ASEAN Biweekly News Updates-January 13- January 25

Demand for Decarbonise Loans increased significantly; 15 million tonnes of lithium found in Thailand; Relocations to Southeast Asia; 7-Eleven Malaysia launched the 7EGoGreen campaign; Getting ready for the green utility tariff; Thailand's GDP growth forecast for 2024 upgraded; Feasibility study on a green hydrogen project; hailand announces genuine funds for Green Investment; Banpu Signs THB 2.4 Billion Agreement; JS Solar and Samaiden bag the RM100 million Kulim project; First large-scale green hydrogen production project in Malaysia signed

Demand for Decarbonise Loans increased significantly as SMEs explore green operations

In fiscal year 2024, 158 small and medium-sized (SMEs) requested for a total of 1.9 billion baht through the Thai SME Fund’s Decabonise Loan, surpassing the 1.4 billion baht amount from the previous fiscal year.

The government-sponsored fund is offering loans to SME operators who want to improve or invest facilities and equipment that have a lower environmental impact—particularly by lowering the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

The director at the Office of Thai SME Fund said that they were surprised by the volume of loans applied for in this fiscal year. Consequently, the office was forced to decide whether to start a new loan programme with comparable advantages or raise the Decarbonise Loan fund limit by an additional 2 billion baht.

Editor’s Note: The loan, aimed at promoting environmentally friendly practices, supports SME operators investing in equipment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Office of Thai SME Fund initially allocated 1.5 billion baht for Decarbonise Loan in fiscal year 2024, but due to the high demand, there’s consideration to increase the fund limit by an additional 2 billion baht or introduce a new similar loan program. This surge in demand signifies a growing interest among SMEs in adopting green operations.

15 million tonnes of lithium found in Thailand

According to a government official on Friday, Thailand discovered over 15 million tonnes of lithium deposits, which is good news for the country’s ambition to become a regional centre for the manufacture of electric vehicles.

After Bolivia and Argentina, Thailand now boasts the third-largest lithium reserves, however it’s unclear how much of these can be used for commercial purposes.

According to government deputy spokeswoman Rudklao Intawong Suwankiri, the 14.8 million tonnes of lithium are split between two different locations in the southern province of Phang Nga, The Nation television station said.

Editor’s Note: This discovery, ranking Thailand as the third-largest holder of lithium reserves after Bolivia and Argentina, aligns with the nation’s ambition to become a regional hub for EV production. The lithium deposits, located in the southern province of Phang Nga, total 14.8 million tonnes. However, the extent to which these reserves can be commercially utilized remains uncertain. This development underscores Thailand’s strategic move towards fostering a sustainable and competitive electric vehicle industry.

Geopolitical tensions still drives relocations to Southeast Asia

Over the past two years, geopolitical tensions have forced global investors to move or expand their manufacturing bases to Southeast Asia; nonetheless, the region’s ability to sustain emerging sectors and its infrastructure have allowed it to preserve its advantage in luring new investment.

Among the places that benefited from the production base relocation were Thailand and Vietnam.

Vietnam has triumphed in the electronic industry, particularly in terms of components for smartphones and other electrical devices, while Thailand has an edge in the automotive sector.

The company also anticipates that as EV sales increase, more foreign investors in the automotive industry will locate their operations in Thailand.

Editor’s Note: Thailand has positioned itself as a leader in the automotive sector. With the anticipation of rising electric vehicle (EV) sales, the company expects more foreign investors in the automotive industry to choose Thailand as a strategic location for their operations, further enhancing the region’s attractiveness for global investment.

7-Eleven Malaysia launched the 7EGoGreen campaign

The 7EGoGreen Waste2Life campaign has been introduced by 7-Eleven Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (7-Eleven). Through the collection of recyclables, this year-long programme seeks to educate, empower, and promote recycling behaviours among Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) people. Knowledge-sharing events will also be a part of the initiative to give locals access to precise recycling information. Together with NGOHub and Alam Flora Environment Solutions (AFES), the campaign will be carried out.

Through its “Buy Back” scheme, AFES will provide people with cash incentives for bringing in recycled materials. When recycling 500g or more of recyclable cardboard and plastic, participants will also receive a 7-Eleven treat bag in addition to the monetary incentive from AFES.

Editor’s Note: 7-Eleven Malaysia has launched the 7EGoGreen Waste2Life campaign, a year-long initiative aimed at promoting recycling behaviors among residents of Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR). This campaign reflects 7-Eleven Malaysia’s commitment to environmental sustainability and community engagement.

Getting ready for the green utility tariff

It is anticipated that the announcement of a green utility tariff (GUT), scheduled for February will represent a major advancement in the utilization of renewable energy to boost local businesses and attract global investment.

In addition to infrastructure to support operations, clean power is a must for many companies looking to grow into Thailand in order to meet their carbon reduction goals.

Users can determine how much they must pay for clean power, and suppliers of renewable energy will know how much they will profit from electricity sales once the GUT’s specifics are revealed.

Editor’s Note: The upcoming announcement of a Green Utility Tariff (GUT) in February is poised to be a significant milestone in leveraging renewable energy for economic growth and attracting global investment in Thailand.

Thailand’s GDP growth forecast for 2024 upgraded by the IMF

Thai GDP growth is predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reach 4.4% this year, up from 2.5% in 2023. According to the IMF Executive Board 2023 Article IV Consultation with Thailand, which was released on Monday, headline inflation is predicted to average 1.3%, while real GDP growth in Thailand is predicted to be 2.5% in 2023, driven by an acceleration of services exports and private consumption in the fourth quarter of last year.

The fund stated that while the economic recovery was probably modest last year, it is anticipated to pick up speed in 2024 due to increases in private consumption driven by the government’s fiscal stimulus and improvements in external demand.,up%20from%202.5%25%20in%202023.

Editor’s Note: The IMF attributes the anticipated economic acceleration in 2024 to the government’s fiscal stimulus, contributing to an increase in private consumption, and improvements in external demand, signaling a more robust economic recovery for Thailand in the coming year.

Green Hydrogen: A Possible Area of Interest for WHAUP

In order to meet the increasing need for clean power, particularly in the digital technology sector, WHA Corp, Thailand’s largest industrial land developer and operator, through its subsidiary WHA Utilities and Power (WHAUP), which is listed on the SET, is presently undertaking a feasibility study on a green hydrogen project.

The results and a decision regarding the project are anticipated by 2025. Green hydrogen is created by splitting water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen using electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Green hydrogen can be utilised to power manufacturing activities and power generation.

Editor’s Note: WHA Corp, Thailand’s largest industrial land developer, is exploring the potential of green hydrogen as a clean power solution, particularly for the digital technology sector. Through its subsidiary WHA Utilities and Power (WHAUP), listed on the SET, the company is currently conducting a feasibility study on a green hydrogen project. The results and a decision on the project are expected by 2025.

Thailand announces genuine funds for Green Investment to meet carbon targets

As regulators work to diversify the capital markets and give money to industries that support the objective of carbon neutrality, asset managers in Thailand will soon be authorized to establish funds to invest in forestry and tree planting projects.

Pornanong Budsaratragoon, secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), stated that the “green investment trusts,” as Thai authorities are referring to them, will first be restricted to investments in projects that produce income from carbon credits. She stated that after feedback from numerous stakeholders, the so-called green funds’ full details and regulations will be worked out by the middle of the year.

Editor’s Note: Asset managers in the country will soon be authorized to create “green investment trusts” focused on forestry and tree planting projects, initially limited to those generating income from carbon credits, with detailed regulations expected to be finalized by mid-year, as stated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) secretary-general, Pornanong Budsaratragoon.

Banpu Signs THB 2.4 Billion Agreement with ADB to Support Battery and E-Mobility Sectors

An expansion of a lithium-ion electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in Jiangsu province, People’s Republic of China (PRC) to accommodate 1,500 six-seater e-Tuk Tuks, as well as related energy support such as charging stations for micro-scale transit services in Bangkok, Thailand, totaling 1.3 gigawatt-hour, were among the many energy-related projects that Banpu Public Company Limited, a leading international versatile energy provider, signed a THB 2.4 billion loan with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a THB 2.4 billion loan.

This fund will accelerate the Greener & Smarter transition and fortify Banpu’s Energy Technology company.

Banpu Signs THB 2.4 Billion Deal with ADB to Bolster E-Mobility and Battery Businesses | Techsauce

JS Solar and Samaiden bag the RM100 million Kulim project

NUR Renewables Sdn Bhd has awarded Samaiden Group Bhd’s wholly-owned Samaiden Sdn Bhd and its consortium partner JS Solar Sdn Bhd a RM100 million contract to establish a solar power plant at Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP) in Kedah.

The most recent engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) contract, according to Samaiden Group Managing Director Chow Pui Hee, is evidence of the business’s fruitful partnership with JS Solar.

The project will provide green energy to all KHTP customers by developing a 50 megawatt (MWac) ground-mounted solar power plant (first phase). NUR’s ambitious 500MWac solar project is currently in its initial phase. It will be developed in partnership with UEM Lestra Bhd, the UEM Group’s green energy division.

First large-scale green hydrogen production project in Malaysia signed

An RM1.88 billion deal has been signed by Semarak Renewable Energy Sdn Bhd (Semarak RE) and China Hydropower (Malaysia) Co Ltd, a division of PowerChina International Ltd, to establish Malaysia’s first large-scale green hydrogen manufacturing project using floating photovoltaic power generation.

Semarak RE chairman Mohammad Shahil and Ye Haoliang, the assistant general manager and deputy general manager of PowerChina’s Asia-Pacific Regional Headquarters, signed the general contractual agreement.

In Perak, the project will use floating solar power generation to generate green hydrogen production and storage, which will aid in the transition to sustainable energy.

The design, acquisition, and building of hydrogen production and storage units, as well as floating photovoltaics, are among the project’s main goals.

Editor’s Note: The project, located in Perak, aims to utilize floating solar power generation for green hydrogen production and storage, contributing to the country’s shift towards sustainable energy. The agreement includes the design, acquisition, and construction of hydrogen production and storage units, along with floating photovoltaics.

Malaysia’s economy is projected to grow by 4.2% by 2024

Malaysia’s GDP is expected to expand by 4.2% in 2024, driven primarily by domestic demand.

Division of Statistics According to preliminary estimates, Malaysia’s GDP is expected to have grown by 3.8% in 2023, which is less than Bank Negara Malaysia’s forecast of 4% to 5%.

Selena Ling, chief economist at OCBC Bank, stated that the main drivers of growth will be elements of domestic demand, namely the stability of growth in private consumption and higher investment spending, both of which will be bolstered by a substantial medium-term reform agenda.

Although weaker global economy, dwindling commodities tailwinds, and continued geopolitical tensions are projected to pose challenges to Malaysia’s export demand, the stabilization of the electronics export downcycle could provide vital support to export growth.

Malaysia needs to build a comprehensive semiconductor infrastructure to attract investments

Executive vice president Chang Pei Zen of the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) stated that for Malaysia to see a rise in investments in the semiconductor industry, it must build a comprehensive semiconductor infrastructure.

Citing the country’s strategic location in the centre of South East Asia and wealth of natural resources, Chang acknowledged Malaysia’s advantageous position.

He highlighted that Malaysia has a greater supply of some materials than Taiwan and that the nation has a great opportunity to use these advantages to develop a strong semiconductor sector.

Editor’s Note: Executive Vice President Chang Pei Zen of Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has emphasized the need for Malaysia to enhance its semiconductor infrastructure to attract increased investments in the industry. Recognizing Malaysia’s strategic location and abundant natural resources, Chang believes that the country can leverage these advantages to develop a robust semiconductor sector, citing its potential in certain materials surpassing that of Taiwan.

Demand in the office market will continue to be driven by ESG principles: JLL

According to JLL Appraisal and Property Services Sdn Bhd, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles would continue to be a major factor in driving demand for office space, particularly in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

According to Jamie Tan, managing director, the office market saw a spike in demand as businesses moved more frequently to contemporary, environmentally friendly buildings that adhere to ESG standards.

According to Tan, the market is being shaped by ESG. The need to draw and keep top personnel, coupled with the increased emphasis on corporate responsibility, led to this shift towards sustainable and compliant workplaces.,Lumpur%20Property%20Market%20Monitor%20yesterday.