CARI Captures Issue 632: APEC forum commit to tackling climate change, regional integration, and food insecurity

Given recent developments in the region, Captures will widen its scope to include news related to members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement which was signed towards the end of 2020. The other weekly newsletters under CARI, China-ASEAN Monitor and Mekong Monitor will also be consolidated into the Captures newsletter. We hope this new version of Captures will serve you better and look forward to providing a curation of stories relevant to ASEAN and its trading partners.

2023 APEC forum commit to tackling climate change, regional integration, food insecurity, and economic inclusion
(18 November 2023) On 17 November, 2023, the leaders of the 21 APEC member economies agreed to the 2023 APEC Leaders’ Golden Gate Declaration at the conclusion of the 2023 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in San Francisco. As part of the declaration, the leaders of the member economies committed to tackling a variety of issues including climate change, regional economic integration, food insecurity, and economic inclusion. An accompanying Chair’s Statement was also released which reiterated member’s respective positions with regards to the ongoing war in Ukraine. In the Chair’s Statement most members condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Chair’s Statement also exchanged views on the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Country and business leaders at the APEC Summit also discussed the potential and dangers of artificial intelligence as well as supply chain diversification.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin invites US President Joe Biden for official visit to Thailand
(20 November 2023) Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed he had invited US President Joe Biden to Thailand for an official visit. Srettha stated he had made the offer after a dinner hosted by the US president for country leaders and participants on the last day of the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit held in San Francisco. Srettha informed Biden that Thailand is ready to serve as a production base for major US companies. Srettha also claimed that several US firms such as Tesla, Analog Devices, and Walmart are interested in investing in Thailand.

Thailand’s economy slips to 1.5% year-on-year growth in third quarter of 2023
(20 November 2023) Thailand’s economy grew by 1.5% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2023, slowing from the 1.8% growth measured in the second quarter. This slowdown was attributed to a deceleration in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors as well as in the exports and imports of goods. Thailand’s industrial sector saw a second consecutive quarter of decline, and was down by 2.8%. Exports of goods declined by 3.1% in the quarter, while those of services increased by 23.1%. The services sector grew by 3.9%, a slowdown from the second quarter. The National Economic and Social Development Council now expects Thailand’s economy to expand by 2.5% in 2023, the lower end of a previous forecast range of 2.5% to 3.0%.

Penang state seeks to attract medical tourists from Indonesia
(21 November 2023) The Malaysian state of Penang is seeking to attract more medical tourists from Indonesia. According to the non-profit Penang Centre of Medical Tourism (PMED), 287,379 foreign patients traveled to Penang in the first nine months of 2023, compared to 127,920 in the same period in 2022. Indonesians alone contributed 54% of international medical arrivals in Penang in the first 11 months of 2022. Penang state received more than US$75.6 million in medical revenue in 2022, while the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council reported national revenue of US$279.39 million from 850,000 medical tourists. In March 2023, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had noted that almost two million Indonesians chose to travel abroad for medical treatment every year, including to Malaysia. As such, Indonesia lost some US$10.5 billion in foreign exchange due to capital outflow.

Indonesia launches investment plan for US$20 billion energy transition pact
(21 November 2023) On 21 November, 2023, Indonesia launched an investment plan to attract US$20 billion pledged by Western nations in a renewable energy transition pact agreed upon in 2022 to allow Indonesia to slash emissions and wean itself off coal. The roadmap outlines Jakarta’s vision to reach net-zero power sector emissions by 2050 using cash from the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). Under the Comprehensive Investment and Policy Plan (CIPP), Indonesia seeks to slash its carbon dioxide emissions to 250 million metric tons for its on-grid power sector by 2030, as well as boost its renewable energy generation share to 44%. Indonesia claims it would need at least US$97.3 billion worth of investments to achieve its target.

Vegetable export revenue forecast to surpass US$1 billion by 2030
(21 November 2023) According to Viet Nam News Agency, Viet Nam’s vegetable exports are set to reach about US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion by 2030. Vegetable production within the country is set at 23 to 24 million tonnes with about 1 to 1.3 million tonnes designated for processing. By 2030, national vegetable cultivation will cover an area of some 1.2 to 1.3 million hectares, with around 360,000 to 400,000 hectares to be dedicated to safe and concentrated vegetable production. Among this, roughly 50,000 to 60,000 hectares are projected for growing processed vegetables, including tomato, cucumber, chilli, potato, and leafy greens. Fruit and vegetable export revenue hit over US$4.9 billion in the first ten months of 2023.

SIngapore government projects growth for 2024 to come in between 1% and 3%
(22 November 2023) On 22 November, 2023, the Singaporean government projected that growth for 2024 would come in between 1% and 3% year-on-year, with the country expecting a recovery in global electronics demand. For the third quarter, the preliminary figure of 0.7% year-on-year growth earlier reported was raised to 1.1%. Singaporean authorities now predict growth of around 1% for 2023, compared with the 3.6% expansion recorded in 2022. Official trade data released last week showed Singapore’s benchmark non-oil domestic exports shrank by 3.4% year-on-year in October 2023, marking the 13th straight month of contraction

RCEP Monitor

Overseas trade from China’s Xinjiang region jumps 40% in first ten months of 2023
(20 November 2023) Overseas trade from China’s Xinjiang region jumped 40% to a record US$409.2 billion in the first ten months of 2023 despite sanctions imposed by Western countries over alleged abuses of Uyghur minorities in the region, the latter of which included allegations of forced labor. Shipments from January to October 2023 exceeded the total value of trade in 2022. In October 2023 alone, shipments worth US$48 billion made it in and out of the region. The Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan comprised the largest share of the overseas trade with Xinjiang, with machinery and electronics, apparel and textiles the most frequently traded goods.

Over 75% of foreign money invested into China’s stock market in first seven months of 2023 has left
(20 November 2023) More than 75% of foreign money invested into China’s stock market in the first seven months of 2023 have left, with global investors dumping more than $25 billion worth of shares. The sharp selling in recent months puts net purchases by offshore investors on course for the smallest annual total since 2015. Global institutional investors are currently holding off from buying Chinese equity until China’s growth has rebounded enough. While global investors initially began buying Chinese stock at a record pace in January 2023 due to anticipations of an economic rebound following the end of China’s COVID-19-related lockdown measures, foreign funds have started selling down their positions in recent months in response to an ongoing liquidity crisis in the property sector as well as disappointing growth readings.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 expected to hit three-decade high of 35,000 by mid-2024
(21 November 2023) According to analysts polled by Reuters, Japan’s Nikkei 225 is expected to hit a three-decade high of 35,000 by end-June 2024. According to the Reuter’s poll, the median forecast for the Nikkei’s level in mid-2024 is 35,000, with responses ranging from 31,143 to 39,500. All forecasts expect continued earnings growth, despite many also expecting the tailwinds from a weaker yen starting to dissipate with the Bank of Japan beginning to end its super-accommodative stance and the US Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle peaking out. The Nikkei 225 started this week by pushing to its highest level since March 1990 at 33,853.46 following a three-week rally.

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