China-ASEAN Monitor: Thailand, China agree to boost cooperation through flagship projects

Photo Credit: Bangkok Post


Economy, Investment and Trade


Thailand, China agree to boost cooperation through flagship projects
(6 November 2019) Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Bangkok concluded with both sides witnessing the inking of three memoranda of understanding to boost bilateral cooperation, and agreements to enhance their strategic partnership through the countries’ respective flagship initiatives such as Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the Sino-Thai high-speed railway project and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to Prayut, both sides will elevate bilateral mechanisms to push projects forward, such as through cooperation projects that link the EEC with China’s Greater Bay Area through Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao.
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Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project faces procurement hiccups
(7 November 2019) Work on the US$7.6 billion Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway has been stalled by procurement and warranties issues. According to transport minister Saksayam Chidchob, talks between the Thai-Chinese Joint Committee slowed because (i) the Chinese side has not provided a clear price breakdown for each piece of equipment covered by the warranty, (ii) the Chinese contractor involved is offering a one-year warranty period on the train system as opposed to the standard two years, and (iii) both sides have yet to decide on the currency to pay for the project.
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Indonesia hopes for lower tariffs on its steel exports to China
(6 November 2019) Indonesia has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to consider imposing lower tariffs on its exports of steel products to China, according to Indonesian coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who conveyed the request at the recent China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Luhut added that the existing tariffs were “burdensome” to Indonesia as they are a developing country, unlike Japan and South Korea which enjoy tariff exemptions. Trade between China and Indonesia totaled US$72.7 billion last year, and US$45.9 billion in the first eight months of 2019.
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Vietnam’s trade gap with China bigger due to US-China trade tensions
(8 November 2019) Vietnam’s trade deficit with China grew by 47.9% on the year to US$29.5 billion from January to October 2019. Industry players attribute the widening bilateral trade gap to the escalating trade war between the US and China, which they say led to an increase in Chinese transshipments through Vietnam, and subsequently resulting in the 2.9% year-on-year drop in Vietnamese exports to China during the period totalling US$32.5 billion. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s imports from China grew 16.1% year-on-year to US$62 billion during the period.
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China’s iQiyi video streaming site partners with Malaysia’s television service provider Astro
(7 November 2019) Chinese video-on-demand service iQiyi is now working with Malaysian pay-television service provider heavyweight Astro to localise and provide its services to the Malaysian market. Under the new partnership, Astro subscribers in Malaysia will be able to access iQiyi’s international library via their Astro accounts. This partnership comes in addition to the companies’ existing partnership which allows Astro subscribers to watch content on iQiyi’s dedicated content channel on the network. According to iQiyi, the company has distributed content to over 200 territories since 2017.
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