Mekong Monitor: EU partially strips Cambodia of preferential market access over human rights violations

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EU partially strips Cambodia of preferential market access over human rights violations
(12 February 2020) The European Union (EU) stated on February 11 that it will partially strip Cambodia of its preferential market access under the Everything But Arms trade programme over alleged human rights violations. Starting 12 August 2020, some of the preferential tariffs will be replaced with standard EU duties. This will hit one-fifth of Cambodia’s annual exports to the EU, amounting to around US$1.09 billion in goods. The goods to be impacted include sugar and travel goods, as well as clothing and footwear. In 2018, some 45% of Cambodia’s exports went to the EU.
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COVID-19 expected to moderately impact Thailand’s nominal GDP
(13 February 2020) A Thai research house projected that the COVID-19 outbreak would shave off 0.09%-0.13% of Thailand’s nominal GDP should the outbreak last longer than three but less than six months. Economic damage is estimated to amount to US$500-US$700 million. The research house stated that although Thailand has a diversified economy with only medium-level reliance on China, it is still reliant on the ASEAN economy to some extent, and that it could be impacted by any regional economic slowdown.
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Vietnam ministry calls for stimulus package
(12 February 2020) Vietnam’s planning and investment ministry has urged the government to develop a stimulus package in February to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, which they claimed would prevent Vietnam from achieving its 6.8% growth target in 2020. The ministry stated that the epidemic had impacted global supply chains, and urged the central bank to offer credit support to small-and-medium sized enterprises and farmers. The ministry also urged the finance ministry to consider cutting taxes and delay tax and land rent payments for certain affected businesses. The industries hardest hit by the epidemic include tourism, transport, electronics, agriculture, and insurance.
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Thailand risks slipping to third place in global rice exports due to weaker competitiveness
(12 February 2020) Thailand risks losing its status as the world’s second-largest rice exporter in 2020 due to weaker competitiveness and lack of diversity in its exports. The Thai Rice Exporters Association stated that the challenges to Thai rice exports include relatively higher production costs than rivals including Vietnam, a strong baht, a widespread drought, and a lack of variety in rice exported. The association stated that Vietnam risks taking over Thailand in second place. It added that Vietnam could also benefit from the European-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
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Myanmar ranked highest among world’s 20 fastest growing tourism destinations in 2019
(11 February 2020) Myanmar ranked number one among the world’s 20 fastest growing tourism destinations in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The country enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 40.2% in tourist numbers, according to Myanmar Tourism Marketing. The government has introduced new regulations to facilitate easier access for tourists wanting to visit the country. From May to September 2020, the Myanmar Tourism Marketing will host its annual “Green Season” campaign to coincide with the country’s annual monsoon season.
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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.

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