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APEC Economies Report Improved Trade Finance, Discuss Free Trade

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The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum has released a survey that shows an improvement in financing trade in more than half of their economies. The survey was released during APEC meetings in Singapore.

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The survey released Monday indicates trade finance has since July improved in most APEC economies as more cash has become available.Twelve out of the 19 APEC economies surveyed said companies conducting trade had no serious problems accessing funds. That compares with eight out of 18 APEC economies surveyed that felt that way in July.The survey does not say which of APEC’s 21 economies were surveyed, but says they are optimistic that trade finance will ease further in the next six months.

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The survey comes as senior officials from APEC economies met for a second day in Singapore to discuss recovering from the global financial crisis and improving business in the Pacific Rim. Free trade agreements top the agenda – both agreements already in existence among members, and the proposed APEC agreement that would liberalize trade across the Pacific.Elizabeth Chelliah is chairwoman of APEC’s committee for trade and investment. She says APEC members need to learn what works in free trade agreements as they move toward creating an APEC-wide deal.”We can actually use a ready made FTA outside there as a possible vehicle so APEC can still concentrate on doing what it’s very good at doing – awareness, capacity building, dialogue issues,” Chelliah said. “And [as] economies become more comfortable I hope over the next year or two we will be able to set the timeline for development of this FTA.”Chelliah says APEC members have been studying how the European Union expanded its free trade area, as well as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand trade agreement and the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership.Although there is no firm timetable for an APEC free trade agreement, Chelliah says there has been substantial progress on liberalizing trade among some members.

via VOA News – APEC Economies Report Improved Trade Finance, Discuss Free Trade.

Ecommerce

Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia’s super apps join forces?

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Disrupted by Covid-19, will South-east Asia's super apps join forces?

– Super apps explore inorganic growth options
– Gojek in talks with e-commerce company Tokopedia over $18bn merger
– Grab reported to be preparing for a public listing in the US
– Food delivery and financial services increasingly important segments

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After a year of external expansion and internal reorganisation due to Covid-19, South-east Asia’s super apps appear to be looking towards mergers and public listings as a strategy for future development.

In early January international media reported that Indonesian ride-hailing and payments giant Gojek was in advanced talks about merging with local e-commerce company Tokopedia, in a deal estimated to be worth $18bn.

Any potential merger between the two would be significant for Indonesia. The two local unicorns could create a digital powerhouse, with integrated services ranging from ride-hailing to digital payments, e-commerce and delivery.

A tie-up would also create numerous synergies, such as Gojek’s fleet being able to serve Tokopedia’s online shopping orders. However, there is also some overlap in the digital payments space, where Gojek’s GoPay platform competes with Ovo, which is 35% owned by Tokopedia, although there is speculation that Tokopedia may look to sell its stake in Ovo.

The news was followed by separate reports in late January that Grab, Gojek’s biggest competitor in South-east Asia, had selected investment banks Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan to help work on an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, set to take place in the second half of the year.

The Singapore-headquartered company, which operates ride-hailing, food delivery, e-payment and insurance services in around 400 cities across eight South-east Asian countries, is valued at around $16bn. Its IPO is expected to raise at least $2bn, which would make it the largest overseas share offering by a South-east Asian company.

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Thailand’s economic outlook for 2021

The government expects inbound tourism to be at around 8 million by the second half of 2021, well below 40 million in 2019

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The Thai economy will grow next year after contracting by almost 10% this year. Next year, the Thai economy is expected to expand 3 to 4% from this year. It will not be until the end of 2022 before the Thai economy returns to its pre-Covid level of 2019.

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Economics

Finance Ministry Considers Additional Incentives to Increase NSF Members

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Finance Ministry is considering additional incentives to increase members in the National Savings Fund (NSF) as Thailand is projected to become a “super ageing society” by 2031.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said increasing state contributions to the NSF and extending the maximum membership age to 65 years old from 60 as stipulated by law are among the considerations.

He said Thailand is projected to become a fully aged society this year, meaning 20% of the total population is 60 or older. The country is projected to be a super ageing society by 2031, meaning 28% of the total population is 65 or older.

Mr Arkhom said retirement savings are vital because 20 million informal workers in Thailand are without mandatory savings programs.

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