Analysis: More SE Asia firms consider U.S. IPOs, filling void left by China peers
Several Southeast Asian companies are considering listing in the United States due to strong investor appetite for emerging market growth. This is in the absence of Chinese stock offerings, which have significantly reduced due to political tensions between Beijing and Washington. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) largest car e-commerce platform, Carsome Group, has also revealed it is considering various global exchanges, including the US, for a potential listing. Southeast Asian firms are expected to raise between $300m and $1bn, with valuations ranging from $1.5bn to $8bn.
Vietnam PM courts U.S. companies, seeks investment in chip sector
Vietnam's Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, has urged US tech firms, including Nvidia and Synopsys, to invest more in the country's semiconductor industry. Chinh's visit to the US follows US President Joe Biden's recent trip to Hanoi, during which the two leaders announced plans to deepen cooperation in the chip industry. Chinh pledged to facilitate future investments by Nvidia and Synopsys in Vietnam, with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang expressing interest in collaborating in the areas of semiconductors, information technology, and artificial intelligence. US chipmaker Intel already has a major factory in Vietnam, with rival Amkor also building a facility there.
Biden to Urge Nations to Protect and Nurture Democracy
In his address to the United Nations on Tuesday, President Joe Biden will call for global support for Ukraine and urge advanced nations to boost the economies of developing countries. The speech is part of a week of international diplomacy for Biden as he faces challenges at home, such as growing opposition to additional aid to Ukraine, inflation, a possible government shutdown, and poor approval ratings ahead of next year's midterm elections. The president will promote his administration's accomplishments while confronting crises such as tensions with Israel and Iran and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Biden has repaired many of the relationships damaged during the presidency of Donald Trump, but his domestic issues may lead other countries to question his staying power. Biden has a reputation as an internationalist fighting isolationism but faces uncertainty as he heads into the 2024 elections. However, he has made progress on foreign policy, including rallying the West against Russia's invasion and building partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to counter China's influence. Despite Biden's strong international reputation, his approval ratings and Trump's potential re-election could lead to uncertainty regarding the US' ability to maintain a stable foreign policy.
Vietnamese activists seek refuge in U.S. after Biden deal
The United States has announced that it will accept up to 35,000 Afghan refugees as part of its 'Priority 1' refugee program. This program is specifically for individuals who have worked for the US government or US-based organizations in Afghanistan and now face threats from the Taliban. The families of these individuals are expected to seek resettlement in the US.
The talented and the restless: Six young artists to watch at Primavera
The Sydney Morning Herald
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) has announced the artists selected for its annual Primavera exhibition, featuring the work of artists under 35. The exhibition has a history of showcasing emerging talent, with past participants going on to achieve national and international recognition. This year's crop of artists includes Julia Gutman, who won the 2023 Archibald Prize less than a year after exhibiting at Primavera, as well as Moorina Bonini, Christopher Bassi, Tiyan Baker, Nikki Lam, Sarah Poulgrain, and Truc Truong. The exhibition aims to explore alternative ways of reimagining social structures and systems.
Southeast Asia nations hold first joint navy drills near disputed South China Sea
The Toronto Star
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has begun its first joint naval exercise, the ASEAN Solidarity Exercise. The non-combat drills aim to boost military ties among ASEAN nations and enhance interoperability. The exercises, taking place in Indonesia's Natuna waters, are being seen as a signal to China, which has become increasingly assertive in the region. China's "nine-dash line" claim to most of the South China Sea has led to tensions with rival claimants Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The drills will involve civilian groups involved in humanitarian relief and disaster prevention.
ASEAN kicks off its first-ever joint military drills in Indonesia
Units from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have started their first-ever joint military drills in Indonesia's South Natuna Sea. The five-day operation aims to develop military skills, including maritime security and patrols, and the distribution of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. All 10 members of ASEAN will participate in the exercise, including prospective member East Timor. The drills are taking place amid rising tensions in the region and protests against China's activities in the South China Sea. The exercises were originally set to take place in the southernmost waters of the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Beijing. However, the location was changed due to sensitivities.
The climate upside of China's real estate downturn
The debt crisis in China's construction sector may have an unexpected climate benefit. China is the world's largest construction market and top cement producer, with the cement sector accounting for roughly 12% of China's total carbon emissions. However, with the property sector slowing down due to debt concerns among major developers, the output and use of cement are likely to contract, leading to reduced emissions from the cement industry. Construction activity across China is slowing, and cement output is expected to shrink to multi-year lows by the end of 2023.
China’s hunger for Vietnamese durian shows US faces hard road ahead
South China Morning Post
Vietnam has become an important bridge between China and the US, establishing itself as a key player in the supply chain between the two countries. The Southeast Asian nation is benefiting from US companies leaving China and looking to maintain a presence in Asia. However, Vietnam remains dependent on China, given its level of reliance on its northern neighbour. Trade between Vietnam and China is solidifying as Chinese consumers become major buyers of durian, a fruit that is becoming one of Vietnam's most exciting exports. In the first half of 2021, Vietnam exported $876m worth of durian, 95% of which went to China.
Biden urges world leaders to stop Ukraine from being ‘carved up’
US President Joe Biden has urged world leaders to oppose early peace talks that would lead to the break-up of Ukraine, arguing that standing firm against Russia's goal of winning a large portion of land would deter future invasions of independent nations. Biden warned that Russia was betting that the world was growing "weary" of the conflict and would let Moscow "brutalise Ukraine without consequence". He called on the international community to stand up to Russia's aggression in order to deter other potential aggressors in the future. Biden will be hosting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington for talks on the war later this week.
The 27 new Unesco World Heritage Sites for 2023 revealed
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced the addition of 27 new World Heritage Sites, bringing the total to over 1,100 locations worldwide. The new listings include ancient Roman temples in France, an island off the coast of Tunisia, and an archaeological site in Cambodia. The sites were chosen from a list of nominations submitted between 2022 and 2023. Among the additions are historic towns and cities in Europe, as well as national parks and archaeological sites in Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Congo. Several existing sites were also expanded to include new areas. The UK did not have any new sites added to the list. In order to be included, sites must meet specific criteria and be of "outstanding universal value."
‘ROC Taiwan’ exists no matter how much Beijing ignores ‘median line’: Taipei
South China Morning Post
Taiwan has rejected Beijing's attempts to deny its existence, asserting that the "Republic of China Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state". Tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated as Beijing has increased military pressure on the self-ruled island, with Taiwan accusing China of "continuous military harassment". Beijing has refused to recognise the unofficial median line in the Taiwan Strait, drawing criticism from Taiwan's foreign ministry. China has vowed to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary and has increased pressure on the island by poaching its allies and conducting military drills nearby.
Top international cuisines Brits are keen to try
Food from the Philippines, Brazil and Vietnam are the most popular international cuisines that Britons would like to try, according to a study by food company Jongga. The research also found that 80% of respondents consider themselves to be adventurous eaters. However, 54% of respondents said that financial constraints were preventing them from travelling and experiencing authentic international foods.
Trudeau’s Murder Claim Threatens to Upend US Courtship of India
The US is caught between one of its closest allies, Canada, and an increasingly important partner in countering China, India, following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations that India orchestrated the murder of a separatist leader. The White House has reacted cautiously, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, but not referencing India. The episode threatens to upend the US’s efforts to court India as a counterweight to China.
Singapore energy appetite fuels ASEAN's renewable power grid
Southeast Asia is forging international renewable energy deals to transition away from fossil fuels, led by Singapore, which aims to import 4 GW of low-carbon electricity by 2035. In 2022, Laos began exporting hydropower to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia, totalling 100 MW over two years. Indonesia will export 2 GW from five solar projects, while Singapore's Keppel Infrastructure Holdings will buy 1 GW of renewable power from Cambodia-based Royal Group. The International Energy Agency predicts Southeast Asia will generate 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, rising to 95% by 2050.
U.N.'s 2030 Agenda needs a reboot
The G20 summit in New Delhi this month brought unanimous support for the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and highlighted the importance of the Global South. However, the agenda is in crisis as barely one-tenth of its targets are on track. Urging change without taking action is not enough. World leaders must take responsibility and make a strategic, bold and concerted move to reignite the 2030 Agenda. Think tanks, philanthropic groups, international financial institutions and development agencies have engaged in various initiatives to accelerate the global sustainability agenda and keep the Sustainable Development Goals on track. However, evolving geoeconomic and geopolitical dynamics pose greater challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda today than when it was adopted in 2015. The G20 and G7 should lead the way with alternative conceptions and measurements of prosperity and create a working group to identify a comprehensive set of indicators focused on multidimensional well-being. The G20, along with the G7, the BRICS and other similar groupings, should seek consensus to move ahead with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' proposal for $500bn a year in SDG Stimulus funding.
ADB trims developing Asia growth outlook on China risk
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has lowered its growth forecast for developing Asia this year due to high interest rates and the property crisis in China. The ADB revised its growth forecast to 4.7% from 4.8% in its Asian Development Outlook report. The bank cited the slowing of economies across the Asian region and the weakness in China's property sector as factors contributing to the downward revision. The ADB also noted the risks of financial instability due to high global interest rates and the potential for supply disruptions caused by events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and El Nino. Despite the downward revision, the ADB maintained its projection of 4.8% growth in 2024. The bank cautioned against policy interventions and instead urged countries to focus on targeted interventions to support vulnerable groups. The ADB also projected a decrease in headline inflation in the region this year, due to low inflation in China and steadying food and energy prices. The growth estimate for China was revised down to 4.9% from 5.0%, while the estimate for India was cut to 6.3% from 6.4%. The Southeast Asia region is also projected to see slower growth, with Vietnam's growth forecast cut to 5.8% from 6.5%.
Biden’s efforts to court India challenged by assassination claim
US President Joe Biden is attempting to balance relations with Canada and India after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. The Canadian investigation alleges that Indian officials may have been involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who advocated for a separate Sikh state. The White House has voiced support for the investigation but has avoided any repudiation of India or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The US is seeking strong relations with both countries as it tries to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.
JD.com air cargo unit launches route to Vietnam amid expansion
South China Morning Post
JD.com has completed its first international cargo flight between mainland China and Vietnam. The maiden flight, completed by JD Airlines, the air cargo unit of JD.com's logistics arm, will run three times a week and transport cross-border e-commerce parcels and agricultural produce between the two countries. JD.com has been expanding its logistics operations in Southeast Asia and is aiming to build a global logistics network beyond its domestic operations in China. The company is also exploring adding more international routes to its network.
China factories with Asean aspirations are lining up for a look at Vietnam
South China Morning Post
Chinese manufacturers are increasingly looking to move their factories to Vietnam, according to sales executives at the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Expo. The Vietnam-based Deep C Industrial Zones said it had seen a surge in interest from Chinese businesses, particularly since the start of the pandemic. While Vietnam has long been a favoured destination for manufacturers looking to avoid US tariffs, competition in the region is expected to increase.