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ASEAN foreign ministers say RCEP key contributor to region’s recovery strategy




In the joint communique issued after the 55th ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting held in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, the ministers welcomed the entry into force of the RCEP from Jan. 1, 2022.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement would be a key contributor to the recovery strategy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to an ASEAN foreign ministers’ joint communique released here on Friday.

In the joint communique issued after the 55th ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting (55th AMM) held in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, the ministers welcomed the entry into force of the RCEP from Jan. 1, 2022.

“The RCEP would make significant contribution to our recovery strategy and continue to support an inclusive and open trade and investment architecture in the region,” the communique said.

The ministers also welcomed the outcomes of the first RCEP Joint Committee (RJC) Meeting in April, which discussed the preparation of RCEP implementation, including the establishment of the committees to monitor RCEP implementation and the endorsement of the key elements on the establishment of the RCEP secretariat.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 55th AMM on Wednesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen proposed the establishment of a standalone secretariat in Cambodia to maximize the potential of the RCEP.

“Cambodia is ready to host this RCEP secretariat. We have even thought of where in Phnom Penh the secretariat should be located, while we are working to formulate our detailed proposal,” he said.

“I hope Cambodia can win the support of fellow ASEAN member states, as well as all RCEP participating countries when we submit our proposal officially.”

The RCEP comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 ASEAN member states — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The mega-regional pact will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded among its signatories over the next 20 years.

Being the world’s largest trade bloc, the RCEP established a market of 2.2 billion people, or 30 percent of the world population with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars, which represents around 30 percent of global GDP and 28 percent of global trade.

According to an Asian Development Bank’s study, the RCEP will increase the member economies’ incomes by 0.6 percent by 2030, adding 245 billion U.S. dollars annually to regional income and 2.8 million jobs to regional employment.

Cambodian Ministry of Commerce’s undersecretary of state and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said the RCEP would inject a new impetus into regional and global economic growth in the long term.

“The RCEP will give a big boost to our economy in the post-pandemic era,” he told Xinhua. “It is also a well-timed intervention in Cambodia’s quest for a Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation, likely by 2028 and the country’s planned endeavor to achieve the upper-middle income and high-income statuses by 2030 and 2050, respectively.”

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the RCEP is instrumental in subverting creeping unilateralism because it pulls all bilateral free trade agreements into one economic sphere, under one blanket trade ruling.

“It is the most ambitious regional free trade agreement in Asia in which China has played a vital role in converting Asian economy into a core economic polar aimed at averting protectionism and the widespread negative impacts of the trade war,” he told Xinhua.

Source: CGTN

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Finance Minister: GDP would have been at MVR 140B if not for the pandemic





Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer, on Wednesday, stated that Maldives’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, would have been at MVR 140 billion by the end of this year.

Speaking at a campaign rally of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held at Ameer’s birth island, GDh. Gadhdhoo last night, the minister said Maldives’ economy was improving at a high speed ahead of the pandemic.

He detailed that only USD 162 million was in the state’s usable reserve when the current administration took office in 2018, which was raised USD 316 million in just two years.

Nevertheless, Ameer stressed that the nation’s GDP dropped by 33 percent due to the pandemic, citing the Maldivian economy would have been at much better levels by the end of this year, if the pandemic had not taken place.

Ameer forecasted the following numbers with respect to the economy by the end of this term, if not for the pandemic.

GDP – MVR 140 billion
Usable reserve – USD 500 million
Tourist arrivals – Three million per year
Nevertheless, Ameer said the Maldivian economy was in a better condition compared to before, even with the difficulties faced due to the pandemic.

“Even with the pandemic, the usable reserve stood at approximately USD 177 million when we concluded 2020 amid the pandemic; an increase from the USD 162 million it stood at by the end of 2018,” he said.

The minister stressed that the government had incurred huge expenses during the pandemic to provide income support, frontline allowance and financial assistance to small and medium enterprises.

He added that the government undertook these tasks while faring through the biggest low the Maldives and the world’s economy have ever experienced.

Minister Ameer said the government, despite a multitude of difficulties, carried out a great number of infrastructure development projects – which would aid in doubling the economy in the next term.

Statistics show that Maldives’ usable reserve stood at USD 594 million at the end of last month. USD 238 million has been deducted from the reserve between last year’s December and July.

Maldives’ GDP improved by 13 percent last year, while so far this year, it has been at 9 percent.


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ECB rate hikes might knock 3.8 pct off euro area economy: analysis





Given that governments in eurozone have or will opt out of the supportive measures which were put into place in the face of the surging energy prices over a year ago, the regional economy can contract up to 5 percent in 2024, a Bloomberg analysis noted.

FRANKFURT, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — Aggressive rate hikes by the European Central Bank (ECB) can inflict an adverse impact on the economy of the euro area, and will trim 3.8 percent off from its economic output in 2024, a Bloomberg analysis published on Monday said.

The analysis said that the combination of high interest rates and limited government capacity to stimulate development poses a potential constraint on the economic growth of the euro area.

Given that governments in the euro area have or will opt out of the supportive measures which were put into place in the face of the surging energy prices over a year ago, the euro area economy can contract up to 5 percent in 2024, the analysis noted.

The ECB has lifted key interest rates by a total of 425 basis points since last July in a bid to bring down inflation, which is hovering well above its target of 2 percent.

The central bank has refrained from pre-announcing another hike for its next rate-setting meeting, insisting that interest rates will remain its primary tool in the fight against inflation.

The ECB considered the euro area economy to be weak in the short run but said it would pick up momentum in the long run. The central bank will publish its latest edition of projections for inflation as well as economic growth in the euro area in September.

Source(s): Xinhua

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BML posts Q2 net profit of over MVR 550M





Bank of Maldives (BML) has posted a net profit after tax of over MVR 550 million for the second quarter of the year.

The national bank’s Q2 financial results, released on Monday, shows the bank generated a revenue of MVR 1.06 billion.

The bank generated an operating profit of MVR 678 million – up 15 percent compared to Q2 2022.

BML posted a net profit after tax of MVR 552 million – up 55 percent compared to last year.

The bank attributed the increase to solid performances across all core business lines.

Despite the higher profits, the bank noted that capital adequacy and liquidity ratios are significantly higher than regulatory requirements.

During Q2, BML introduced its digital banking assistant, “Aaya”, as part of its commitment to enhance customer experience; introduced Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for internet and mobile banking logins, and a self-service ‘Kill Switch’ to disable access to internet banking and cards in emergencies.

BML’s CEO and Managing Director Karl Stumke said he was pleased with the results.

“We are pleased with the positive first half results which gives us the financial platform to continue to invest in the communities we serve. We will work hard to continue the positive momentum throughout the rest of the year,” he said.

In May, BML partnered with American Express to launch the year-long destination campaign ‘Experience Maldives’ offering unique, authentic experiences for American Express Card members.

The bank also opened new Self-Service Banking ATM centers in Maafaru and Miladhoo.

Q2 also saw the bank hold its Annual General Meeting, during which shareholders approved a total dividend payout of MVR 215 million, with MVR 40 per share.

BML boats a nationwide network of 38 branches across all 20 atolls, 87 self-service banking centers, 143 ATMs, over 200 agents, and a full suite of digital banking services.

BML states it remains committed to supporting individuals, businesses and communities across Maldives.


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