Posted inAfghanistan, AT Finance, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Northeast Asia, Pakistan, South Asia, South Korea

The Daily Brief for Friday, 17 March 2017

Indonesian mine dispute: US miner Freeport McMoran’s dispute with the Indonesian government could intensify as workers lose jobs and top US politicians take special interest in the case, writes John McBeth. Freeport’s vast Grasberg mine provides 35% of the GDP for the provinces of Papua and West Papua and if the dispute is not resolved it could help reignite the region’s smoldering independence movement.

Pyongyang missile build-up: US defense officials are increasingly concerned that North Korea’s growing missile capabilities could overwhelm the combined defences on or near the Korean peninsula, reports Harry J. Kazianis. While the officials give US President Donald Trump credit for the speedy introduction this year of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea, they say such additions won’t be enough against a sustained attack by Pyongyang.

Pakistan and Afghanistan: A high-level meeting in London on Wednesday was aimed at reducing tensions between Islamabad and Kabul following a series of major terrorist attacks in Pakistan, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar. The talks, painstakingly brokered by the UK, are an attempt to start to untie a three-way knot that tangles Afghanistan, India, Pakistan over allegations and counter-allegations regarding the offering of sanctuary to militant groups.

Tillerson in Asia: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaking in Tokyo said the escalating threat from North Korea’s nuclear program showed a clear need for a “new approach,” although he stopped short of detailing what steps the Trump administration would pursue. Reuters reports that Tillerson described the previous two decades of diplomatic and other efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang, including the United States giving aid to North Korea, as a “failed approach”.

Posted inChina

China Digest for Friday, 17 March 2017

State Council encourages social investment in five areas

Medical services, elderly care, education, culture and sports are the five key areas that needs a boost in investment, China Securities Journal reported on Thursday. The government will encourage enterprises to connect with the multi-layer capital market for financing, a State Council document said. Brokerage Guotai Junan estimated that the elderly care industry can expand by 5 trillion yuan (US$725 billion), the report added.

US$20.11 billion in FDI for the first two months

The country saw 3,860 new wholly foreign owned enterprises set up in January and February, increasing 13.7% from a year earlier, with 138.68 billion yuan (US$20.11 billion) in foreign direct investment (FDI), the Ministry of Commerce said on its website on Thursday night. Investment in the services sector accounted for 74.9% of total FDI, increasing 2.1% year on year to 103.89 billion yuan. While investment in electricity, gas and water providers saw the largest gain of 184.4% from last year.

February foreign exchange deficit stood at US$10.1 billion

The foreign exchange deficit at the country’s banks stood at US$10.1 billion in February, a 70% decrease from a year earlier, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Friday. More individuals are selling rather than buying currencies via banks, witnessing a 35.8% decline to US$10.07 billion in net sales from last month, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said. High capital outflows had eased with supply and demand in foreign exchange trading balanced in February, said a SAFE spokesman.

Price rises in coal and steel temporary, says commission

Recent price rises are temporary and will not change the fundamental oversupply problem, China Securities Journal reported on Thursday, citing a National Development and Reform Commission meeting. Coal demand will drop when central heating provided by the government in the north of the country ends, the report added.

Decline in retail investors of Shenzhen stocks

Retail investors with securities assets below 500,000 yuan (US$72,000) accounted for 77% of market participants, a 7.4 percentage point drop compared to last year, Caixin reported on Thursday, citing a survey in the 2016 investigation report on individual investors in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.