Mekong Monitor: US business sector pledge to continue with investment plans in Thailand
Photo Credit: Bangkok Post
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
THAILAND, UNITED STATES
US business sector pledge to continue with investment plans in Thailand
(26 November 2020) During a meeting between the Thai prime minister and the US Ambassador and businessmen from the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, US businessmen pledged to press on with investment plans in Thailand. They called on the government to maintain momentum in tourism stimulus projects and to ease travel restrictions. The US Ambassador stated that Thailand had the potential to become one of the best countries in the world to invest in should it have a suitable investment climate. The Thai Prime Minister informed the US businessmen that he had called for the US and ASEAN to strengthen ties in three areas – COVID-19 vaccine development, a global and regional economic recovery from the pandemic, and the enhancement of skills to meet the demands of the future labour market.
Thailand received more than 1,000 foreign tourists in October 2020; marking the first set of visitors in six months
(24 November 2020) Thailand received more than 1,000 foreign tourists in October 2020; marking the first set of visitors to the country since March 2020. Tourists have begun returning in small numbers under a special long-stay tourist visa issued by the government in October 2020. For comparison, some 3.07 million foreign visitors had visited the country in October 2019. Thailand has retained a nationwide state of emergency to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, although it has relaxed most of its coronavirus measures to allow businesses to reopen and some visitors to return. The tourism ministry stated that some of the information on the October 2020 tourist numbers may be subject to revision.
Cambodia to donate 2 million face masks and other medical supplies to Myanmar to help latter fight COVID-19
(25 November 2020) Cambodia will donate some 2 million face masks and other medical supplies to Myanmar to help the latter fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the 2 million face masks, the other medical supplies to be donated to Myanmar include 100,000 fabric face masks, 20,000 N-95 masks, 20,000 goggles, 20,000 sets of personal protective equipment, 500 hand-held temperature scanners, and 20 sets of ventilator machines. The medical supplies will be flown to Myanmar on 26 November on a special flight. Last week, Cambodia also donated 2 million face masks and other medical supplies to neighbouring Lao PDR.
Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to expand production in Vietnam with US$270 million investment
(25 November 2020) Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn plans to expand production in Vietnam with an investment of around US$270 million. The company currently makes a wide range of products in Vietnam, including TVs, telecom equipments, and computer-related products. The company had begun production of liquid crystal displays in Vietnam last week. The Taiwanese company plans to roll out full-scale production in Vietnam and take advantage of the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement (of which Vietnam is a signatory). Foxconn will mostly likely produce PC-related parts such as displays in Vietnam. Vietnam’s close geographical location to China makes it convenient for parts procurement. Foxconn is currently attempting to shift production away from mainland China, with the goal of making its total production outside China more than 30% of its overall production.
US asks Vietnam to curb Chinese trans-shipments and ease bilateral trade deficit
(23 November 2020) The U.S. National Security Adviser reportedly told Vietnam that they must curb the illegal re-routing of Chinese exports through Vietnam and purchase more US goods to avoid punitive US tariffs. The US Commerce Department imposed preliminary anti-subsidy duties on Vietnamese car and truck tires in November 2020, citing the country’s ‘undervalued currency’ as one justification. Chinese exporters are reportedly re-routing their goods through Vietnam to avoid higher US tariffs, and Hanoi is attempting to curb this practice. Vietnam has apparently expressed interest in purchasing US military equipment and American LNG in order to reduce Vietnam’s bilateral trade surplus with the US, which in 2020 is on pace to break 2019’s record of US$56 billion. Vietnam is also interested in getting American companies involved in offshore oil and gas projects.
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.