Latest ASEAN news

Malaysia could potentially accelerate renewable energy goals, says TNB

KUALA LUMPUR (May 26): There is potential for Malaysia to achieve or even exceed its long-term renewable energy (RE) target helped by a stronger push for energy transition from energy users, said Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

This, TNB noted, includes its plan to raise the group’s global RE capacity to 8.3 gigawatt (GW) by 2025 from 3.4GW at end-2021, and Malaysia’s RE generation of 18GW by 2035 from 8.45GW currently.

“In the past few years, the push for energy transition has become much stronger. As we look at plans coming up for the nation and TNB, it will be interesting to perhaps even see some of the plans [move] forward faster,” said TNB sustainability pathway project director Dr Noor Miza Razali.

Speaking at a Thursday (May 26) briefing on TNB’s sustainability pathway, Dr Noor Miza explained that the RE generation mix could be further enabled due to declining cost of operations compared to volatile prices of traditional fuel sources like coal.

“Having the capacity there is one [matter], but the other [factor influencing the generation mix] is the actual cost of operations,” she said.

While prices of RE-related equipment had risen its record lows in recent years, the swing is limited due to absence of fuel costs, she explained.

“It is not only the right time to be venturing into [RE considering the fossil fuel price fluctuations], this market is expanding and getting a lot of support [from regulators and investors].”

In the Malaysian market, Dr Noor Miza said the TNB group had 100MW worth of solar capacity that it owns on the rooftops of customers who purchase the RE via long-term agreements. This excludes rooftop solar assets which are owned by the building owners themselves.

TNB is also looking at new technologies in the energy space, she said, including energy storage, as well as a virtual power plant which digitally manages rooftop RE capacity scattered across multiple locations.

TNB in late 2021 formed its new energy division to further expand its RE portfolio and set up strategic partnerships with leading RE players to leverage their technical expertise. It streamlines its RE expansion across two entities, namely Vantage Renewable Energy focusing on the UK and Europe, as well as TNB Renewables Sdn Bhd focusing on Malaysia and the ASEAN markets, namely Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines 

When asked to comment on the viability of RE exports from Malaysia, Dr Noor Miza said that any interconnection will be good for power systems.

“We have agreements to import and export power to our neighbours within the ASEAN framework, including hydro from Laos, and exports to Singapore.

“Sarawak has its interconnection with Indonesia, and Sabah is very close to the Philippines. The ASEAN power grid would be very important both in terms of sustainability and energy adequacy,” she noted.

She said whether building additional RE capacity and exporting now is the right thing to do will depend on the government’s objective.

The energy minister reportedly said in March that the government does not export the renewable energy it produces, but instead uses it to attract more investors to the country.

Singapore is seeking to import 4GW of RE by 2035, with the request for proposal for the first 1.2GW deadline set for June 14, 2022, according to its Energy Market Authority.

Some have argued that Malaysia’s untapped RE capacity far exceeds domestic demand, and that building RE export capacity provides another growth area for Malaysia’s green economy.

Source : The Edge Market

Next-gen leaders are essential for family businesses to thrive in the new economy

The Business Times reported that digital transformation is one of the main ways – if not the only way – to thrive in South-east Asia, which is set to become the fastest-growing digital economy in Asia-Pacific, with a pool of 350 million digital consumers and counting.

The business and wealth landscape have been drastically overhauled by the rapid shift towards digital adoption, and no more so than in South-east Asia. Customer needs have changed in the face of this overhaul, and businesses will have to adapt their products, processes and distribution channels to meet these needs, as well as to meet the challenges of this hybrid world.

It is no longer enough to introduce new digital tools into mere parts of the company. The approach needs to be holistic as rapid technological adoption now cuts across the way we bank and invest, make payments and conduct trade.

If businesses fail to keep up in this new economy and landscape, it is inevitable that they will be left behind. Businesses need to move past mere digitisation, and instead digitalise their entire operations to capture new digital business opportunities, which could be worth US$240 billion by 2025 in South-east Asia alone.

Handing over the reins

Keeping the business shift towards digital in mind, it may be surprising how family-run businesses – typically small and medium-sized enterpises (SMEs) – are approaching this in terms of leadership and succession planning.

Although 80 per cent of family businesses say that digitalisation and innovation are a top priority, only 19 per cent of these businesses say their digital transformation is complete. Furthermore, 29 per cent still report that they are lacking in digital capabilities and that developing these capabilities is not a high priority for them.

This indicates a substantial gap between awareness and the actions needed to build a sustainable, digitally-driven business equipped to keep up with the changing business and consumer landscape.

With many SMEs constrained by resources, the onus for change often falls more heavily on the leadership team – and with over 35 per cent of family businesses expecting their family members of later generations to be majority shareholders within the next 5 years, the next generation scions who will soon be at the helm must take on the leadership mantle to ensure their businesses stay resilient.

A 2021 PwC survey found that such "next-gens" have a greater role in 46 per cent of digitally strong businesses, which spells good news. The next-gen entrepreneurs are digital natives; for them, life does not exist without a cell phone.

They are also educated and armed with the knowledge of how digitalisation brings greater business and wealth opportunities, as well as the ability to transform their companies – whether this involves re-engineering long-held procurement and sales processes, or innovating and evolving technology across the business to drive benefits and convenience for their customers, and generate loyalty in the process.

These next-gen entrepreneurs are well positioned within succession plans. But, according to a PWC report, what they really yearn for is greater trust and support from their parents.

Nurturing tomorrow's entrepreneurs

Tomorrow's leaders need to be mentored and empowered to make changes. This should go beyond formal education and C-Suite coaching, to look at leveraging early opportunities to explore transformative changes or digital business models that will steer the business in the right direction and capture new value pools.

This can be done through nurturing transgenerational entrepreneurship, such as by establishing a side venture that can act as a test bed for new ideas. Another option is to create a separate business, independent of the original family endeavour, with the intention of encouraging new innovations that can then be applied to the family business model.

The practical experience drawn from these ventures will go a long way in helping future leaders develop their skills to take the family business to the next level.

Tapping on banking relationship to open doors

Next-gens can and should tap into their families' private banking relationships. And if their ambitions are to expand internationally, it is vital to make full use of the services provided by a universal bank with strong commercial and investment banking capabilities, to open up doors to support for their endeavours.

A universal bank with a global network like HSBC can help next-gens look beyond their private wealth needs and tap into the connections of its corporate and global banking arms to help them reshape their businesses – from expanding to new markets to seeking out win-win partnerships or collaborations to build new capabilities.

For example, tea company Lim Lam Thye turned to HSBC, their family bank, to expand and launch its subsidiaries, Gryphon Tea and Pryce Tea. The bank also supported the growth of their business with custom foreign exchange capabilities and digital transaction banking services.

Innovative ways of thinking and savviness in today's complex, digitalised world, coupled with the business acumen that generations of experience bring, will lead to greater wealth and growth opportunities, resiliency and continued prosperity for generations to come.


Source: The Business Times

Date: 27 April 2022

Link: Here

How much digitalisation must the F&B industry go through to be ‘future-ready’?

The Business Times reported that the Covid-19 pandemic has created protracted havoc in Singapore’s food and beverage (F&B) industry over the last 2 years. Supply chains, manpower supply, dining habits and payment patterns were disrupted.

Several establishments called it quits in the largest stress test of the decade – 3,440 F&B businesses ceased operations from December 2019 to June 2021, with total employment in the sector falling by about 8 per cent in the same period, according to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Within this cloud of doom and gloom, however, there is a silver lining. While Covid-19 shut down some F&B businesses, digitalisation has provided a lifeline for others. The digital transformation of the industry has gone from a pipe dream to a piping hot buzzword.

Industry 4.0

Digitally-savvy F&B operators quickly filled the gaps left by the incumbents by introducing e-commerce and digital tools into the conventional business model. An example is the proliferation of so-called "ghost kitchens" or "cloud kitchens". These low-capital startup options fulfil orders for restaurant food directly to customers – without an actual restaurant. Usually based in industrial estates, they have been popping up in shopping malls as well.

Then there are hybrid kitchens, restaurants that physically split into 2 operations – one for the physical crowd and the other for virtual orders, to maximise available space for the rapid scaling of the business.

Amid the pandemic, these digital forerunners made innovative use of Industry 4.0 to thrive in the new normal.

Conventional barriers were overcome via digital problem management, with processes such as virtual customer service and direct supply chain helping to make F&B operations less vulnerable and reactive.

Smart restaurants

The next step in the digital transformation of F&B is automation. This is the key to streamlining workflows and optimising manpower, factors that impact the ability to change during a crisis.

As a case in point, consider repetitive, manual tasks such as measuring, scooping and assembling ingredients in the correct sequence. Automating this process can dramatically reduce the amount of physical labour needed to produce a dish, allowing operators to better direct resources to other business functions.

A fully automated restaurant could serve the dual purpose of being a food production facility. Every dish in the menu will be pre-programmed with the desired preparation method. Each order is completed at the ideal timing and served with optimal consistency in taste and presentation.

From taking pre-orders to fulfilling each order at precisely the right moment, such a smart restaurant will operate with greater efficiency and precision.

A true restaurant of the future, however, requires more digitalisation than dedicated hardware and software. The system is an equally important part of the equation, which is where the Internet of Things (IoT) comes in.

With sensors deployed across the operation, computers can automatically and intelligently adjust workflows for greater efficiency and the best use of equipment, and even predict and schedule maintenance turnaround.

An IoT system can also drive a more sustainable operation by monitoring stock levels and freshness of ingredients and using analytics to minimise overlaps, gaps and wastage.

Operators can take heart that this digital process is not much different from how they manage their usual army of fryers, ovens and point-of-sale systems.

Automated workflows are incredibly streamlined, leading to shorter learning curves for staff with less reliance on technology skills.

Digitalisation can also support the research and development process by using data to visualise each stage of food preparation, test different options, stress-test the business model and map the most efficient production process end-to-end.

It allows F&B operators to base decisions on robust data rather than rough estimates, and enables finetuning and tweaking of different elements to achieve a more cost-effective or higher margin result.

F&B of the future

The digital transformation of F&B means a whole new way of experiencing the food business. Operations can expect greater room for innovation, traceability of transactions, predictability of costs and waste, collaboration between internal departments and external partners, and monitoring of performance to drive change.

Here’s more good news: the technology needed for all the above is already available, with increasing ubiquity pushing down capital outlay and total costs.

With governmental support of S$70 million to help the F&B industry transform and thrive, as announced in Parliament in March, accessibility is no longer an issue.

As more F&B enterprises catch on to the full extent of digital transformation's benefits, digitalisation will no longer be a "nice to have" but an actual necessity.

With a variety of technology options to explore, there is no reason to resist the convenience and flexibility of being an F&B outlet of the future, whether you are a hawker or a fine dining restaurant.

As the industry continues to innovate, and humans learn to maximise the potential of automation, the biggest winner will be the consumer – and that is the greatest reward of all.


Source: The Business Times / Photo by Kua Chee Siong

Date: 20 April  2022

Link: Here

How digitalization is making South and Southeast Asia engines of growth


Digital transformation worldwide was already increasingly changing how companies make and offer their propositions and interact with their customers. But the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this, with technology emerging as a critical means of resolving public health challenges and continuing to facilitate the new online consumer landscape. This accelerated digitalization is disrupting the world’s economy, making it one of the most significant growth engines for many developing nations.


We are already seeing how digitalization is reshaping Asia. The digital transformation of South and Southeast Asia is opening a range of opportunities for its citizens, especially for younger generations. Many Asian countries are even in the lead globally in certain sectors of digitalization. For example, the Philippines and Malaysia have become the top two countries in e-commerce retail growth, increasing by 25% and 23% per year, respectively.


What’s more, with the advent of rapid digitalization, Asian countries are tapping new opportunities by exporting online labour to the West.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital connectivity in Asia played a vital role in overcoming the difficulties of conventional trade. The digital economy acted as a key enabling factor in the Asian recovery, Observer Research Foundation reports. According to Nikkei Asia, the pandemic has had a striking impact on Southeast Asia’s digital economy: 60 million people in the region became online consumers during this period. With this accelerated uptake of technology, there was an increase in nearly all e-commerce during the pandemic, with solid growth in sports equipment and supermarket items.


Asia now accounts for nearly 60% of the world’s online retail sales. Asian-Pacific e-commerce is expected to nearly double by 2025, reaching $2 trillion, according to Euromonitor International. From online retail to ride-sharing services to exporting online labour, this digital boom is reshaping almost every aspect of business and social life in this region.


Asia, the most populous continent, has the most significant number of mobile phone users globally; around two-thirds of people use mobile services, and there is still room for further expansion. The fastest growth rates are in South and Southeast Asian countries. The use of smartphones is quite common across most emerging economies. Countries like Singapore (87%), Malaysia (83%), and Thailand (75%) have comparatively higher smartphone penetration. However, in the case of smartphone market growth in 2020, the Philippines has the highest increase: over 90%. Similarly, according to GSMA, the consumption of mobile data in South and Southeast Asia will increase by three times by 2025, from 9.2 GB to 28.9 GB per month per user. The UN-ESCAP reports that Asia is the fastest-growing region in the global e-commerce marketplace. In fact, the graph below shows that around 78% of Asia’s $2.448 trillion of e-commerce retail sales take place via mobile phones.


Social media has been another driving force in digitalization on the continent – but the penetration rate in Southeast Asia is much higher than that of in South Asia. For instance, Malaysia has the highest social media penetration rate (81%) in Southeast Asia, followed by Singapore (79%); the Philippines (67%) and Indonesia (59%) also feature strongly. But, in South Asia, the highest-ranking nations, India and Bangladesh, only have penetration rates of 29% and 22%, respectively. In terms of duration, the Philippines spends more time on social media than other countries in the region: approximately three hours and 53 minutes daily.


Four factors have contributed to the rapid growth in digital consumption in South and Southeast Asia. Firstly, a vast youth population who are digital natives has significantly contributed to the growth of the sector. Secondly, the rapid adoption of financial services accessible via smartphones is helping millions of people make digital payments. Thirdly, with such high mobile penetration in the region, consumers regularly use e-commerce and social media sites to buy products and services. In fact, McKinsey & Company estimate that the proportion of digital payments in Asia will be at 65% in 2024 (against an average of 52% globally), making the continent the world’s consumption growth engine. Finally, most governments in South and Southeast Asian countries have introduced supportive policies to boost the digital economy and infrastructure.


There is no doubt that South and Southeast Asia are experiencing rapid digital growth. However, to achieve the region’s maximum potential, several areas need to be improved: digital infrastructure; new consumer development; information security; and effective digital policy. Moreover, many experts currently argue that digitalization is favouring individual consumers, not SMEs.


The region should adopt more cross-country collaborations, such as Go Digital ASEAN. These kinds of initiatives undeniably broaden the landscape of the digital economy and boost related infrastructures in the region. Meanwhile, national-level strategies like India’s National Digital Communication Policy (2018), 1st Policy for Digital Pakistan (2018), and Bangladesh’s National ICT Strategy need to be fully implemented and monitored as an utmost priority. Finally, South and Southeast Asian governments should foster a more sustainable digital ecosystem by promoting digital start-ups, removing entry barriers, developing human capital, and establishing national regulatory frameworks for the digital economy.


Read more: Here

Pursuing sustainability to 'gain more business'

WHILE cost is an oft-cited barrier for firms looking to adopt greener solutions, industry watchers and officials say the pursuit of sustainability can bring companies new opportunities and ultimately, more business.

For marine project management firm Sea Forrest, which developed the first hybrid sea vessel in Singapore, one way to work around the higher price tag of green solutions is to source for its own parts to develop its own equipment.

"The way we do it has been not to take a full solution directly from overseas," Sea Forrest chief executive George Lee told The Business Times, adding that most of these solutions are of European origin and are "pretty expensive".

"What we do is that we take components and we build a system around the components, and how we are now driving the costs is that we're going to concentrate on the more important portion of the system and we're trying to duplicate those systems and try to mass produce," he said.

Lee said the team then standardised its motors, controllers and battery systems before going for a bulk purchase from the vendor, which would qualify them for bigger discounts.

For example, Sea Forrest was able to create a device that can safely install swoppable batteries onboard a moving vessel for wireless charging to the tune of about S$40,000, a fraction of a more sophisticated Norwegian system that costs S$2 million.

"Theirs is an articulated arm - it's a robotic arm, looks high class and very futuristic. Mine is not," he said with a laugh. "It doesn't look very nice, it still looks very primitive, but it works, and it also allows for wireless charging."

Most of the time, the high costs of sustainable solutions stem from development costs, said Lee, but ongoing supply chain constraints are also driving up the prices of major components, making them more expensive to build and deliver.

This is further exacerbated by growing competition from electric vehicle (EV) makers, who are in the market for largely the same components.

There are also other potential costs to consider, Lee said, such as that for crew training, maintenance and infrastructure.

Still, companies pursuing sustainability can generate greater value over time, despite the upfront costs, said Geoffrey Yeo, assistant chief executive officer for urban solutions, sustainability and enterprise finance at Enterprise Singapore (Enterprise SG).

"For instance, enterprises that aim to reduce carbon emissions can start by improving their energy efficiency, which will result in significant cost savings over time," he said.

"Enterprises will also benefit from their sustainability efforts in various ways, such as better engagement with customers, employees and other stakeholders, which can yield further business opportunities," he added.

Companies can start their sustainability journey by examining projects that generate financial returns over the longer term, said Yeo.

"For projects that may not yield clear financial returns, companies can set aside a budget to pursue such efforts each year, focusing on areas that are most relevant for their business," he said.

Above the topline

Patrick Lim, executive director and chief operating officer of BH Global, the technology group that Sea Forrest is a subsidiary of, believes the benefits of going green are intangible for the marine industry.

"When vessel owners invest in sustainability, we cannot talk to them about return on investment because it's not going to happen. The amount of money they invest and the amount of fuel savings are not going to cover that investment," he said.

Instead, the focus should be on how being green can help companies gain more business, he said.

Port authorities can do their part to encourage this, Lim added, such as, for example, giving greener ships priority at Jurong Port or other incentives.

It could take years to develop adequate charging infrastructure or for clean sources of marine fuel like hydrogen and ammonia to mature, said Lim, but in the meantime, electrification is the way to go to help reduce emissions, an urgent mission as the climate crisis deepens.

He added: "Ammonia is a solution, we know, maybe in the future, but what are we going to do now? Are we going to wait 3 years to do the research until the technology is mature? Or do we want to do step changes, start doing something and contribute to sustainability now?"

Making the commitment to go green as early as possible allows companies to reap a "first mover's advantage", said sustainability consultants.

Mapping a net-zero roadmap and holistically considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects would lead to better risk management and future-proofing, said Sharad Somani, head of infrastructure advisory and partner at KPMG in Singapore.

An immediate benefit could also be in the form of tapping on various green schemes of the government, accessing sustainable finance and raising green capital, he said.

"By becoming an early mover in the green space, companies can proactively also start looking at newer business opportunities in the low carbon technology space which can lead to further strengthening the business model," he added.

This is also where sustainability can bring new opportunities to firms, said watchers.

"Being sustainable can enable companies to differentiate themselves from competitors, reduce business risks, and improve cost efficiency. Companies can also gain by developing green products, services and solutions to capture new demand in the green economy," said Enterprise SG's Yeo.

He added that the adoption of sustainability standards can provide businesses with greater transparency and trust in their products, services and practices.

"As sustainability demand increases globally, sustainability standards will be important particularly for companies that export their goods and services, operate in overseas markets, or work with MNCs (multinational corporations)," he said.

This is likely to matter more in the coming days - and years - as the sustainability agenda becomes increasingly important for firms that want to stay ahead of competition.

Existential need

According to a March 2021 report by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit co-authored by researchers from the University of Oxford, 21 per cent of the 2,000 largest companies in the world have set a target to hit net zero by mid-century, just a few years after interest in net zero really took off.

Multinationals are increasingly under consumer, regulatory and investor pressure to report and manage their emissions across their full supply chain, an exercise that carries "significant economic implications", said Konstantinos Dimitriou, EY-Parthenon associate partner.

Noting that the implications for small and medium enterprises (SME) across the supply chain are significant, Dimitriou said: "We are already seeing very significant pressures on ESG standards for large resource, logistics and energy value chain players in the region, and those pressures will cascade to all SME service and goods providers in these supply chains."

SMEs that do not accept the reality of this trend risk being dropped from supply chains pointed towards developed markets, he said. Opportunities may still exist for them in less developed markets, but competition will be fierce, with customers that are very price sensitive and a higher cost of capital.

With most credible businesses and financial institutions committed to a net zero target by 2030, the runaway isn't long for SMEs to "get their act together", said KPMG's Somani.

Yvonne Zhang, risk advisory climate and sustainability leader at Deloitte South-east Asia, said while many SMEs in Singapore are "naturally striving to be more sustainable" - in terms of sourcing locally and minimising waste and packaging - "their continued survival is pegged to generating positive impact for a wide range of stakeholders, significantly more so than bigger entities that can rely on economy of scale and insist on shareholder value tunnel vision".

"SMEs often lack a clear understanding of how to quantify and articulate their impact, this in turn may curtail their ability to access financing resources, distinguish themselves from competition or hire quality workforce," said Zhang.

She added that the existential threat to SMEs is thus not so much the sustainability of their business practices but their business model and ability to control pricing.

A 2022 survey by PwC also showed that while over 7 in 10 family business owners expect to be involved in increasing their business' focus on investments for sustainability in the future, only 28 per cent are doing this now.

But Fang Eu-Lin, sustainability and climate change leader at PwC Singapore, credited government programmes for helping SMES to develop their knowledge and capabilities.

"This includes support to help them seize opportunities and manage challenges like transitional risks," she said.

Green resources

Examples of such support include Enterprise SG's Enterprise Sustainability Programme, which provides assistance for businesses at different stages of their sustainability journey.

Enterprise SG's Yeo said those starting out can attend subsidised training courses aimed at helping business leaders learn about sustainability and provide a foundation for them to take further steps.

The 2-3 day courses were developed with Global Compact Network Singapore, PwC Singapore and Singapore Environment Council, and they cover sustainability trends, risks and opportunities, as well as concepts and topics such as decarbonisation, circular economy, sustainability reporting and carbon management.

Firms that are ready can also receive further support to build their capabilities in sustainability and embark on product development projects, said Yeo.

The programme offers support to SMEs taking up projects in areas such as sustainability strategy development, resource optimisation, standards adoption and product development.

For companies developing green technologies and solutions, the Enterprise Financing Scheme-Green provides them with better access to green financing from financial institutions.

Source: The Business Times 

Date: 14 April  2022

Link: Here

Making supply chain central to sustainability plans


Business Times reported that according to the EY Future Consumer Index, consumers globally are becoming more socially conscious and making sustainable choices in how they spend their time and money in a post-pandemic world. For businesses and manufacturers, this shift in consumer sentiments deals another blow to their supply chain transformation plans, in addition to the disruptions arising from the pandemic and global geopolitical events. Prior to this growing strategic imperative for sustainability, companies may have attempted to hop onto the sustainability bandwagon as a gesture of support toward calls for greener growth while meeting minimum sustainability compliance requirements. Governments are also driving regulations and policies that steer businesses toward more sustainable business practices. For example, the Singapore Green Plan 2030 sets a mission for Singapore to transit to a low-carbon economy and achieve its long-term net-zero emissions goal "as soon as viable".


To meet the requirements of sustainable sourcing, organisations should ensure that their third-party vendors and their suppliers meet sustainability standards. Leading practices in sustainable sourcing focus on building trust with stakeholders, deepening supplier relationships, reducing business and reputational risks, and improving productivity. Organisations must be able to articulate clear standards on sustainability and establish the risk profiles of suppliers and categories. They should also review their category strategies - a means to drive sales of a specific product group - in this case, one that promotes sustainability. Transforming the traditional supply chain into a sustainable one will not be easy, and organisations will invariably face challenges. Adopting the right mindset and attitude towards sustainability - viewing it as an opportunity for growth instead of a burden - is key. The case for building a sustainable supply chain is clear. Organisations that embed sustainability in their supply chains can reduce costs, increase productivity, innovate, differentiate and improve societal outcomes.

Read more: Here

Why Asia must adapt to keep its global supply chain crown


Business Times published a commentary by Mark Micallef, senior vice president and managing director of Asia-Pacific at Anaplan, on why Asia must adapt to keep its global supply chain crown. The writer said that in ancient times, the cost of moving goods determined the production and distribution reach of a product. So, products made in a particular market found their way to the end consumer linearly across trade routes such as the Silk Road or the Spice Route. A truly international production network came into existence much later with advances in transportation technology, and due to the industrial revolution. Among the key innovations was ‘containerisation’ and markets in Asia such as Singapore and Hong Kong recognised its potential and built large new facilities, establishing themselves as major ports and clearing houses. 


Over the past decades, with unprecedented levels of production, shipping, and trade, not to mention rapidly increasing consumption and purchasing in recent years, Asia firmly established its position as the supply chain capital of the world. However, the global pandemic sent shockwaves through supply chains across the region. It upended distribution networks and exposed inherent vulnerabilities in the supply chain links, effectively straining regional economic growth. This has forced organisations to rethink how they operate, where they produce their products, how they move them, and what factors they build into their supply chain to ensure greater resilience. As an important supplier of parts and intermediate goods, the Southeast Asia region has been deeply affected. North Asia too has not been insulated from the impact because of their dependence on the Southeast Asia region. The writer stated that businesses rethinking supply chains presents a mortal risk to Asia’s crown. There is a real threat of global businesses moving their production centres closer to home to avoid exposure to such trade disruptions, bypassing Asia in the process. The writer added that Asia must in fact embrace complexity in the supply chain, giving businesses more options and opportunities to succeed and deter them from thinking about exit strategies for the region. Investing in scenario forecasting, risk mitigation, and leveraging real-time actionable insights can potentially tip the scales back in Asia’s favour.

Read more: Here

Tackling manpower issues key to global tourism revival: Panel


Straits Times reported that the foremost challenge facing a global tourism recovery is ensuring the travel sector can get the labour it needs, industry and government leaders said at a panel discussion on 23 May, as the annual World Economic Forum kicked off. Singapore Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who was one of the panellists, noted that the operational needs of airports around the world have shot up significantly in recent times, but getting the hands needed to keep things going smoothly has been an issue. Marriott International chief executive Anthony Capuano said for the sector's manpower needs to be met, confidence in its long-term trajectory - and its viability for forging lasting careers - has to be rebuilt. Minister Iswaran noted Singapore has, in the space of a few weeks, doubled traveller volume to the Republic, which is now at roughly half of pre-pandemic levels. While the growth momentum for travel has been much stronger than expected, manpower issues and resource constraints are going to bite, he said. 


Panellists said that while the pandemic had severely impacted the sector - roughly one in five jobs lost globally due to COVID-19 was in travel and tourism, with more than 60 million of them lost in 2020 alone - a bright spot is the rapid adoption of technology both by guests and the industry. This includes more bookings going online, merchants digitising and now accepting contactless payments, as well as the automation of a lot of menial tasks partly out of necessity, said Ms Ruzwana Bashir, CEO of experiences booking platform Governments have had to innovate to rejuvenate travel, said President of the Dominican Republic Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona and Saudi Arabia's Assistant Minister for Strategy and Executive Affairs in Tourism Haifa Al Saud, two others on the panel discussion. Mr Abinader, for instance, said focus groups organised by his government found that there was clear demand by travellers keen to visit the Dominican Republic, but who were afraid of catching the virus abroad.


Read more: Here

World in one of worst energy crises since the 1970s: WEF

Straits Times reported that the war in Ukraine, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic rebound in its aftermath, significantly disrupted energy transition efforts. This has left the world in one of the most severe energy crises since the 1970s, said the World Economic Forum (WEF) in a new report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2022. The pace of energy transition needs to be supercharged for the world to keep to its sustainability goals, it noted. WEF, in its latest energy transition report, called for urgent action by both private and public actors to ensure a resilient transition. This “urgency for countries to accelerate a holistic energy transition is reinforced by high fuel prices, commodities’ shortages, insufficient headway on achieving climate goals and slow progress on energy justice and access”, it said. 

WEF’s report detailed key recommendations for governments, companies, consumers and other stakeholders on measures to advance energy transition. Countries will need to prioritise efforts to ensure a resilient energy transition and diversification of the energy mix, it stated. Most countries rely on just a handful of trade partners to meet their energy requirements and have a deficient diversification of energy sources, providing limited flexibility to deal with disruptions, said WEF. The report noted that of 34 countries with advanced economies, 11 rely on only three trade partners for more than 70 per cent of their fuel imports. More countries need to make binding climate commitments, create long-term vision for domestic and regional energy systems, attract private-sector investors for decarbonisation projects and help consumers and the workforce adjust, the report added.

Read more: Here

Regional grids can lower renewable energy costs

Straits Times reported that importing electricity generated by various renewable sources across South-east Asia is one way for nations in the region to meet their climate change targets in an affordable way, a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found. The Republic had earlier announced plans to import 30 per cent of its energy needs - or 4 gigawatts of electricity - by 2035. One way of doing so could be through ASEAN's regional power grid. Such power grids allow countries that may have a surplus of electricity from renewable sources like hydropower to trade with countries that lack these resources. Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday, IEA's chief energy economist Tim Gould said having an integrated power system across countries helps to bring down the costs of transitioning to a greener energy sector. 

"For a country like Singapore, being able to access energy supplies from low-carbon sources from its neighbouring countries through a regionally interconnected grid is very, very important, given the constraints on land that Singapore faces," he added. As each country has its own advantages in different renewable technologies - some in hydropower, geothermal, and others in wind, for instance - having a diverse mix of resources could help to reduce variability in factors such as weather conditions, said Mr Gould. IEA's report, Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2022, also pointed out that institutional and contractual structures will also need to be adapted to facilitate multilateral cross-border power trade. The Energy Market Authority on Wednesday also unveiled "A Resilient and Sustainable Energy Future" as the theme for the SIEW conference, which will take place from Oct 25 to 28. It said in a statement that the theme reflects how the global energy community has accelerated the pursuit of a greener future.

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Partners to produce hydrogen from hydropower in Cambodia and Malaysia

PESTECH International Berhad and Hydrogene De France SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on green hydrogen production from hydropower plants in Cambodia and Malaysia.

Under the MoU, the parties will co-operate to develop works with respect to the projects in the region of Malaysia and Cambodia as an initial phase. HDF Energy will take the lead on the project development scopes and sizing.

PESTECH will act as local market liaison and coordinator. PESTECH will be given the first right of refusal for the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning works on a project-by-project approach. The first right of refusal will depend on bankability criteria to be confirmed at a later stage by international and local lenders.

PESTECH said this collaboration “is expected to complement and align with the global transition for sustainable energy and net zero emissions in the power generation and rail electrification segments.”

The MoU is effective for three years.

The hydropower plants involved and their owning company were not named in the release.

HDF Energy develops hydrogen power plants to provide continuous or on-demand electricity from renewable energy sources, combined with high-power fuel cells.

PESTECH is a Malaysian integrated electrical power technology company. Its core business is the design, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of high-voltage and extra-high-voltage substations, transmission lines and submarine power cable systems. 

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Source: Khmer Times

ASEAN for Business Bulletin 2022: Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Rules of Origin and Intellectual Property Protection

February 2022 Issue (link)
The world’s largest ASEAN-led Free Trade Agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), has entered into force on the 1st January 2022. The streamlined rules of origin (ROO) under the RCEP provides flexible options for the businesses to enjoy tariff concessions. Learn more about the competitiveness and benefits offered by the ROO under the RCEP in this bulletin.

April 2022 Issue (link)
RCEP further modernize the IP regime to enhance market confidence for business operating in the region. Learn more about the Intellectual Property Protection under the RCEP in this bulletin.