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Cambodia: Meet looks at potential of ASEAN’s SME portal

The Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, the private sector and development partners on September 9 held the first-ever national consultation on “ASEAN Access” via Zoom, to explore ways to use the online portal to develop and expand the market reach of local businesses.

Directed more towards regional small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), ASEAN Access was launched on June 16 and could potentially be linked to the KhmerSME website, developed by the ministry and scheduled to be launched next month.

The consultation was attended by representatives of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), Pact Cambodia, Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) and the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep).

The talk aimed to convey the advantages of ASEAN Access to local businesses and invite SMEs to matchmaking events on September 21 and 30, organised by the platform in partnership with Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

Businesses were also invited to register on the portal to have access to the latest information regarding regulations on international markets, goods and service trade, and e-training and other events.

Speaking at the event, industry ministry’s director-general for Small and Medium Enterprises and Handicraft Chhea Layhy underlined that ASEAN Access provides comprehensive information on trade and market access within ASEAN and beyond.

“SMEs will be able to find new products, opportunities, explore trade and business matchmaking events and stay up-to-date with new business and trade information for the ASEAN region,” he said.

 

Author: Thou Vireak

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

For full article, please click this link

Original publication date: 12 September 2021

ASEAN remains a fast growing region despite the pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, said Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the ASEAN Business and Investment Roundtable 2021 on Fintech and Financial Literacy held virtually yesterday.

The minister also said, Bain and Company’s e-Conomy Southeast Asia report noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to big shifts across Southeast Asia, highlighting that 40 million people came online for the first time last year, bringing the total number of Internet users in the region to 400 million.

“The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia points out that ASEAN consumers are global leaders in terms of e-wallets and digital payment adoption.

“This offers great opportunities but also challenges as we must keep inclusivity in mind and ensure that with the rapid rate of technological change it does not leave anyone behind.

“Financial literacy plays a critical role on inclusivity.

“Not only is it important to understand money and the changing nature of transactions, both for personal and business purposes but digital financial literacy has become essential if we are to achieve our goals of ensuring that everyone can benefit from the advancements in fintech.

“ASEAN governments are continuing to meet virtually to discuss what steps can be taken to help our region continue to be vibrant as we draw closer to the Summit in October,” said the minister.

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Barramundi Group announces plan to list on Euronext Growth Oslo exchange

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Barramundi Group, which is set to operate Brunei’s largest sea bass farm, has announced plans to launch an offering of shares and list its shares on the Euronext Growth Oslo stock exchange.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Singapore-based aquaculture company said growing global demand for sea bass and sustainable consumption have prompted its decision to pursue a public listing.

The Group said it will be the first Australasian company and first aquaculture player that specialises in a tropical species on an industry level to be listed on the exchange.

“We believe that this listing will enable us to fully capitalise on the growing global middle class and skyrocketing demand for high-quality proteins that are raised responsibly, with minimal carbon and oceanic impact,” said Andreas von Scholten, chief executive officer of Barramundi Group.

The listing is expected to help the Group further industrialise production across its three ocean farm sites in Australia, Singapore and Brunei, as well as expand its market share.

Barramundi Group is developing a $300 million sea bass farm at Brunei’s Nankivell Offshore Aquaculture Site, with an area of 6,613 hectares.

A 25-hectare site in Kampung Meragang was also earmarked for a hatchery and nursery for the production of sea bass juveniles to be supplied to offshore fish cages.

The sea bass farm, which is expected to operate at full capacity by 2032, planned to increase the volume of fish production to 36,000 metric tonnes worth $324 million a year.

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E-commerce plan to boost online trade by THB1.3 trillion in 2022

The Cabinet has approved a plan to boost e-commerce trade to 5.35 trillion baht in 2022, the Commerce Ministry announced on Monday (30th August.)

The ministry’s National Electronic Commerce Development Action Plan aims to lift the value of online trade from 4.03 trillion baht in 2019 to 5.35 trillion baht next year – an increase of 1.32 trillion baht.

The plan, which was drawn up by the Electronic Commerce Committee of government and private sector representatives, will increase both domestic and international marketing channels for Thai entrepreneurs, including farmers. It also aims to boost efficiency of doing business by reducing costs and offering access to low-interest funding sources.

Phase 1 of the plan (2021-2022) consists of four strategies: e-Marketplace enhancement and promotion, ecosystem and enabling factors, trust and sustainability, and competency building amid the new normal.

More than 10,000 businesses are expected to register under the plan with the Department of Business Development. Meanwhile, at least 10 government projects will stimulate the e-commerce ecosystem.

BoI’s Asean investment framework gets Cabinet okay

The Cabinet on Tuesday (September 1st) gave the go-ahead to the Asean Investment Facilitation Framework (AIFF) proposed by the Board of Investment (BoI).

It also appointed Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who oversees issues related to the economy and investment, as the Thai representative at the Asean Economics Ministers’ meeting on September 8.

The AIFF, meanwhile, aims to help Asean countries recover from the fallout of Covid-19 by focusing on investment and promoting the region as an important supply source.

The framework covers investment facilitation from several aspects, including immigration, workers, capital, business partners as well as support via the latest technology such as electronic documents and digital platforms.

Nonarit Bisonyabut, a senior researcher at Thailand Development Research Institute, said Asean had the potential to become a key global supply source thanks to its large population.

Source: The Nation Thailand

Logistics expo generates over THB1.2 billion for Thai private sector

Thailand’s international logistics-trade fair this year generated over 1.249 billion baht for Thai businesses, accroding to the Commerce Ministry.

Held from August 25-27, the TILOG Virtual Exhibition 2021 saw 81 Thai companies do business with 40 foreign corporates. The online event also attracted over 24,000 visitors, according to the ministry’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP).

A highlight of the exhibition were talks between Japan’s Naha Port and Thai logistics providers. The DITP said Naha Port officials had held discussions about import and export businesses between the two countries.

The department also held a symposium on digital logistics, which attracted over 1,600 attendees.

Those interested in the event can visit www.tilog-ve.com for logistics information and recorded talks until September 27.

Ministry launches e-commerce plan to generate over THB5.3 billion next year

The Department of International Trade Promotion said the e-commerce plan covers four strategies: e-marketplace development, improvement of the environment and other factors related to e-commerce, trust and sustainability of e-commerce, and improved conditions for entrepreneurs.

The Commerce Ministry has revealed details about its national e-commerce plan, which aims to generate over 5.35 billion baht in 2022

The plan was approved by the Cabinet on Monday.

Mallika Boonmeetrakool Mahasook, an adviser to Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, said Jurin realised the importance of e-commerce in the digital economy, which is one of the country’s main policy focuses.

As such, he had ordered a specific committee to draft a plan to promote e-commerce. Jurin also set a target of boosting the value of e-commerce from 4.03 billion baht in 2019 to 5.35 billion baht in 2022, Malika added.

Source: The Nation Thailand

Thailand offers to become strategic CLMVT, Asean hub for China, GBA

Thailand offered to become a hub connecting Asean countries with Hong Kong and China at the 6th Belt and Road Summit held via teleconferencing on September 1 and 2.

Vice Commerce Minister Dr Sansern Samalapa said Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor can easily serve as a link for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as become a strategic hub for CLMVT and Asean countries.

CLMVT comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, which are also part of the Asean grouping.

Seamless links in both infrastructure and digital technology along BRI will lead to mutual economic benefits and attract investment in EEC’s target industries such as automotive, aviation and logistics.

He said this cooperation will also be economically beneficial for Thailand, especially after the completion of BRI projects like the Thai-Laos-China high-speed railway. This railway will cut down the cost of transport – both goods and people – and help regional economies recover quickly from the Covid-19 crisis.

In addition, China’s foreign trade and investment policies will give Thai businesses greater access to the mainland’s huge market.

Your food prices are at risk as the world runs short of workers

Across the world, a dearth of workers is shaking up food supply chains.

In Vietnam, the army is assisting with the rice harvest. In the U.K., farmers are dumping milk because there are no truckers to collect it. Brazil's robusta coffee beans took 120 days to reap this year, rather than the usual 90. And American meatpackers are trying to lure new employees with Apple Watches while fast-food chains raise the prices of burgers and burritos.

Whether it's fruit pickers, slaughterhouse workers, truckers, warehouse operators, chefs or waiters, the global food ecosystem is buckling due to a shortage of staff. Supplies are getting hit and some employers are forced to raise wages at a double-digit pace. That's threatening to push food prices - already heated by soaring commodities and freight costs - even higher. Prices in August were up 33% from the same month last year, according to an index compiled by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

The coronavirus pandemic has helped spark a labor shortfall for many parts of the economy. But the impact is particularly stark in food and agriculture, which are among the world's least-automated industries. Food security is a sensitive issue in many parts of the world and thin margins mean rising costs generally pass through to buyers, according to Boston Consulting Group.

"Almost certainly there is disruption," said Decker Walker, BCG's agribusiness expert in Chicago. Effects vary among locations and products, he said, but "the general theme seems to be: The roles with the least desirable working conditions are actually the ones that we have the most pain with."

There are signs the labor shortfall is curbing supplies. In the U.S., wholesale distributors like Sysco Corp. and United Natural Foods Inc. are reporting production delays and slowdowns for items ranging from bacon and cheese to coconut water and spices. In the U.K., some stores are running low on staples like bread and chicken, while McDonald's Corp. ran out of milkshakes in August.

"We have family-wage, great jobs that have been open, that we've been recruiting really hard for and have had trouble filling," said Patrick Criteser, chief executive officer of Tillamook County Creamery Association. The Oregon-based dairy co-operative recently ran so short of workers that a board member had to skip an operational meeting to help out in the fields. "With the inflation we're seeing in the business and the inflation that we're seeing at the farm level, it's going to translate to the shelf."

Shortages are hitting farms, processors and restaurants alike. Malaysia, the world's No.2 palm oil producer, has lost about 30% of potential output of the edible oil used in everything from chocolate to margarine. Shrimp production in southern Vietnam - one of the world's top exporters - has dropped by 60% to 70% from before the pandemic. And a fifth of tomato production in the south of Italy has been lost this year, due to the scorching heat and transport paralysis, according to the farmers' association CIA.

"I have been in this business since the '80s, but I have never seen a situation like this," said Michele Ferrandino, a farmer in Foggia. "Tomatoes are very perishable goods. There were not enough trucks to transport the crop to the processing plants, in those crucial days" of the harvest, he said.

Canceled or delayed deliveries have also forced British dairy farmers like Mike King in South Gloucestershire, England to dump milk while stores run short. King estimates he has lost some 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons), and says some farmers have resorted to milking their cattle less frequently due to staffing shortfalls.

Even as restaurants and other businesses re-open in the U.S. and parts of Europe - boosting demand for goods such as meat and bottled drinks - the delta variant is spreading in places like Southeast Asia, curbing primary production. Other, longer-established pandemic effects are still causing problems too: Covid outbreaks continue to crop up in meat- and fish-processing plants, forcing temporary closures, and border restrictions in countries from the U.K. to Thailand are limiting the supply of migrant workers.

In some places, the scramble for staff is compounded by local issues, such as difficult and dangerous farmwork conditions caused by a record U.S. heatwave, or the disruption of Brexit.

As a result, employers face another hurdle: Workers have plenty of options.

The current economy is creating "choice where choices may not have existed in the past," said BCG's Walker. When "the entire world is short-staffed," filling less desirable jobs gets more difficult, he said.

Employment in the food supply chain can certainly be tough. Whether it's backbreaking strawberry picking, insecure slaughterhouse work or the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of a restaurant kitchen, many jobs are physically taxing, short-term, poorly paid - or a combination of all three.

With more jobs available, Australian workers who might previously have settled for positions at meat processing plants in sparsely populated areas can opt for work in busier towns instead. Many of the European Union citizens who might typically travel to the U.K. to work on farms, in haulage or serving coffees are choosing to stay in their home countries or on the continent. American laborers who have struggled with sweltering heat in the fields may choose the cool interiors of a store instead.

Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, acknowledges that work such as fruit picking is demanding.

"It is a physical job," he said. "You are picking fruit and carrying it up and down ladders, so if your alternative is pushing buttons on a cash register, that might be more appealing."

Higher salaries and perks can sweeten the deal. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. recently raised U.S. menu prices by as much as 4% after increasing average pay to $15 an hour; in Canada the company is offering a referral bonus to help with recruitment. Pork-processing workers at Smithfield Foods in South Dakota get freebies like Apple Watches or iPads once they complete their first 60 days, a company official said. Pizza chain Rossopomodoro, which is headquartered in Europe, has been forced to boost its base pay by 50% in London, CEO Daniele di Martino said.

But often money is not enough. Workers are increasingly demanding greater protection from the coronavirus as well as higher wages, according to Sunny Verghese, CEO of agricultural trading giant Olam International Ltd.

While meatpackers have made significant safety progress since last year, they are up against the delta variant now. That has slowed the amount of cattle moving through slaughterhouses at meat giant Tyson Foods.

"We were on a good trajectory and then the delta variant showed up, and we've taken a step back as result of that," CEO Donnie King said on a call with investors last month. "Essentially it takes six days to get five days' worth of work."

Worker shortfalls aren't happening everywhere, and the effects aren't evenly distributed. Much of mainland Europe has not felt the same crippling shortages as the U.K., where Brexit constrained the flow of EU workers. China has been largely unaffected and in India, while inflation is still a worry, labor is plentiful and agriculture has been mostly untouched by virus restrictions.

Elsewhere, labor is just one of several headaches for the world's food ecosystem. Extreme weather from Brazil to France has affected harvests. Surging crop prices have pushed up the price of feeding livestock - and therefore the price of meat. Transport costs have skyrocketed due to soaring demand, container shortages and overwhelmed ports, not helped by the temporary partial closure of China's Ningbo-Zhoushan, the world's third-busiest cargo port.

Still, the shortage of workers threatens to further add to costs, whether through wage increases or supply shortfalls. And the issue won't disappear when the pandemic ends: The share of workers employed in agriculture has been falling for decades amid a shift to cities and services sectors, and hiring for some jobs was tough long before Covid. These more permanent changes to the labor market call for technological solutions, and investment in automation and robotics has accelerated during the pandemic.

In the U.S., automated tractors, robotic milkers and machines such as carrot planters are replacing human labor. Meanwhile, U.K. farmers are trialling robots to pick strawberries, lettuce or broccoli. Harvesting tools have helped Brazil's robusta-coffee farmers cut dependence on manual workers to one-fifth of the number needed just a few years ago, according to Edimilson Calegari, general manager at Espirito Santo-based cooperative Cooabriel. While the country's labor shortfall extended the length of the harvest, he said, technology has lessened its impact.

Still, it will take years before farmers really take to robots, according to Cindy van Rijswick, a senior analyst at Rabobank in Utrecht who specializes in horticulture.

"In the end, prices for food have to go up to compensate workers in a better way and to find solutions," van Rijswick said. "They just cost money and we need to be willing to pay that."

NIA and Partners Jointly Create “Innovation Thailand Alliance” To “Revive the Country with Thai Innovations”

The National Innovation Agency of Thailand (Public Organization), or NIA, is broadening the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform through the formation of the Innovation Thailand Alliance, which includes partners from various sectors such as government agencies, private organizations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Their shared mission is to revive the country with Thai innovations.

The launch of Innovation Thailand Alliance aims to strengthen Thailand’s brand as an innovation nation and promote Thai innovation for crafted living to everyone in Thailand and the rest of the world. This alliance is made possible by the contribution of public agencies, private organizations, educational institutions, and civil societies. It currently comprises 73 organizations. These allies will act as ambassadors in the campaign to rebrand Thailand as an innovation nation by raising awareness and pride in innovative Thai creations. At the same time, they will be able to share their knowledge and expertise with one another. Currently, 73 bodies have responded to the invitation to join the network, all of whom are eager to drive Thailand towards the target of being ranked among the top 30 innovative countries in the world by 2030, and transforming Thailand into an innovation-driven nation.

According to Adjunct Professor Dr. Anek Laothamatas, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation, Thailand’s 20-year national strategy, in which the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy is a recurring theme seeking to ensure stability, prosperity, sustainability by transforming Thailand into a developed country. This ambitious goal requires a great deal of knowledge and advancement in science, technology, research and development, and innovation. It also necessitates the development of qualified workforces and the establishment of clear innovation-related directions and policies. These elements must be dynamic and flexible enough to keep up with rapid global changes. One aspect of the national strategy outlines the transformation of Thailand into an innovation-driven economy. Its success relies on the ministry’s ability to incubate innovative entrepreneurs and develop an innovation ecosystem to facilitate the creation and transformation of innovative products into economic and social value. To this end, the ministry strives to decentralize innovation by expanding access to the infrastructure for science, technology, and innovation to other regions of the country. Additionally, the ministry sees the critical role that innovation can play in social betterment and will be fostering the development of innovative social businesses and the creation of a social innovation network to promote equality in Thailand.

NIA Director Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana said, “Thailand is facing a number of challenges: the middle-income trap with high manufacturing costs and new forms of competition in the global supply chain; inequality, including inadequate access to government services, digital technology, and education; and environmental issues, such as PM 2.5, drought, water supply salinity, and flooding. It is time for Thailand to prepare for an overhaul. Believing that ‘innovation’ will be the solution to these national issues, NIA has expanded the scope of our Innovation in Thailand platform to revive the country with Thai innovations.”

Innovation Thailand’s mission is to propel Thailand towards becoming an Innovation Nation. To this end, it has laid out the following four frameworks:

1) Innovation Thailand’s Positioning: Thailand to be placed in the top 30 of the Global Innovation Index by 2030 to solidify Thailand’s new image as an innovation nation on the global stage;

2) Innovation Thailand DNA: to promote Thai DNA characteristics that cater to the seven aspects of crafted living;

3) Innovation Thailand Alliance: to build a countrywide network of public agencies, private organizations, educational institutions, and civil societies to enhance Thailand’s strength in the global markets;

and 4) Innovation Thailand Dashboard: to collect and connect a wide range of innovation facts and figures from various sectors across the country.

To see innovations that Thai people are proud of, please visit www.innovationthailand.org  or the Innovation.THA Facebook page. Moreover, to see general innovation knowledge, as well as information about innovative services from various agencies and useful infrastructure systems that will drive the creation and application of innovations, please visit https://data.nia.or.th

FTI urges more govt contracts for ‘Made in Thailand’ SMEs

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has urged the government to favour Thai manufacturers in purchases made with the 1.3 trillion baht national budget.

FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said businesses manufacturing Made in Thailand (MiT) products would benefit from the government’s purchasing power at a time when the public’s purchasing power had dropped sharply due to Covid-19.

Only the government procurement market has enough purchasing power to support businesses – especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – through difficult conditions, he added.

The FTI has registered over 2,000 MiT producers in the past six months.

Meanwhile, more than 52 per cent of MiT producers, from large corporates to SMEs, are expected to contract with the government to deliver products worth over 68 billion baht this year.

By the end of the year, more than 5,000 businesses are expected to register more than 50,000 MiT products.

The top five registered products are construction equipment, followed by electrical and electronic products, air conditioners, medical products and equipment, and textiles.

In addition to the domestic market, the FTI is also working with the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP) to create foreign business opportunities for Thai SMEs in Bahrain, India and China, where Thai products are already known.

Certifying products as Made in Thailand offers a competitive advantage and creates more trust and confidence in partners, said the FTI.

Priorities must be set for digital transformation

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof in a pre-recorded speech at the ASEAN-UK Digital Innovation Partnership Symposium yesterday shared on the importance of digital technologies towards building resilience, recovery and sustainability from the impacts of COVID-19.

Digital transformation is now immersing deeply in all economic sectors and activities, therefore there is a need to set priorities, amongst others, in the upgrading of infrastructure, improving access, promoting digital technologies adoption and enhancing human capital development to ensure preparedness for digital transformation and innovation, he said.

The virtual symposium saw the minister’s pre-recorded speech delivered alongside Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, United Kingdom (UK) Caroline Dinenage MP.

Themed ‘Great partnerships are committed to boosting trade and investment,’ the symposium was officiated with opening remarks from Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific Natalie Black CBE and ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi.

The symposium – a collaboration between the UK government, UK-ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Business Advisory Council – focussed on ASEAN-UK collaboration to support digital innovation.

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