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Dec 11. 2018
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New Indonesian special economic zone opens for business in Riau Islands

Indonesia’s Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution inaugurated the special economic zone (KEK) in Galang Batang, Riau Islands, over the weekend.

“The economic zone, which has an estimated investment value of 36.25 trillion rupiah (Bt82 billion), is expected to become a major production centre for aluminium and its downstream products,” he said as reported by Antara news agency. Darmin added that the new KEK would lift economic activity in the region through the employment of over 23,300 workers.

In turn, the minister urged the local community to “support” the zone by supplying it with the necessary skilled workers and supporting businesses such as food and accommodation.

This year, the zone secured 5.6 trillion rupiah worth of investment from the zone’s advocate, aluminium producer PT Bintan Alumina Indonesia. The investment includes 951 billion rupiah for a seaport, 1.65 trillion rupiah for an aluminium refinery, 196 billion rupiah for a dam and 1.93 trillion rupiah for a power plant.

The government has attracted investors using a series of fiscal and nonfiscal incentives exclusive to the economic zone.

Bintan Alumina Indonesia director Santoni said he hoped the investment in the economic zone would increase to US$5 billion over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, construction is ongoing for three other special economic zones – Arun Lhokseumawe, Bitung and Morotai – slated to begin operations next year. – The Jakarta Post

SingPost customers to get SMS alerts

Those expecting parcels delivered to their homes will be able to receive an SMS alert 30 minutes before the courier arrives when Singapore Post rolls out its last-mile platform with artificial intelligence (AI) features next year.

SingPost announced on Monday that it is working with San Francisco-based logistics optimisation company LogiNext to tap machine learning and AI route-planning software in its new LastMile Platform (LaMP), which will serve Southeast Asia.

LogiNext’s software will be able to analyse and proactively alert stakeholders, including customers, on courier movements, SingPost said in a statement.

Sending such alerts will bring about greater convenience to customers, especially in the denser cities in the region, such as Bangkok and Jakarta, it added.

Currently, customers are given vague parcel arrival times due to a variety of factors, including traffic and weather conditions.

With LogiNext’s capabilities, multiple GPS tracking systems and APIs can be connected and accessed via a single screen called the control tower.

Another key feature of LaMP would be its ability to autonomously plot the best courier delivery routes, based on factors such as parcel destinations, customer preferences and real-time traffic and weather data.

From next January, all 1,000 SingPost postmen will use a mobile app to aid delivery tracking and e-signing for registered mail. SingPost group chief digital and technology officer Alex Tan said that introducing AI to its platform will translate into convenience for customers.

LogiNext chief executive officer Dhruvil Sanghvi said: “Couriers have much better planned routes, so they can handle more parcels. “It’s a win-win for everyone - SingPost raises its already high delivery agility and the customer gets a much better experience with it.”

SingPost customers told The Straits Times that the SMS alerts would allow them to better anticipate when their parcels would arrive and make plans in advance, instead of having to wait at home for the entire day. – The Straits Times

Lao ODOP producers ‘need more assistance’

The One District One Product (ODOP) national units in Laos are still not developed enough despite their participation at many domestic and overseas exhibitions, according to a leading official. 

Goods packaging is not attractive to many consumers, products are of low quality and standard compared to some neighbouring countries, and most ODOP national units are still finding it difficult to access food and drug certification, Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena told the National Assembly (NA) recently. 

However, to help national ODOP efforts, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is focusing on training producers on packaging, developing effective labelling for products and business matching, she said. Other initiatives include exposing products to larger markets through trade fairs at central and local levels as well as participating in exhibitions in foreign countries particularly China.

“We are cooperating with the private sector to establish outlets selling ODOP items at well-known tourism sites such as Inpeng Waterpark, Vientiane Centre, That Luang Plaza as well as Jilin City in China and negotiating with the floating market in Thailand,” Khemmani reported. 

The ministry is finding other potential markets with its Trade Promotion Department negotiating to help producers export sugar, coffee and tea to China, she informed the NA. 

Currently, there are 165 ODOP national units producing more than 626 products at 176 villages in 83 districts of 18 provinces. ODOP development is a major government priority for alleviating poverty in Laos with its ability to build up the capacity of local people so they can help themselves in creating jobs and income. – Vientiane Times

Indonesia’s e-commerce sales set to hit $65 bn

Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has forecast fast growth for e-commerce in Indonesia, predicting sales to reach US$65 billion (Bt2.1 trillion) annually by 2022, eight times the $8 billion recorded in 2017.

“Our research suggests some 30 per cent of online commerce – sales worth US$2.5 billion in 2017 – is additional spending that would not have existed if not for online commerce,” said Simon Wintels, a partner of McKinsey, in a statement received on Monday. McKinsey noted that the buzz around year-end online shopping festivals – notably Single’s Day, or November 11 (11.11), and December 12 (12.12) – reflected the potential of online commerce in Indonesia. McKinsey estimated that e-commerce could facilitate up to $26 billion in new exports, or equal to 40 per cent of manufacturing exports today. It also identified that jewellery exports in particular had benefited from online commerce. “The interest of major, global consumers reflects the growing demand for Indonesian products from international markets,” said Phillia Wibowo, McKinsey Indonesia’s managing partner. – The Jakarta Post


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