By Dezan Shira & Associates
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim majority country. Over 88 percent of Indonesia’s population is Muslim, and the country is well positioned to be a hub for Halal products in Southeast Asia.
Supporting this projection are Indonesia’s favorable demographics, rising disposable incomes, and growing consumer awareness on their religious obligations.
Indonesia is also keen to make its Halal industry attractive for investors. The government recently passed industry regulations and has earmarked new sites for the development of Halal industrial clusters.
Laos: Korean businesses seek local franchise partners
Korean businesses are increasingly looking to launch their products in the Lao market through the franchise route. At least seven prominent Korean brands recently participated in the K-Franchise Business Meeting 2017 organised by the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Vientiane, where they met with potential Laotian partners. The franchise brands represented at the event include Well-Being Pizza, Elli Cel, Didim (Mapo Seagull), Street Churros, Chicken Derby, Beaupeople and Y Entertainment.
With about 257 projects worth US$ 800 million, Korea is the sixth largest foreign investor in Laos. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$ 199 million in 2016. Laos’ exports to Korea were valued at US$22.9 million in 2015. The country’s main exports to Korea include potassium fertilizers, coffee, lead bullion and scrap, fabrics and ingredients for oriental traditional medicine. In 2015, Korea’s exports to Laos were valued at US$ 170 million. The main items of export from Korea to Laos include vehicles, trucks, automotive parts, construction equipment and electronics.
Singapore: Economy forecast to register positive growth
According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the island republic’s economy is forecast to grow by 1 to 3 percent in 2017. The MAS Annual Report released on 29 June indicated that while the country’s economic growth has been somewhat uneven across sectors, it is expected to gradually broaden to the rest of the economy over the course of 2017.
According to the report, the manufacturing, transport and logistics, and the wholesale sectors, accounting for 43 percent of GDP, were the major drivers behind the economy’s rebound since the fourth quarter of the previous year. On the other hand, the services sectors comprising finance, business processes, and IT-enabled services, accounting for 30 percent of GDP, recorded mixed outcomes in the last two quarters. These sectors are, however, poised to register higher growth in the latter half of 2017. Retail and food services, and construction sectors, which account for 17 percent of GDP, are expected to remain weak.
Malaysia: World Bank forecasts positive growth in 2017
According to the Malaysia Economic Monitor, launched by the World Bank, the country’s growth rate for 2017 is forecast to increase to 4.9 percent. Malaysia registered a 5.6 percent year-on-year growth in the first three months of 2017, its highest quarterly growth rate in two years. According to the report, Malaysia’s positive growth outlook is driven largely by strong private consumption, supported by improving labor market conditions. Increasing private investments and major government-led infrastructure projects also contributed to it.
According to the report, an upturn in the US was reflected in the rising external demand, and stabilizing commodity prices as well as a recovery in global trade further helped to boost growth. The report also includes a special section on the importance of good data and effective data management, and how this can inform policy-making and improve service delivery. The Malaysia Economic Monitor series provides an analytical perspective on the policy challenges facing the country as it develops into a high-income economy.
Malaysia: Capital market one of the most developed among emerging economies
According to a recently released McKinsey report, Malaysia’s capital market is one of the most developed among emerging economies. The country ranked fifth with a score of 3.25 out of 5 in the McKinsey Asian Capital Markets Development Index, behind Japan (4.0), Australia (3.95), South Korea (3.45) and Singapore (3.40). According to the report, Malaysia is outperforming other emerging economies in the development of its capital market.
Among the factors giving the country an edge are: issuers have access to sufficient debt and equity financing; there is predictable funding from foreign institutional investors; the real cost of equity and debt is quite competitive; and investors get a good mix of equity and debt investment opportunities.