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Asean Briefing : Obama’s Vietnam Visit and China’s Wind Power Industry

Visiting Vietnam to bolster economic ties, President Barack Obama’s visit gives prominence to the achievements being made in the Vietnamese economy.




Visiting Vietnam to bolster economic ties, President Barack Obama’s visit gives prominence to the achievements being made in the Vietnamese economy.

In his own words, “We see Vietnam’s progress in the skyscrapers and high-rises of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”.

As Vietnam has reformed, so has trade between the two countries, totalling US $45 billion in 2015. The trip is part of Obama’s efforts to promote the U.S.’s pivot to Asia in the form of the TPP, with Vietnam being a linchpin to the Asia rebalance.

Key Takeaways from Obama’s Vietnam Visit

With slowing economic growth and rising labor costs encroaching on the profitability of traditional Chinese manufacturing operations, Vietnam has a emerged as a destination of choice for its low costs, receptive governance, and increasing integration with key trading partners. Conjoined, these factors have and will continue to grow Vietnam as a hotbed of manufacturing and position the communist nation as an ideal location for China-plus one oriented production.

In light of recent Free Trade Agreements, notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership and FTA with European Union, Vietnam is well positioned to allow investors to utilize its cheap workforce and close proximity to existing Asian based supply chains.

China’s Wind Power Industry

China’s Wind Power Industry: a Dynamic Investment Opportunity, or an Opaque Market for Foreign Companies?

China is expected to increase its wind power installed capacity from the current 149 gigawatts (GW) to 495 GW by 2030, according to a recently released report from GlobalData. This substantial rise would represent a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of nine percent and is in line with plans laid out in China’s 13th Five Year Plan, which targets an increase in domestic wind capacity to 250 GW by 2020.

China already dominates the global wind energy market. Last year, the country overtook the EU to become the industry world leader by adding 30.5 GW to its overall installations – fully half of what was installed worldwide in 2015. However, while wind power is undeniably a rising segment of the Chinese economy, the sector has experienced a sharp decrease in foreign participation over the past ten years.

Despite having an attractive incentive framework for investment in place, 98 percent of the market is now controlled by domestic players compared to approximately 40 percent in 2006. With more growth predicted for the future, the question now posed to foreign alternative energy companies looking at China as a potential production base is how, and indeed if, to enter this dynamic yet seemingly unwelcoming market.

A Complete Guide to 2016 Minimum Wage Levels Across China

Rising labor costs in China have been putting pressure on foreign investors in recent years, forcing corporations to either cut down staff size or reallocate to other countries with cheaper labor. The annual rates of increase from 2011 to 2015, despite slowing down, have exceeded production rates by more than 200 percent and have significantly affected China’s investment climate.

Unlike the 12th Five Year Plan, which pushed an annual 13 percent increase for minimum wages across China, the 13th Five Year Plan addresses the need for more reasonable wage levels and introduces a controlled mechanism for wage adjustment. Through a much decreased growth of minimum wage levels and stable wage adjustments, the 13th Five Year Plan aims to improve the competitiveness of enterprises in China by shortening the wage difference with other developing economies, partly in order to create stronger incentives for foreign investors to remain in or enter China.

Against the backdrop of these changes, here we provide a comprehensive list of minimum wages across China for 2016 and highlight some of the major changes to the Chinese labor market.

China’s Resource Tax Reform Presents New Opportunities and Restrictions in the Mining Sector

China’s national resource tax reform will comprehensively come into effect on July 1, 2016. First introduced in 1984, the resource tax originally applied to crude oil, natural gas, coal, and other mineral resources based on their quantity and weight.

Since then it has expanded its breadth, with provisional regulations issued in 1994, and a resource tax reform initiated in 2010. The reform further expanded the tax scope and started to levy the tax based on each resource’s price instead of quantity on crude oil, coal, natural gas, rare earth, molybdenum, and tungsten. The ad valorem taxation method was implemented to standardize the interaction between resource taxes and administration fees in order to establish a fairer and more efficient resource taxation system.

However, the reform has gradually increased the production costs for mining enterprises, particularly for foreign ones, as the price of natural resources has been progressively hiked over the past few years in China. The country’s income from resource tax has been at the highest in the last 10 years of its 30 years of existence, with an annual increase of 27 percent.


Prospects in India’s Infrastructure Sector

India’s 2016-2017 Union Budget provides a significant outlay for infrastructure expenditure. This spending is seen as a key component of the government’s plans to boost India’s growth levels to projections ranging between 7 and 9 percent. The allocation of US$ 32.41 to US$ 32.70 billion (Rs 2.19-2.21 lakh crore) and a newly liberalized foreign direct investment (FDI) policy further underline the government’s commitment in this regard.

India Passes Comprehensive Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law

The Indian Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 passed a critical milestone last week when the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, passed the bill with no changes. The bill is now waiting to be signed by India’s President Pranab Mukherjee. Once signed, it will be India’s first comprehensive bankruptcy and insolvency framework and is expected to promote entrepreneurship, increase availability of credit, and balance the interests of stakeholders by consolidating and forming new laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution.

The new framework is widely seen as a critical juncture in India’s ability to compete in the international business arena. Indian officials hope that its implementation will lead to improved ease of business rankings from the World Bank. While the bill reforms domestic bankruptcy law, it also sets the framework for developing an effective system for addressing cross-border insolvencies in India.

ASEAN Legal and Tax Alert

ASEAN Legal and Tax Alert: Developments in Mekong Tax & Financing

Recent events have seen significant movement in tax and financing regulation within the Mekong region. Read more for analysis on Thailand’s Business Collateral Act, Myanmar’s Union Tax Law of 2016, and Cambodia’s most recent guidance on VAT invoicing.


Understanding Tax Treatment of Representative Offices in Indonesia

In early April 2016, Indonesia Tax Authority indicated that Google Indonesia, Yahoo Indonesia, Facebook Singapore Pte Ltd and Twitter Asia Pacific Pte Ltd were avoiding tax in Indonesia.

Among the four companies, Facebook and Twitter are established in Indonesia in form of Representative Offices (RO). This article will not analyze the pros and cons of the representative office compared to other investment vehicles, but instead will focus on application of tax regulation to representative offices; and highlight regulations that caused tax authorities to target Facebook and Twitter.


Russia’s National Debt to Remain Lowest in Europe

Russia’s share in a world’s national debt is the smallest in Europe, but its foreign-currency debt is the second high among emerging economies.

The Visual Capitalist, infographic data web site, has counted that the combine global national debt or world public government debt is amounted in 2015 to as much as US59,7 trillion. Using the IMF data of debt-to-GDP ratio by country, experts found out that Russia’s share in a world debt is lowest in Europe and equal only to 0,49 percent of the world debt, while the European continent, excluding Russia, holds over 26 percent of total world debt.

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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.

East Asia Forum



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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Coronavirus’ economic impact in East and Southeast Asia

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) estimates that the COVID-19 epidemic could deduct as much as half a percentage point from the economic growth of some regional economies in 2020.

East Asia Forum



As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise around the world, there are deep concerns over the potential economic impact of the virus.


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Trade War Incentive Schemes flourishing in ASEAN

Countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia have unveiled an array of incentive packages to entice businesses affected by the US-China trade war.




Governments across ASEAN have been unveiling an array of incentive packages to entice businesses affected by the US-China trade war.


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