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How China’s clean-up could dump on Southeast Asia

Cambodia and wider Southeast Asia may soon receive a lot more rubbish after China’s move this month to stop importing 24 categories of solid waste, much of which was recycled for raw materials.

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With China now seemingly out of the waste import business, some believe that Southeast Asia could fill the gap. PCI Wood Mackenzie, a United Kingdom-based consultancy, wrote in a recent report that Southeast Asia could soon become a “world leader” for plastic waste recycling due to China’s ban.

Critical questions are already being asked, however, about whether such commercial assessments are overly optimistic and indeed if developing a comparative advantage in importing other countries’ waste is desirable at all.

That will pose a quandary for Southeast Asian nations desperate for foreign investment, but wary of increasingly environmentally conscious citizenships. The answer likely lies in sorting out their own messes before importing those of others.

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Economics

China’s new three-child policy highlights risks of aging across emerging Asia

Thailand’s (Baa1 stable) total dependency ratio is set to jump nine percentage points to 51% by 2030 – a faster increase than China’s – which will pressure public and private savings through higher taxes and social spending, reducing innovation and productivity gains.

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Street vendor in Bangkok

Population aging in China (A1 stable) and other emerging markets in Asia will hurt economic growth, competitiveness and fiscal revenue, unless productivity gains accelerate, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service.

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China

Clear skies over Asia’s new foreign investment landscape?

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Compounding the fallout of the US–China trade war, the global pandemic and recession have caused considerable speculation on the future of foreign investment and global value chains (GVCs). But though there is likely to be some permanent change, it will probably not be as great as politicians expect.

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