Latest ASEAN news

ASEAN for Business Bulletin Sept 2021: Non-Tariff Measures Cost-Effectiveness Toolkit

Non-tariff measures (NTMs) have long been the region's persistent issue that caused foreign sourcing to be more costly and time-consuming.

At the recent 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, ASEAN Ministers and Government Officials endorsed the NTMs Cost-Effectiveness Toolkit to support ASEAN Member States in addressing and reviewing these NTMS. Learn more about NTM Toolkit in the latest ASEAN for Business Bimonthly Bulletin.

States must raise hydrogen investment to help reach net zero - IEA

Governments need to step up investment in hydrogen production and storage chains to help cut net emissions to zero, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday.

States and private investors had so far only come up with about a quarter of the $1,200 billion needed by 2030 to develop and deploy hydrogen and make it part of global net zero strategies, the Paris-based organization said.

Efforts should be directed on getting hydrogen into more sectors and developing technologies to make it cheaper to produce with renewables, its report added.

Hydrogen is light, storable and energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases when used as a fuel. But the cost of production, and worries over how it is produced, have been a barrier to expanded use. Hydrogen produced with renewable supplies can cost between two to seven times as much as producing it from natural gas without carbon capture, the report said. New technologies and economies of scale could help close the gap, it added.

"Almost all hydrogen produced today comes from fossil fuels without carbon capture, resulting in close to 900 million tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the combined CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia," the IEA said.

Global capacity of electrolyzers, which produce hydrogen from water using electricity, doubled over the past five years, and nearly 400 projects are under development or in early stages of development, the report said.

These projects should put hydrogen supply at 8 million tons per year by 2030, up from the less than 50,000 tons in 2021. But that was still a tenth of what was needed by 2030 to reach net zero emissions by 2050, they said.

Nearly all hydrogen consumption was in the refining and industrial sectors in 2020, the report said. But it could also play a major role in chemicals, steel, transport and aviation - all sectors where emission reduction is currently a challenge.

Government policies currently focus on production but need to incorporate consumption in new sectors to foster the construction of the necessary storage, transmission and charging facilities, the report said.

Currently 17 governments have hydrogen strategies, and more than 20 others have announced they are developing plans, up from three countries in 2019, the agency said.

Source: The Jakarta Post

Author: Forrest Crellin

Original published date: 04 October, 2021


Read full article here.

Indonesia Reinstates Temporary Tax Breaks for Small-car Sales

Indonesia has reinstated a temporary luxury-tax break on sales of smaller cars as the concession helped boost demand for vehicles, the Finance Ministry said on Friday. The tax break, which had expired in August, will now be available till the end of the year, the ministry said in a statement. Japanese brands such as Toyota, Daihatsu, Mitsubishi and Honda dominate Indonesia's domestic car market, Southeast Asia's biggest. Indonesia's biggest listed car distributors are Astra International and Indomobil Sukses Internasional. Sedans and two-wheel drive cars with engine capacity under 1,500 cc will now be exempt from luxury tax until the year-end. The ministry did not provide an estimate of revenue loss from the tax break. The government introduced the tax break in March to incentivize car purchases, which had been hit by an economic slowdown due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It was initially due to expire in June, but was extended until end-August. Auto production rose 49 percent in January-July on a yearly basis, not just for domestic market but also exports, the ministry said. Monthly domestic sales have also recovered, with more than 83,000 units sold in August, close to pre-pandemic levels.

Author : Gayatri Suroyo

Original Publish Date : September 17th 2021

Source : Jakarta Post

Read full article here.

What would a post-carbon supply chain look like?

Businesses worldwide are pushing for more sustainable practices. As the threat of climate change has worsened, it’s become clear that industry as a whole must move away from carbon emission-generating practices. This movement has significant implications for supply chains. Today’s supply chains are far from carbon-free. An organization’s supply chain often accounts for 90% of its greenhouse gas emissions when taking overall climate impacts into account. From diesel-powered trucks to natural gas-generated warehouse power, these networks rely heavily on fossil fuels. It can be hard to imagine supply chains without these resources, but it’s not impossible. Here’s what a post-carbon supply chain would look like and how companies could achieve it.

Electric Vehicles

The most obvious difference between today’s supply chains and a post-carbon one is their vehicles. Transportation accounts for 21% of total global emissions, and freight constitutes a considerable portion of that figure. Almost all trucks that move freight today use fossil fuels, but post-carbon transport will be electric. Electric trucks will likely be the first type of carbon-free vehicles to appear in supply chains. General Motors has already established goals to produce zero emissions, and electric road vehicles are increasingly common. Post-carbon supply chains will bring electrification to more than just trucks, though. Ships and airplanes will also be electric. Their longer routes will require more efficiency, so they may rely on technologies like fuel cells or solar power instead of batteries. Regardless of the specifics, every vehicle in the post-carbon supply chain will be electric.

Green Power Sources

While vehicles may be the easiest culprit to pinpoint, they’re not the only source of emissions. Supply chains consume a considerable amount of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels. In fact, if 125 multinational companies increased their supply chain renewable energy by 20%, they would save more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions. In a post-carbon supply chain, all energy would come from renewable sources. That would likely mean using various technologies, as sustainable power has varying effectiveness in different applications. Solar, wind and hydroelectric power would all play a part in the transition to zero-carbon operations. A truly zero-carbon supply chain would also use renewables to generate power for its electric vehicles. Creating batteries or hydrogen for fuel cells requires energy, and this too must be green for supply chains to be truly sustainable.

Sustainable Sourcing

A more easily overlooked aspect of post-carbon supply chains is how sustainability plays into their corporate partnerships. A truly zero-emissions supply chain must ensure its suppliers are also carbon-free. Otherwise, it would still be investing in emissions-producing activity, albeit indirectly. Industrial sectors like manufacturing are responsible for 29.6% of total emissions in the U.S. If a supply chain moved products from a company with such a significant carbon footprint, one could hardly consider it carbon-free. In a truly post-carbon supply chain, all connected sources are also zero emissions. Ensuring these connections are sustainable requires a considerable amount of transparency. As such, post-carbon supply chains will require regular audits from involved parties to verify their sustainability. They’ll likely also employ technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) trackers and blockchains to keep operations transparent.

How Can the World Move Toward Post-Carbon Supply Chains?

These factors may seem like lofty goals right now. Today’s supply chains have a long way to go before they can say they’re truly carbon-free. Thankfully, however far-off these sustainability targets may seem, they are achievable. Companies can start acting now to move toward them. Recognizing the business incentives for removing carbon from the supply chain can help encourage further action. According to one study, 84% of global consumers are more likely to make purchase decisions based on a company’s sustainability practices. Similarly, 61% are willing to wait for longer delivery times if they know it’s better for the environment. Interest in sustainable supply chains will grow when more organizations realize these benefits. As this trend gains momentum, here are a few ways supply chains can start moving toward zero-carbon goals.

Improve Visibility

The first step in moving away from carbon is improving supply chain visibility. Companies can’t effectively become more sustainable if they don’t know the extent of their current unsustainable practices. Audits and studies can reveal where carbon emissions come from in a supply chain, guiding further action. Organizations must also ensure their emissions monitoring is an ongoing process. Without continuous checking, they won’t be able to tell how different actions impact their overall goals. Periodic audits and implementing IoT sensors to track carbon emissions can ensure ongoing transparency. In that spirit, supply chains should start improving visibility between partners. Asking for suppliers to offer proof of their sustainability initiatives will encourage broader action and help reduce emissions on all fronts.

Invest in Green Technologies

Some aspects of the post-carbon supply chain, like electric vehicles, aren’t applicable right now. While options may be limited today, more investment in these technologies will speed their development, making sustainability more viable quicker. Many companies have already begun to invest in green technologies. Maserati has invested more than $867 million to refurbish its production hub to produce electric cars. As more money flows into these innovations, efficient, low-cost, carbon-free technologies will become available sooner, aiding a faster transition. Green energy is a technology, not a resource. As such, it will only become cheaper and more efficient over time. Consequently, while some of these technologies may not be viable business choices now, they will be eventually, especially with more funding.


Since supply chains are so interconnected, it will take increased collaboration to push them away from carbon. Decarbonization is also a considerable undertaking. The transition will be far easier and faster if companies can work together toward a common goal. Collaboration can mitigate the financial burden of decarbonization. Similarly, it can help some companies overcome any qualms they may have about the risks of going green. Climate action experts highlight that shared responsibility translates into reduced risk, at least in people’s perception of it. In addition to collaborating with other related companies, supply chains can partner with environmental organizations. They can help show where improvements can be made, guiding more effective action.

Supply Chains Must Become More Sustainable

Supply chains are essential to virtually every industry, and they often produce some of the most emissions. As such, these operations must move away from fossil fuels as companies seek to become more sustainable.

The post-carbon supply chain seems like a lofty goal, but it’s attainable. When organizations realize these things are possible, they can start moving toward a better future.

Source: Global Trade Magazine

Cambodia: a new tax regulation risks cutting the power on e-commerce activity

Less than six months after introducing a sub-decree to push non-resident e-commerce firms to register for value-added tax (VAT) with the Cambodian tax authority, the government has upped the ante.

The two new e-commerce policies – a November 30, 2021 deadline for the companies to register with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and a reverse charge VAT mechanism relating to business-to-business (B2B) transactions – signal the government’s seriousness in tightening tax measures.

For both policies, the penalties for failing to comply are severe, involving the termination of service and fines, demonstrating the authority’s frustration in trying to get the companies to obey the law.

A statement issued by MoC last week revealed how foreign companies or branches, sole proprietors and businesses that operate e-commerce platforms in Cambodia had yet to apply for e-commerce permit or license despite numerous workshops and training.

Going by the terse tone of the statement, these platforms are likely to see an end to their operation starting December 1 this year, said Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications secretary of state So Visothy.

“The firms who provide e-commerce business activities in Cambodia have to comply with the law and regulation. If they fail to comply or do not pay tax to the government, it is illegal for them to operate in Cambodia.

“[They] are subject to legal action by MoC or Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). We have the right to cooperate with the authorities to close down the illegal business operation,” he told The Post via a social messaging app.

The growth of the e-commerce market has been exponential reflecting the Kingdom’s economic growth and lower middle income status.

In addition, the number of e-commerce players, both big and small, have mushroomed in the past one year, with many taking to social media platforms to solicit for business and promote service.

This year, the World Bank forecasts gross domestic product per capita to be $1,606, rising 2.6 per cent after dipping last year. With that, disposable income has expanded to 464,000 riel ($113) in 2017, according to market and consumer data research firm Statista Inc.

For full article, please read here


Author: Sangeetha Amarthalingam

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

Publication date: 30 September 2021

Philippines: CITEM kicks off first digital food expo

A year before the pandemic hit in 2019, the Philippine agri-food sector turned in a strong showing, accounting for an estimated P6.1-T to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The same year also saw the sector employ 42.7% of the national workforce.

In the new normal that changed our lives and livelihoods forever, The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM)  tries to recapture the same momentum for one of our country’s most lucrative export sectors.

This is made possible through the first-ever digital iteration of its banner sourcing event for Philippine food, the IFEX Digital Expo 2021, from 23-25 September 2021.

“One of the many things that the pandemic brought forth is the need to connect—now more than ever. COVID-19 changed the way we at CITEM worked, especially with heightened activity online. With borderless communication at our disposal, we present through this expo how we can conduct the business of food in the new normal,” CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan shares.

Leveraging its access to advanced digital tools, CITEM stages the IFEX Digital Expo 2021 to provide an avenue for Philippine food brands and businesses to showcase homegrown food products and ingredients to a wider audience.

Themed “Salu-salo,” IFEX Digital Expo brings together business owners, restaurateurs, hoteliers, farmers, food manufacturers and distributors, retailers, culinary professionals and foodies. The event serves as a medium for strengthening the food community through storytelling, knowledge sharing, and creating dialogue. This year’s show features over 200 exhibitors from all over the country. There are also invited industry experts from global organizations and local government agencies who will share their knowledge and insights on trends, opportunities, and techniques related to food. Networking and business-to-business matching sessions will also be part of the online event’s features.

A Three-Day Digital Celebration of Philippine Food

One of the highlights of the IFEX Digital Expo is the launch of two online platforms and, developed by CITEM. will be the website of the banner brand for all of CITEM’s events and initiatives for the Philippine food sector. Meanwhile, will serve as the agency’s new promotion and lead generation platform for the country’s food export industry.

Expo delegates can look forward to a wide array of Philippine food product categories, including fine food and specialties, biscuits and confectionery, organic and natural food items and ingredients, and snacks and crispy savory food products.

In addition to the informative discussions, the expo is set to excite the palate through happy hour sessions such as coffee brewing. Take in the rich aromas and flavors of Philippine coffee on Day 1. Savor mouthwatering dishes as Chef Angelo Guison explores the flavorful gifts of coconut, from tree to plate, in Coco Pop on Day 2. Distinguish craft from draft with the Craft Beer Association of the Philippines and Philippine craft kings beer connoisseur Jazel Paraiso, as you sample a beer set and learn about beer-food pairing on Day 3.

Source From a Wide Array of Products at the Expo Section

The IFEX Digital Expo 2021 brings you an all-new digital sourcing experience through its Expo section on Hopin. Browse through a catalog of flavors harnessed from the Philippines’ distinct terroir and by Philippine food companies from all over the archipelago. In the three-day expo, you can also initiate business with food brands, export enablers, and business support organizations.

The IFEX Digital Expo 2021 is organized with the help of RAPID Growth, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Export Marketing Bureau-Halal (EMB-Halal), Philippine Coconut Authority, and DTI Regional Offices.

The Philippines: PH continues as ‘innovation achiever’ for third straight year in the annual Global Innovation Index; ranks 51st among 132 economies

Makati City – Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines remains among the world’s most innovative economies. The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2021 ranks the country at 51st out of 132 countries, as it sustains its status as an “innovation achiever” for the third consecutive year.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez emphasized that through the country’s Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S), “We have focused our efforts in strengthening national and regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems by forging government-industry-academe collaboration, enabling a strong business and policy environment, and upskilling our creative talent pool. Our experience validates the strong potential of innovation to catalyze job creation, upgrade industrial competitiveness, and attract high-value investments.”

The GII 2021 noted that the Philippines continues to perform better in innovation outputs than innovation inputs. Among its innovation output strengths are in high-tech exports (ranked first in the world), utility models by origin (eighth), creative goods exports (as % of total trade, 10th globally), and ICT services exports (as % of total trade, 13th globally). For innovation inputs, the country’s strengths are in high-tech imports (first), firms offering formal training (eighth), and trade, diversification, and market scale (21st).

“This means that we were able to produce more and higher-quality innovation outputs despite our limited innovation resources and pandemic-induced setbacks. This is reflected in the GII observation that the Philippines continues to be among the countries that perform above expectations given our current level of development,” remarked Secretary Lopez.

The GII 2021 further noted that the Philippines ranks fourth among the 34 lower middle-income group economies. It is 11th among the 17 economies in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania, with a performance that is above the regional average in two pillars, namely: business sophistication, and knowledge and technology outputs. More importantly, the country is among the TVIP economies (Turkey, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines), which are systematically catching up and have the potential to change the global innovation landscape for good.”

Pointing out the importance of the collaboration among government agencies and linking the country’s researchers/universities and industry with one another to build and cultivate the nation’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, Undersecretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba said, “By making our ecosystem inclusive, nurturing a friendly business environment, and with government and the private sector providing the needed funds for research and development, we will be able to attract more investments, generate more and better-quality jobs, and produce higher-value products that would lead to better prices in the market for the benefit of our consumers.”

Secretary Lopez stressed, “We have seen that with the right collaborators, our country’s entrepreneurial and innovative people can boost and optimize their discovery potential and serve as a primary engine of economic development, especially amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As envisioned by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, this is the best way by which we can spur new enterprises, create more and better jobs, and build our industrial competitiveness towards a more comfortable life for all Filipinos.” 

The #GII2021 is available in this link and the Philippine country profile is available in this link. ♦

Date of Original Release: 21 September 2021

To see the original article, please click here.

The Philippines: DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez pushes for people-centered & inclusive growth in ASEAN Economic Ministers consultation

Manila—Trade Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met with the United States Representative (USTR), Ambassador Katherine Tai, via video conference on 14 September 2021 for the AEM-USTR Consultations.

At the said engagement, ASEAN and US economic officials discussed current efforts undertaken to address the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed commitment to further accelerate recovery by ensuring that markets remain open for trade and investment, among others.

“On trade and investment policies, the Philippines believes that they must be people centered and should always promote inclusive growth. We have always adhered to this policy, and we will remain a strong mover of an open, free, fair, transparent, inclusive, rules based and non-discriminatory trading system,” said Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

The meeting endorsed the 2021-2022 ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) Work Plan that will include implementation of initiatives on digital trade and sustainable development, as well as further dialogue on safeguarding worker’s rights and the inclusion of environmental provisions in trade agreements.

According to Secretary Lopez, the U.S. is an important and strategic trading partner to ASEAN, and the [ASEAN-U.S.] TIFA has served as a key mechanism to reinforce economic relations and expand trade and investment opportunities in the post-pandemic recovery efforts.

“The Philippines views the rise of e-commerce and digital economy as catalysts for post pandemic recovery. Thus, it is important that rules and disciplines be entrenched in this area to ensure a predictable way of doing business online while protecting the rights of consumers.” Lopez added.

Ministers also engaged with the US-ASEAN Business Advisory Council (US-ABC) where both sides underscored the importance of the private sector in coming up with concrete initiatives to facilitate economic recovery.

The US-ABC discussed their recommendation paper titled, “Re-building ASEAN’s Economy in Post-Pandemic Era” which identifies timely initiatives where the private and public sector can work together to support ASEAN in implementing relevant initiatives, such as the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF), Ha Noi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce.

The US-ABC also lauded the support and assistance provided by the DTI led by Secretary Lopez on the launching of the ASEAN SME Academy, a US-funded online training tool and information portal to develop globally competitive MSMEs.

“We appreciate the proposed initiatives of the US-ABC, particularly in advancing the region’s digital transformation agenda. Digital trade is indeed a key area that ASEAN should look into to ensure synergies between the private and the public sector, and to fast-track recovery of affected businesses and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We will ensure the proposals are considered by the relevant sectoral bodies,” Secretary Lopez noted.

The AEM-USTR Consultations was convened at the sidelines of the 53rd AEM Meeting, which was held in view of the 38th ASEAN Leaders’ Summit and related summits to be held on 26-28 October 2021. ♦

Date of Original Release: 23 September 2021

To view the original article, please click here.

ASEAN upholds commitment to help inclusive businesses achieve greater impact

The 4th ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit’s theme ‘Building Inclusive Businesses to Build Back Better’ is in line with this year’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’ and reflects the potential of the public and private sector’s innovative models to address challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani said this in her opening remarks at the virtual summit last Wednesday.

“As a result of efforts to promote inclusive business at a national level, ASEAN member states are actively engaging in inclusive business policy development and capacity building to better understand the inclusive business concept and approaches among its policy makers and businesses,” she said.

Pengiran Hajah Zety also shared the progress of inclusive business in Brunei Darussalam.

Though poverty in the Sultanate is marginal, there has been a growing trend of social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility initiatives that incorporate elements of inclusive business in addressing social challenges such as unemployment and assisting vulnerable groups including low-income families and single mothers.

The one-day summit showcased emerging policy frameworks, strategies, and success stories of inclusive businesses across the region.

Date of Release: 26 September 2021

Read the full article here.

Registered FDI up in nine months despite pandemic: conference

Despite COVID-19, foreign investors’ new capital registered in Vietnam reached 22.15 billion USD in the first nine months, up 4.4 percent compared to the same period last year, as heard at the Government Portal’s online conference held on September 27 with the participation of a number of localities housing foreign direct investment (FDI) projects.
At the event, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc said the figures showed the Vietnamese Government’s special attention to investors and business climate improvement.
The Government has listened to investors’ proposals and tasked ministries, localities and sectors involved with tackling their difficulties, she added.
Representatives of participating FDI firms said they believe in Vietnam’s business climate and hoped the authorities to continue prioritising vaccinations for workers, opening the market for production recovery, and simplifying administrative procedures.
Choi Joo Ho, President of Samsung Vietnam, stated Samsung will not change its investment strategy in Vietnam.
In time to come, Samsung will continue to expand production and invest in equipment in its six factories operating in the nation, while upgrading and investing more in research and development to make Samsung Vietnam a major production base in the world, he added. Samsung Vietnam is building a 220 million USD R&D centre in Hanoi.
Binu Jacob, CEO/Managing Director of Nestlé Vietnam, said the group has decided to invest 132 million USD in building a new plant in southern Dong Nai province over the next two years in a bid to turn Vietnam Nestlé's production centre in Asia and Oceania.
Vice Chairwoman of the Dong Nai People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Hoang pledged the local authorities’ support for enterprises and their production recovery.
Dong Nai will further create a favourable environment for FDI firms to invest in the southern locality, she affirmed.

Source: VNA

Brunei Fertilizer Industries to export urea through Muara Port

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei Fertilizer Industries (BFI) on Monday signed an agreement with Muara Port Company (MPC) that will allow the fertilizer manufacturer to export granular urea through the country’s biggest marine port.

With BFI eyeing exports of granular urea to far-off markets such as India, Australia, Latin America and the United States, MPC, the operator of Muara port, is best positioned to handle the fertilizer cargoes, BFI said in a press release.

MPC recently began preliminary expansion works for Muara port that will double the size and capacity of Brunei’s main container terminal by 2023.

Under the agreement, MPC will provide BFI with the logistics of transporting urea from Sungai Liang Industrial Park to Muara Port, which can accommodate vessels of up to 40,000 deadweight tonnage to enable BFI to reach remote customers.

MPC will also take over operations of BFI’s terminal in Sungai Liang Industrial Park, which can accommodate smaller vessels up to 9,000 deadweight tonnage.

Date of Release: 7 September 2021

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HM: China remains ASEAN’s biggest trade partner amid pandemic

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — China maintained its position as ASEAN’s top trading partner despite the ongoing pandemic that has disrupted economic activities all over the world, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said on Friday.

In his titah at the virtual opening ceremony of the 18th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China, His Majesty said ASEAN and China registered an increase in total merchandise trade in 2020.

This underscored the strong economic ties and business linkages that characterised the long-standing relationship between ASEAN and China, he added.

Trade between China and ASEAN reached US$684.6 billion last year.

China has been the regional bloc’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years. As of June this year, mutual investment between China and ASEAN exceeded US$310 billion.

Date of Release: 11 September 2021

Read the full article here.