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Emerging trends in the foodtech industry in Southeast Asia

Digitalisation and technology innovation have fuelled the growth of many industries, among them food technologies, which not only has emerged as a response to the COVID-19, but also are helping the food and beverages industry to keep up with changing consumer demands and consumption trends.

Sub-industries such as online grocery and food delivery services, health conscious, plant based and bioengineered foods, and more nutritious and bespoke pet food, are all influencing the emergence of various foodtech solutions and companies. As consumers are increasingly health conscious, they are choosing sustainable, locally sourced and produced products, which have clear health benefits, and are also environmentally friendly to produce and recycle. Therefore, there are various opportunities for ASEAN food-, bio- and agritech companies to launch new products, attract additional customers and gain market share in a fast-growing and lucrative industry.


Source: Tech Collective

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Support to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI)

Following the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015, the ASEAN Member States are now pursuing further efforts to integrate their economies. This includes the promotion of a single market and single production base. The Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) was launched in 2000 to assist the less developed countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam in making the most of the potential benefits of regional integration, while also helping them cope with the associated challenges and economic risks. Details of how the IAI aims to fulfil these objectives are included in the document ‘ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together’. Numerous measures remain to be implemented, particularly with regard to the ASEAN agreements on trade facilitation and investment in the services sector, and on promoting the mobility of skilled labour.

Thailand shifts focus to high value-added economy

Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has approved a framework for the country's 13th national economic and social development plan from 2022-2026, with focus on high value-added economic development, including the value-added manufacturing. This indicates a restructuring of the manufacturing industry, with the aim to increase incomes and profits.

This means opportunities for businesses in high-tech sectors, such as bio, circular and green economies, as well as the medical industries, logistics and digital services.

Source: VietnamPlus

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Indonesia and Singapore are teaming up to build Southeast Asia’s digital hub of the future

Nongsa Digital Park, a collaboration between Indonesia and Singapore in Batam, Indonesia, is set to be a digital hub for technology start-ups from both countries, helping them form closer ties, increase technological cooperation, and share talent, resources and market share. The park will comprise co-living and co-working spaces, a tech campus, and a plaza, big enough to accommodate 8,000 tech specialists.

Both countries are already home to two of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant technology ecosystems, with several ASEAN tech unicorns headquartered in either country, and companies from both countries are often collaborating, as well as competing with each other, especially when starting international expansions. Additionally, while Singapore is technologically more advanced, Indonesia boasts a massive population, keen to take up new technologies. This brings both countries new opportunities for business, collaboration and cross-border expansion.

Source: e27

Photo source: Nongsa Digital Park

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Can ASEAN recover this year?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South-East Asia as on track to becoming the world’s 4th largest economy by 2030. However, the pandemic caused economic devastation in the region and has become one of the biggest challenges to face ASEAN.

However, there are positive signs, that the bloc can successfully overcome this and make an economic recovery in 2021. The region is determined to enhance and strengthen economic and trade cooperation, for example, through the ASEAN Single Window Live Operation and the ASEAN Customs Transit System. In addition, ASEAN nations have increased the uptake of digital payments, and e-commerce is on the rise, as a result of the movement restrictions due to the pandemic.

Alongside intra-ASEAN cooperation, strengthening relations with external partners is also high on the agenda. The bloc is seeking even closer collaboration with China, in addition to the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which will support ASEAN cooperation with Asia-Pacific nations.

ASEAN has faced challenges before, and undoubtedly, Southeast Asia will overcome this ordeal and make a speedy economic recovery, after the pandemic is under control.

Source: Business Times

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UK makes ASEAN 'high priority' for post-Brexit trade deals

The UK, having left the European Union at the end of 2020, has highlighted a trade deal with ASEAN as ‘extremely high priority’. Currently, the EU has free trade agreements in place with Singapore and Vietnam, the execution of which was made easier by the two countries having an existing trade agreement with the EU.

In 2019, trade between the UK and ASEAN reached US$ 35 billion or 12.7% of the total trade between ASEAN and the EU, making UK ASEAN’s fourth biggest trading partner in Europe.

The UK views the question of palm oil, which has been a challenging issue for the EU and ASEAN to overcome in trade negotiations, as a point to work together on and find common ground. There is existing strong demand in the UK for palm oil and palm oil products, and the UK is taking the position that working with national governments, and supporting communities living and working in highly forested areas, is the way towards sustainability.

Britain is already conducting joint trade reviews with Thailand and Indonesia for potential deals, and is engaged with Malaysia through a joint committee on issues such as trade policy and market access. In June 2020, the UK applied to become an ASEAN dialogue partner, which is another way for nations to strengthen ties with ASEAN, through high level talks on regional and global issues. Successful or not, the UK is certain there is a lot for the UK and ASEAN to work on.

Source: Nikkei Asia

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How fintech is disrupting the Southeast Asian payments market

Fintech has revolutionalised the payments industry and apart from the grand global success, its presence in the Southeast Asian markets has attracted many companies from all over the globe to invest and branch out in the region, in addition to already plentiful local players.

E-commerce has made a strong impact on the rise of digital payments, and alongside that, digital lending has emerged as a highest-grossing business model in ASEAN. Innovation in fintech can be found in many of the services available on the market, such as online multi-currency exchange in online multi-currency invoice platforms, software to handle insurance claims, funds distribution and funding management, and finance and investment management for SMEs. Combined with AI, fintech is enabling technology adopters to personalise and customise user experience, as well conduct predictive data analysis.

As a whole, digital financial services are expected to generate US$ 38 billion in revenue by 2025 in Southeast Asia. In comparison, in 2019, annual revenue of the sector was US$ 11 billion. The driving force behind the rise of fintech are consumer trends, which are in turn shifting as a result of digitalisation. There is also high level of consumer adaptation and trust in these technologies, creating new business opportunities and new markets for many local companies.

Source: e27

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