CARI Captures Issue 494: RCEP and CPTPP expected to bring a total of US$333 billion economic gain by 2030 according to Asian Development Bank report

RCEP and CPTPP expected to bring a total of US$333 billion economic gain by 2030 according to Asian Development Bank report

(2021) The 15 nations in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) account for 29% of global GDP, 25% of global trade, and a population of 2.3 billion, while the 11 nations in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) account for 13% of global GDP, 14% of global trade, and a population of 507.7 million. The recently released Asian Economic Integration Report 2021 by the Asian Development Bank found that while both are mega-trade deals, their breadth and depth are different. Overall, the degree of liberalization within RCEP is not as deep as in the CPTPP, and the coverage is less comprehensive. RCEP is expected to spur renewed momentum for intraregional trade and strengthen value chains among the +3 countries, as well as between them and other members. While RCEP is the first FTA covering China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea at the same time, it is also the first to include two of the world’s three largest economies. Unlike the CPTPP, RCEP does not include provisions to harmonize regulatory standards on the environment or labour markets. The CPTPP is estimated to increase world real income by US$147 billion by 2030 with RCEP adding US$186 billion. RCEP members are projected to gain US$174 billion in real income by 2030, equivalent to 0.4% of members’ aggregate GDP. The +3 countries will benefit the most, with likely gains of US$85 billion for China, US$48 billion for Japan, and US$23 billion for the Republic of Korea. Other significant RCEP gains will accrue to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. RCEP will also create sizable new trade among the +3 countries.


New crime-fighting network to help ASEAN tackle cross-border cases; Japan and UN back effort to combat traffickers and cyberthieves in time of COVID

(12 March 2021) The ten ASEAN member states have established a new framework to fight cross-border criminal activity, from human trafficking to cybercrime, amid fears that COVID-19 has created more fertile ground for lawbreakers. The new South East Asia Justice Network (SEAJust) includes prosecutors, national police and other law enforcement authorities from nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — except Indonesia — and East Timor. Together, with help from Japan and the United Nations, they aim to lower the hurdles for pursuing justice. Human trafficking, drug smuggling, illegal wildlife trading, money laundering and cybercrime are all rampant in Southeast Asia. Judicial procedures on such transnational crimes require collecting evidence in multiple countries. But doing so only through traditional diplomatic channels is not easy: Differences in language, legal systems and practices can clog up the process and leave many requests for documentation unanswered for a long time. SEAJust, revealed on Tuesday at the 14th U.N. Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Kyoto, is designed to change that.


Brunei announces entering New Normal after local Covid-19 outbreak under control

(7 March 2021) The Brunei government has announced a further reduction of social distancing measures and implementation of a new normal for major social activities including mass gathering starting from Monday (March 8). Brunei's Ministry of Health said that the COVID-19 pandemic in Brunei is currently under control as the last case of local infection was reported over 300 days ago. The changes include the implementation of a new normal for activities in places such as mosques, schools, museums, sports facilities, restaurants, cinemas, stalls and markets. Mass gathering limitations will also be expanded from 350 people to 1,000 people.


Laos legislates penalties against illegal foreign workers, business operators

(10 March 2021) The government has imposed penalties on illegal foreign workers and businesses operators in a bid to regulate the issue and ensure that expatriates in Laos comply with the law. Any foreigner or stateless person who undertakes a job that is not legally permitted by the relevant authorities will be fined and further penalised. Those committing the first violation will be fined 2 million kip, according to Article 16 of Decree No. 21, which the government issued recently on fines and measures against individuals who violate the laws and regulations regarding exit and entry into Laos, and the management of foreigners in Laos. Repeated violations would incur a harsher penalty. Foreigners who unlawfully lease a business licence from another person, entity or organisation will also face legal action. A first offence will incur a fine of 5 million kip. The fine will increase to 10 million kip for a second infringement and the offender will be deported and banned from reentering Laos.


Malaysia’s manufacturing sales up 4.1pc in Jan 2021

(12 March 2021) Manufacturing sales grew to 4.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM122.9 billion in January 2021, said the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM). However, month-on-month, the sales value decreased by 1.4%. Chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the y-o-y increase for January 2021 was driven by the growth in food, beverages and tobacco products (7.7%), electrical and electronics products (6.4%) and transport equipment and other manufactured products (5.5%). He noted that the number of total employees engaged in the manufacturing sector decreased by 2.4%t y-o-y to 2.23 million persons, compared to 2.28 million persons previously.


Singapore trials autonomous robots in a pilot to facilitate on-demand food and grocery deliveries within a trial area comprising 700 residential households

(11 March 2021) Autonomous robots are hitting the streets of Singapore in a one-year pilot to facilitate on-demand food and grocery deliveries. The Singapore government hopes the trial will lead to a wider deployment of drones to provide consumers with more flexible delivery services. Perishables including food and flowers as well as some controlled items such as medicine could be delivered through the "robot couriers", according to a statement Thursday by Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the government agency leading the initiative. The pilot also would be run in partnership with Housing & Development Board (HDB), Land Transport Authority (LTA), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), logistics service provider CM Logistics, supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice, and technology vendor OTSAW. Weighing 80kg each, the autonomous robot would be able to move faster than 5kmph and must be accompanied by a safety officer during the test period. LTA's chief innovation and transport technology officer Lam Wee Shann said the land authority would work with its partners to establish safeguards to ensure public safety during the pilot and tap the insights to improve future projects.


Vietnam's wood products export surges in the first 2 months this year

(12 March 2021) Vietnam exported over US$2.4 billion worth of wood and wood products in the first two months of this year, surging 51% year on year, according to the country's General Statistics Office has announced. In February alone, the country earned US$1.1 billion from exporting wood and wood products, posting an increase of 42.1% year on year. The positive development of Vietnam's wood industry in recent years, even after the Covid-19 outbreak, was mainly attributable to the openness of domestic business regulations, as well as the effect of newly-signed trade pacts including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, said the office.

RCEP Monitor

China and the US move to set up a working group to ease tension in the global chips industry

(11 March 2021) The China Semiconductor Industry Association (CSIA), a state-backed association of 774 Chinese businesses in the chips industry, said on Thursday that it has set up a working group with United States technology companies to create an avenue for communication on issues such as “export controls, supply chain security”. The working group is aimed at promoting “deeper mutual understanding and trust” between the Chinese and US semiconductor industries to solve concerns through dialogue and cooperation, the Chinese association said in a statement on its website. The counterpart of the Chinese association is the Washington-based Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). William Deng, an analyst at UBS in Hong Kong, said the working group could help improve communication in the semiconductor value chain in China and the US.


Japan-Australia venture starts producing hydrogen from dirty coal

(12 March 2021) A Japanese-Australian venture has begun producing hydrogen from brown coal in a A$500 million (US$390 million) pilot project that aims to show liquefied hydrogen can be produced commercially and exported safely overseas. The plan is to create the first international supply chain for liquefied hydrogen and the next big step will be to ship a cargo of the world's first liquefied hydrogen carrier. Run by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and located in the state of Victoria, home to a quarter of the world's known brown coal reserves, the project is key to helping Japan meet its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Partners in the project include Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp, Sumitomo Corp and AGL Energy Ltd, whose mine is supplying brown coal.


IMF warns New Zealand property risks sharp correction, urges action

(12 March 2021) New Zealand’s “unsustainable” house price rises could trigger a pronounced correction, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned in its staff report. The country's success in managing COVID-19 has enabled a faster economic recovery than other countries, but a slew of monetary and fiscal stimulus measures has super-charged property market values. IMF's warning comes as median prices for residential property across New Zealand rose by a record 22.8% in February, according to the latest statistics from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) released on Thursday. Median house prices in its biggest city, Auckland, increased by a record 24.3% to NZ$1,100,000 (US$794,750.00). The growing political pressure prompted the government last month to ask the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) to consider the impact on housing while formulating monetary policy decisions. The government is also expected to reveal other measures to temper the housing market later this month.

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