As internet penetration rates continue to rise in Southeast Asia, ASEAN grows more interconnected by the day.
Home to over 663 million inhabitants, the region is projected by many to be among the world’s most promising markets for a variety of internet based services.
Chief among these are services involved in what has been coined the “sharing economy” – a loose collection of peer-to-peer services known to substantially lower costs for key necessities such as transport and accommodation.
In a 2014 study conducted by Nielsen, Indonesia and the Philippines ranked as two of the top five populations worldwide primed to participate in the sharing economy. While Indonesia ranked second in the study, with 87 percent of respondents reporting a willingness to utilize products within a sharing economy, the Philippines only trailed by two percentage points, earning fourth placeVietnam
Thailand: New KYC Guidelines Issued
Thailand’s central Bank of Thailand (BOT) has introduced new regulations to ease the Know Your Customer (KYC) process using the electronic process (e-KYC) to open accounts on deposit acceptance of funds accepted from the public. Financial institutions globally are increasingly being required to comply with KYC guidelines under the anti-money laundering law (AML). As per the BOT Notification No. SorNOrSor. 7/2559 the following guidelines have been issued.
- E-KYC procedures must have the same standards as KYC procedures and available only for individual customers using electronic means such as computers, mobile phones, other electronic devices etc. Financial institutions however, must get prior approval from the BOT.
- Electronic signatures are acceptable.
- Verification of customers must be done using ID cards or a smart card reader
- Financial institutions must retain all information including KYC documents or their copies as per the AML law.
The regulation went into effect in August.
As Vietnam increasingly becomes a hub for foreign businesses, the government is streamlining the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) process to encourage investment in new sectors of the economy. While establishing a business in Vietnam may prove too cumbersome for some hopeful entrants, the M&A route provides a unique solution to many of these obstacles. With this path, investors will enjoy preexisting access to consumers, locations, and distribution channels. This local knowledge can prove critical to successful operations within Vietnam’s vibrant but rapidly changing investment environment .
To successfully carry out M&As within Vietnam, it is important to recognize the legal foundation of current policies, and to understand the procedures and limitations associated with acquisitions in Vietnam..
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.
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Assessing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on ASEAN countries
All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent.
Author: Jayant Menon, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy. Measures introduced to deal with the pandemic could save lives but are having wide-ranging economic effects and inducing economic contagion.
There are already studies estimating the economic impact of the virus. But greater focus is needed on the transmission mechanisms of the economic contagion and in critiquing how assessments of the economic impacts are made, concentrating on the ASEAN region.
The effects of COVID-19 are hitting ASEAN economies at a time when other risk factors, such as a global growth slowdown, were already rising.
COVID-19 is disrupting tourism and travel, supply chains and labour supply
Uncertainty is driving negative sentiment. This all affects trade, investment and output, which in turn affects growth. Tourism and business travel, as well as related industries, especially airlines and hotels, were the first to be affected. And the conditions are worsening as more countries go into shutdown.
The supply disruptions emanating mostly from China will reverberate throughout the value chain and disrupt production. Since China is the regional hub and accounts for 12 per cent of global trade in parts and components, the cost of the disruption in the short run will be high.
The negative effects of quarantine arrangements on labour supply could also be high depending on duration and sector. Manufacturing has been hit harder than service industries, where telecommuting and other technological aids limit the fall in productivity.
All these disruptions will lead to sharp declines in domestic demand. And their impact on economic growth will further propagate these disruptions. This compounding effect can magnify and extend short-run effects into the long run.
The highest economic cost could come from the intangibles
The effects of negative sentiment about growth and general uncertainty — which is already affecting financial markets — will feed into reduced investment, consumption and growth in the long run.
Rolling recessions around the world now appear inevitable, despite the stimulus measures being contemplated. If so, there will be sharp increases in unemployment and poverty. Some degree of decoupling from China, or de-globalisation in general, may also be a permanent reminder of this pandemic.
Among ASEAN countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are heavily integrated in regional supply chains and will be the most affected by a reduction in demand for the goods produced within them. Indonesia and the Philippines have been increasing supply chain engagement and will also not be immune.
Vietnam is the only new ASEAN member integrated into supply chains with China and is already suffering severe supply disruptions.
Given time, supply-side adjustments will alter trade and investment patterns. The main adjustment will involve relocating certain activities along the supply chain from China to ASEAN countries. Although the pandemic will disrupt the relocation phase, ASEAN countries can benefit from the new investments, mitigating overall negative impacts.
Thailand is probably the most tourism dependent Asean country
All ASEAN countries are dependent on tourism flows but Thailand is probably the most dependent. Cambodia and Laos receive most of their investment and aid from China, and a marked growth slowdown in China will affect them the most.
The Philippines and Mekong countries have large overseas foreign worker populations and restrictions on their movement or employment prospects as COVID-19 spreads will affect sending and receiving countries. Brunei and Malaysia are net oil exporters and the price war indirectly induced by the pandemic will hit them hard. Others will benefit from lower oil prices, as will the struggling transport sector.
In measuring the impacts of COVID-19, it is important to separate its marginal impact from observed outcomes. This is important because the remedy may vary depending on the cause of the disruption. This requires an analytical framework that can measure deviations from a baseline scenario that incorporates pre-existing trends. A model-based analysis, rather than casual empiricism, is required to reduce the problem.
Even before the outbreak, risks of a global growth slowdown were rising
The restructuring of regional supply chains had started, driven initially by rising wages in China and accelerated by the US–China trade war. While COVID-19 may further hasten the pace and extent of the restructuring, it is only partly responsible for what may happen. It would be misleading to attribute all of the current disruption to COVID-19. Had the trade war not preceded it, COVID-19 may have resulted in greater disruption to supply chains.
Any assessment of impacts must recognise that the spread of COVID-19 is unpredictable, and so too the response by governments. It is difficult to estimate the impacts of a shock that is uncertain in itself. This reiterates the need for rigorous modelling and scenario analyses. The current trend points to risks rising, often accelerating, as with previous epidemics. This uncertainty underscores the need for caution in assessing, and regular recalibration in producing assessments.
Jayant Menon is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Regional Economic Studies Programme at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
A version of this article first appeared in ISEAS Commentary.
This article is part of an EAF special feature series on the novel coronavirus crisis and its impact.
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