CARI Captures Issue 617: Malaysian government targets having renewables supply 70% of total energy supply by 2050

Malaysia aiming to have renewables supply 70% of total energy supply by 2050
(31 August 2023) Malaysia has launched programs to promote renewable energy in an economy that has traditionally relied upon the hydrocarbons industry. Under the first phase of the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) unveiled last week, the government identified 10 flagship catalyst projects and initiatives ranging from constructing renewable energy zones and creating biomass demand to carbon capture and promoting greener mobility. These projects are expected to generate estimated investments of more than US$5.5 billion and 23,000 jobs, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of more than 10,000 gigagrams of carbon dioxide per year. The government targets having renewables supply some 70% of the total energy supply by 2050.

Renewable energy operator Energy Absolute to partner with Chinese firm to set up EV battery factory
(02 August 2023) Thai renewable energy operator Energy Absolute is currently negotiating with two Chinese manufacturers of electric vehicle (EV) batteries to build a new factory in Thailand. Energy Absolute is in talks with both EVE Energy and Sunwoda Mobility Energy Technology, China’s third-largest and fifth-largest lithium-ion battery producers respectively. The company hopes to set up an EV battery plant with an annual production capacity of 6 gigawatt-hours. This would mean the factory would have one of the largest battery production capacities in Thailand, rivaling the country’s oil and gas conglomerate PTT, which has partnered with Contemporary Amperex Technology in another 6 gigawatt-hours factory project. The new Energy Absolute battery factory is expected to supply EV batteries for Energy Absolute’s EV vehicles, ferries, and energy storage systems.

Authorities hope new capital city can become new economic growth center
(02 August 2023) Indonesian authorities hope the new capital city Nusantara, located in East Kalimantan province on Borneo island, can become a new economic growth center for Indonesia. By August 2024, the Indonesian government will have already shifted some government functions to the new capital. The government also hopes to attract various industries to Nusantara, including renewable energy, health care, education, and agriculture. The relocation of the Indonesian government from Jakarta to Nusantara will take place in five phases through 2045. The population of Nusantara is projected to reach 60,000 in 2024, rising to 2 million by 2040 and more than 4 million in 2060. The city will have a land area of 2,561 sq. kilometers.

Thailand urges farmers to switch to other crops to save water amidst poor rainfall
(02 August 2023) Thai authorities are urging farmers to switch to growing other crops in order to save water amidst poor rainfall. Thailand is experiencing less rain as the nation braces for a potential drought next year with the onset of the El Niño weather pattern. Cumulative rainfall in the central region of Thailand has been about 40% below normal levels and the move to curb planting of rice is to help conserve water for household consumption. Thailand’s central region is a key rice-growing region, accounting for almost 14% of total rice-growing area in 2023, and forecasted to make up about 19% of the main paddy harvest in both 2023 and 2024. Rice prices in Asia surged to its highest in more than three years in July 2023 after India banned some of its rice exports. While India accounts for 40% of the global trade in rice, Thailand and Viet Nam make up 15% and around 14% respectively.

The Philippines and the EU to relaunch free trade negotiations
(31 July 2023) During a visit to the Philippines, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU and the Philippines would relaunch negotiations for a free trade agreement. She stressed that the EU is seeking to diversify its supply chains and ‘de-risk’ trade relations. The EU will also provide US$514 million in funding for the ‘transition to a circular economy, and the generation of green energy’ through its Global Gateway sustainable investment plan. The EU will also launch a ‘digital economy package’ to bolster connectivity and make the Philippines a more attractive place for European businesses. The EU is the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner.

Vietnamese government calls upon Samsung to create local talent pipeline for executives
(01 August 2023) The Vietnamese government calls upon Samsung to create a local talent pipeline for executives to lead its factories. Samsung has invested in Viet Nam for the last 15 years, with the country currently producing half of its global devices. Samsung Vietnam exports to 128 markets and comprises 17.4% of shipments from the Southeast Asian nation. Viet Nam has struggled to gain the necessary skills, technology, and supplier ecosystem to move up the value chain. The government also called upon Samsung to increase tech transfer, invest in female staff, and help Viet Nam move to a green and ‘socialist-oriented market economy’.

Almost 1.7 million foreign tourists visited Lao PDR in first half of 2023
(01 August 2023) According to data compiled by the Tourism Marketing Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, almost 1.7 million foreign tourists visited the country in the first half of 2023. This is a significant increase from the first half of 2022, when only 211,971 foreign tourists came to Lao PDR. Data revealed that 668,595 visitors came from Thailand, 398,937 from Viet Nam,​ 317,634 from China, 72,958 from the Republic of Korea, 30,455 from the US, 18,145 from the United Kingdom, and 18,794 from France. Authorities and local businesses have joined forces to promote tourism and access a broader audience through international exhibitions, ASEAN tourism fairs, and the development of new tourism products.

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Nikkei Stock Average loses over 1,300 points in two days of trading
(03 August 2023) The Nikkei Stock Average lost over 1,300 points in two days of trading after a US rating agency downgraded U.S. Treasurys. On 03 August, 2023, the Nikkei lost 548 points (or 1.68%), to close at 32,159, its lowest level since 12 July, 2023. Among the world markets, the Tokyo Stock Exchange suffered the largest blow. Prior to the downgrade, the Tokyo gauge had been trending higher than indexes in other major nations and territories in 2023. Through 31 July, 2023, the Nikkei Stock Average had gained 27% from the end of 2022, far exceeding the Dow Jones’ 7% increase over the same period. Japanese interest rates have also started to pick up after the Bank of Japan reviewed its yield curb controls at its monetary policy meeting on 28 July, 2023.

Factory activity in China contracted for fourth straight month in July 2023
(31 July 2023) According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) registered 49.3 in July 2023, up from 49.0 in June 2023. The 50-point mark separates a contraction in activity from an expansion. Factory activity in China thus contracted for the fourth consecutive month in July, with the sector having shrunk since April 2023 after a brief uptick early in the year. China’s annualized economic growth in the second quarter expanded by 6.3% thanks to a low base effect, while on a quarterly basis, growth increased by 0.8%, below the 2.2% expansion in the preceding quarter. The PMI was weighed down by contracting new export orders and finished goods inventories in July, despite some improvements in the raw material inventory sub-index.

Yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds reach 9-year high on BOJ policy changes
(31 July 2023) On 31 July, 2023, the yield on 10-year Japanese government bonds – the benchmark for long-term interest rates – rose in the domestic bond market on 31 July, 2023, temporarily hitting 0.605%, the highest level in almost nine years since June 2014. This was directly in relation to recent policy changes by the Bank of Japan (BOJ), in which it effectively raised the permitted range for long-term yield fluctuations to 1% at its monetary policy meeting held through 28 July. As the only major central bank that has continued with easing monetary policy, any move by the BOJ toward monetary normalization could have implications for global financial markets, since it would trigger capital inflow back into Japan and away from other markets.

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