CARI Captures Issue 527: Indonesia and Vietnam pledge to halt deforestation at COP26

Indonesia and Vietnam pledge to halt deforestation at COP26

(3 November 2021) Over 100 countries representing 85% of the world’s forests signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use at the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP26 pledging to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. Indonesia and Vietnam were the only Southeast Asian countries to sign the pledge. However, Indonesia’s environment minister said shortly after the announcement that it was “inappropriate and unfair” to describe the pledge as an agreement to reach zero deforestation by 2030 since the country’s development “must not stop in the name of carbon emissions or deforestation.” The country’s vice foreign minister echoed this view, stating that Indonesia interpreted the pledge to mean “sustainable forest management” and not an end to deforestation.

Indonesia and the Philippines commit to phasing out coal at COP26

(4 November 2021) Indonesia and the Philippines will receive support to accelerate their transition from coal energy to clean energy under two new initiatives announced at COP26: the Climate Investment Funds’ low-cost financing Accelerating Coal Transition programme and a new US$25 million Japan-backed Energy Transition Mechanism partnership with ADB. Indonesia, who previously said that it planned to phase out coal by 2056 by investing up to US$200 billion per year over the next nine years, now says that it could do so by 2040 if it receives more funding from the international community to replace its coal power plants with renewable energy sources.

ADB announces US$665 million programme for ASEAN’s green recovery

(2 November 2021) Four institutions pledged a combined US$665 million toward a platform managed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that aims to mobilize an additional US$7 billion for green infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia to help accelerate the region’s pandemic recovery. US$151 million came from the United Kingdom, US$166 from Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, US$59 million from the European Union, and US$300 million from the Green Climate Fund. The programme will be part of the new ASEAN Green Recovery Platform under the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility, an entity created by the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund in 2019 and managed by the ADB.

Australia announces US$114 million for ASEAN, seeks an upgrade in ties

(27 October 2021) Australia announced a new US$114 million package for the region at the inaugural ASEAN-Australia Leaders’ Summit on 27 October 2021. The bulk of the investment will go to the new Australia for ASEAN Futures Initiative which focuses on developing and implementing projects in areas such as health security, terrorism and transnational crime, energy security, and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Both sides agreed to elevate ASEAN-Australia ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Australia also pledged to provide ASEAN countries with around four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from late 2021 to mid-2022.

China seeks to elevate ASEAN ties, calls for RCEP’s early entry into force
(2 November 2021) ASEAN and China agreed to elevate ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at the recent ASEAN Summit, during which the Chinese also proposed six areas for greater cooperation: (i) supplies to combat COVID-19 and the establishment of a China-ASEAN Public Health R&D Collaborating Centre, (ii) ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and upgrading the China-ASEAN free trade agreement, (iii) partnerships in the blue economy, (iv) implementing the China-ASEAN Digital Economy Partnership, (v) implementing the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Strategy and Action Plan, and (vi) facilitating the safe return of ASEAN students to China.

BIMP-EAGA GDP contracted by 3.5% in 2020, totalling US$322.8 billion
(28 October 2021) The Brunei Darussalam—Indonesia—Malaysia—Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) subregion recorded a 3.5% contraction in 2020, down from the 6.9% growth recorded in 2019 before the pandemic. Total trade in goods also fell by 11.4% from US$107.6 billion in 2019 to US$95.3 billion in 2020. Nevertheless, foreign direct investments rose by 32.0% from US$9.7 billion in 2019 to US$12.8 billion in 2020, while domestic investments also rose by 33.3% from US$6.9 billion in 2019 to US$9.2 billion in 2020. The growth area has also completed 27 of its 88 priority infrastructure projects as of October 2021.

Cambodia takes over ASEAN chairmanship from Brunei

(29 October 2021) Brunei handed over the bloc’s chairmanship to Cambodia at the closing ceremony of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and announced the theme ‘ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together’ for ASEAN in 2022. Aside from advancing the bloc’s core interests, Cambodia will also appoint a new special envoy to Myanmar for its term as chair and push Myanmar’s military rulers to start a dialogue with its political opponents. The COVID-19 recovery, South China Sea, US-China trade war, and climate change are also expected to be high on Cambodia’s 2022 agenda.

RCEP Monitor

World’s largest trade deal to take effect at the start of 2022

(3 November 2021) The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP will come into force on 1 January 2022 following Australia and New Zealand’s ratification of the same on 2 November 2021. Thailand ratified the deal a few days before on 28 October 2021. According to the RCEP’s text, the agreement will enter into force 60 days after ratification by at least six ASEAN countries and at least three non-ASEAN countries. Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan have also ratified the pact thus far.

Singaporeans can visit parts of Australia starting in November
(1 November 2021) Vaccinated Singaporeans will be able to visit New South Wales and Victoria without having to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine in either country starting 21 November 2021. Similarly, vaccinated Australians will also be allowed to visit Singapore without serving quarantine from 8 November 2021 onwards under the country’s new Vaccinated Travel Lane program. The announcement was made following a meeting between the countries’ leaders at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Rome.

The Philippines looks to the RCEP to spur its post-pandemic recovery
(28 October 2021) The Philippines hopes to be among the first set of countries to benefit from the RCEP when it comes into force in 2022 as it sees it as a vehicle to accelerate the country’s post-pandemic recovery. The government considers the pact a way to gain access to RCEP markets and a platform to attract more foreign investors. The ratification instrument passed President Duterte’s desk on 2 September 2021 and is now with the Senate for concurrence.

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