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    Asian Insider 5 November: India out of RCEP, Xi on Trade and HK, Jho Low update

    Published On: 5 November 2019

    Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


    5 November 2019

    In today’s bulletin: India rejects RCEP, the world’s largest trade pact; Xi Jinping promises open markets and free trade deals, Jho Low’s globe-trotting facilitated by multiple passports, one of which is being revoked by Cyprus.



    India has chosen not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the other 15 countries involved in negotiations for the mega trade pact said they are ready to sign the deal next year. Even without India, RCEP will be the world’s largest trade pact.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the fact that the remaining 15 countries have managed to agree on it was a great achievement. Internal political opposition in India to the RCEP deal intensified recently.

    Asean Summit: RCEP conclusion without India still a ‘major step forward’, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

    RCEP trade pact shows that Asean is developing its own brand of leadership

    Congress leader Sonia Gandhi steers opposition to RCEP trade pact in India

    Influential group in India launches nationwide protest against RCEP free trade pact



    Chinese President Xi Jinping told world leaders on Tuesday that China would honour its commitment and promises, as he renewed a pledge to open the Chinese market and economy to foreign companies. Mr Xi urged countries to “tear down walls” and stand firm against protectionism and unilateralism.

    The “Phase One” of a trade deal is close, according to US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

    Meanwhile, Australia’s Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham became the highest-ranking Australian official to visit China in a year, as Canberra attempts to ensure that cooling diplomatic relations do not hinder trade.

    China presses Donald Trump for more tariff roll-backs in ‘phase one’ trade deal

    US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as progress seen on trade

    China and US have ‘reached principled consensus’ on trade



    Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly backed the beleaguered leader of Hong Kong on Monday night, in his most direct public comments so far on the pro-democracy protests that have shaken the city for months and raised doubts about her political survival. Business activity in Hong Kong’s private sector fell to its weakest in 21 years in October.

    China has said it will not tolerate anything that challenges the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” formula that governs Hong Kong.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterates support for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in Shanghai meeting

    Missed opportunity for Hong Kong to showcase ‘one country, two systems’ formula

    Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam dismisses ‘malicious’ report she will be replaced

    China says no plan to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, dismisses report



    Cyprus’ president has pledged to revoke any of his island republic’s passports found to have been “mistakenly” granted to wealthy overseas investors under a controversial cash-for-citizenship programme, after it was reported that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was given a passport from the island state in 2015. Mr Low is reported to have been using several passports to criss-cross the globe.

    Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Low has Cyprus passport, bought villa on Mediterranean island: Report

    Malaysia’s top law officers say getting Jho Low remains top priority

    Jho Low’s deal will recover more of 1MDB loot but unlikely to sit well with Malaysia

    Altered states: The many possible faces of Jho Low



    After spending August experimenting with a four-day work week in a country notorious for overwork, Microsoft Japan said sales per employee rose 40 per cent compared with the same month last year.

    What would Jack Ma think of this?

    Just to survive at Alibaba, you need to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, Mr Ma said in April as he endorsed the industry’s notorious 996 work culture – that is, 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

    Part-time job seekers and companies get help to try out working arrangements

    China’s tech giants under fire for long work hours

    Singapore workers clock fewer hours over 8 years: Manpower Ministry Report

    The kindest cut: Inn reduces work hours – yet staff pay rises 40%



    NEW ZEALAND PM’S VIDEO GOES VIRAL: In a two-minute challenge video, PM Jacinda Ardern breathlessly lists the achievements of her government’s first two years.

    MALAYSIA LOOKS FOR MORE 1MDB LOOT: Malaysia is looking to locate at least S$5.9 billion worth of further assets linked to the scandal at state fund 1MDB, and is working with at least five nations to recover the amount. Most of the funds raised by 1MDB were reported to have been pumped into PetroSaudi International (PSI).

    INDIA’S TOP COURT SLAMS ‘ATROCIOUS’ POLLUTION: Delhi and its adjoining areas continued to battle high pollution levels in a situation the Supreme Court called “atrocious” as it pulled up state authorities for failing to tackle the problem effectively.


    These insights are produced by The Straits Times, the official media partner for the Asia House Global Trade Dialogue, taking place in Singapore on 7 November 2019.

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