Around the ASEAN region
The following are just a few business-related stories from events taking place across the Southeast Asian region.
The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced a loosening of regulations in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and will now allow wholly-foreign-owned companies to operate within the zone but only in what it terms the “online data processing” and “transaction handling” industries. The announcement specifically included e-commerce companies.
Chinese regulations have previously restricted foreign access to many technology-related industries, requiring foreign firms to form joint ventures with local partners in order to release their products in China. This announcement opens the door for foreign e-commerce companies who want to operate without a Chinese partner.
At this stage the new policy is on a trial basis with the MIIT asking the Shanghai administration to take care in guiding and overseeing foreign-owned companies which decide to operate under the new rules.
Cambodia and Japan signed an agreement on 14 January which is intended to pave the way for airlines to commence scheduled flights between the two countries.
The Air Service Agreements, which Japan has signed with nine out of 10 ASEAN member states, grants airlines customs exemptions and determines safety and capacity standards for operators servicing both nations.
The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation of Cambodia (SSCA) press release noted, “This agreement will allow for the stable operation of scheduled flights between Japan and Cambodia and will further promote people-to-people and economics exchanges.”
The agreement will eventually result in direct flights between the two countries and therefore ease transit connections for tourists and investors.
More than 200,000 Japanese visitors travelled to Cambodia during 2014, making them the fifth largest visitor market to the Kingdom.
As of 19 January the Singapore stock exchange (SGX) will officially allow investors to buy shares in lots of 100 rather than the current limit of 1,000.
This will mean, for example, that investors could purchase the three largest banking stocks for an investment of around S$5,500 — which is 10 percent of the sum required under the previous policy of a 1,000 share lot.
The SGX said the Straits Times Index had delivered an average of 9.5 percent returns in 2014, which is above the 10-year average of 8.7 percent a year.
The Saigon Times reported that Vietnam Airlines is planning to operate five flights a week to London from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, starting in March this year. The national carrier currently has four flights a week but once the airline switches airports from Gatwick to Heathrow that number will rise to five a week.
Plans are for daily flights between Vietnam and London starting in 2016. Vietnam Airlines first flew to London in December 2011.