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Southeast Asia’s efforts to create a single market by 2015 are in their hardest phase owing to protectionist reflexes on sensitive sectors, according to President Aquino.
Despite the challenges, however, leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are working hard to meet the target, Aquino told reporters on Wednesday night in Brunei where he was attending Asean’s annual summit.
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“They have finished with the easy parts but the accomplishments will not be as fast as in discussing the hard parts. When you reach that point, there can be some protectionist measures taken by each economy,” Aquino said.
“But since we are focused on reaching the target, everyone who believes that one community is beneficial to everybody concerned will really try hard (to reach the goal),” he said.
Although overshadowed by security issues, an ambitious plan by Asean to transform itself into an EU-like community by the end of 2015 has sparked more optimism, with diplomats saying the bloc was on track to meet the deadline.
About 77 percent of the work to turn the bustling region into a single market and production base, first laid out in a 2007 blueprint, have been done, according to a confidential draft statement to be issued after the summit.
Nine leaders in the 10-nation bloc huddled behind closed doors on Thursday at a cavernous, stone and marble building Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah had ordered built for the annual two-day summit. Absent from the session was Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was campaigning for reelection back home.
Asean, a region of 600 million people in 10 countries, wants to establish a common market and manufacturing base so that it can better compete as a group with giant neighbors such as China and India in trade and investments.
The region attracted 7.6 percent of the world’s foreign direct investment in 2011, up from 4.3 percent in 2006, Jaspal Bindra, Standard Chartered’s chief executive for Asia, wrote in a column in the Borneo Bulletin on Thursday.
Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said Asean had already achieved up about three quarters of its targets relating to its single-market goal since beginning the process in 2007.
But he also emphasized there were many challenges, including a framework to open up the services sector such as banking, insurance, telecommunications and retail within Asean.
Another challenge is harmonizing customs procedures and putting them online so that businesses can see them real-time, Domingo told a media briefing held with Aquino.
On trade in goods, agriculture is also among the most difficult sectors to fully liberalize, Domingo said.
“If their agriculture sector is large, they will protect it because there are a lot of farmers (affected),” he said.
Analysts have said that Asean has achieved much in cutting tariff barriers to trade in goods, but still has a lot to do before the end-of-2015 target in opening up the services sector by removing nontariff hurdles.
“Asean is fully aware of that and they’re now trying to do an inventory of those nontariff barriers so that we can eliminate them one by one,” Domingo said
Philippine Stock Exchange index gained 22.77 points or 0.33 percent to close at 6,995.46. The index still found 7,000 a tough barrier.
The day’s upswing was led by holding firms (+1.38 percent) and mining/oil (+1.04 percent). On the other hand, the cyclical financial and property counters dipped on profit-taking.
Value turnover for the day amounted to P10.36 billion. There were 95 advancers that edged out 71 decliners while 43 stocks were unchanged.
At the close of trading hours, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas–as widely expected by the market–slashed by 50 basis points the interest rate on special deposit accounts (SDA), the mechanism by which it borrows from the broader market. This is seen driving some investors to seek higher yields from the stock market.
The day’s recovery was led by Bloomberry (+3.92 percent), Globe Telecom (+3 percent), Alliance Global Inc. (+2.71 percent), Aboitiz Equity Ventures (+1.88 percent), SM Investment Corp. (+1.7 percent), Ayala Corp. (+1.44 percent), Petron (+1.18 percent), Metro Pacific Investments (+1.03 percent), Semirara (+0.83 percent) and Energy Development Corp. (+0.77 percent).
The most actively traded stock was Melco (+2.7 percent), which bounced after the selldown that followed its offering.
The day’s index gains were tempered by the decline of Megaworld, BDO, Metrobank, BPI, URC, SMC, PLDT, RLC, ICTSI and Ayala Land.
Across the region, stock markets mostly firmed up as commodities recovered alongside expectations of central banks continuing the trend of monetary easing.
IOI Corp fell seven sen to RM5.01, KL Kepong six sen lower at RM21.64, FGV two sen to RM4.55 but Sime Darby rose two sen to RM9.40.
Tenaga fell three sen to RM7.82. SK Petro lost five sen to RM3.02 and it was the most active with 22.75 million shares done.
Among the banks, RHB Cap fell three sen to RM8.40 and CIMB one sen to RM7.72. However, HLFG added 20 sen to RM15.28 and Maybank rose 14 sen to RM9.55.
Petronas Chemicals shed three sen also to RM6.47 but Petronas Dagangan added 14 sen to RM23.68 and Petronas Gas six sen to RM19.46.
Consumer stocks rose, with GAB up 60 sen to RM18.70 and Carlsberg 40 sen to RM14.80.
Glove makers rose with Kossan and Top Glove adding 19 sen to RM3.97 and 6.23 on expectations of rising demand.
The ringgit strengthened against the US dollar to 3.0376 from 3.0481.
The FTSE Straits Times Index (STI) ended +15.00 points higher or +0.45% higher to 3,337.71, taking the year-to-date performance to +5.39%.
The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.55% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index gained +0.42%.
The top active stocks were Genting SP (+3.86%), F&N (+4.35%), Kep Corp (-0.92%), DBS (+1.25%), and Singtel (+0.80%).
The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Basic Materials which gained +2.09%. The two biggest stocks of the Basic Materials Index are Geo Energy (+4.44%) and Midas Holdings (+2.02%). The underperforming sector, FTSE ST Industrials, declined -1.03% with Jardine Strat declining -1.51% and Jardine Matheson declining -2.63%. The FTSE ST Real Estate Index gained +0.85%, FTSE ST Consumer Services Index gained +1.06% and the FTSE ST Utilities declined -0.32%.
The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were STI ETF (+1.21%), SPDR GOLD SHARES (+1.56%) and IS MSCI INDIA 100 (-1.10%).
The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall (-0.87%), MapletreeGCC (+0.92%) and Ascendasreit (-0.74%).
The most active index warrants by value today were HSI22400MBePW130530 (-21.32%), HSI21800MBeCW130627 (+14.71%) and HSI21800MBeCW130530 (+20.35%).
The most active stock warrants by value today were DBS MB eCW130910 (+10.57%), DBS BP eCW130702A (+16.04%), and KepCorp MBeCW130704 (-14.61%).
The Stock Exchange of Thailand main index went up 20.40 points, or 1.31%, to close at 1,574.25 points at the end of trading session this afternoon. The trade value was 63.01 billion baht, with 10.96 billion shares traded.
The SET50 index ended at 1,039.46 points, up 14.52 points, or 1.42%, with a total trade value of 39.55 billion baht.
The SET100 index rose 33.37 points, or 1.45%, to stand at 2,327.27 points, with a total turnover of 48.61 billion baht.
The SETHD index went up 13.89 points, or 1.13%, to stand at 1,241.20 points, with total trade value of 9.13 billion baht.
The MAI index gained 5.65 points, or 1.16%, to close at 492.52 points, with total transaction value of 1.89 billion baht.
Top five most active values were as follows;
CPALL stood at 41.00 baht, up 2.00 baht (5.13%)
MAKRO stood at 750.00 baht, down 4.00 baht (0.53%)
INTUCH stood at 84.75 baht, up 2.25 baht (2.73%)
BBL stood at 223.00 baht, down 1.00 baht (0.45%)
ADVANC stood at 270.00 baht, up 8.00 baht (3.05%)
Profit at Bank Permata, a mid-size lender part-owned by Standard Chartered Bank and Astra International, rose 7 percent in the first quarter this year from the same period a year earlier on the back of strong loan growth and operations revenue.
The bank’s net income rose to Rp 356 billion ($36.6m) in the January to March period from Rp 331 billion last year.
David Fletcher, Permata’s president director, said in a statement on Wednesday that its lending growth had increased 36 percent to Rp 101 trillion in the first quarter.
Permata’s Islamic financing rose 96 percent to Rp 9.7 trillion, Fletcher said.
The lender’s operational income rose 19 percent to Rp 1.88 trillion in the same period, comprising Rp 1.55 trillion worth of net interest income, up 21 percent from last year, and fee-based income of Rp 334 billion, up 7 percent.
“We started the year with a strong balance sheet and good momentum in the retail and wholesale banking business, in line with discipline in carrying out our business strategy,” Fletcher said.
Earlier this month, Permata, along with Citibank, provided $200 million worth of loans for Garuda Indonesia as part of the national airline’s expansion plans.
During the first quarter, Permata cut its proportion of total loans that turned bad to 1.3 percent, against 1.9 percent a year earlier.
In the first quarter, the Jakarta-based lender improved its capital health, with its capital adequacy ratio rising to 16.5 percent from 15.4 percent a year ago.
The CAR is the proportion of a bank’s capital compared to its risk-weighted assets, such as lending. Under existing regulations, Indonesian banks must have a CAR of at least 8 percent, depending on their risk profile.
Last year the lender raised a total of Rp 2.5 trillion through subordinated bonds issued to investors at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).
The lender said on Tuesday that it would retain Rp 1.03 trillion out of last year’s Rp 1.37 trillion profit to further strengthen capital, in anticipation of lending expansion over the next few years, while the remaining profit would be used for general provisions.
Permata’s shares rose 0.6 percent to close at Rp 1,700 in Wednesday trading in Jakarta.
Estimated Asean population as of 2011
Estimated GDP of Asean in 2012
Total Asean trade in 2011
Target year for Asean Economic Community (AEC), which envisions free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and labor throughout the region
5.3% or $69 billion
Estimated increase in Asean economic welfare, relative to baseline, as a result of AEC
Estimated exports growth in many manufacturing sectors as a result of the AEC
Tokyo added 0.60 percent, or 82.62 points, to 13,926.08, while Seoul gained 0.84 percent, or 16.29 points, to 1,951.60.
– Singapore rose 0.45 percent, or 15.00 points, to close at 3,337.21.
DBS Bank was up 1.25 percent at Sg$16.18 and real estate developer Capitaland was 2.58 percent higher at Sg$3.58.
– Taipei finished flat, dipping 1.96 points to 8,021.75.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.94 percent to Tw$107.0 while Hon Hai fell 0.9 percent to Tw$77.4.
– Manila closed 0.33 percent higher, adding 23.01 points to 6,995.46.
Ayala Corp. rose 1.44 percent to 634 pesos and Aboitiz Equity Ventures added 1.8 percent to 57 pesos.
– Jakarta fell 0.34 percent, or 17.08 points, to 4,994.52.
Car maker Astra International fell 5.77 percent to 7,350.00 rupiah while mobile phone provider Indosat lost 3.23 percent to 6,000 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur ended flat, nudging down 1.01 points to 1,706.34.
– Bangkok jumped 1.31 percent, or 20.40 points, to 1,574.25.
– Mumbai rose 1.19 percent, or 227.49 points, at 19,406.85 points.
Jet Airways rose 10.69 percent to 635.2 rupees after a deal with Etihad while Tata Motors rose 4.21 percent to 293.25 rupees.
Hong Kong ended 0.98 percent, higher, adding 218.19 points to 22,401.24 but Shanghai fell 0.86 percent, or 19.01 points, to 2,199.31.
Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.
Economist/Hedge Fund Manager
Live Trading News
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