Around the Southeast Asian Region
Although a survey by Deloitte LLP earlier this year found little optimism for engaging with the Russian oil and gas industry, because of EU and US sanctions, a senior official with the Russian-Asean Business Council was quoted as saying Russia is open to receiving Bruneian oil companies that may want to establish operations in the country’s industrial parks.
Six and a half years after suspending its full membership of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Indonesian government announced it had put in a request to rejoin. Indonesia joined OPEC in 1962 but dropped out in January 2009 when it became a net oil importer.
Although the numbers are very small when compared with surrounding countries, there is a growing interest in travelling to Laos from Indian tourists. In 2014, just 4,500 Indian tourists visited the country, but this number is expected to jump significantly over the next few years.
Palm oil production reached an all-time high in August, jumping 13 percent to 2.05 million tonnes. Palm oil is used in many things, from soap to ice cream and bio-diesel and Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer. The market price for palm oil has slumped on the back of China’s economic slowdown.
The US-based non-profit group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) recently issued a report which claimed illicit capital inflows into Myanmar had drained billions of dollars from the official economy, money which could have been put to productive use. The report claims unlawful inflows, largely due to misinvoicing, are continuing to grow.
According to data covering the period between 1960 and 2013, GFI estimated around US$18.7 billion flowed illegally out of Myanmar, with an average value of 6.5 percent of GDP. Illicit inflows were four times higher, at US$77.7 billion baht, or 14.4 percent of GDP. Most of the money involved import smuggling, and the figures did not include drug, timber, and precious stones smuggling.
A survey compiled by the Singapore Business Federation and released at the beginning of September showed business sentiment among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was at its lowest point for three years. The Business Federation found what it called a ‘significant decline’ in the outlook of three major industrial sectors: Commerce and Trading, Construction and Engineering, and Manufacturing.
The Transport Ministry has launched an investigation into transport companies which have not lowered their fares despite drastic cuts in fuel prices. Between June and September fuel prices were lowered five times with the cuts all told representing a 24 percent drop. Public criticism of taxis and local transport companies has been vociferous enough to see the government launch an investigation.