Trade Ministers and Heads of Delegation for the nations involved in the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have reported significant progress in the talks over market access and trade and investment rules. The recent talks took place in Canberra, Australia on October 25-27.
In recent years, the South China Sea has become a key area of concern for the ASEAN organization. In the face of an increasingly expansionary China, ASEAN has often seemed slow to react and unsure of what strategy it should pursue. While there are options in place, such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), there has been little unity in the actions of the ten member nations.
According to Hong Kong government officials, a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be ready for implementation in 2016. The first round of the trade talks was completed in July of this year.
Although some disagreements regarding services are yet to be hammered out, negotiations for Singapore-Turkey trade talks are “making good progress” said Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong.
Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are surging ahead of their regional neighbors, with FDI increases of 17, 19 and 20.4 percent, respectively, in 2013, according to Bank of America Merill Lynch. Meanwhile, Singapore continues to receive the lion’s share of total FDI in the region, which last year grew five percent to a net value of nearly US$64 billion. The city-state’s attraction for foreign investors derives not only from its often overlooked manufacturing base, but also as a channel for routing FDI into other locations in ASEAN.
The month of August saw an all-time high for employment in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in the Philippines, hitting over one million employees. The growth in employment is being primarily driven by the expansion plans of a number of companies, such as Accenture and Convergys. Over the past decade, the Philippines BPO industry has seen tremendous growth – revenues and employment have expanded tenfold since 2004. The industry sees an average per year growth rate of 20 percent.
Car sales in Indonesia, which are seen as a good metric of consumer confidence and domestic consumption, have seen a five percent increase year on year (YoY) through the month of August – a total of 830,398 vehicles have been sold. August saw a substantial increase of 24.1 percent; however, this growth was partly due to the slow sales in July caused by the Ramadan holiday (the Lebaran period).
ASEAN Briefing and its parent organisation Dezan Shira & Associates has won the 2014 On The Edge Innovation award at the annual Leading Edge Alliance Global Conference.
There are a number of important ASEAN regional meetings taking place in October, including two events related to intellectual property rights in Manila, and committee meetings on ASEAN-Korea and ASEAN-Japan bilateral relations.
In this issue of Asia Briefing, we forecast the effects of ASEAN Economic Community on foreign investment into the region in the lead up to 2015. Following this, we highlight what is happening in some of ASEAN’s hottest industries for investment, including electronics, information and communications technology, textiles and medical devices.