Vietnam favors creation of free trade zone between ASEAN, EAEU, says minister – TASS

Vietnam favors creation of free trade zone between ASEAN, EAEU, says minister  TASS
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Energy in ASEAN: Hydrogen in Asia Pacific | Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP – JDSupra – JD Supra

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
In our most recent article, “Energy in ASEAN: Hydrogen in Singapore”, we highlighted some of the key developments in Singapore’s hydrogen sector as the island state moves to implement its “Green Plan” and begins to take its first steps in exploring the potential of hydrogen playing a role in its economy going forward. Now we turn our attention to the wider Asia Pacific region and, in addition, consider how another region, specifically the Middle East, is likely to be critical in the development of the hydrogen economy.
In contrast with Singapore’s more cautious approach, other countries in the Asia Pacific region are already betting big on hydrogen. Japan, the first country to adopt a focused approach to the development of its hydrogen economy when the government released its “Basic Hydrogen Strategy” in 2017, continues to lead the way in the sector. The latest example of Japan’s commitment to hydrogen can be seen in its prominent role at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Billed as the “Hydrogen Olympics,” Tokyo 2020 has seen hydrogen being used to fuel the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony. Moreover, the Olympic Village is being used as a demonstration of how hydrogen technology can be used in practice by having hydrogen fueled athlete buses and vehicles (using hydrogen fuel cells) and heated water in the cafeterias, dormitories and training facilities. In total, approximately 500 hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles were utilized during the Olympics. Japan is also aiming to construct 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations for fuel-cell vehicles across the country by 2030.
In another interesting development, Tokyo recently announced plans to launch a new initiative aimed at assisting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members in becoming decarbonized societies. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is making arrangements to reach an agreement with the ASEAN nations on the new initiative which will involve preparation of a roadmap to decarbonization, as well as the provision of a public and private investment and loan facility of up to US$10 billion1. Dubbed the Asia Energy Transition Initiative (AETI), one of its aims is to encourage thermal power generation that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by mixing coal with ammonia—the developing nations of Southeast Asia remain heavily reliant on coal as a fuel source. In addition, Japan has also suggested that ASEAN countries could share their technological development and deployment support for offshore wind power generation, ammonia and, of course, hydrogen2. If the AETI is successful, it could help to secure supply of the vast quantities of hydrogen and ammonia that Japan will require in order to fuel its developing hydrogen society.
China has also been ramping up its activity in the hydrogen sector. The recently released a 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) (“Five Year Plan”) that specifically highlights hydrogen as a sector that China intends to advance. Although China has yet to develop a national hydrogen strategy or roadmap, 16 provinces and cities have launched supplementary five-year plans that specifically feature hydrogen. Beijing’s five-year plan, for example, includes efforts to promote electric and intelligent vehicles and accelerate the planning and construction of hydrogen refueling stations. The intention is for two million new-energy vehicles (NEVs) to run on the streets of Beijing by 20253. Beijing is also planning to develop five to eight world-leading hydrogen companies before 2023 and aims to grow the city’s hydrogen market to at least CNY 100 billion ($15.4 billion) over the course of the next four years.
These announcements come at a time when hydrogen projects in China are drawing interest from overseas investors, as well as major local players (e.g. Shanghai Electric Power, a subsidiary of the State Power Investment Corporation, which recently announced it had signed an agreement with energy major Shell to develop hydrogen and other clean energy projects in and outside China4). Air Liquide, for example, is currently working to develop the Daxing hydrogen station which, with a capcity of nearly 5 tonnes per day, is the world’s largest. The site, owned and operated by Beijing Hypower Energy Technology Ltd, can refuel 600 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles per day.5
China undoubtedly represents a potentially huge market for hydrogen. The China Hydrogen Alliance, a state-supported industry body, predicts that the output value of the China’s hydrogen energy industry will reach 1 trillion yuan ($152.6 billion) by 2025 and that, by 2030, demand for hydrogen will reach 35 million tons, accounting for at least 5 percent of China’s energy system6. However, in order for China’s fledging hydrogen sector to develop, the country faces a similar set of obstacles as those other nations promoting the use of hydrogen, namely, the cost of production, storage, transportation and delivery.
The cost of hydrogen production is currently the subject of much debate in Australia, which has, along with Japan and South Korea, been at the forefront of the development of the hydrogen economy in Asia Pacific. Currently, one of the major obstacles to the development of “green” hydrogen production (i.e., hydrogen produced through water electrolysis powered by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar) is cost. In both Australia and the United States, most of the focus on hydrogen production has been in the “blue” space or hydrogen produced by splitting natural gas through steam methane or auto thermal reforming, where the other byproduct, carbon dioxide is captured and stored through carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The Australian government, for example, is promoting cheaper “blue” hydrogen projects fueled by Australia’s vast natural gas reserves and a number of Australia’s key oil and gas players, including Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum, BP Australia and APA Group, see the emerging hydrogen sector as a route towards evolving their respective businesses7. In 2020, Australia’s Commonwealth government set a target price of AU$2 ($1.46) per kilogram for hydrogen production and has moved to expand funding for projects utilizing CCS technology. Currently, blue or “brown” hydrogen (i.e., produced by gasification of coal), coupled with CCS, costs approximately $1.80-$2.40 per kilogram. By contrast, green hydrogen ranges between $3 and $6 per kilogram as the technology remains under development.8
Australia intends to be major player on the hydrogen stage and it has been the setting for a number of significant projects to date, including the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. The sector recently suffered a setback, however, with the Commonwealth government’s rejection of the proposed $36 billion wind, solar and hydrogen mega project in Western Australia, citing “clearly unacceptable impacts” on “international recognized wetlands and migratory bird species,”9 as well as highlighting concerns in relation to the proposed expansion of the project. The Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) proposes to initially construct 15 GW of renewable capacity (expanding to 26 GW) and produce green hydrogen and ammonia for export to Asian markets. The AREH consortium (which comprises privately owned InterContinental Energy, renewable energy developer CWP Energy Asia, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas and a Macquarie Group fund) has indicated that it will engage with the government in order to better understand the environmental concerns but the decision certainly comes as a blow to Australia’s nascent hydrogen industry.
Looking elsewhere in Asia Pacific, the development of hydrogen projects and initiatives is moving at a much slower pace. In ASEAN, incentives may be required from more developed hydrogen players (such as Japan through the AETI, for example) in order to encourage developing nations to increase investment in the hydrogen sector. Key to the success of the development of a hydrogen economy in ASEAN will be engagement of the three major national oil companies in the region: Petronas (Malaysia), Pertamina (Indonesia) and PTT (Thailand), or the “3 Ps”. Indeed, both Petronas and Pertamina have already announced plans to invest in the hydrogen space. Pertamina has set a target of 10 GW of additional clean power generation capacity by 2026, with 1 GW to be derived from initiatives such as the development of an electric vehicle ecosystem and hydrogen10. Meanwhile Petronas, which produces blue hydrogen as a byproduct of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production process, recently announced that it was exploring the commercial production of green hydrogen11. The Malaysian state-owned producer has also announced that it has teamed up with Japanese trading house Itochu Corp. and an unnamed Canadian pipeline company to study the feasibility of constructing a $1.3 billion petrochemical plan in Alberta province with the goal of exporting hydrogen to Asian markets through the production of ammonia12. In Thailand, PTT has established the “Hydrogen Thailand Group” to “vigorously promote it as a new alternative energy of the future for a low-carbon circular economy in Thailand.”13
Despite the apparent lack of developments elsewhere in ASEAN, there are certainly opportunities in the region. Vietnam, for example, continues to experience rapid growth in its renewable energy sector, particularly in solar and offshore wind. These renewable energy projects could present an ideal opportunity to establish green hydrogen production facilities in Vietnam. This is not lost on the Vietnamese government, which has declared an interest in the development of hydrogen resources with Resolution 55-NQ/TW of the Politburo, issued in February 2020, which set the task of “conducting technology research and develop plans for piloting electricity generation using hydrogen and encouraging the use of hydrogen consistent with the global trends.” It will be interesting to see whether Vietnam’s much anticipated Power Plan VIII (which is currently in draft form) is updated to incorporate any hydrogen-related initiatives.14
Looking to the West, there is another region that is likely to be critical to the development of the hydrogen economy in Asia Pacific: the Middle East. The hydrocarbon dependent economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are ramping up efforts to diversify away from oil and gas, with hydrogen expected to play a key role. The GCC countries see an opportunity in exporting both hydrogen and ammonia to the emerging hydrogen economies of the Far East, Japan and South Korea in particular, and a number of agreements have already been executed. With extensive experience of exporting liquid fuel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman are all well placed to ramp up their involvement in the hydrogen sector.
In the UAE, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has entered into agreements with GS Energy of South Korea and Inpex Corp. and Jera Co. of Japan to explore commercial opportunities in hydrogen and ammonia15. ADNOC has also entered into an agreement with Itochu Corp. to sell its first cargo of blue ammonia. ADNOC will produce ammonia in a joint venture with OCI NV of the Netherlands. The joint venture, known as Fertiglobe16, is installing carbon capture units at its production sites, with the intention that the carbon will subsequently be transported to ADNOC’s oil fields and injected for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR).17
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, much of the focus has been on Neom, the $500 billion zero-carbon city, which is currently under development in the northwest of the country. Neom has formed a joint venture with New York-listed Air Products and Saudi power developer, ACWA Power, to establish a $5 billion green hydrogen project. Currently the world’s largest green hydrogen project under construction, it is expected to produce approximately 1.2 million metric tons per year of ammonia by 2025.
Hydrogen is also gaining traction elsewhere in the GCC. In the Sultanate of Oman, OQ, the state-owned integrated energy company, recently announced its intention to develop a 25 GW renewable solar and wind project which, when operating at full capacity, will have the potential to produce 1.8 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum, as well as up to 10 million tonnes of green ammonia. OQ has formed a consortium with Hong Kong-based renewable hydrogen developer InterContinental Energy and Kuwait-based energy investor Enertech to develop the project in the Al Wusta governorate on the Arabian Sea. With construction due to commence in 2028 (and reaching full capacity by 2038), the $30 billion project has the potential to be one of the largest green hydrogen projects in the world, with most of the hydrogen produced likely to be exported to Europe and Asia.18
It is evident, from the increasing frequency of new projects being announced and collaboration among key market players, that the emergence of hydrogen is gathering pace. The Asia Pacific region, which saw the first significant developments in this sector, continues to lead the way, with Japan and South Korea taking the greatest strides towards becoming hydrogen societies. However, with a stream of new hydrogen initiatives being announced by the likes of China and Singapore, it is clear that other nations in the region are also beginning to see its potential. While interest in the rest of ASEAN appears, at this stage, to be relatively lukewarm, both Pertamina and Petronas are taking significant steps to explore opportunities in the hydrogen space. The initiatives being rolled out by the petro-economies of the GCC can be seen as significant steps in the development of the hydrogen economy. With the GCC looking to a future beyond oil, hydrogen and ammonia present real opportunities for the region to retain its position as a major exporter of energy after hydrocarbon resources are depleted. The question will be whether the future market for exporting hydrogen is large enough to support this.
The challenges associated with hydrogen remain, but with an ever increasing focus on research and development (R&D) in hydrogen and ammonia-related technologies, there is a real possibility that some (if not all) of these may be overcome in the short to medium term as countries around the globe ramp up efforts to decarbonise their economies.
1 https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Environment/Climate-Change/ASEAN-to-receive-10bn-decarbonization-support-from-Japan.
2 https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/videos/market-movers-asia/080221-tanker-attack-china-petchems-lng-steel.
3 https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Caixin/China-s-hydrogen-roadmap-4-things-to-know.
4 https://www.h2-view.com/story/china-set-for-huge-hydrogen-boost-with-agreement-between-shell-china-and-shanghai-electric/
5 https://www.airliquide.com/mainland-china/air-liquides-technology-chosen-worlds-largest-hydrogen-station-beijing-china
6 http://h2cn.org.cn/en/index.
7 https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Energy/Australia-s-hydrogen-dreams-colored-by-blue-vs.-green-divide.
8 Ibid.
9 https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/australia-rejects-36-bln-wind-solar-hydrogen-project-2021-06-21/.
10 https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2231095-indonesias-pertamina-eyes-hydrogen-to-meet-2026-goal.
11 https://www.forbes.com/custom/2021/07/08/petronas-gearing-up-for-the-future-with-cleaner-and-renewable-energy/.
12 https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/petronas-eyes-1-3b-petrochemical-project-in-alberta-to-export-hydrogen-to-asia.
13 https://www.pttplc.com/en/Media/News/Content-22250.aspx.
14 https://en.vietnamplus.vn/green-hydrogen-development-associated-with-offshore-wind-power-experts-say/203982.vnp.
15 https://www.adnoc.ae/en/news-and-media/press-releases/2021/adnoc-and-three-japanese-companies-to-explore-hydrogen-and-blue-ammonia-opportunities
16 https://www.fertiglobe.com/.
17 https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/adnoc_sells_trial_cargo_of_blue_ammonia_to_itochu-03-aug-2021-166099-article/.
18 https://oq.com/en/news-and-media/newsroom/20210518-green-fuels-mega-project.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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Taiwan applies to join CPTPP – Taiwan News

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Taiwan has applied to join the CPTPP.  Taiwan has applied to join the CPTPP.  (AP photo)
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has filed an official application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group, Economic Affairs Vice Minister Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said Wednesday (Sept. 22).
Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) was likely to explain details about Taiwan’s bid at a news conference Thursday morning, CNA reported.
The news followed reports that China submitted its own application on Sept. 16. The planned Trans-Pacific Partnership became the CPTPP after United States President Donald Trump decided to leave the project, allowing Japan to become the leading economy in the group.
Experts recently warned that once China was allowed to join, Taiwan would face more obstacles in becoming part of a wide regional trade alliance. Another trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), has China as its driving force but also includes Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Updated : 2021-09-23 10:39 GMT+08:00
Taiwan News © 2019 All Rights Reserved.

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Asean News Headlines as at 8pm on Wednesday (Sept 22) – The Star Online

Asean News Headlines as at 8pm on Wednesday (Sept 22)  The Star Online
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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on September 13, 2021 – MFA China


CCTV: The 18th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit kicked off Friday in Nanning, Guangxi. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the event and Vice President Wang Qishan attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. Could you give us more information?
Zhao Lijian: This event is an eye-catching showcase of the China-ASEAN cooperation outcomes. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message and Vice President Wang Qishan attended the opening ceremony and delivered an address. Leaders and representatives of Laos, Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, and other countries as well as ASEAN Secretary General delivered speech via video link. The guests spoke highly of the progress of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and expressed readiness to further deepen practical cooperation across the board to give a boost to regional common prosperity and development.
Since the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations 30 years ago, all-dimensional cooperation has continued to deepen and bilateral trade increased by 85 times, making China and ASEAN each other’s largest trading partner. In the first half of this year, bilateral trade exceeded 410 billion U.S. dollars, up 38 percent year on year, and cumulative investment between China and ASEAN countries exceeded 310 billion U.S. dollars. The China-ASEAN Trade Index was released on September 11 for the first time jointly by China’s General Administration of Customs and the government of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The 2020 index stood at 241 points, up around 19 percent and 140 percent compared with the level of 2019 and 2010 respectively.
China and ASEAN countries are good neighbors and partners. Over the past 30 years, the two sides have worked together to promote peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region, and set an example for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. Looking ahead, China stands ready to join hands with ASEAN countries to seek opportunities, address challenges and promote cooperation, continue to advance regional economic integration and build a better and more prosperous future for the next 30 years to come.
The Paper: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on his visit to four countries in Asia. He just wrapped up official visits to Vietnam and Cambodia recently. We noted there is much attention on his visits. Can you brief us on that?
Zhao Lijian: From September 10 to 12, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Vietnam and Cambodia.
During his visit in Vietnam, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh respectively, co-chaired the 13th Meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, and held talks with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. State Councilor Wang Yi said that both China and Vietnam are socialist countries under the leadership of communist parties. Consolidating and revitalizing the socialist cause is of paramount importance in the overall China-Vietnam ties. It is the most important and fundamental common strategic interest that the two countries should adhere to. China has always prioritized its relations with Vietnam in its neighborhood diplomacy and stands ready to work with Vietnam to maintain the momentum of sound, steady and all-round development of bilateral relations. We will work with Vietnam to resolutely advance the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, speed up synergy and cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the “Two Corridors and One Economic Circle” strategy, speed up the ratification and entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, and actively advance consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The Vietnamese side said that the party, government and people of Vietnam always attach great importance to developing sustained, sound and stable relations with the party, government and people of China. Vietnam regards relations with China as the top priority of its foreign strategy. It is ready to continue to maintain exchanges at all levels with China and work for new breakthroughs in practical cooperation with China in various fields. Vietnam thanked China for its vaccine assistance and expressed the willingness to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China at the UN, ASEAN and APEC, and jointly advance COC consultations to safeguard regional peace.
During his visit in Cambodia, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Nam Hong respectively and had talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn. State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out that China and Cambodia are good friends with high level of mutual trust and a community with a shared future. The two sides rendered each other utmost assistance, not only to safeguard the common interests of the two countries, but also to uphold international fairness and justice and the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. China hopes to work with Cambodia to speed up high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, accelerate the synergy of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt, and bring China-ASEAN relations to a new level. China hopes that during Cambodia’s rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, China and ASEAN countries will conclude the COC consultations and the China-Cambodia free trade agreement will enter into force and deliver benefit at an early date.
The Cambodian side said that China is Cambodia’s most trust-worthy and reliable elder brother and no country can replace China’s contribution to Cambodia’s economic and social development. The Cambodian side thanked China for its valuable assistance in fighting the epidemic and said that Cambodia will always abide by the one-China principle, stand firmly with China on issues concerning China’s internal affairs, deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China, take the cooperation in various fields up to new heights, and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.

Macau Monthly: According to Kyodo News report on September 9, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced on September 8 that five textbook publishing companies submitted applications to remove or change the terms of “military comfort women” and “forced conscription” concerning the “comfort women” issue and the forced recruitment of laborers from the Korean Peninsula during World War II. Some of the textbooks are in current use and some others will be put into use next spring. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: The forced recruitment of “comfort women” is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism. It is a historical fact with iron-clad and undeniable evidence.
This is Japan’s latest attempt to meddle with textbooks and play with words to blur the historical facts, understate and evade its historical responsibility, and deny and whitewash its history of aggression in a step-by-step manner. It once again highlights Japan’s long-standing dishonest attitude towards the history of aggression, which has hurt the feelings of the people of the victimized countries. It will be rejected by all peace-loving people. The international community needs to take strict precautions and put things right.
Japan should honestly face up to and reflect on its history of aggression, make a clean break with militarism, properly handle the “comfort women” issue in an honest and responsible manner, and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.
TASS: Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan to protest over alleged US interference in Russia’s election. Second, will the gap left by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan pose any threat to the security of China’s Xinjiang?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, the State Duma elections are a major political agenda in Russia this year. As the elections are drawing near, China, as a comprehensive strategic partner of coordination to Russia, hopes that the elections will be held smoothly. China believes that the State Duma elections are entirely Russia’s internal affair and external forces should not interfere.
On your second question, terrorism remains a common threat to the international community. China is ready to work with other countries to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation, prevent Afghanistan from becoming a breeding ground or safe haven for terrorist forces and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.
The irresponsible withdrawal by the US and NATO from Afghanistan may allow terrorism to breed and spread, posing a serious challenge to security and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
The Afghan Taliban pledged not to allow any forces to use Afghan territory for acts that are detrimental to other countries. The Afghan Taliban should honor its commitment, make a clean break with all extremist and terrorist forces, and take effective measures to constrain and combat them so as to prevent spillover effects of terrorism.

China Daily: We noted that the Afghan Taliban decided to cancel the inauguration ceremony of the interim government. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow will not take part in the inauguration of Afghanistan’s new government in any capacity. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Whether or not to hold an inauguration ceremony of the interim government is an internal matter of the Afghan side. It is up to each country to decide whether to attend the ceremony or not. China respects both.
Shenzhen TV: Mohammad Eslami, Iranian Vice-President and the Head of Atomic Energy Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (AEOI) held talks with Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 12 during the latter’s visit to Tehran, and issued a joint statement on the issue of monitoring and verification. Director General Rafael Grossi also submitted a report on that. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: China welcomes the consensus reached by Iran and the IAEA through dialogue and cooperation on the safeguards and monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program and hopes that the two sides will carry on the sound momentum of communication and properly resolve the relevant pending issues. We also call on relevant parties to play a constructive role to this end.
China always holds that upholding and implementing the JCPOA is the only correct and effective way to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Relevant parties, especially the US, should make resolute political decision at an early date, take concrete steps to advance resumption of and progress in negotiations on compliance of the Iranian nuclear deal. We hope relevant parties will adhere to the right direction and create enabling conditions and atmosphere for diplomatic efforts.

Phoenix TV: First, the DPRK announced on September 13 that it test launched long-range cruise missile over the weekend. The United States said the missile tests posed “threats” to the country’s neighbours. Do you have any comment? Second, US media reports said the Biden administration is “seriously considering” allowing Taiwan to change the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington to “Taiwan Representative Office.” What’s the foreign ministry’s response?
Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China remains committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula and holds that the issue should be settled through dialogue and negotiation. We call on relevant parties to exercise restraint, meet each other half way, actively seek dialogue and engagement, and follow the “dual-track” approach and take phased and synchronized actions to continuously advance the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.
On your second question, the Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-US relations. The one-China principle is the political foundation of bilateral relations. In the China-US Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, the US unequivocally pledged that “the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan”. In his phone call with President Xi Jinping, President Biden said that the US has no intention to change the one-China policy. China has lodged solemn representation with the US side with regard to the above-mentioned issue reported by the media. The US should abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, honor its commitments with concrete actions, stop all forms of official exchanges or elevating substantive relations with Taiwan, including not renaming the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US the “Taiwan Representative Office”, and stop sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. The US side should handle the Taiwan question in a prudent manner, lest it should seriously undermine China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Global Times: According to the Associated Press, Deputy Director General of the IAEA Lydie Evrard said on September 9 that the technical working team established by the agency will evaluate the safety of the nuclear wastewater discharge in Fukushima, and that experts from China and the ROK will join the work. Any comment from China?
Zhao Lijian: I noticed relevant reports. China supports the IAEA in acting according to its mandate, giving full consideration to the views of stakeholders and playing its due role on the disposal of the nuclear contaminated water. Experts from multiple countries, including China, the ROK and Russia will join the technical working team set up by the IAEA. The team will assist the international community in the review and monitoring before, during and after Japan’s disposal of nuclear contaminated water to ensure absolute safety. Japan should cooperate fully with the IAEA by having thorough consultations on all possible means of disposal, and accepting monitoring and verification of data accuracy and the efficiency of the disposal.
I want to stress again that Japan should take the concern of the international community seriously, revoke the wrong decision to discharge the nuclear contaminated water into the ocean and stop advancing preparatory work. Japan must not take the liberty of discharging nuclear contaminated water into the sea before reaching consensus with stakeholders and relevant international institutions through consultation.
CRI: It is reported that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the international community the other day to inject cash into Afghanistan to avoid an economic meltdown that would be a “gift for terrorist groups”. What kind of help will China offer to ease the economic plight in Afghanistan?
Zhao Lijian: At the first Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on September 8, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China had decided to offer 200 million yuan worth of grains, winter supplies, vaccines, and medicines to Afghanistan according to the needs of the Afghan people. When security conditions are in place, China is willing to help Afghanistan build livelihood projects and do its best to support the country’s efforts for peace, reconstruction and economic development. This embodies the friendly policy toward all the Afghan people that China always follows, and the Chinese nation’s fine tradition of helping those in need.
Afghanistan is still facing the severe challenges in terms of humanitarian situation, livelihood and COVID-19. The international community should provide economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance to the country and help its people tide over the difficulties. As the culprit of the Afghan issue, the US should earnestly fulfill its commitment to Afghanistan, assume its due responsibility and obligation, take active steps to help Afghanistan ease its economic difficulties on the premise of respecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence, rather than shift blames onto others and simply take to its heels.

AFP: The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has called for a review of mining contracts previously signed with China in 2008 saying that he wants to get fairer deals. How will this affect Chinese investments in the country?
Zhao Lijian: The “infrastructure-for-minerals” package cooperation between China and the DRC is a model of practical cooperation between the two countries. Over the past decade or so, such cooperation has not only vigorously promoted the development of mining industry, increased tax revenue and created more jobs in the DRC, but also offered investment in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals and hydropower stations in the DRC, making positive contributions to the economic and social development of the country. Not long ago, the Busanga Hydropower Station under the above-mentioned cooperation framework started water storage and was put into operation. This largest hydropower station in the DRC will provide important power supply for the mining and infrastructure development of the DRC going forward. The Chinese enterprises also actively fulfill their social responsibilities, give back to the local community and improve local people’s welfare. Not long ago, they signed with the province of Katanga a $11.5 million aid agreement to support the construction of local roads and power facilities, and improvement of education, medical care and environment, which has been warmly welcomed by the local people.
I want to stress that China and the DRC boast long-standing friendship and the bilateral practical cooperation has yielded fruitful win-win results and enjoys broad prospects. In May this year, President Xi Jinping and President Felix Tshisekedi reached broad consensus on deepening cooperation in various fields over the phone. In the next stage, guided by the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, the two sides will elevate the China-DRC strategic partnership of win-win cooperation to a new level and bring more benefits to the two peoples.
Bloomberg: The Biden administration is said to be weighing a new investigation into Chinese subsidies and their damage on the US economy as a way to pressure China on the issue of trade. My first question is, does the foreign ministry have a comment on these media reports? Secondly, the last time there was an investigation like this, it led to tariffs worth billions of dollars on Chinese exports. What does the foreign ministry think the US should do in terms of the tariffs that are still in place on Chinese goods?
Zhao Lijian: The presidents of China and the US spoke over the phone the other day. President Xi Jinping pointed that for some time, due to the U.S. policy on China, the China-U.S. relationship has run into serious difficulty. This serves neither the fundamental interests of the people of the two countries, nor the common interests of countries around the world.
President Biden noted that the world is changing fast. The US-China relationship is the most consequential relationship in the world, and the future of the bulk of the world will depend on how the United States and China get on with each other. The two countries have no interest in letting competition veer into conflict. The US is prepared to have more candid exchanges and constructive discussions with China to identify key and priority areas where cooperation is possible, avoid miscommunication, miscalculation and unintended conflict, and get US-China relations back on track.
As for your specific question, we hope the relevant departments of the US and China can follow the spirit of the phone call between the two heads of state, properly manage differences, strengthen cooperation and bring the bilateral relations back to the right track of stability and development as soon as possible.
I want to emphasize that in developing trade relations and cooperation between China and the US, the spirit of mutual benefit should be followed. We have all seen that the relevant trade policies adopted by the Trump administration only ended up hurting its own interests.

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COVID-19 Has Resulted in Massive Southeast Asian Job Losses – The Diplomat

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According to the International Labor Organization, pandemic-induced job losses will continue to drag down the region’s economies until well into 2022.
A grocery store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Southeast Asian nations have suffered “unprecedented” employment losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said today, suggesting that the region faces a long road out of its current Delta-variant maelstrom.
While the year 2020 marked the high-water mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in many places, for Southeast Asia, 2021 is shaping up as the true pandemic annus horribilis. Since the beginning of the year, the region has emerged as one of the global epicenters of the pandemic, with many countries currently recording their highest daily tolls of infection and death from the disease.
In a new policy brief released today, the ILO reveals that in 2020, there were 10.6 million (or 3.2 percent) fewer workers in employment in ASEAN countries than expected for 2020 in a no-pandemic scenario. The ASEAN region recorded working-hour losses of 8.4 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.
“The impact of the pandemic on employment is unprecedented,” the brief stated. “Even during previous economic crises such as the Asian financial crisis in 1997 or the Great Recession in 2008-9, employment had always been on the rise in the ASEAN region.”
The ILO predicts that 2021 is on track to be nearly as bad as last year, in terms of the impact on the labor force. In 2021 and 2022, the ILO projects the employment gap to remain at 9.3 million and 4.1 million jobs, respectively. Meanwhile, this year could also see working-hour losses of up to 7.9 percent, not much better than last year’s 8.4 percent.
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According to the brief, the nations have been battered by a number of factors, including “lockdown measures implemented by authorities to curb the spread of the virus, the dramatic decline in tourism, the decrease in domestic consumption as well as impacts through global supply chains.”
The impacts have also varied between nations. For instance, in 2020, the Philippines saw the largest working-hour losses, of 13.6 percent, while nations like Laos, Thailand, and Brunei saw smaller losses of around 4 percent. Among the reasons for this were the different structures of the region’s economies and governments’ varying ability to provide stimulus measures to keep workers in their jobs.
Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.
But it pointed out that the pandemic has not affected all workers to the same extent. Among the groups of workers who have been most impacted by job losses are women and young workers.
The problem now for Southeast Asian nations is that while many of them successfully contained the virus during 2020, this was purchased at significant economic cost. The regional economy contracted by 3.3 percent in 2020, after growing by 4.5 percent in 2019. In some cases, last year’s recession approached 10 percent.
But the regional resurgence of the virus in most Southeast Asian nations, which has remained stubbornly resistant to the lockdowns that ushered in last year’s successes, suggests that things are unlikely to get better soon.
Despite considerable vaccination progress by several nations – especially Singapore (68 percent of whose population is now fully vaccinated), Cambodia (40 percent), and Malaysia (29 percent) – Southeast Asia remains far from the widespread distribution necessary to quell the virus.
The region’s three most populous nations – Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam – have fully vaccinated just 9.4 percent, 11 percent, and 1 percent of their populations, respectively. Meanwhile Thailand (6.9 percent), Brunei (9.5 percent), and Laos (17 percent) remain far from achieving widespread vaccination.
“With a continuing upward trend in the number of new cases and a relatively slow vaccine roll-out in most countries of the region, the adverse impacts on economies and labor markets in the region are unlikely to fade away any time soon,” the report states. “The labor market situation is likely to deteriorate further, as the pandemic continues to spread exponentially in large parts of the region.”
In 2020, Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar were the subject of puzzled inquiries as to the reason for their apparent immunity. The Delta variant has ended all of that. While governments will continue to bridge their peoples over with economic stimulus – the ILO observes that the ASEAN region had collectively allocated nearly 16 percent of GDP on its fiscal stimulus response as of the end of May 2021 – the pandemic is likely to leave an immense imprint on the region, as on the world.
Looking at the trajectory of past crises, it is worth recalling that the Asian financial crash of 1997-98 had a number of seismic flow-on effects. It catalyzed the collapse of Suharto in Indonesia, spurred the project of reformasi in Malaysia, and helped pave the way for the rise of Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand – an event that still resonates in Thai political life.
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The responses to the much more serious COVID-19 crisis will have to be correspondingly comprehensive. As the ILO’s briefing concluded, “The crisis has laid bare the vulnerabilities of the economies and labor markets in the region, which need to be tackled in order to build back better from the crisis and ensure a decent future of work in the ASEAN region.”
This will have to go beyond the barely adequate stimulus measures that most nations have implemented so far. Last month, Gerard McCarthy wrote in the Straits Times of the plight facing the region’s tens of millions of casual, contract, and informal workers, many of whom have fallen through the cracks of the present stimulus efforts, and in many cases taken on debt to ensure their survival during the pandemic downturn.
“A ‘new deal’ for Southeast Asia’s informal workers which expands safety nets and forgives survival debt is needed to ensure a robust and fair regional economic recovery,” McCarthy wrote. Given the wide discrepancies in national capacities, the ILO added in its briefing, “enhanced international solidarity and regional cooperation are critical to driving an inclusive, human-centered recovery.”
Barring such a “new deal” for the region’s workers, the political earthquakes will not be long in coming.
Sebastian Strangio is Southeast Asia Editor at The Diplomat. 

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Concepcion's 'Bakuna Bubble' takes center stage in ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting – Manila Bulletin

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Published September 8, 2021, 6:25 PM
by Ellson Quismorio
The promising “Bakuna Bubble” set-up was was presented by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion during the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting as a way to reopen the economy safely amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Concepcion presented to his counterparts in other Association of Southeat Asian Nation (ASEAN) member-countries how they can strike a balance in preventing COVID-19 infections while safely recovering economically.

“It’s very clear that the unvaccinated are a risk to the economy in the sense that they have the greatest risk of getting confined in the hospital due to the virus. This is why we are proposing the vaccine bubble, or what we call in the Philippines as ‘Bakuna Bubble,’ which is aimed at protecting the family bubble and business bubble, thereby creating greater mobility for the vaccinated people in order to spur the economy,” he said.

It can be recalled that Concepcion-led Go Negosyo has spearheaded private sector procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the majority of which came from Thailand.

On that note, Concepcion also asked Thailand to be a regular source of vaccines to ensure that the proposed greater mobility for vaccinated persons under the Bakuna Bubble would be sustainable. “Bakuna” is the Filipino word for vaccines.

Concepcion told the ASEAN community that it is the unvaccinated individuals who are at serious risk in terms of getting hospitalized for treatment and needing immediate medical attention, with some even falling to a critical state.

“In the Philippines, between 70 to 80 percent of those admitted and critical patients are unvaccinated. By allowing only the vaccinated to go out in high-risk areas such as business establishments, we will be able to protect the unvaccinated and lessen the surge of hospital admissions,” Concepcion said, highlighting a key facet of the Bakuna Bubble.

The proposed model only allows the fully vaccinated to create economic activity. “This is the safest way for us to open the economy while taking into consideration how to protect the unvaccinated,” he added.

“This model clearly gears up the heads of the families to ensure that their family members are fully vaccinated, likewise with the CEOs (chief executive officers) and executives of businesses to devote all effort in convincing their employees, especially the frontliners, to take the vaccine. The Transport Bubble is equally important in bridging the family and employees to their business bubble,” Concepcion said.

Concepcion also proposed holding the first ASEAN Exchange on COVID-19 where member-countries can share best practices as a way of saving lives and livelihood.

© 2021 Manila Bulletin The Nation's Leading Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.

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SCG posts steady growth in Q2 and H1 2021 operating results – BusinessWorld Online

Higher sales volumes, global economic recovery driving up chemical product prices, and efficient product distribution at home and abroad helped push up SCG profit for Q2 2021 by 15 percent over the previous quarter. SCG introduced “Bubble & Seal” measures to combat the Delta variant of COVID-19, maintained strict safety measures for employees and production facilities, and prepared hospital accommodations and home isolation guidelines for employees to mitigate the burden on public health. SCG aims to achieve long-term growth by adapting to market changes using digital technologies and online platforms, capturing home renovation trends, developing innovative high-quality recycled plastic resins, entering the circular economy business, and expanding its packaging business.
Roongrote Rangsiyopash, president and CEO of SCG, discloses that”The company’s unreviewed operating results for Q22021 registered revenue from sales of Php205,185 million (US$4,259million), an increase of 39 percent YoY, mainly from higher chemicals selling prices in line with higher oil prices, and an increase of 9 percent QoQ from contribution from all businesses and capacity addition, particularly in the chemicals business, which recorded higher product prices as well as sustainably high polyolefin sales volume despite freight tightness situation. The profit for the period reached Pph 26,327 million (US$546million), an increase of 83 percent YoY, largely attributable to improved Chemicals product spreads and equity income. Increase in earnings rose by 15 percent QoQ, attributed to higher chemicals spreads.”
SCG’s revenue from sales for the first half of 2021 rose 27 percent YoY to Php400,095million (US$8,297million) on the back of higher Chemicals selling prices. Profit for the period increased96 percent YoY to Php48,612 million (US$1,040million)from improved chemicals product spreads and equity income.
SCG’s revenue from sales of High-Value Added Products & Services (HVA) for H12021 reached Php135,954million(US$2,819million) or 34 percent of total revenue from sales. New products development (NPD) and service solutions such as Solar Energy Solution and Smart and Functional Solution made up 15 percentand5 percent of total revenue from sales, respectively.
SCG’s revenue from operations outside of Thailand, together with export sales from Thailand for H12021,registeredPhp175,727million (US$ 3,644 Million). This constituted 44 percent of total revenue from sales, an increase of 30 percent YoY.

SCG in ASEAN (ex-Thailand)
For SCG’s operation in ASEAN, excluding Thailand, Q2 2021 revenue from sales recorded a 48 percent increase YoY amounting to US$1,125 million, 26 percent of SCG’s total revenue from sales. This includes sales from both local operations in each ASEAN market and imports from the Thai operations.
As of June 30, 2021, SCG’s total assets amounted to US$25,337million while total assets in ASEAN (ex-Thailand) were valued at US$9,902million, 39 percent of SCG’s total consolidated assets.
Based on the Q22021 report, SCG’s total assets in the Philippines amounted toPhp19,901 million (US$ 409million), an increase of 5 percent YoY mainly from the Cement Building Material business. The company reported Q22021 revenue from sales ofPhp4,548million (US$94million),a128 percent increase YoY mainly from operations in Packaging and CBM (Ceramics), and huge export sales from Thailand and regional to the Philippines.
With trends signaling rising economic activities, SCG Marketing Philippines Inc. is grasping the opportunity by embracing a hybrid workplace, scheduling improvements, and exploring new solutions. The company plans to diversify and increase its product portfolio to address the recent upturn in home improvement as spending on home renovations and repairs is expected to stay strong in the coming quarters.
Operations at United Pulp and Paper Co., Inc. (UPPC) remained in full swing in Q22021 but with challenges from rising raw materials costs due to supply chain disruptions. Amid quarantine restrictions, UPPC continues to support manufacturers of essential goods from the F&B, personal care, pharmaceuticals, and other industries to ensure seamless supplies.
Mariwasa, a leading tiles manufacturer and brand in the building industry, marked its 55thanniversaryin June with the “Moving Forward” theme, driven by its commitment as the total home building solutions provider. Mariwasa continues to expand its product line to improve the manufacturing process and further meet growing demand in the industry.
Roongrote added, “The global COVID-19 situation is highly uncertain, particularly in ASEAN, where the Delta variant has caused a surge in infections. Many countries have reinstated stringent measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.SCG has accordingly stepped up its health and safety protocols to serve all stakeholders and maintain business continuity. These measures include moving from the “Egg Yolk, Egg White” measure, which isolates employees on the production line from contact with general employees, to the”Bubble & Seal” measure in plants at home and abroad. “Bubble & Seal” involves regularly and proactively doing COVID-19 screening, sealing off a risky area, and providing accommodation within the plant. In addition to providing hospitalization to infected employees to ensure a quick and safe treatment, SCG gives affected personnel guidelines and suggestions for effective home isolation.
Additionally, SCG has adapted its business strategies to drive sales to markets less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as increase its reliance on e-commerce. SCG has also expanded into the automation industry to provide customers with automation solutions to help boost productivity and propel the Thai industry into Smart Factory 4.0. These measures boostedSCG’s operating performance in Q2 and H1 2021 despite the regional economic slump.
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Hydrogen belongs in Asean's energy mix – Bangkok Post

published : 13 Sep 2021 at 04:30
newspaper section: Asia focus
writer: Brendan Boyle
Almost 20 years ago, I was at the forefront of the rapidly emerging hydrogen economy. As an engineering research fellow at the US Department of Energy, I was part of a team tasked with demonstrating low-carbon methods of producing the energy-dense gas suitable for large-scale production.
Those were heady days for hydrogen researchers. Climate awareness was rising — the Kyoto Protocol was signed just a few years earlier — and there was a sincere belief that soon, vast arrays of solar panels and fleets of nuclear power plants would be producing abundant, cheap hydrogen to power our cars, homes and offices.
Indeed, it didn’t seem long before the entire energy economy would be transformed, with hydrogen as the new currency.
We now know the hydrogen craze in the early 2000s was more hype than reality, and the vision of a fully fledged hydrogen economy has receded, in no small part due to the phenomenal success of battery-powered electric cars.
Hydrogen is now enjoying renewed attention, driven by the climate emergency. But this time, our understanding of the scale of the challenge and the scope of the energy transformation required is much better.
In 2000, hydrogen — along with nuclear and renewables to generate it — was seen as a panacea to decarbonise the power and transport sectors.
Today, we have firm evidence that power and transport account for roughly 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The balance comes from other sectors, such as industry and agriculture.
We know that to mitigate climate change we must tackle all emissions across all sectors. This is the logic behind the growing chorus of countries and companies that have made 2050 Net Zero pledges.
For many sectors however, achieving steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions is much more challenging than in cars or power generation. Batteries lack the density to carry jets across oceans. Electricity cannot provide the heat for steel, aluminium or plastic production.
Even the hydrogen produced today for industrial use — 75 million tons per year delivered to refineries and chemical plants — is derived from coal and natural gas, accounting for 2% of global CO2 emissions.
The appeal of hydrogen is clear. It offers the energy density and high combustion temperatures of fossil fuels, but with the potential for zero-carbon emissions. There are currently no viable alternatives, with challengers like advanced biofuels too expensive and lacking scale.
Hydrogen demand is expected to grow rapidly in coming decades. The Hydrogen Council, an industry consortium, estimates demand will be 40% higher in 2030 than today and almost 200% higher in 2040.
The challenge will be producing and delivering enough hydrogen to meet burgeoning demand, without any associated carbon emissions.
Two technologies have the potential to produce low-carbon hydrogen at scale. The first is carbon capture and storage (CCS), using fossil fuel facilities retrofitted to capture their CO2 emissions. Those emissions are then piped underground for long-term storage in stable geologic formations, which Southeast Asia has in abundance. Hydrogen produced with CCS is called “blue” hydrogen.
The second option utilises electrolysis power by renewable energy to split the constituent hydrogen and oxygen from water, creating “green” hydrogen.
Both technologies are demonstrated and in operation today around the world, but remain costly, roughly two to four times the cost of “grey hydrogen” derived from fossil fuels.
Blue hydrogen will become increasingly competitive over the next decade, as more countries put a price on carbon emissions, making grey hydrogen more expensive. The price of green hydrogen is dropping rapidly, driven largely by the declining cost of renewable power. Prices for solar electricity generation in Southeast Asia declined 35% in the past five years and are expected to decline another 60-70% in the coming decade.
Boston Consulting Group estimates that early in the next decade, blue and green hydrogen will be competitive with grey, with green hydrogen becoming the lowest-cost option thereafter.
OPPORTUNITY IN ASEAN
Growing demand for low-carbon hydrogen presents a massive opportunity in Southeast Asia. The region is a significant producer of grey hydrogen to support its large steel, refining and petrochemicals industries.
Retrofitting existing assets with carbon capture and storage would make Southeast Asia a leader in blue hydrogen and provide strong foundations to scale up CCS, ultimately including emissions from coal and gas power plants.
Southeast Asia also has the potential to be one of the world’s most competitive producers of green hydrogen, thanks to high-quality renewable resources including solar, wind and hydropower.
Locally produced green hydrogen can be consumed in the region, supporting growing demand for low-carbon options in transport and power generation, or exported to high-demand countries like Japan and South Korea.
For the region to reach its full potential, stakeholders will need to work together to create a vibrant ecosystem that supports innovation and growth.
Policymakers need to create legal and regulatory frameworks to incentivise and support investments in low-carbon energy. This includes a price on CO2, either through tax, emissions trading schemes, or financial incentives for CCS.
Support for R&D and pilot projects will help incubate new technologies, demonstrate commercial viability and stimulate demand in new sectors. For example, the Malaysian state of Sarawak launched a hydrogen-powered bus fleet in 2020, the first of its kind in Asean.
Setting clear standards for construction and operation of low-carbon energy facilities will also provide the regulatory clarity businesses need to make long-term investment decisions.
The opportunities for industry are also multifaceted. Energy consumers can enjoy a pathway to decarbonise operations. Oil and gas companies can tap industry strengths to become competitive producers and distributors. Financial institutions have the potential for profitable investments in a booming green commodity market. Equipment, engineering and construction operators will enjoy new roles in an emerging industry.
After a false start 20 years ago, the low-carbon hydrogen economy appears poised to take off. Now is the time for policymakers and energy industry leaders to set ambitious goals and develop a strategy to achieve them. Only then can Southeast Asia claim its rightful role as a major producer and consumer of the fuel of the future.
Brendan Boyle is a project leader at Boston Consulting Group.
MANILA: The Asian Development Bank warned of "lasting scars" from the coronavirus pandemic as it cut its 2021 growth forecast for developing Asia on slow vaccination rates, surging infections and crippling lockdowns.
Thailand vows to continue driving forward with innovations, technologies and intellectual property (IP), hoping such areas will help boost international trade in the near future.
Thailand logged 11,252 new Covid-19 cases and 141 more fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Wednesday morning.

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Malaysian, Thai central banks invite financial institutions to indicate interest to be Qualified Asean Bank – The Sun Daily

PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Bank of Thailand (BOT) have invited banking institutions from Malaysia and Thailand to indicate their interest to be a Qualified Asean Bank (QAB) in both countries.

The invitation is pursuant to the bilateral arrangement under the Asean Banking Integration Framework (ABIF) between the two central banks which was concluded in April 2019.
The QABs are envisioned to facilitate greater intra-Asean trade and investment, in accordance with the Asean Economic Community Blueprint 2025 that aims to create an integrated and highly cohesive Asean economy.
BNM said that to ensure the financial stability of both countries, the QAB candidate, whether a new entrant or an existing bank in the host country, must be a strong and well managed bank that has its interest endorsed by the home country’s regulator; and comply with the host country’s prudential requirements.
Successful candidate will enjoy market access and operational flexibilities accorded under the bilateral arrangement.
The Malaysian central bank pointed out that this bilateral arrangement is a significant milestone in the journey towards Asean financial integration as envisioned under ABIF.
Towards this, the two regulators have launched the Cross-Border QR Payment Linkage between Thailand and Malaysia.
BNM’s governor, Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus, commented that the arrangement signifies the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries and it will benefit the people of Malaysia and Thailand, given the increase in banking convenience and greater access to a wider range of banking products.
“We are taking great strides towards creating an integrated and cohesive Asean economy, and we are confident that the QAB arrangement will foster more business opportunities and economic activities between the two countries to facilitate both our economic recoveries amidst the ongoing pandemic,” she said in a statement.
Her Thai counterpart, Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, agreed that the QAB marks another important milestone for the long-standing partnership between the two countries, as well as Asean’s efforts towards deeper regional financial integration.
“The arrangement will bring about a wider range of high quality financial products that will better serve the needs of businesses and consumers in both countries. It is our aspiration to see QAB arrangements pave the way for further financial cooperation among Asean members as the region embraces new financial innovations,” he said.
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