While bar charts, line graphs and simple numbers are hardly capable of providing the defining answer to many economic, social and political questions, they are certainly a good way of obtaining a general overview of any particular subject.
Each month the Business Supplement will look into a brace of statistical information and provide readers with what we consider to be the central elements of these figures.
ASEAN Trade with the United States
It is timely to look at the trade statistics between ASEAN nations and the USA especially when trade wars between the US and several countries, (notably China) are ongoing and even intensifying of late.
Only Singapore and Brunei in the ASEAN block reported US trade surpluses last year, with Singapore boasting 32.747 billion dollars of exports and 26.612 billion dollars of imports.
Thailand had the third largest trade deficit totalling 19.424 billion USD, beaten by Malaysia which had a deficit of 26.344 million USD and Vietnam which saw its deficit grow to 39.498 Billion USD.
The Philippines had quite a large amount of business with the U.S., but the trade deficit was relatively small in the last full year at just 3.877 billion USD.
Vietnam has been soaking up quite a lot of export business that used to be coming from China and has been the largest beneficiary of the shift of late. Yet Vietnam has not been able to escape the wrath of the Trump administration and companies that move their manufacturing to Vietnam could face yet another move soon afterwards if new tariffs against Vietnam are put in place.
A change to the world trade order would be better if done gradually, but there appears to be no likelihood of things slowing down anytime soon.
Cost of living rankings
The Mercer survey provides guidance on the cost of living for expatriates across the world. The latest 2019 survey came out in March and makes for some interesting observations as compared to the previous year’s report.
Surprisingly, maybe, Asiancities appeared in 8 out of the top 10 worldwidepositions, with Hong Kong topping the list for the second straight year. Tokyo came in a close second, Singapore took 3rd place whilst Seoul came in 4th.
Chinese cities took up many of the spots in the top 20 including Shanghai at 6th position worldwide, Beijing, in 8th place, Shenzhen in 10th position and Guangzhou at number 17 in the rankings.
Bangkok is the 40th most expensive place in the world, and the second most expensive place in the ASEAN Bloc, after Singapore.
A number of countries made big jumps in the rankings between this year and last year, indicating that affordability is tightening up and these places are becoming significantly more expensive.
Among them Manila jumped 29 places to be in 109th position, Hanoi took a big stride of 25 places to land at 112 in the rankings and Phnom Penh jumped the highest, 34 places, to land at 108th position.