Integrity Legal

Archive for September, 2012

22nd September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an official representative from the Republic of Korea appears to have been appointed Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further information on this topic it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Korea Times, KoreaTimes.co.kr:

Baek Seong-taek, a career diplomat who had served in various capacities at overseas missions including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, was appointed this week as Seoul’s first envoy dedicated to ASEAN. With Baek’s appointment, Korea became the fourth non-ASEAN nation to name an ambassador to the regional bloc and will launch a permanent mission for the ASEAN in Jakarta next month to redouble engagement on a wide range of issues such as trade, regional security, disaster management and human rights…Baek said he expects ASEAN to play a “balancing role” in Asia, where a power shift is under way amid the rise of China and the decline of Japanese influence, with the U.S. making a so-called “pivot” to the region…

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Although Korea is not the first nation to send an envoy to ASEAN, these developments show an increasing interest in ASEAN’s affairs from the international community. As ASEAN moves closer to being a fully integrated economic community it stands to reason that other nations will desire more interaction with this Southeast Asian organization.

On a related note, it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming an increasingly popular location among the world’s wealthy, for further insight this blogger must quote from the official website of Bloomberg, Bloomberg.com:

More people in Asia became millionaires last year as the region’s economic growth and entrepreneurship helped generate affluence, according to a report by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini SA. The number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with investable assets of $1 million to $5 million climbed 1.9 percent to 3.08 million in 2011, according to the report released in Singapore and Hong Kong today. Their total wealth increased 1.5 percent…The World Wealth Report showed in June that the number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with at least $1 million in investable assets jumped 1.6 percent last year to 3.37 million, helped by increases in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. So-called high net-worth individuals in North America dropped 1.1 percent to 3.35 million.

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Based upon the information contained in the article above it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is now home to the largest number of millionaires in the world. However, much of these individuals’ capital would appear to be located in a few key jurisdictions in Asia most notably Hong Kong and Singapore. One could speculate that future growth may not only increase affluence in places such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but more broadly over the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific regions, respectively.

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17th September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Secretary of Defense recently commented upon the apparent tensions arising between Tokyo and Beijing over island claims increasingly disputed between China and Japan. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Japan Times, JapanTimes.co.jp:

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday urged Japan and China to peacefully resolve the intensifying territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, expressing concern the diplomatic row could result in a military clash over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. ”It is extremely important that diplomatic means on both sides be used” to avoid further escalation, Panetta said… [H]e also repeated that the United States will “stand by treaty obligation” with Tokyo, which includes defending Japanese soil, based on the Japan-U.S. security treaty…The Japan-U.S. security treaty obliges the U.S. to defend Japan if an area under Japanese administration is attacked by another country. But observers say if a remote island is attacked, it would likely be up to Japan to respond first, not the U.S. military…

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It might seem unlikely that this situation could evolve into major confrontation, there are signs that tensions between Japan and China could get worse if some sort of solution is not found. This information comes as anti-Japanese protests in China spread and claims to certain Southeast Asian islands by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are voiced. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved peacefully and to the benefit of all concerned.

Meanwhile, it would appear that the Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are set to link up in an effort to provide more trading opportunities and capabilities on each of those respective platforms. To shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote from the official website of Live Trading News, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are seeking to attract individual investors and boost volumes by offering cross-border trading, the 1st step in creating a Southeast Asian platform. Singapore Exchange Ltd. (SGX) and Bursa Malaysia Bhd. (BURSA) start offering the services Tuesday…

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These developments could result in future interest in Southeast Asian Securities from investors abroad. Concurrently, it would appear that Thailand’s stock exchange is prepared to provide more integrated services for ASEAN investors, to quote further from the aforementioned article:

[T]he Stock Exchange of Thailand is set to join the link-up between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members next month…The trading platform is part of a push by Asean Exchanges to boost regional capital markets and lure more investors to exchanges whose companies had a combined market value of $1.98-T at the end of March, according to the group’s website…

Although the results of these efforts remain to be seen, there is good reason to speculate that these developments could lead to further investment in Southeast Asia both by domestic investors as well as investors from outside the region.

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16th September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that leaders from the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (sometimes colloquially referred to as Burma) are set to travel to the United States of America. In fact, popular pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi appears poised to make a sojourn to the US, her first in some time. To quote directly from the official website of Voice of America, voanews.com:

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is set to embark on a visit to the United States, highlighted by awards and meetings with senior U.S. government leaders and the Burmese community… In her first trip to the United States in two decades, Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be given awards for her long struggle for political reform in Burma and will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama…

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For those unfamiliar with the efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi it should be noted that notwithstanding overwhelming adversity she has remained a staunch supporter of democracy for citizens of Myanmar and was recently elected to that nation’s lower house of parliament. However, she is not the only official from Myanmar who appears set to make a notable trip to the United States. It would appear that the current President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, is also slated to make a US voyage. In order to provide further elucidation regarding these events it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Jakarta Globe, TheJakartaGlobe.com:

Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Myanmar leader Thein Sein is to visit the United States for the first time as president of the fast-reforming nation, officials said Wednesday, after Washington waived visa restrictions…“The president will visit the UN and US for three days,” a Myanmar official told AFP, adding that the Myanmar leader is set to leave for the US on September 24. US President Barack Obama last month ordered an exception to a visa ban on Myanmar’s leaders to let Thein Sein travel freely during the UN summit…

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Those unfamiliar with current US-Myanmar relations should note that there are a number of restrictions placed upon Burmese leaders when it comes to US travel. Some could speculate that the exception granted to the President of Myanmar in the form of a visa waiver could be a sign of an increased desire to normalize relations between the somewhat reclusive member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the USA. That said, the future status of relations between the US and Myanmar remains to be seen.

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2nd September 2012

It is interesting to note that apparently Mainland China and Taiwan have signed an agreement streamlining currency and banking transactions occurring between these two jurisdictions, to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website, ChannelNewsAsia.com:

TAIPEI: Taiwan and China on Friday signed a deal paving the way for Taiwanese banks to take Chinese yuan deposits and make yuan loans, in the latest agreement to boost trade between the former arch-rivals. The memorandum of understanding outlines the new arrangement, known as direct yuan clearing, which is expected to come into force in 60 days, Taiwan’s central bank said…The deal will also allow Taiwanese companies to issue yuan bonds and sell yuan-denominated investment products on the island, Taiwan’s central bank said…

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It will be interesting to see whether the promulgation of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding noted above will effect the the economies of these two jurisdictions as it could be argued that these changes will foster greater synergy between these two markets which are both very strong in their own right.  This information is noted at the same time that there is speculation that the countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may be the destination for future growth and investment. To quote from the website of the Vancouver Sun, VancouverSun.com

A growing number of U.S. companies plan to shift some operations from China to Southeast Asia in the next two years…a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore showed…According to AmCham Singapore, 92 percent of the executives surveyed said they were positive about investment opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN – a regional grouping that comprises Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. ”ASEAN is not only a vital U.S. trade and investment partner, it is a bright spot in the global economy,” said AmCham Vice President Tami Overby.

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Clearly it remains to be seen whether resources, financial or otherwise, will be shifted away from China in favor of ASEAN. In fact, it could be argued that there may simply be growing investment and positive economic activity in the region as a whole which would benefit both regions. In any case, notwithstanding a rather stagnant global economic environment, China and the Nations comprising ASEAN would seem clearly poised for growth in the future.

 

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