With the ten-nation ASEAN Economic Community going into effect this year, an IMF working paper urged faster financial integration despite the consensus-driven deliberate regional “way “ among the range of members at all income levels. It applauds greater banking and capital market linkages since the late 1990s crisis, but notes that further financial services strides could offset the fallout from higher global interest rates and promote inclusion to reduce poverty.
The Fund added that despite safety nets in place like the Chiang Mai multilateral currency swap initiative, East Asia was hit by the mid-2013 Federal Reserve monetary policy scare and further protections could be considered with cautious capital account liberalization. Trade openness is already large with imports and exports above 100 percent of GDP outside Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
Intra-ASEAN commerce, mainly geared to consumer good supply chains, has quadrupled to $650 billion since 2000. Banking and securities market ties have lagged the pace except for Hong Kong and Singapore and are behind the Eastern Europe and Latin America norm as well.
FDI flows were a record $125 billion in 2013, bur foreign ownership limits are often in places especially in the services sector. Global banks have raised exposure in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand from a low base but ASEAN-based bilateral shares are “particularly low,’’ according to the Asian Development Bank with the Philippines at under half a percent of system asset
The Latest on Covid-19 in Southeast Asia
Thailand has largely avoided widespread community transmission of Covid-19, but the kingdom is not faring well on the economic front, with a projected contraction of 7.1 percent this year.
China’s debt-trap diplomacy: Laos’ credit rating downgraded to CCC
Laos’ debt challenge is deeply concerning, with some media commentators suggesting the country is falling into a debt trap as a result of Chinese infrastructure investments connected to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
Foreign capital still heads to Vietnam
As many as 798 projects added a combined over 5.11 billion USD to their investment capital, down 23 percent year-on-year in project number but up 6.8 percent in value.
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