The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is regarded as the biggest free trade agreement (FTA) ever signed. This mega deal involves fifteen countries of the Asia-Pacific region: the ASEAN group – from where the pact officially originated – plus Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea and Japan. The treaty is expected to bring substantial advantages for ‘Factory Asia’, particularly for complex global value chains (GVCs) – that is to say, for those goods and activities having more than one national border crossing in their production processes.
[IT] Il 2020 è stato per il Sud-Est asiatico un annus horribilis. Lo shock economico provocato dalla pandemia da COVID-19 è comparabile solamente al meltdown del 1997, quando l’implosione del prezzo degli asset, tra gli altri fattori, ha trascinato le economie di questa parte di mondo verso la loro prima crisi finanziaria dell’epoca moderna.
When we last analysed ASEAN e-commerce trends it was March 2020, just over one year ago. Few of us, if any, could have imagined then that we were only at the beginning of a game-changing catastrophe that would be remembered for years to come. In the following months, worst-case scenarios came true and the COVID-19 pandemic dragged the world into what is now a radically different reality from the one we knew before. Social interaction, work, travel and many other aspects of our daily lives have changed, some of them forever.
If one takeaway of the Myanmar election of 2020 is the unquestioned adoration of the country for its icon Aung San Suu Kyi, another is surely the West’s poor understanding of this country, its ethos and its complex history. From August, while international journalists, consultants and political analysts were busy forecasting chaotic scenarios of a weakened NLD (the National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi), and speculating about unlikely coalitions with ethnic and military-backed parties, a red river of NLD flags, T-shirts and stickers (including red face masks) was flooding every corner of Myanmar, with flocks of young supporters celebrating Suu Kyi’s success weeks before the election day.
Ma Ma Lwin is a talented Myanmar entrepreneur. With her gentle manners and her ‘light version’ of Myanmar dishes, intercepting the Western tastes of a growing group of expats willing to experience the local food, she has transformed an abandoned rooftop in a Muslim district near downtown Yangon into a successful restaurant. In early 2020, it was time for her to scale up. With the money she had earned, she opened a new restaurant in the heart of the old city, paying advance rent for the whole year. But as Yangon enters its ninth month of lockdown, and expats have left the country en masse, Ma Ma Lwin is now nearly broke.