ASEAN Biweekly News Updates- March 1 – March 12

Delta sets up its investment strategies; EU free trade discussions with Thailand to be finalized; Egco desires to expand its use of hydrogen fuel in Indonesia; National AI Strategy lists six projects; Trade agreement between Thailand and non-EU countries; Thailand's exports increased 10% year on year; Scholz Courts Asean Countries; Malaysia maintains key rate stable; BMW to open EV battery plant in Thailand; Sustainable business methods of BDMS well regarded globally; ASEAN to be led By Malaysia in 2025; Malaysia aims to sell 80% Electric Vehicles by 2050; Malaysia ahead of the northern region's E&E Industry Development Curve

Delta sets up its investment strategies
台達電(泰國) 制定其投資策略

According to CEO Victor Cheng, Delta Electronics (Thailand), the largest electronics company in the country based on market capitalization, plans to invest between US$500 million and US$1 billion over a five-year period to increase its manufacturing and research and development capacity, with the majority of the funds going to Thailand.

Mr. Cheng stated in an interview with the Bangkok Post that Thailand, India, and Germany would receive the more than $500 million in capital expenditures. While an existing R&D facility based in the German city of Soest will be developed over a period of three to five years, new plants will be built in Thailand and the Indian city of Krishnagiri in the state of Tamil Nadu.

小編點評: 台達電(泰國)計劃在未來五年內在泰國、印度和德國進行重要投資,總額在5億美元至10億美元之間,以增強生產和研發能力。首席執行官Victor Cheng 強調計劃改進德國現有的研發設施,並在泰國和印度的泰米爾納德邦建立新的工廠,以強化營運和市場存在感。

EU free trade discussions with Thailand to be finalized in 2025

During a state visit to France yesterday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand stated that the country hopes to have completed its negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union by the end of the next year.

Following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris, the Thai leader stated in a statement that the Thai-EU free trade agreement is expected to be finalized in 18 months.

Following an almost ten-year break, the two sides resumed negotiations in December. In reaction to the military coup that ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014, the EU suspended talks. June is when the third round of negotiations is scheduled to occur.

小編點評: 泰國總理Srettha Thavisin在法國進行國事訪問期間宣布,泰國旨在於2025年底前與歐洲聯盟簽署自由貿易協定(FTA)的談判。泰國與歐盟之間的談判於去年12月重新開始,經歷近十年的中斷,並在6月份安排了第三輪談判,顯示達成FTA的進展。

Egco desires to expand its use of hydrogen fuel in Indonesia

The power generation division of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, SET-listed Electricity Generating (Egco), hopes to utilize its petrochemical operations in Indonesia to help plans to create sustainable energy, particularly hydrogen fuel.

The largest integrated chemical and infrastructure solution provider in Indonesia, PT Chandra Asri Petrochemical Tbk Group (CAP), is the firm’s parent company. Last year, the company bought a 30% stake in CDI, a subsidiary of CDI.

In western Java, CDI manages essential utilities and infrastructure for an industrial region. They consist of a jetty management company, two gas-fired power plants, a water supply facility, and a tank farm leasing service.

 National AI Strategy lists six projects

Among the six flagship projects planned under the second phase of the national AI strategy and action plan are the establishment of a Thai large language model (ThaiLLM) and the building of an AI workforce.

A new National AI Committee is awaiting Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s appointment, according to Chai Wutiwiwatchai, deputy chairman of the National AI Policy and Action Plan Steering Committee, with intentions to start executing the second phase for 2024–2027.

According to Mr. Chai, the six initiatives would cost 1.5 billion baht in total, of which 1 billion would be used to train 30,000 personnel in AI from engineers to beginners.


Trade agreement between Thailand and non-EU countries is nearing completion

By the end of the year, Thailand will have completed the negotiations necessary to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and establish free trade with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

As a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Thailand is presently in negotiations with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, four non-EU nations. To finalise the provisions of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), talks are also under progress with the UK, Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Thailand would be able to increase exports and reach new markets thanks to the free trade agreements, particularly in the areas of electronics, food, automotive, textiles, and agriculture. Along with lowering tariffs and non-tariff obstacles, the free trade agreements (FTAs) would improve collaboration in the areas of investment, services, intellectual property rights, and trade facilitation.


Thailand’s exports increased 10% year on year in January

January saw a 10% year-on-year gain in Thailand’s expanding export industry, completing six months of growth in a row.
The economy is predicted to grow by 2.8% in 2024 as a result of the expansion of exports as well as rising private investment, consumption, and tourism.

With 10% rise in exports in January 2024, Thailand’s GDP is expected to expand more strongly this year.
However, Thailand and China now have a record-high trade deficit. Thailand had a trade imbalance with China in 2023 of US$36 billion, up from $29 billion the previous year, for the fifth year in a row. Thailand imports more commodities from China than it exports, which leads to this deficit. Thailand’s exports were barely $69 billion in 2023, compared to $105 billion in imports from China.

Scholz Courts Asean Countries in Attempt to Reduce Dependency on China

In an effort to diversify trade links in Asia and lessen reliance on China, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is seeking to strengthen relationships with Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

This week, Scholz will hold separate meetings with the leaders of the three Southeast Asian nations in Berlin. Close advisors have described this as part of a concerted effort to lessen Germany’s reliance on China and increase its economic resilience through partnerships and more diverse supply chains for raw materials.

China continues to dominate the supply of raw materials needed to make solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and other high-tech products. Major companies, like carmakers Volkswagen AG and chemical manufacturers BASF AG, continue to look to one of the world’s most populous countries as a key market.

小編點評德國總理奧拉夫·舒爾茨(Olaf Scholz)積極追求與泰國、馬來西亞和菲律賓的強化貿易關係,以減少對中國的依賴並實現經濟合作的多樣化。在柏林舉行的與這些東南亞國家領導人的會議象徵著德國加強經濟韌性並為原材料建立更多樣化供應鏈的戰略努力,這是因為中國在太陽能板和電動車電池等關鍵領域的主導地位。

Malaysia maintains key rate stable while strengthening weak Ringgit

The central bank of Malaysia maintained its benchmark interest rate at 3.0%, even in the face of the local currency’s decline, which is driving up inflation in the country’s GDP.

Between May 2022 and May 2023, the Bank Negara Malaysia increased its overnight policy rate (OPR) from 1.75% to 3% by 125 basis points. Since then, it hasn’t changed the rate.

The majority of 27 economists polled by Reuters in a recent survey said they thought the central bank would keep the 3% rate in place until at least 2026.

At 1.5% in January, Malaysia’s headline inflation rate did not change. Food and non-alcoholic beverage price increases were less than those of the previous month, causing core inflation to decline somewhat to 1.8% from 1.9%.’s%20central,inflationary%20pressure%20on%20the%20economy

BMW to open its first EV battery plant in SE Asia in Thailand
BMW 將在泰國開設其在東南亞的首家電動車電池工廠

This year, BMW Group Thailand announced that it would open a factory producing batteries for EVs in Thailand. This move is a reaction to China’s increasing supply networks and EV investment in Thailand. The plant, which will be located in Rayong, will increase the company’s sales of plug-in hybrid and battery EVs.

According to Alexander Baraka, president and CEO of the firm, Thailand will be the first nation in Southeast Asia to house a BMW EV battery production factory. This comes after factories were established in Hungary and China. China’s fast growth of its EV investment and supply chains in Thailand served as a catalyst for the decision to engage in battery manufacturing, according to Bangkok Post.’s%20central,inflationary%20pressure%20on%20the%20economy


Sustainable business methods of BDMS well regarded globally

The 2023 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) has acknowledged Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) as a global leader in sustainable business practices. The massive healthcare company demonstrated its commitment to ethical business practices by adhering to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. Respecting these values seeks to preserve BDMS’s standing as a leader in healthcare innovation while also having a beneficial influence on the environment and society.

BDMS’s dedication to sustainable development is demonstrated by two major projects: Green Healthcare and Innovative Healthcare. According to Bangkok Post, the former has developed ground-breaking treatment techniques, while the latter has successfully decreased the organization’s environmental impact.


ASEAN to be led By Malaysia in 2025

As Laos steps down at the end of 2024, Malaysia is preparing to become the ASEAN leader, hosting ASEAN meetings through 2025.

Malaysia will take the lead in discussions on the ASEAN Community Vision 2045 framework. ASEAN is organised around three main pillars: the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

Many of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that ASEAN has signed are undergoing thorough assessments and modifications in order to promote trade and investment within the ASEAN region.


Malaysia aims to sell 80% Electric Vehicles by 2050

According to Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry, the government wants electrified vehicles (xEVs) to account for at least 20% of new vehicle sales annually by 2030, rising to 50% by 2040, and 80% by 2050.

This goal is in line with the National Energy Transition Roadmap’s (NETR) objectives.

This shift to EVs is a crucial objective under the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP), which aims to position EVs as the main growth engine for sustainable economic development in the future. It also aligns with the goal of ‘popularizing green transition, developing new industries’.

There were 2,020 EV charging bays (EVCBs) available nationwide as of January 1, 2024; 429 of these were AC (alternating current) chargers and the remaining 1,591 were DC (direct current) chargers.


Malaysia ahead of the northern region’s E&E Industry Development Curve: Minister of Dep MITI

In 2023, the electrical and electronic sector (E&E) accounted for 6.7% of Malaysia’s GDP, making it a significant contributor.

The E&E sector reported an approved investment value of RM85.4 billion in the same year, accounting for 47.3% of all national goods exports at RM575.45 billion. During the same year, 56% of all investments were permitted in the manufacturing sector.

At present, Malaysia has been able to establish an industrial ecosystem encompassing the semiconductor industry, nearly the whole supply chain, within the broad E&E sector.