China-ASEAN Monitor: Chinese investment pledges into Vietnam increases 134% y-o-y in first seven months of 2019
Photo Credit: VCG
Economy, Investment and Trade
Chinese investment pledges into Vietnam increases 134% y-o-y in first seven months of 2019
(22 August 2019) Chinese investment pledges increased 134% on the year during the first seven months of 2019 totalling US$2.48 billion, despite a 11.9% decline in Vietnam’s total investment pledges received during the period, according to Vietnamese Foreign Investment Agency data. However, the agency noted that the figures represent only investment pledges and not actual disbursements. According to data from the Chinese side, China’s investment in Vietnam previously reached a high of US$1.28 billion in 2016 from under US$200 million in 2011, before declining to US$760 million in 2017 due to tightening Chinese investment regulations. This was followed by an over 60% jump in Chinese non-financial new direct investment in Vietnam totalling US$1.23 billion in 2018.
Chinese smartphone brands gain market share in Southeast Asia
(21 August 2019) Chinese smartphone brands led by Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo accounted for 62% of total smartphone shipments to Southeast Asia in the second quarter of 2019 — a 12% year-on-year increase, according to an industry research report. However, South Korean heavyweight Samsung remains the market leader in the region with a 5% growth during the period. Having said that, Vietnam’s state-owned mobile carrier Viettel Group told a media outlet on August 26 that it aims to be the first Southeast Asian country with a 5G network that does not ride on technology from China’s Huawei, as “it is a bit sensitive with Huawei now.” Instead, Viettel will work with “safer” options from the west: Ericsson AB’s technology in Hanoi, Nokia Oyj’s technology in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as 5G chipsets from Qualcomm Inc and another US supplier.
(Photo credit: Phone World)
China’s streaming firm iQIYI in talks for Indonesian expansion
(22 August 2019) Chinese video-on-demand company iQIYI is currently in talks with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) to expand its reach in Southeast Asia, according to a media report. The announcement follows a similar announcement in June when iQIYI announced a tie-up with Malaysia’s pay-TV leader Astro, as well as an announcement in April when the company said that it will start by making its application available throughout Southeast Asia as a first step in building up its presence in the region. iQIYI has since confirmed in a statement that they were indeed in preliminary discussions with MNC but a final agreement had yet to be reached. However, according to a statement by MNC chairman Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the companies have agreed to form a joint venture — in which MNC holds the controlling stake — that will begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Indonesia eyes palm oil export boost to China amidst trade war
(23 August 2019) Indonesia looks forward to expanding its reach in China for crude palm oil (CPO) exports following the Chinese commerce ministry’s announcement in early August that it plans to remove palm oil, soybean oil and rapeseed oil from its import tariff quota management. However, a senior Indonesian economic official stressed that the government does not intend to clear more forests in preparation for the anticipated increase in palm oil exports, but that they will instead focus on producing higher yields from better palm oil seeds and technology. China’s announcement was also well received by the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), whose spokesman said that the “potential is huge” since China presently consumes more soybean oil than palm oil.
Chinese bank first to get digital bank approval in Labuan SEZ
(26 August 2019) The China Construction Bank Corp. Labuan Branch (CCBL) became the first company to receive regulatory approval from the Labuan Financial Services Authority to operate a digital bank in the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) in East Malaysia. With this, CCBL is slated to become the first bank to provide digital banking services in the Labuan special economic zone (SEZ) — a move that is also expected to boost Labuan’s position as a financial hub for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) companies.