Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry announces that services now make up a quarter of the country’s exports, reflecting a structural shift in exports in which services are growing faster than goods.
The Philippines has become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, with an annual GDP growth rate of 6.1 percent in 2014 – the second highest in the Asia-Pacific region after China. This healthy growth is due to strong economic fundamentals and a faster than expected GDP growth of 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Local businesses in Singapore started 2015 with a pessimistic outlook, continuing a downward trend for the third quarter in a row. According to the newest Business Expectations Survey (BES) – conducted by the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) – the current Business Optimism Index (BOI) score of +1.11 percent, is the lowest since the first quarter of 2013. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the BOI stood at +10.79 percent. The SCCB has pointed to global economic uncertainty, rising cost pressures and manpower issues, as well as lower demand in the export-oriented sector, as possible drivers behind the lowered optimism.
As investment and trading partners, Singapore and Vietnam have proven to be an unstoppable combination – with 2014 bilateral trade up 20.3 percent year on year. Vietnam’s strategic location, low-cost labor, burgeoning consumer class, and incentives to foreign investors have made Vietnam an attractive destination for Singaporean foreign direct investment (FDI). While Singapore, with the highest GDP per capita in ASEAN, remains a prime market for Vietnamese exporters.
There are a number of important ASEAN regional meetings taking place in January, these include the ASEAN Tourism Forum held in Myanmar and the 117th ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) Council Meeting, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur.
Indonesia is set to introduce a one stop service for providing ministry licenses, speed up the completion of government tenders by March each year, establish a land bank to fast track infrastructure projects and release a five-year $450 billion infrastructure investment plan.
Myanmar’s Deputy Finance Minister, Maung Thein, has announced that the over-the-counter Myanmar Securities Exchange Centre (MSEC) will be replaced with the Yangon Stock Exchange in October 2015. So far, ten companies are expected to meet the criteria for initial listing on the exchange.
On January 1, 2015, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Singapore entered into force. The FTA covers trade in goods and services, customs procedures, e-commerce, economic cooperation, government procurement, rules of origin and other matters.
The ASEAN Open Skies policy will be implemented next year with the goals of increasing regional and domestic connectivity and enhancing regional trade.
The Vietnam Competition Authority has announced that Turkey’s Ministry of Economy is investigating steel products imported from Malaysia and Vietnam following a complaint by M/s Jindal Stainless Limited.