Regional Round-up for Week of 6.14.19

EXSE FOCUS

Innovative methods could transform Vietnam’s robusta farms into carbon sinks – Mongabay Climate change poses a threat to the country’s coffee sector, while poor farming techniques cause environmental degradation. A new report has found that intercropping and decreased fertilizer use can change robusta farms from carbon sources to carbon sinks. // Coffee farming and processing create climate/environment impacts by carbon emissions, use of fertilizer, wastewater etc. Also, monocropping of coffee puts farmers a vulnerable position against poor harvest, so they tend to use fertilizer to stabilize their harvest. But these impacts lead a vicious cycle around environmental harm and degrading coffee quality. Many coffee lovers in the region expect this study’s new finding to grow the new Vietnam’s specialty coffee market with a good taste and low environmental impact.

Accelerating climate change calls for better disaster preparedness – The Global New Light of Myanmar Myanmar is once again entering monsoon season and while the majority of the country is having its share of pouring rain and blowing winds, the nation’s dry zone has still not seen a drop. On the other hand, while there have been strong winds and lighting strikes occurring frequently we currently do not have to fear any approaching cyclones, storms or floods. However, we must not let our guard down. // Fast preparedness & adaptation efforts against an extreme weather and other climate change-related impacts are urgently required, as well as long-term mitigation efforts to stop climate change itself. As trees strengthen the soil against landslide and absorb CO2, protecting local environment would be the most effective way to achieve both preparedness & adaptation and mitigation of these impacts.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

No appetite for a ‘new Cold War’ in Asia – East Asia Forum Amid the escalating US–China trade war, all eyes were on US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue. Those hoping for fireworks would have been disappointed.

World’s top economies lay out principles on debt sustainability at G-20 meet – The Straits Times Finance leaders from the world’s top economies on Sunday (June 9) adopted new principles to ensure countries that lend and borrow for infrastructure spending do so in a sustainable manner, a move seen as addressing concerns that China’s lending practices have saddled some emerging nations with huge debt.

No easy choices ahead in regional aid and trade governance – East Asia Forum As trade relations between the United States and China grow more rivalrous, the situation in the Indo-Pacific becomes increasingly vexed. Asian states and regional organisations caught in the middle are struggling to cope, and now even the low-profile Asian Development Bank (ADB) is getting caught in the crossfire.

The 2019 US Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Who’s It For? – The Diplomat The new Indo-Pacific Strategy Report brings little new to the table. It’s been a little more than one week since the release of the United States’ first-ever Indo-Pacific Strategy Report (IPSR), a strategic document prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense outlining Washington’s priorities in the region

The rules-based maritime order is not completely adrift – East Asia Forum Over two days in May 2019, navy chiefs and maritime experts from across the world gathered in Singapore for the sixth edition of the International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC).

Exclusive: Russia to boost LNG output fivefold to supply Asia – Nikkei Asian Review Utilizing the Arctic, Moscow eyes 20% global market share, energy minister says

US looks for Thai 5G entry point – Bangkok Post The US Commerce Department is exploring business opportunities and cooperation to promote US-based tech firms to expand investment in Thailand’s telecom sector, especially for 5G wireless broadband tech adoption.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Philippines Gets Major Plastic Bottle Recycling Plant – Investvine Coca-Cola’s Philippine branch will pioneer with an investment of one billion pesos ($19.3 million) to construct a recycling facility in the country, its first major investment in a recycling plant within entire Southeast Asia.

Banks may assess pollution risks before granting loans – Vietnam Plus Banks will assess environmental pollution risks when granting loans to projects in some industries, according to a State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) draft regulation.

Gov’t Lifts Ban on Plantation Teak Exports – The Irrawaddy The Myanmar government will again allow the exportation of raw teak and timber from state and privately-owned plantations, but a ban on raw teak and timber from natural forests will remain in place

Indonesian ban on clearing new swaths of forest to be made permanent – Mongabay A temporary moratorium that prohibits the issuance of new permits to clear primary and peat forests is set to be made permanent later this year.

Fisheries leaders threaten protests in the capital – Bangkok Post The National Fisheries Association of Thailand is threatening protests in the capital if the new government ignores its demand to revise strict rules and regulations on trawlers and their crews. 

South-East Asian countries are banning imports of waste for recycling – The Economist There is no point collecting recyclable waste unless someone is willing to buy it and actually do the recycling.

Debt and misery stalk the delta’s salt farms – Frontier Myanmar Life’s hard for the salt farming communities in the far south of Ayeyarwady Region, where services are basic, food is scarce and debt is never-ending.

CHINA

China’s Oil Giants Seek to Cut Gas Losses – Radio Free Asia China’s oil companies are trying to recover their losses from natural gas sales as they brace for the uncertainties of the next step in energy sector reforms.

China’s May industrial output growth cools to 17-year low as trade war bites – The Straits Times China’s industrial output growth unexpectedly slowed to a more than 17-year low in May, while investment also cooled, in the latest sign of weakening demand in the world’s second-largest economy as the United States ramps up trade pressure.

Bridge collapses in south China, casualties unknown – The Straits Times At least two vehicles plunged into a river after part of a bridge collapsed in the urban area of Heyuan city, south China’s Guangdong province early on Friday (June 14), according to the local road management authorities.

Twenty-three Chinese Banana Plantion Workers Deported From Myanmar – Radio Free Asia Ten Chinese nationals were deported from Myanmar last month after having been discovered illegally staying in the country in connection with their work on banana plantations in Kachin state.

China’s spreading influence deepens rivalry in the Pacific – Asian Correspondent THE INDO-Pacific is permeated by adversarial relations between China and India, Japan, and the US.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Complaints flood in as water rises – Bangkok Post In just over two hours of heavy downpours on Friday afternoon, Bangkok became inundated and traffic came to a standstill. 

Floods affect tens of thousands in central Indonesia – The Straits Times Heavy rainfall in parts of central Indonesia in early June has led to severe flooding and landslides, affecting tens of thousands of people, local authorities said on Wednesday (June 12).

New government faces tough policy choices – Bangkok Post More than 100 billion baht a year is needed to fund welfare schemes vowed by the new government, according to Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) estimates. 

Prayut extols water management plan – Bangkok Post The government’s “active investment” on water management has been successful in limiting drought damage to local communities and saving people from flooding in the rainy season, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says.

Local Government in Laos Again Falls Behind on Living Allowances for Dam Collapse Survivors – Radio Free Asia The government in Laos’ Attapeu province has once again fallen behind on living allowance payments it promised to survivors of the country’s worst flooding in decades.

Time for Philippines to revive its maritime industry: Inquirer columnist – The Straits Times In her commentary, the writer says Philippines needs to strengthen its maritime industry and bounce back quickly from the closure of the Hanjin operations

FTI: Agriculture stimulus needed for growth – Bangkok Post The new government is being urged to stimulate the country’s agricultural sector because crop prices remain low and farmers have limited purchasing power in the local market, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Vietnam To Join World’s Most Dynamic Markets By 2030 – Investvine Having reached amazing levels of progress in the last two decades and with continued strong growth, Vietnam is set to become one of the most dynamic markets in the world by 2030

Cambodia Needs ‘Real, Credible Improvement’ to Avoid Loss of Tariff-Free Trade Scheme: EU – Radio Free Asia Cambodia “must show real, credible improvement” on human and labor rights if it hopes to avoid losing preferential trade status, according to the European Union, drawing condemnation from a government spokesman who suggested that Phnom Penh has no intention to comply.

Vietnam’s first homegrown car to be delivered in days – Channel News Asia Vietnam’s homegrown carmaker VinFast will deliver its first cars on Jun 17, the company said on Friday (Jun 14) as it showcased a factory in one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.

Vietnam to tender $5bm motorway project in August – Global Construction Review The Vietnamese Ministry of Transportation has announced plans to tender a $5bn motorway that will run through 13 provinces from Nam Dịnh, about 60km south of Hanoi, to the southern province of Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta.

This week’s news digest was curated by Hiroshi Yasui.

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