Mekong Monitor: Cambodian government allocates another US$12 million to help laid-off workers
Photo credit: AFP
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Cambodian government allocates another US$12 million to help laid-off workers
(9 June 2020) Cambodia will release another US$12 million in assistance for laid-off workers as factories remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around hundreds of thousands of workers in the garment and services sector, particularly tourism and hospitality, have been affected by the outbreak. According to Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour, around 110,000 workers from 344 factories and firms in Cambodia have received unemployment benefits. A total amount of US$2.4 million have been transferred to qualified recipients’ accounts between 28 May and 3 June, Heng Sour added. The World Bank says that the pandemic is putting at least 1.76 million jobs in Cambodia at risk and driving the country’s unemployment rate to nearly 20%.
Exports under GSP reaches US$1.3 billion in 2019
(8 June 2020) The value of exports for Laos under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in 2019 reached US$1.3 billion, representing 22.7% of the country’s total exports. According to its Department of Import and Export, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the figures consist of exports to Thailand worth US$361 million, China worth US$322 million and Vietnam worth US$312 million. The value of imports under the GSP programme in 2019 was around US$665 million, making up 11.6% of the total imports. As with exports, Thailand was the largest import market for Laos, followed by China and Vietnam. Laos imported around US$380 million in goods from Thailand, followed by China (US$98 million) and Vietnam (US$86 million).
Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint to run in 2020 elections
(9 June 2020) State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will contest in Myanmar’s elections in 2020, according to an announcement made by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) on 9 June, in a vote widely seen as a referendum on the NLD’s performance in the past five years. Myanmar President U Win Myint will also contest the polls, said the party’s information committee Monywa Aung Shin. The party, however, had yet to decide where the two NLD leaders will run. The polls, which will run in November, are expected to test the ability of Aung San Suu Kyi to lead the NLD to a convincing victory despite heavy criticism by the international community over her handling of the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine State.
Thailand considers lifting the ban on foreign visitors
(9 June 2020) The Thai government is considering easing entry restrictions for foreign visitors, according to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Entry restrictions could possibly be eased in the third or final quarter of 2020. He said priority would be given to visitors arriving from COVID-19-free areas. The entire country, however, does not necessarily have to be COVID-19 free; the government could allow visitors from towns or provinces which are free from COVID-19. Somkid said the relaxation of inbound travel restrictions is the first step in kick-starting Thailand’s tourism industry. Stimulating local spending and tourism are vital to Thailand’s economic recovery and Somkid hopes the new stimulus package will lure more Thai people to domestic travel and prompt spending that will help the recovery momentum.
Vietnam plans to resume flights to COVID-19-free countries
(9 June 2020) Vietnam plans to allow a resumption of flights to and from countries that have had no cases of COVID-19 for 30 days, state media cited the prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on 9 June. The prime minister, however, did not specify whether inbound travelers from these places would be subject to a quarantine programme that has been in place since mid-March. The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control had been asked to draft a list of “safe” countries and while it is not clear if countries or airlines have been consulted, destinations such as Guangzhou in China, Tokyo, Seoul, Taiwan, Laos and Cambodia were among the priority routes to reopen.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.