In today’s bulletin: we look at the upcoming Phase 1 trade deal to be signed between US & China, what will Beijing do next after President Tsai Ing-wen’s win, fears of a more hazardous volcanic eruption in Philippines, how investors are faring in Myanmar, and more.
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US-CHINA TRADE DEAL: RECOUPLING TO BEGIN?
Here are some of the things we know about the Phase 1 trade deal to be signed by US and China on Wednesday, as per US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's briefing to reporters last month: US will reduce import tariffs on some Chinese goods, while Beijing will be obliged to make purchases and have an exclusion process for its tariffs.
The deal will centre on intellectual property (IP) commitments and could include a breakthrough on forced technology transfer - reasons that led US President Donald Trump to impose tariffs in the first place. A dispute resolution mechanism will be included.
The announcements ahead of the signing of the agreement have been promising. The US Treasury has moved to remove China off its list of currency manipulators, two days ahead of the signing of the agreement. China's exports rose in December, for the first time in five months, signalling a modest recovery and a source told Reuters that China will pledge to buy nearly an additional US$80 billion worth of manufactured goods from the United States over the next two years, plus just over US$50 billion more in energy supplies.
So, will it mark the beginning of recoupling? And what's next? Reports say the deal itself will take effect 30 days later. Discussions for a Phase 2 agreement are due to commence soon. China Daily reports that Asean overtook the US as China's second largest trading partner in 2019, after the EU. This could change.
Read more on this issue:
WILL BEIJING PURSUE A DIVIDE-AND-CONQUER GAMEPLAN IN TAIWAN?
How will China react to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's recent re-election in polls? Will it follow a carrot-and-stick approach? Soft loans for those who wish to study, work and invest in China and difficult times for those who oppose reunification? ST's Global Affairs Correspondent Benjamin Kang Lim, says China could heap even more pressure on Tsai and her government in the next four years as it pushes harder for reunification. Click here for his insights into what to expect next.
Here's more on Taiwan:
PHILIPPINES LIVES IN FEAR OF MUCH BIGGER AND DANGEROUS ERUPTION
Thousands of people continued to flee ash-blanketed villages in the danger zone near the Taal volcano, with eruptions continuing for a third day. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to four, indicating a hazardous eruption could be possible in hours to days. Meanwhile, a couple who went ahead with their wedding in the area, saw their photos going viral on social media.
Read more here:
SLOW ROAD TO RICHES FOR MYANMAR INVESTORS
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's appointment as Myanmar's state counsellor, after her landslide win in 2015 elections, raised expectations of an upturn in the country's economy, even though the National League for Democracy government put several projects, approved by the outgoing government, on hold. Still, that didn't prevent investors from looking around for long-term opportunities. Click here to read Indochina bureau chief Tan Hui Yee’s full report.
Read more on Myanmar:
MALAYSIA OFFERS 50% DISCOUNT TO ENCOURAGE DIGITAL SETTLEMENT OF TRAFFIC FINES
More than 5 million traffic offences are committed in the country every year. And only about 30 per cent get settled. Kuala Lumpur is offering a 50 per cent discount to those who do so digitally. It is also their way of encouraging e-payments. Will it work? The response has been overwhelming in the past.
IN OTHER NEWS
SINKHOLE SWALLOWS BUS: A massive sinkhole in front of a hospital in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province swallowed a bus, pedestrians, leaving six people dead and more than 10 missing.
MAHATHIR TO QUIT IF ASKED: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he is ready to give up his post as the head of government at any moment the Pakatan Harapan presidential council demands it.
WEWORK TO EXPAND: Co-working space operator WeWork, that has been dogged by cash flow problems and was forced to lay off about a fifth of its workforce last year, might consider expanding in Singapore and the rest of South-east Asia.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back with you tomorrow and thanks for reading.
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