Friday, 28 April 2017

UK and Thailand economic growth and Resilience as smooth as silk?

Khun Pornpinun Chantapacdepong makes some eloquent points in her Asian Development Bank Institute role on the Fed rate tax hike and ultra-low Asian rates:

And it's interesting she cites the Eurozone negative rates of the last few years and even Hungary's developing economy of the last two months.

And she must surely be correct about a potential development delay in both overly-cautious financial institution investments and household savings in ASEAN, and especially Thailand, with both a sluggish global economy and much-reduced FDI.

In my politics role in Kent to help refloat the East Kent economy and greater ASEAN activity I'm aware of no particular UK role in the ADB - other than via the alphabet soup of IMF and ECB and even AIIB and UNDP. But there's certainly a revamped trade remit over UK's own sluggish growth in doubling UK-ASEAN exports over the next decade.

But surely a key aspect of boosting ASEAN trade - Thailand with Vietnam one of the UK's top 5 growth economies plus Mexico and Chile across the wider Asia-Pacific region - would be what Khun Sutapa Amornvivat, Chief Economist of SCB Bank has termed mega-infrastructure projects?

Germany's dynamic engineers from the likes of Siemens are already busy scoping out Southern Cone port and rail connectivity through the Chilean Pacific coast and Argentina's Atlantic coast. Important for tourism and the meat trade diversification.

ASEAN Rail to deliver on interlinked Greater Mekong Region capitals and through to China's One Road One Belt project and the new UK/EU-China rail link is already one of, if not the main, UNDP project.

That roster could easily be padded out with schools or broadband or sewage or sports or public transport infrastructure. Even refreshing-reappraising Bangkok's canals or the HCMC and Yangon waterfronts, as with Asiatique or Basson, before they disappear under a rash of cookie-cutter skyscrapers.

And both BKK UNEP and Philippines' dynamic IRRI Rice Institute already warning of the dangers of Climate soil salinity, waterway floods and rice shortages in the Mekong Delta as far north as the Tonle Sap. A man-made disaster with the similar Bangladesh Delta to rival the East African famines. And Swansea's Tidal Bay Lagoon perhaps offering some innovative answers on both renewables and resilience.

But innovative infrastructure firms such as Arup or Atkins or even Hitachi must be chomping at the bit, not just to complete the Singapore-Yunnan rail circuit, but to overhaul the electric rail infrastructure and double-track-double-stack rail systems throughout ASEAN. And especially in Myanmar and Cambodia where they would be essentially starting from scratch.

And if the Dawei link to Myanmar and the Indian Ocean may be a chimera along with the Kra Canal or Laos-China Highlands routes, but certainly the deep sea port at Vinh and link to Vientiane should boost trade across both Central Vietnam, Southern Laos and Isaan.

And therein lies a second stimulus to galvanise ASEAN trade, in effect Vinh and Cam Ranh Bay being robust port links across the Pacific (whether freight or booming Saga cruise ship over 50's tourism) despite the absence of TTIP at the moment, with a Resilience Strand.

Vinh as in effect a second Haiphong would provide insurance for Climate Change storm-battered Vietnam and a Resilience strand to inoculate both Hainan and Philippines and Indonesia. Much as Bari port in Southern Italy provides a UN and Red Cross Resilience base for the Balkans, Levant and North Africa.

As Philippines’ Transport Undersecretary Karen Jimeno has cited recently, the imperative to move beyond TalkTalkTalk to #buildbuildbuild must surely be where the ADB can leverage support too.

Unfortunately the potential of both the Adriatic and Messina tunnel links to unlock Italian trade through to the Near East are beyond effective EU policing and mired in difficulties. Perhaps it's for the best for UK fast-fashion if the Italian knitwear industry and Turkish or Iranian angora goats- or indeed further afield in Argentinian and Australia -take the slow road to market.

And Thailand's Deep South, in particular, suffering from the recent spate of floods and storms has much to gain from a fast-forward approach to putting in place shovel-ready Resilience infrastructure programmes.

While beyond merely pouring cement from Mergui to Mukdahan, such fine-tuned Resilience activity should lay the groundwork for a third strand in the innovative Thailand Plus One tourism strategy. Balancing Thailand's 10% of GDP as a tourism hub for ASEAN with 21st century Climate revisions such as national park protection and expansion, mangrove wetlands etc etc is a crucial aspect of the national plan.

And even moving forward on ending Thailand's now-minimal malaria issue before the 2024 target would be a major success story and pathway for say Myanmar or Indonesia. Oxford housewife Aung San Suu Kyi would no doubt be keen for UK and Thai support to cross off the deadly Larium from her shopping list in Boots or Tesco Lotus.

Surely ASEAN's next generation should expect nothing less than amazing prosperity rolled out as smooth as silk?


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