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    The Week in Asia – October 2020

    Published On: 30 October 2020

    Asia House Advisory takes a look at the top developments in Asia this week affecting trade, investment and public policy.

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    FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER

     

    South Korea and Japan follow China in carbon neutral commitments

    South Korea this week joined China and Japan in committing to becoming carbon neutral. South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised that the country would achieve net zero emissions by 2050; Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida Suga pledged the same earlier in the week. These commitments follow China’s pledge earlier this year to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. The shift away from fossil fuels will pose serious challenges to Asia’s biggest economies, which remain heavily reliant on coal and oil. Renewable resources currently only make up five per cent of South Korea’s electricity, while 87 per cent of Japan’s energy use in 2017 relied on fossil fuels. Governments will have to make major policy changes over the upcoming years to meet these targets. Detailed policies from Korea, Japan and China have yet to be announced.

     

    China focuses on domestic economy and technology in five-year plan

    China’s leadership this week held a four-day conclave in Beijing to discuss the country’s next five-year plan. Major themes of the new plan were outlined on Thursday, with a focus on developing domestic spending and greater technology use. The plan forwent issuing an overall economic growth target. Leaders stressed ‘high quality development’ over fast-paced growth, highlighting the need for a strong development pattern based on domestic consumption. The meeting also estimated that GDP would exceed US$14.9 trillion this year.

     

    Cambodia launches digital currency

    The National Bank of Cambodia launched the country’s new digital currency, the Bakong system, on Wednesday. The system is aimed at making payments simpler and more conducive for cashless transactions. The digital currency will not be issued directly by the central bank, but instead by partner institutions in Cambodia. The move will ideally expand access to financial services and shore up confidence in the Cambodian Riel. Emerging economies globally are looking to launch digital currencies, partially due to the relatively low confidence in their own currencies. In Cambodia, more than 80 per cent of bank deposits are denominated in dollars. Other major economies are also debating digital currencies – the Bank of Japan will do a test run in the first half of the 2021 fiscal year, and  China last week announced draft legislation that would turn the digital yuan into legal tender.

     

    US allows some sales of chips to Huawei’s businesses

    The US is reportedly allowing a number of chip companies to supply Huawei with parts, as long as they are not used in Huawei’s 5G business. The US earlier this year barred companies globally from manufacturing or selling components to Huawei that used US technology. The US Department of Commerce said that sanctions on Huawei remain, but can be overcome if companies can show that sales do not involve technology that is related to 5G work. The move may prove a lifeline for Huawei’s smartphone business, but the sanctions will continue to be a huge risk for the company’s 5G operations.

     

    US and India build strategic partnership

    The US and India this week further strengthened their strategic partnership, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper travelled to New Delhi to meet with their Indian counterparts. The two countries held the third joint US-India Ministerial Dialogue in two years and on Tuesday signed a military pact on the exchange of critical geospatial intelligence. The new agreement is likely to prove beneficial for India, giving the country access to high-end satellite data, imagery, maps, and other geospatial information. The trip reflects some thinking behind India’s foreign policy, which is bringing India and the US closer together, particularly as tensions with China continue to rise. Analysts view the trip, coming just a week before the US presidential elections, as a signal of the importance – and bipartisan support – the US places on the relationship.

    Asia House hosted a roundtable with leading policy figures this week to explore India’s economic prospects amid the challenges of COVID-19. Watch the event in full and read key takeaways here.

     

    NEXT WEEK IN ASIA

    Malaysian central bank to meet and 2021 budget announced: Malaysia’s central bank will meet on 3 November, and the 2021 budget will be unveiled on Friday. The upcoming budget has become a contentious political issue given ongoing political volatility in Malaysia.

    India and China to hold eighth round of military talks: The two countries will hold military talks next week to work to resolve the border dispute in Eastern Ladakh.

     

    COVID-19: ASIA ROUND UP

    JAPAN: The Bank of Japan maintained its ultra-easy monetary policy and continues to monitor the effects of past policy measures while the economy recovers from the crisis. The cabinet has approved a plan to use public funds to provide COVID-19 vaccines.

    AUSTRALIA: Lockdown measures in Melbourne have largely been lifted, with restaurants allowed to open, and limits on social gatherings eased.

    THAILAND: Thailand upgraded its 2020 GDP forecast to a 7.7 per cent contraction, up from the 8.5 per cent decline projected earlier.

    MALAYSIA: Malaysia will host the first-ever virtual summit of leaders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations in November.

    These COVID-19 insights are taken from Asia House Advisory’s focussed monitoring service, one of the ways in which Asia House is providing analysis on economic and public health policy measures taken by governments across Asia and the Middle East. Please reach out to Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory, at  ed.ratcliffe@asiahouse.co.uk for further details on this and our other advisory services.

     

    Asia House Advisory helps organisations understand new operating environments and meet business-critical challenges. Find out more.


    FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER

     

    UK signs first major post-Brexit deal with Japan

    The UK signed its first major trade deal since leaving the European Union on Friday, concluding free trade negotiations with Japan. UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed the agreement with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. The new deal largely mirrors the existing EU-Japan deal, but has extra provisions on digital trade and removes some quotas for agricultural exports. The UK-Japan deal will allow continuity in trade between the two countries, but Motegi has said that a deal between the UK and the EU will also be crucial for Japanese businesses. The successful completion of the FTA with Japan – which accounts for roughly 1.8 per cent of UK exports – has been positioned by the UK government as a reflection of Britain’s post-Brexit trade credentials and its ability to strike deals quickly with global partners.

     

    Ant Group gets approval for world’s biggest ever IPO

    Chinese company Ant Group has received final approvals for its US$30 billion public offering in Hong Kong, in what is set to be the world’s biggest ever IPO. Ant is the online payments group owned by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and is valued at as much as US$318 billion by some analysts. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange gave the deal a public stamp of approval on Wednesday. Ant is set to list in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, and the listing is expected to top Saudi Aramco’s record US$25.6 billion IPO in 2019. Those working on the IPO are looking to list shares ahead of the US presidential election, which could add further market volatility and disrupt proceedings. A recent spate of IPOs by Chinese companies in Hong Kong are helping the city to position itself as a global finance hub for Chinese technology companies, particularly as US-China tensions continue to rise.

     

    Sweden becomes latest country to ban Huawei and ZTE from 5G network

    Sweden has become the latest country to ban Chinese telecommunications groups Huawei and ZTE from its 5G mobile networks. On Tuesday the country’s telecommunications regulator said it had banned Huawei and ZTE from new installations following advice from Sweden’s armed forces and security services. Klas Friberg, head of Sweden’s security services, said that “China is one of the biggest threats to Sweden.” The move comes as geopolitical tensions between the US and China continue to increase, and the US continues to push its allies to exclude Chinese telecoms equipment from planned 5G networks. Sweden is expected to hold 5G spectrum auctions next month, with four companies – Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom – currently approved for participation in the 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz auctions. The Swedish company Ericsson is one of Huawei’s biggest rivals.

     

    Thailand lifts emergency declaration

    Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha lifted an emergency declaration on Thursday that had been aimed at stopping anti-government protests. The declaration was implemented last week amid demonstrations calling for reform of the monarchy, the Prime Minister’s resignation, a new constitution, and the end to the harassment of protestors. On Wednesday, the protestors gave the Prime Minister three days to resign. A protest group, Free Youth, have said that despite the revocation of the emergency declaration, other demands have not yet been met.

    Brian Davidson, UK Ambassador to Thailand, briefed Asia House Corporate Members on the political situation in the country earlier this month. Read more.

     

    International Monetary Fund cuts Asia’s economic forecast again

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has again cut this year’s economic forecast for Asia, with an expected contraction of 2.2 per cent. The forecast revision reflects the sharper-than-expected contraction in countries like India, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on the entire region. The IMF has, however, upgraded next year’s growth forecast to 6.9 per cent, but has warned that recovery will be sluggish and uneven across the region. Weak global growth, closed borders, and tensions around trade, technology, and security, could impede prospects for a trade-led recovery in the region.

    COVID-19’s impact on India’s economy, and the potential reforms that could enable growth out of the crisis, will be explored in an Asia House roundtable with McKinsey Global Institute on 27 October. Find out more.

     

    Two Japanese banks pick Southeast Asia for new offices

    Two of Japan’s biggest regional banks, Gunma Bank and Bank of Yokohama, have announced the opening of new offices in Southeast Asia – in Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore respectively. The aim is to better support client companies’ expansion in the region, and will involve moving existing resources from Hong Kong and London to Southeast Asia. The move also comes as the Japanese government has encouraged manufacturers to diversify their supply chains further into Southeast Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also chose Vietnam and Indonesia as the destinations for his first overseas visit as Prime Minister.

     

    NEXT WEEK IN ASIA

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Indonesia and India: Pompeo will visit Indonesia next week, his first trip to the country since the Indonesian government turned down a proposal to host the US’s spy planes. Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will also travel to India to meet with their counterparts for talks on security in the Indo-Pacific.

    Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan to report Q3 GDP: Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan will report GDP figures for Q3 next week. The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing lockdowns are expected to have impacted economic growth in these countries.

     

    COVID-19: ASIA ROUND UP

    CHINA: The country will continue to suspend outbound group tours and ban travel agencies from allowing inbound tours due to the risk of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

    HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s unemployment rate rose to 6.4 per cent in the July-September period, marking the highest figure since 2004 in the aftermath of the SARS epidemic.

    JAPAN: Japan is considering easing entry restrictions on business travellers for stays of up to three days. Bank of Japan board member Makoto Sakurai has said the central bank must take “swift and appropriate action” if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to delay economic recovery.

    THAILAND: The country’s new central bank governor said the economy faces severe shocks from the pandemic and that recovery will take at least two years.

    These COVID-19 insights are taken from Asia House Advisory’s focussed monitoring service, one of the ways in which Asia House is providing analysis on economic and public health policy measures taken by governments across Asia and the Middle East. Please reach out to Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory, at ed.ratcliffe@asiahouse.co.uk for further details on this and our other advisory services.

    Asia House Advisory helps organisations understand new operating environments and meet business-critical challenges. Find out more.

     


     

    FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 2020

     

    Beijing sells first bond offer to US investors

    Beijing sold dollar debt directly to US investors for the first time this week in a US$6 billion offering. The bonds carry maturities of three, five, 10, and 30 years. The offering drew record demand, with US$27 billion worth of orders, and comes as China sees strong economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Analysts have said that the move to sell directly to US investors, particularly so close to the US elections, reflects low confidence in efforts to decouple the US and China.

     

    WTO General Council meeting discusses unfair practices

    The UK, Brazil, Japan, and the US delivered a joint statement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council this week on the importance of market-oriented conditions to the global trading system. The statement discussed the importance of tackling unfair practices in order to ensure the success of the system. Issues including industrial subsidies, state owned enterprises, and forced technology transfer were highlighted as areas of focus. The group also held consultations with a number of supportive WTO members.

     

    Thailand declares state of emergency as protests continue

    Thailand this week declared a state of emergency in Bangkok as a student-led protest movement gained momentum, with a 10,000-strong anti-government protest on Wednesday at the city’s Democracy Monument and Government House. Protests have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s administration. A 2005 law gave the government extra powers under a state of emergency and makes the protests illegal in the context of COVID-19 measures. Gatherings of five or more people have been banned and police have warned people against further protests.

    Asia House welcomed Brian Davidson, UK Ambassador to Thailand, to brief Corporate Members on the political situation and broader economic affairs last week. Read more.

     

    Japan’s Supreme Court rulings shake up labour market

    Landmark Supreme Court rulings in Japan have clarified 2013 laws on ‘equal pay for equal work’ which will likely reshape the country’s labour market. Under the new rulings, companies in the country must pay contract workers the same as salaried staff, though this excludes pensions and bonuses. Analysts believe the new laws could have a significant impact, improving conditions for contract workers but potentially raising costs for companies.

     

    Indian company Tata in talks for online retail push

    Indian company Tata Group is in talks with online groceries start-up Big Basket in a bid to grow its online retail presence. Competition for the country’s online retail market has ramped up in recent months, with both Amazon and Reliance continuing to invest heavily in the sector. Big Basket was this year valued at US$1.3 billion and is backed by Alibaba. The tie-up could help Tata bolster its digital presence and help its growth in the country’s e-commerce market.

     

    NEXT WEEK IN ASIA

     

    Japanese Prime Minister to make first overseas visit: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will make his first overseas visit since taking office next week. He will visit ASEAN countries, including Indonesia and Vietnam, from 18 October. He is expected to discuss cooperation around the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan-ASEAN cooperation, and South China Sea tensions.

    China Q3 GDP: China’s Q3 GDP will be reported on Monday, along with September activity data on industrial production, retail sales, and fixed-asset investment. Q3 GDP is expected to be better than that of Q2.

     

    COVID-19: ASIA ROUND UP

     

    CHINA: The city of Qingdao, following the emergence of some COVID-19 cases, has embarked on a push to test all nine million of its citizens. The city has also suspended the head of its health commission and fired a hospital director following the outbreak.

    HONG KONG: Hong Kong and Singapore have announced plans to set up a ‘travel bubble’ which will allow short-term visitors to travel between the two cities without having to serve quarantine notices.

    INDIA: The International Monetary Fund has revised its forecast for the country’s GDP growth, revising its June forecast of a 4.5 per cent contraction to a 10.3 per cent contraction.

    MALAYSIA: The country’s Royal Palace has postponed all meetings for two weeks. This will delay a decision on the recent bid by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to form a new government.

    SINGAPORE: Preliminary data shows that the country’s economy shrank seven per cent year-on-year in the July-September period.

    These COVID-19 insights are taken from Asia House Advisory’s focussed monitoring service, one of the ways in which Asia House is providing analysis on economic and public health policy measures taken by governments across Asia and the Middle East. Please reach out to Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory, at ed.ratcliffe@asiahouse.co.uk for further details on this and our other advisory services.

    Asia House Advisory helps organisations understand new operating environments and meet business-critical challenges. Find out more.

     


    FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER 2020

     

    Indonesian parliament passes sweeping omnibus bill

    Protests broke out in Indonesia this week as the country’s parliament passed a controversial ‘omnibus’ bill on Monday. The bill overhauls several-dozen tax, investment, labour market, and intellectual property laws, and is part of the government’s drive to boost foreign investment in Indonesia. The bill was passed the day before the start of a national strike by trade unions; the reforms have been widely criticised as violating workers’ rights and stripping environmental protections. The reform package will also gradually lower the country’s corporate income tax rate to 20 per cent by 2022 and eliminate income tax for domestic dividends. According to some analysts, the measures could help Indonesia to attract more foreign investment and play a bigger role in global supply chains.

    Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, briefed Asia House Corporate Members in July on Indonesia’s investment strategy. Read more.

     

    South Korean Trade Minister in top two candidates for WTO top job

    South Korean Trade minister Yoo Myung-hee was this week selected as one of the last two candidates for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister, is the other candidate joining Yoo in the final stages of the process, meaning the WTO will soon have its first female Director-General. If elected, Yoo will be the second Asian leader to head the organisation, and has said she will reform the WTO by restoring and reinforcing multilateral systems, as well as mediating between the US and China.  The next round of consultations runs until 27 October with an announcement expected in the days following.

     

    Lufax joins China’s fintech IPO race

    Lufax, the online wealth management and lending arm of Ping An Insurance Group, China’s largest insurer, filed a public prospectus for an IPO in New York this week. Lufax joins two of China’s largest fintech firms – Ant Group and JD.com fintech affiliate JD Digits – in filing IPOs globally. Altogether, the three companies are seeking to raise more than US$40 billion through IPOs in New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Lufax is looking to raise as much as US$3 billion. The company is aiming to raise capital to expand its cross-border payments and user base, and to enhance research and development. The new funding will also help Lufax meet financing demand from small businesses.

     

    Amazon charges India’s Future Group as country’s e-commerce race heats up

    Amazon this week sent a legal notice to a promoter of Indian retailer Future Group, claiming it had breached the terms of its contract with Amazon by signing a deal with competing firm Reliance Industries. Amazon last year acquired a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons Ltd, the promoter entity which owns an interest in Future Retail. Amazon, Walmart-owned Flipkart, and Reliance are in a heated battle to gain market share in this rapidly growing space in India.

     

    Indonesia to establish new sovereign wealth fund

    As part of the job creation laws passed this week, the Indonesian government is preparing to establish a US$5 billion sovereign wealth fund – the Indonesia Investment Authority. The sovereign wealth fund is aimed at increasing and optimising the value of state assets in the long term and attracting investment from global investors. Almost half of the funding will be in cash, with the remaining funding in the form of shares of state-owned enterprises and other state assets. It is reported that foreign funds from the UAE, Japan’s Softbank, and the US International Development Finance Corporation are already looking to invest.

     

     

    NEXT WEEK IN ASIA

     

    Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to meet king: The country’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has said he will meet the country’s king next Tuesday to prove he has the support of a majority of lawmakers to topple the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

    New Zealand heads to the polls: New Zealand will hold general elections on 17 October. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party is widely expected to maintain its double-digit lead in the elections.

     

    COVID-19: ASIA ROUND UP

    INDIA: Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet will launch non-stop flights connecting New Delhi and Mumbai with London’s Heathrow Airport from 4 December, under an air bubble agreement between the two countries.

    JAPAN: The Bank of Japan this week raised its economic assessment for most of the country, with the economy expected to improve further. The government will permit Japanese and foreign nationals with residency status to re-enter the country without having to self-isolate for two weeks.

    SOUTH KOREA: South Korea and Japan have agreed to exempt business travellers from 14-day quarantine requirements from this Thursday.

    MALAYSIA: The entire Malaysian cabinet has been asked to quarantine, including Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, after a minister tested positive for COVID-19.

    THAILAND: The government has announced tax incentives to revive domestic consumption. Tax deductions of up to US$960 will be available on purchases of goods and services until December.

    The UK Ambassador to Thailand, Brian Davidson, briefed Asia House Corporate Members this week.

    PHILIPPINES: President Rodrigo Duterte publicly asked Congress to pass the US$93 billion national budget for 2021, as fears mount over possible delays in the budget’s passage.

    NEW ZEALAND: COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland were lifted this week, moving to Alert Level 1 after reporting no new cases for 10 days.

    These COVID-19 insights are taken from Asia House Advisory’s focussed monitoring service, one of the ways in which Asia House is providing analysis on economic and public health policy measures taken by governments across Asia and the Middle East. Please reach out to Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory, at ed.ratcliffe@asiahouse.co.uk for further details on this and our other advisory services.

    Asia House Advisory helps organisations understand new operating environments and meet business-critical challenges. Find out more.

     


    FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER 2020

     

    Volkswagen makes moves in China’s electric car market

    Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture partners, SAIC Motor, FAW Group, and JAC Motors, will invest US$17.4 billion into electric vehicles in China, as competition increases for low-carbon cars in the country. The funds will be used to design and manufacture 15 electrified models for the Beijing market by 2025, with production beginning this month in two new factories dedicated to electric vehicles. The group is looking to take on Tesla and become the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, but will face competition from several leading Chinese electric vehicle start-ups. The development comes on top of Volkswagen’s existing pledge of US$38.5 billion towards a global transition away from fuel-burning engines.

     

    UK gains Vietnam’s support for joining CPTPP

    The UK announced it has Vietnam’s support to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade deal. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh, on Wednesday in Hanoi to discuss a vaccine for COVID-19 and two trade deals – a bilateral agreement, and the CPTPP. The UK announced its intention to apply for accession to the CPTPP in June 2019. Raab was accompanied on the visit by Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy, who will be briefing Asia House Corporate Members on 15 October.

    Read Asia House Advisory’s latest analysis on the UK’s trade agenda for Asia-Pacific.

     

    Japan’s NTT to buy out DoCoMo in US$40 billion deal

    Japanese telecommunications company NTT is moving towards full ownership of the private mobile unit DoCoMo in a US$40 billion deal. NTT listed DoCoMo 28 years ago but is now buying back the 34 per cent stake it does not already own. The move, which launched the country’s biggest ever tender offer, may help NTT survive a price war and the 5G race in the country. Analysts say the deal will lead to more aggressive price cuts, something the government has been pushing for. New Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to lower mobile fees beyond the price cuts announced last year.

     

    India on track for partial privatisation of national rail system

    The Indian government is looking to allow private sector participation in the country’s national railway system. Under the proposed public-private partnership of the system, 151 privately-operated trains would be introduced in phases starting in 2023. These new trains would complement the 13,000+ trains that the state-owned Indian Railways currently operate. Private investment is expected to reach around US$4 billion. Companies that have shown interest during the pre-application process are French train company Alstom, Canadian company Bombardier, and Indian developer GMR Infrastructure. The private entities will be responsible for financing, procurement, operation, and maintenance of the new trains.

     

    JD.com’s online healthcare subsidiary files for IPO

    JD Health, the healthcare subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, filed for an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a bid to raise between US$1.8 and 2.8 billion this year. JD Health, which operates China’s largest pharmaceutical retail website, plans to use the funds raised for research and development. JD.com plans to maintain a majority stake in JD Health after the IPO. Chinese tech giants have increasingly looked at health-related businesses to drive growth, particularly as demand in the health care sector, including online medical services, has increased dramatically amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ping An and Alibaba have both made similar moves with their health subsidiaries.

    Asia House explored the digital trends in China’s economy in a webinar this week. Watch it here.

     

    NEXT WEEK IN ASIA

     

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Asia, although trip may be postponed: Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Japan, Mongolia, and South Korea from 4 to 8 October, although the Secretary of State is reported to be reconsidering the trip after President Trump tested positive for COVID-19. If the trip goes ahead, it will be Pompeo’s first visit to the region since his trip to Thailand in July 2019.

    ‘Quad’ nations to meet: The foreign ministers of Japan, the US, Australia, and India are set to meet on 6 October in Tokyo to affirm their countries’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

     

    COVID-19: ASIA ROUND UP

     

    CHINA: China’s factory activity expanded at a faster pace in September than the previous month. The official Purchasing Manager’s Index rose to 51.5 in September, up 0.5 points from August. The government has announced increased protections for whistle-blowers who disclose information about health emergencies.

    JAPAN: Japan’s industrial output rose 1.7 per cent in August compared to the previous month, signalling a further recovery in factory activity. The government plans to gradually lift overseas travel alerts, with priority given to countries that have low numbers of COVID-19 infections. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s new government has begun discussing a fresh round of spending on COVID-19 prevention and steps to pull the economy out of recession.

    THAILAND: Thailand will receive its first foreign tourists since the beginning of the pandemic, when a flight from China arrives next week into Phuket.

    MALAYSIA: Malaysia has imposed strict movement restrictions in four districts in the state of Sabah after reporting more than 1,000 COVID-19 infections there in September.

    VIETNAM: Vietnam’s central bank cut its key policy rates, including its refinancing rate and discount rate, in an effort to boost economic growth. The country’s GDP rose 2.62 per cent in the July-September quarter.

    SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia announced it will hold a virtual summit of the G20 leaders on 21-22 November, giving up plans for an in-person summit.

    These COVID-19 insights are taken from Asia House Advisory’s focussed monitoring service, one of the ways in which Asia House is providing analysis on economic and public health policy measures taken by governments across Asia and the Middle East. Please reach out to Ed Ratcliffe, Head of Advisory, at ed.ratcliffe@asiahouse.co.uk for further details on this and our other advisory services.

    Asia House Advisory helps organisations understand new operating environments and meet business-critical challenges. Find out more.