira.com.
Stay up to date with the latest business and investment trends in Asia by subscribing to our complimentary update service featuring news, commentary and regulatory insight.
Annual Audit and Compliance in ASEAN
For the first issue of our ASEAN Briefing Magazine, we look at the different audit and compliance regulations of five of the main economies in ASEAN. We firstly focus on the accounting standards, filing processes, and requirements for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. We then provide similar information on Singapore, and offer a closer examination of the city-state’s generous audit exemptions for small-and-medium sized enterprises.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and its Impact on Asian Markets
The United States backed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) includes six Asian economies – Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, while Indonesia has expressed a keen willingness to join. However, the agreement’s potential impact will affect many others, not least of all China. In this issue of Asia Briefing magazine, we examine where the TPP agreement stands right now, look at the potential impact of the participating nations, as well as examine how it will affect Asian economies that have not been included.
An Introduction to Tax Treaties Throughout Asia
In this issue of Asia Briefing Magazine, we take a look at the various types of trade and tax treaties that exist between Asian nations. These include bilateral investment treaties, double tax treaties and free trade agreements – all of which directly affect businesses operating in Asia.