Mekong Monitor: Vietnamese telco group Viettel to launch 5G services in Laos this year
Photo credit: Reuters
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Vietnamese telco group Viettel to launch 5G services in Laos this year
(13 October 2019) Vietnamese telecommunications group Viettel announced this week that they will begin rolling out trial 5Gs services in Laos through their local subsidiary Unitel this year, with plans to eventually expand to four Southeast Asian countries. The telco’s plans for Laos comes after its recent launch of 5G testbeds in Myanmar and Cambodia. With this, Unitel will be the first telco to provide 5G services in Laos, benefiting around three million subscribers who represent over half the local market.
Second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge to be inaugurated on October 30
(13 October 2019) The second Thailand-Myanmar Friendship Bridge linking Mae Sot district in Thailand’s Tak province and Myanmar’s Myawaddy town will be inaugurated on October 30 with an opening ceremony co-chaired by Thai transport minister Saksayam Chidchob and Myanmar’s construction minister Han Zaw. The ministers will also inaugurate a second border checkpoint at Mae Sot district’s Ban Wang Takhian Tai in tambon Tha Sai Luat. These new facilities are expected to further invigorate trade along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) within the Greater Mekong Subregion, as well as enhance the partnership between Myanmar and Thailand.
VIETNAM, LAOS, CAMBODIA
Vietnamese auto industry to face competition from Laos and Cambodia
(11 October 2019) The Vietnamese automotive industry will soon face greater competition from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar on top of existing competition from Thailand and Indonesia, according to a new Vietnamese trade ministry report. The report found that sales of imported cars increased 150% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2019 totalling 93,600 units, while sales of locally-assembled vehicles fell 13% to 136,800 units. As such, the ministry urged the government to provide tax incentives for automotive parts and electric cars, as well as increase the localization rate of domestic cars.
Cargo traffic up 18% at Cambodia’s deep-sea Sihanoukville port
(15 October 2019) Cambodia’s deep sea Sihanoukville Autonomous Port recorded an 18% year-on-year rise in cargo traffic from January to September this year. According to the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, Sihanoukville port mostly services cargo ships transporting textiles and agricultural goods. However, the recent surge in traffic passing through the port — which services 70% of Cambodia’s imports and exports — has also led to greater congestion along routes leading to the port, which has subsequently resulted in lower terminal productivity, slower turnaround times and tight feeder space.
Vietnam mulling increasing overtime cap for workers to meet peak production season
(15 October 2019) Vietnam’s private sector voiced their support for the labour ministry’s proposal to raise the overtime limit for workers from 300 hours to 400 hours per year to meet growing demand despite having to pay 1.5-3 times more for overtime work. The proposal is further supported by data from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which shows that over half of workers surveyed want to work more hours to improve their income. Presently, workers are only able to work half the number of working hours a day, 30 hours a month and 300 hours a year. However, certain lawmakers have opposed the measure, claiming businesses rather than workers would benefit from it.
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.