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Archive for the ‘China Business’ Category

6th May 2014

In recent articles in the Financial Times the argument has be made that the Peoples’ Republic of China will economically overtake the United States of America in the year 2014. It  should be noted that Chinese economic outpacing of the United States is only measured in terms of statistical purchasing power and little more. In any event, this revealation is significant as it shows the increasing dominance of China in the world economy. The authors of the two articles (which can be found on the Financial Times official website here and here) appear to disagree as to the importance of these developments. The  author of the first article seems rather alarmist about the fact that China will overtake the USA in statistical purchasing power while the second author notes that this should not be viewed as China overtaking the USA in all facets of comparative economics. Furthermore, the second article notes that the United States still remains politically the most powerful nation in the world despite the fact that the world is evolving from a state of unipolarity with the United States as the lone Superpower able to effectively and virtually unilaterally project its power throughout the world, to a state of multipolarity in which many nations have increasing regional (or even global) dominance in certain spheres of economics as well as politics.

The notion that the world is moving toward a state of multipolarity leads this blogger to posit: how will the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) fit into the framework of a multipolar world? It seems reasonable to infer that ASEAN will become an increasingly important economic bloc following the integration of the various member states’ economies under the framework of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which is set to take effect on January 1, 2015. The creation of a single economic platform which will include approximately 400-500 million people, some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and some of the most strategically important geographical locations will likely lead to greater economies of scale for businesses in the region, a larger market for goods and services for the member states, and greater leverage to trade with countries outside of the bloc. However, these issues are not entirely pertinent to the question posited above. The differences between China and an integrated ASEAN economic platform will be substantial. First, some members of ASEAN rank amongst some of the largest economies in the world, in their own right. Meanwhile other economies within the region are still developing. This could lead to a “best of both worlds” scenario for ASEAN, China, and the USA. Case in point, Thailand has seen difficulties in recent years competing with cheaper Chinese labor, but the movements of labor and capital which will come hand-in-hand with ASEAN economic integration could lead to a situation where Thai companies could utilize labor pools in developing ASEAN member countries to offset the low cost of Chinese labor and thereby mitigate previous competitive disadvantages. Furthermore, the United States may find new markets for US goods in an integrated ASEAN and new venues for the manufacture of low cost goods in developing ASEAN nations that would allow for some economic de-coupling from China by the USA, thereby allowing the United States a freer hand in making foreign policy decisions vis-a-vis China. Finally, China stands to gain due to the increase in trade between China and the ASEAN nations which has recently been evidenced by the evolving nature of the geography of the Chinese economy. In recent years, increasing economic activity has been noted in Southern China across the border from Laos, which acts as a kind of entrepot for trade between China and Thailand as well as the Greater ASEAN community. Recent discussions of a high speed rail link connecting China, Laos and Thailand have also been cause for optimism that one day this region could play host to a booming economy which will bring large numbers of people out of poverty and create wealth for the peoples of all nations concerned.

Following ASEAN economic integration, there are likely to be myriad legal challenges for those businesses in ASEAN nations and abroad wishing to gain a foothold in this burgeoning market. The legal challenges posed will likely require the assistance of legal professionals in the region familiar with new ASEAN regulations as well as the internal regulatory frameworks of the various member states.

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5th November 2013

In recent postings throughout the internet, speculation regarding the future of Southeast Asian economics abound. Meanwhile, further analysis of the Thai economy in particular is rife. In a recent article on Forbes’ official website evidence has been cited which would appear to point to the possibility that Thailand may experience an economic bubble burst akin to the crash of 1997. Various Thai government officials as well as Thai businesspersons were quoted as saying that certain aspects of the Thai economy are troubling. Notably, inflows of foreign capital specifically targeting the Thai property market as well as signs that Thai people are engaged in what could be described as conspicuous consumption are leading some experts to believe that Thailand could be headed for a new economic downturn.

Concurrently, the article went on to note that Thailand, ever susceptible to negative economic consequences arising from nations which maintain significant trade relationships with the Kingdom, may see problems in export sectors resulting from decreased demand in both China and the other nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Should there be an economic problem in one of these countries then there could be a sort of negative ripple effect in the export sector in Thailand.

The points made in the article are compelling and certainly there may be cause for concern that the Thai economy may be placed in a difficult position in the future, especially if Thailand’s main export markets experience an economic downturn. However, the situation may not be as dire as some are predicting. Instead, this blogger would argue that Thailand’s economy may be simply in something of a state of flux due to changes in the ASEAN region and China. The dynamics of global economics are changing. American monetary policy along with economic problems in Europe have caused many to look toward Asia as a beacon of possible future growth.

In a recent article on the official website of Bloomberg it was noted that there appears to be a “boom” of sorts occurring in the Eastern province of Rayong and the region of Northeast Thailand known as Isan. As automobile manufacturing has increased in Rayong, so too has the purchasing power of residents of that province. Meanwhile, Isan is experiencing an upsurge economically as a result of increased domestic income and also concomitant demand for consumer goods from the local population. All of this news comes closely upon the heels of announcements that Thailand, Laos, and China will one day be connected via a high speed rail system. In fact, China has recently noted their commitment to that project and Thai officials have asked China to assist in the design of a rail system between Bangkok and Udon Thani (a city of 400,000 which sits close to the border and capital of Laos). There is an argument that should this rail system go into place the resulting economic boon to Thailand, particularly Northeast Thailand, could be tremendous as there could be a substantial increase in trade and tourism from China via this rail link. Moreover, Thailand could see itself becoming the entrepot for trade between South China and the rest of the ASEAN jurisdictions.

Presently, it is difficult to say whether Thailand will continue a trend of uninterrupted prosperity. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that increased economic integration with ASEAN as well as new, less logistically difficult, trade opportunities with China could usher in an era of prosperity and counter some of the negative factors currently worrying experts analyzing the current state of the Thai economy.

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15th October 2013

At a recent summit held to discuss relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) the Prime Minister of Thailand stressed the importance of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership as a component necessary to bolster mutual prosperity in both China and the ASEAN region. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra noted that ASEAN approved of China’s efforts to improve the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area. Upgrading the free trade area would likely result in an increase in Sino-ASEAN trade.

Based upon information announced by the ASEAN Secretariat, in the year 2014 ASEAN appears poised to focus on quickly implementing targets for 2015. It also appears that ASEAN will be working towards unifying the community pillars of ASEAN, notably the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, as well as the ASEAN Political-Security Community. Post-2015, ASEAN may undertake initiatives to reinforce these efforts while also attempting to further engage other outside actors in the Asia Pacific and East Asia regions.

A recent joint statement from the visiting Chinese Premier and the Thai Prime Minister also noted that efforts are being made to improve relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Peoples’ Republic of China. The two leaders expressed their desire to see closer cooperation between their two nations in the form of investment in industry (with specific emphasis upon investment in the bio-plastics, green, and rubber industries).

Thailand and China renewed their commitment to promoting improved transportation infrastructure in the form of railway links between Thailand, Laos, and China. The two countries also discussed improved transportation channels in the form of roads, airports, and ports which could increase trade and tourism for both Thailand specifically and the region as a whole. The Chinese representatives reiterated their desire to assist in the building of a high speed railway system between Ban Phachi and Nong Khai, noting that payment for such endeavors may come, at least in part, in the form of agricultural goods.

The two countries also wish to strengthen cooperative efforts in the banking and financial spheres by promoting the use of the two nations’ currencies in matters involving Sino-Thai trade and investment. It also appears that the two countries are poised to discuss methods of improving RMB clearing services in matters pertaining to trade.

Most notably, at least for this blogger, was the announcement that China as well as Thailand are amenable to discussing, and possibly signing, a Memorandum of Understanding on exemption of visas. Apparently, a prospective Sino-Thai visa exemption scheme would allow holders of regular Thai and Chinese passports to enter each of these countries on a visa exemption stamp not unlike the current visa exemption stamps currently issued to travelers from many countries entering Thailand. The promulgation of a visa exemption scheme between China and Thailand could lead to increases in trade and tourism between the two nations.

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7th October 2013

China’s Premier, Li Keqiang is set to make an official trip to Thailand between the 11th and 13th of  this month. The Premier will be present in the Kingdom of Thailand as a guest of the Royal Thai Government. This visit will be the first time the Premier of China has visited Thailand since taking up office. During his stay the Premier is slated to meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an effort to seek methods of improving the Thailand-China Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership through mutually beneficial cooperative endeavors.

Apparently, the official representatives of the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Kingdom of Thailand are also poised to sign various agreements exclusively pertaining to the Sino-Thai relationship. These agreements will deal with matters such as investment between the two nations, development of infrastructure, technology, education, and energy to name just a few areas which will be covered. As of the time of this writing, Thailand is the coordinator for relations between the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in that capacity it appears likely that the Thai PM and the Chinese Premier will discuss matters relating to the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.

Meanwhile, in related news Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt has recently made comments regarding the linkage of the Kingdom of Thailand, Laos, and China via high speed rail systems as well as other transportation initiatives under the aegis of the Thailand 2020 program. It would appear that plans are being implemented to construct a high speed railroad linking Bangkok to Nong Khai, the Northeastern Thai province bordering Viantiane, Laos. Construction of such a railway is expected to begin in the latter half of 2014. Upon completion of the project travelers will be able to make the trip between Bangkok and Nong Khai in approximately 3 hours. The system will then link up with Yunnan, China via Laos. Furthermore, enhanced roadworks are expected to be constructed, including new four-lane roadways, in order to streamline transportation both within Thailand as well as in Laos and China.

Clearly, these efforts are likely to fundamentally change the landscape of Northern Thailand both physically and economically. The linking of Northern Thailand, Laos, and Southern China will have a significant impact upon the economies of all three jurisdictions while simultaneously changing the way in which business is currently being conducted in this region. These developments are occurring as the ASEAN countries prepare for the coming integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and it stands to reason that further cooperation between Thailand and China bilaterally and China and ASEAN multilaterally will see economic benefits not only for Thailand, but for the other ASEAN jurisdictions as well.

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3rd September 2013

A recent article posted on the official MCOT website noted that Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is currently visiting Nanning, China. Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Apparently she is visiting in her official capacity and attending the commencement of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 10th China-ASEAN Expo. These activities are reportedly to continue until the 6th of September. A government spokesman pointed out that the Kingdom of Thailand and the Peoples’ Republic of China are seeking to increase bilateral trade volume to $100 billion by 2015. The same spokesman also noted that the Chinese Prime Minister has signaled Chinese intentions to purchase 1 million tons of rice from Thailand.

The issue of international purchases of Thai rice has been controversial in recent months as the current Thai government has taken criticism for the so-called rice pledging scheme. Should the Chinese government ultimately purchase the amount of rice noted above it could be viewed as a positive development for the Thai agricultural sector as a whole and the rice sector in particular.

It was also noted that Chinese officials had displayed interest in investing in the Thai rubber industry. As in the case of the Thai rice pledging scheme, the current government has dealt with frustration from labor groups in the Thai rubber industry as protests of current policy have even caused highways and railways to be closed in Southern Thailand. Perhaps an influx of Chinese investment could ease some of these tensions and result in a more prosperous Thai rubber sector in the future.

Meanwhile, the issue of railways also seems to be of importance to Thai, ASEAN, and Chinese officials attending the summit as Thailand appears set upon investing 2 trillion baht in infrastructure projects including construction of high speed rail systems. It is hoped that by the year 2020 Thailand will have a high speed rail system connecting to China via Laos. In the previous posting on this blog it was pointed out that Chinese businesses are repositioning themselves both strategically and geographically in an effort to gain further access to what they believe to be an increasingly lucrative ASEAN market. By creating a high speed rail link between China and Thailand, Thai officials could place Thailand in a very beneficial position in the future since such a system would facilitate further trade not only between China and Thailand, but also between those two countries and the other ASEAN markets.

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2nd September 2013

In a recent China Daily news article the impact of growing trade between China and the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was discussed. It would appear that trade between China and ASEAN is having significant ramifications for merchants and businesspeople within China. The article points out that a Chinese candy manufacturer moved its operations to Guangxi, once considered something of a backwater, in an effort to better capitalize upon the benefits of ASEAN’s rise economically. In the article Wu Jinpei, the owner of the aforementioned candy manufacturer, points out that gaining access to the ASEAN market is an important issue for his business “We invested in Guangxi because the region is a gateway to the ASEAN, which provides great geographic advantages and potential markets.”

In a previous posting on this blog, it was pointed out that China-ASEAN trade has increased exponentially in the past 10 years. As of 2012, trade between ASEAN and China exceeded $400 billion. This number is roughly five times larger than the same figures in 2003. Clearly ASEAN is proving to not only be a major factor to be taken into consideration by those doing business within Southeast Asia, but also by those trading in Greater Asia as well. The previously cited article went on to point out that as trade has flourished between China and ASEAN the business dynamics within China have transformed as well. “When I first came here [Guangxi] in 1996, there were only a dozen businessmen from Fujian and the market was small,” said Wu. “But now more than 1,000 Fujian merchants have gathered in this tiny city and the number is growing.”

Recent comments from the Thai Prime Minister pointed out that high speed rail systems linking Thailand to China via Laos is a priority in the long term and many other ASEAN jurisdictions have been moving towards developing similar projects. These remarks, coupled with the information cited in the above article are reminiscent of the period in the United States when so-called “rail heads” created boom-towns across the American frontier. As the railroads continued their drive westward and as new territories became more integrated into the overall economy trade flourished and prosperity increased.

Could the growth of ASEAN-China trade and once small Chinese business communities becoming significant trade centers catering to ASEAN demand combined with the prospect of further economic integration through connection of ASEAN countries with China herald a new boom-town era for East and Southeast Asia? It seems quite likely that as China’s economy continues to become more sophisticated and as ASEAN moves toward economic integration, in the form of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the world could see staggering economic growth in once obscure geographic areas in Asia.

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30th August 2013

In a recent article from The Telegraph author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard analyzed how Federal Reserve policies impact emerging markets. It is a very interesting article for anyone (especially expatriates living abroad) interested in understanding how Fed policy reverberates in markets outside of the United States. Of particular interest to expats living overseas was the analysis of the disproportionate impact Fed policy has on foreign nationals residing in other countries. Although the aforementioned article would seem primarily targeted  at a British audience, as an American expatriate living in the Kingdom of Thailand, I found this information compelling. Evans-Pritchard cited an assertion from Mirza Baig of BNP Paribas noting that foreign nationals bear significant currency risks in some of the nations in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it appears that foreigners bear currency risks of 81%, while those expatriates living in Malaysia and India bear 90% and 74% risk, respectively. I have  dealt with the vicissitudes of currency fluctuation many times during my tenure in Thailand as the exchange rate between the Thai Baht and the US Dollar was around 39-1 when I first arrived in the Kingdom. Since then, I have seen the exchange rate fall (or rise depending upon your perspective) to around 27-1 and re-stabilize around 30-1. As of the time of this writing, the Baht-Dollar exchange rate stands at approximately 31-1. However, many are speculating that the Baht will lose value against the dollar in the coming months. This would likely be due to the perception that the Fed may begin to implement a kind of belt tightening after years of promoting liquidity.

Unlike times past, the actions of the Fed have increasingly serious implications in emerging markets. As the article noted, in the past when the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tightened up his belt, there were substantial ramifications in South America and elsewhere. The negative aspects of those policies on South American economies was containable. However, this was at a time when China was virtually isolated, and the Soviet Union did not really factor into the any analysis of the economic interactions between countries in the “Free World”. Meanwhile in the 1990′s Federal Reserve policies could negatively impact global economics more than before that period, such negative implications were still containable since there was a “power ratio” of around 1:2 between the United States economy and the emerging markets. This is no longer the case as the relationship has basically equalized. Should Fed policies have a substantial negative impact on the emerging markets, then the problem may not be contained within those markets and the economic problems could easily (and quickly, if there is anything to be learned from the financial crashes of the past decade) spill over into Western Europe and America.

In American politics, one cannot read articles and information regarding the United States’ stance on Southeast Asia without seeing the words “pivot”. The Obama administration has consistently noted that the U.S. wishes to see American foreign policy “pivot” to a more solid relationship with the nations in the Asia-Pacific region and those comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In fact the P-word has been cited in connection to the visit to Southeast Asia by the American Secretary of Defense. However, in light of recent events in the economic sphere it would appear that ASEAN countries and Thailand specifically may be “pivoting” themselves. For example, at the recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the Foreign Minister of China it was noted that Sino-ASEAN trade increased five times compared to ten years ago. As of 2012, trade between China and ASEAN stood at approximately $400 billion. Clearly, China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner and in light of the fact that ASEAN and Thailand may not wish to be at the mercy of the Fed’s whims, further solidifying this relationship may prove to be an effective method for ASEAN nations to mitigate negative side effects caused by economic policies of both China and the United States.

In a recent interview, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, articulated a desire to see further investment in Thailand from China and supported such an investment due to Thailand’s position as the “strategic center” of ASEAN. “Thailand will be spending about 66 billion U.S. dollars in infrastructure. Especially, we will need the technology that China has, like high speed train,” Mrs. Yingluck stated. “And we know that the high-speed railway connecting Thailand and China will run from Thailand through Laos to China. So it will be an important part of Chinese investment in Thailand”. As the deadline for ASEAN integration comes ever closer it seems logical to assume that Thailand, the ASEAN jurisdictions, and China will all see a closer economic relationship begin to blossom. How this relationship will impact both diplomatic and trade relations with the United States remains to be seen, but American economic policy makers should be aware that the era of America being able to set economic and monetary policy with little thought to the implications in emerging Asian markets has passed.

 

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21st August 2013

It was recently announced that Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand met for the first Thailand-China Strategic Dialogue on August 19. These two officials discussed many issues of importance to both countries and assessed not only the Sino-Thai relationship, but also the relationship both countries maintain with the nations comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote a recent press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Both sides noted with satisfaction the progress and the dynamism made in areas as high-level visits, trade and investment, tourism, culture and education since the adoption of the Joint Action Plan on Thailand-China Strategic Cooperation (2012-2016). Both sides agreed to maintain the momentum and, as for next steps, to deepen cooperation on high speed train, water resources management, green, renewable and alternative energy as well as education and human resource development as priority under the MOU on Cooperation on Sustainable Development. Both sides shared the view that the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation should be convened soon to discuss ways to further promote trade and investment in order to achieve the bilateral trade target of 100 billion USD by 2015 set by the leaders of the two countries. Both sides also agreed to fully implement the MOU on Agricultural Trade Cooperation and facilitation trade in agricultural products and RMB should play a greater role in the business transactions between China and Thailand. Both sides reviewed the decade-long China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership and agreed that it has stood as a pillar of regional peace, stability and prosperity…

As the date approaches for the integration of the ASEAN economies thereby creating the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) many nations around the world and within the region are likely speculating as to how ASEAN and China will interact both geopolitically and economically. In fact, the recent Thai-Chinese dialogue occurs closely after a recent ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Retreat hosted in the Thai city of Hua Hin. Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, chaired the meeting. During the course of the discussions, the issue of the Sino-ASEAN relations was discussed. To quote directly from a different press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Mr. Surapong highlighted the importance of ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture. He suggested that ASEAN should strive towards a common and more coordinated position and speak with one voice on matters that affect the interest of ASEAN…On ASEAN-China dialogue relations, Mr. Surapong emphasized the importance of maintaining the continuing the spirit of “constructive cooperation” for mutual trust and cordial relations between ASEAN and China, including through advancing trade facilitation and promoting ASEAN’s connectivity efforts with China. He looked forward to the convening of a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting on 28 – 30 August 2013 in Beijing, to further discuss ways to enhance the strategic relations between ASEAN and China.

Clearly ASEAN’s future economic position is of interest to the Foreign Ministers representing the nations which are included in ASEAN. However, the future of Sino-ASEAN relations is of key importance not only in terms of regional politics, but in terms of global economics and international affairs. How ASEAN will interact with China on key international issues in the future is of significance for many nations in the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, an integrated ASEAN economic bloc could represent one of, if not the, largest economies in the world at some point in the relatively near future. By capitalizing on such a situation to improve trade relations not only with China, but with the United States and the nations comprising the European Union, the countries of ASEAN could stand to reap benefits exponentially larger than those garnered through traditional bi-lateral negotiation.

It will be interesting to see what develops at the upcoming meeting of ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Ministers.

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1st October 2012

It would appear that the Chinese Special Autonomous Region of Hong Kong may be poised to play a larger role with respect to trade between Greater China and the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote directly from an article by Mary Swire posted on the website Tax-News.com:

During a recent speech, the Director-General of Trade and Industry, Kenneth Mak, has explained why, last November, Hong Kong made a formal request to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA). He noted that ASEAN is Hong Kong’s close neighbour and a very important trading partner. “The ACFTA is an evolving platform for progressive liberalization of trade and investment between ASEAN countries and China, with the ultimate objective of fostering closer economic integration and sustainable economic growth in the East Asian region,” he said…As an important platform for trade and investment between ASEAN and China, Hong Kong’s entry into the ACFTA should also strengthen its intermediary role, with more than 3,700 multinational companies having set up their regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong, and, being a global financial hub and the pre-eminent offshore renminbi centre, Mak believes that Hong Kong can provide high-quality financial and management services between ASEAN, China and the rest of the world.

Readers are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Clearly, Hong Kong’s participation in a China-ASEAN free trade area could result in financial, industrial, and business benefits for all of the jurisdictions concerned as the streamlining of trade between these locales could lead to an increase in economic activity not only in ASEAN and China, but in Hong Kong as well.

Meanwhile, the issue of energy security would appear to be at the forefront of the agenda for the members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote from the official website of the Manila Bulletin, MB.com.ph:

MANILA, Philippines — With the Philippines taking the center stage in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit by 2015, Energy Secretary Rene D. Almendras has indicated that his department will be actively involved in the fortification of policies for the APEC-wide energy security plan… In the proposed strengthening of the APEC energy security plan, the energy leaders in the region will have to re-assess the impact of the global financial uncertainties which have been primarily plaguing the Eurozone countries. They will similarly address concerns relating to political developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as those issues relating to carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption…

Readers are again asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full.

Energy is a concern in virtually every nation around the globe. Some nations in the Asia-Pacific region have extensive energy resources to draw on while others have virtually no energy resources. Therefore, analysis of the issue of energy security differs depending upon the country. Clearly, as the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific regions evolve there will be new challenges to overcome. Hopefully through careful planning and effective policy making both ASEAN and APEC can create and maintain economic opportunities for those living and working within their members’ jurisdictions.

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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…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

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.

Again, readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in full.

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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