E-commerce has been the most dynamic segment of the Internet economy in ASEAN over the past three years. The value of e-commerce rose four-fold, from $5.5 billion in 2015 to more than $23 billion in 2018.
Indonesia accounted for the most ($12 billion), and Thailand and Vietnam each accounted for about $3 billion.
E-commerce transactions in the region are expected to exceed $100 billion by 2025. The affordability of mobile internet, greater consumer trust in e-commerce and the growth of the logistics industry to handle e-commerce deliveries have been among the main drivers of this rapid growth. Many online retail companies have expanded their presence in ASEAN.
In 2017, Amazon (United States) invested in Singapore to enter the region’s growing market, with a particular focus on Indonesia. DHL eCommerce (Germany) expanded in Thailand because of the high growth in e-commerce activities in that country.
In 2018, Alibaba (China) extended its e-commerce activities concurrently in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Goxip (Hong Kong, China), a fashion e-commerce site, has been making further investments in Malaysia, after having established a presence there in 2016.
Online retailers such as Zalora (Singapore) have grown rapidly without needing physical retail stores. Traditional retailers have responded by selling through online retail platforms such as Lazada Marketplace and the Go-Food platform (Go-Jek (Indonesia)) to leverage their online presence and market reach, or by developing their own e-commerce platforms.
This new customer-centric focus has fostered a rapid increase in e-commerce sales in retailing. In ASEAN, e-commerce has been the most dynamic sector in the growing digital economy. The main shopping portals include Lazada (China) and Shopee (Thailand).
As in the banking and logistics industries, new kinds of start-ups have also emerged in the retail industry, using technology to venture into the e-commerce space.
The 50 most-funded e-commerce start-ups in ASEAN have raised $12.6 billion as of July 2019, with most of the funding raised in the last two years. Many of them raised those funds to scale up operations and to expand into other ASEAN Member States.
The thriving e-commerce start-up environment is attracting many venture capital firms and corporate investors. In 2018, JD (China) led a Series C investment round in the Vietnam e-commerce company Tiki. In September 2017, the company and Central Group (Thailand) formed a $500 million e-commerce joint venture.
Other venture capital firms based in ASEAN, the United States, Europe and other Asian economies have been actively providing funding that supports the growth of the region’s e-commerce market place (AIR 2018). Start-ups such as Tokopedia (Indonesia) have benefited from such support.
Source : Asean Invesment Report 2019
How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability
A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.
The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.
Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.
In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.
While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.
How the Rural-Urban Divide Plays Out on Digital Platforms
It is one thing for entrepreneurs, whether urban or rural, to create and operate an online store, as some digital platforms have made it relatively easy to manage an e-store – even by using just a smartphone.
Will South-east Asia’s tech giants turn to SPACs to boost post-pandemic growth?
– The vehicle is widely used to help tech start-ups go public
– Both Singapore’s and Indonesia’s exchanges are set to allow SPACs
– Several South-east Asian tech unicorns may use SPACs to list publicly
South-east Asia is seeing a wave of interest in special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, with various major tech players considering them as a means to fast-track public listings. In parallel to this, several exchanges in the region are moving to allow SPAC listings, with a view to boosting post-coronavirus growth.
SPACs are shell companies set up by investors and then listed on a given stock exchange. Their sole function is to acquire a private company, enabling it to go public without having to go through a traditional initial public offering (IPO).
A SPAC does nothing beyond its essential function – it neither produces nor sells anything, and a SPAC’s only assets are the funds raised from its own IPO.
Crucially, people who buy into a SPAC do not know what its eventual acquisition target or targets will be. This is why SPACs are often referred to as “blank cheque companies”: they give the founders a free rein to back their choice of private company. A key feature of SPACs is that they are often headed by big-name business executives or fund managers, who trade on past successes to inspire trust in investors.
While they are far from a novel phenomenon, SPACs have become a hot button topic in recent times: SPAC initial offerings quadrupled last year, with the vehicles raising a record $80bn.
Merging with a SPAC enables a company to go public and raise capital more quickly and painlessly than with a traditional IPO, circumventing some of the volatility that Covid-19 unleashed on global markets. At the same time, they function rather like venture capital, helping investors to buy into high-growth start-ups on the ground floor.
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