Posts tagged ‘Singapore’


Singapore Airlines to Start First-Ever A380 Superjumbo Flights into India – India Real Time – WSJ

Singapore Airlines Ltd.C6L.SG +0.68% will be the first commercial carrier to operate Airbus A380 superjumbos into India next month, after authorities there lifted a years-long ban on the world’s biggest jetliner.

The first A380 delivered to Singapore Airlines arrives at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse Blagnac, southern France, in this file picture taken October 15, 2007. Reuters

Singapore’s flag carrier says starting from May 30 it will deploy the double-decker A380, which seats up to 471 passengers, on daily flights to New Delhi and Mumbai, India’s two largest aviation hubs.

Those flights will replace two existing daily services currently flown by smaller Boeing 777 aircraft that are timed about 90 minutes apart, helping boost cost efficiencies for the airline. Another daily 777 service to both cities will remain unchanged, according to the airline.

Major airlines have been lobbying to fly the A380 into India since the aircraft’s commercial launch more than six years ago. Analysts say it will help alleviate worsening congestion at India’s major international gateways, particularly since the number of passengers is expected to rise in the coming years.

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India prevented the A380’s entry for years because the government feared that foreign carriers would gobble up passenger traffic from state-owned Air India and other domestic carriers using the large planes. None of India’s carriers operate the jumbo jet.

India’s civil-aviation ministry finally lifted the unofficial ban in January, permitting A380 flights to and from New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore as part of efforts to liberalize the aviation sector and revive growth.

Nine of the 10 airlines that currently operate A380s have scheduled flights into India, with at least five having expressed interest in flying the large jet into the country.

via Singapore Airlines to Start First-Ever A380 Superjumbo Flights into India – India Real Time – WSJ.

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China, ASEAN to have talks on South China Sea – Xinhua |

China is willing to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to formulate a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Friday.

Flag of ASEAN

Flag of ASEAN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Qin’s comment came ahead of the 10th joint working group meeting between China and ASEAN on the implementation of the declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea. The meeting will be held on March 18 in Singapore.

“China is ready to work with ASEAN for comprehensive and effective implementation of DOC and steadily push forward consultations on COC,” Qin said.

Practical maritime cooperation will also be touched upon during the meeting, Qin said.

Qin called for favorable conditions for the implementation of DOC and formulation of COC to maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea.

China and ASEAN officials met last September in Suzhou, in east China’s Jiangsu Province, for the 6th China-ASEAN senior officials’ meeting and the 9th joint working group meeting on the implementation of DOC.

via China, ASEAN to have talks on South China Sea – Xinhua |

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India Gets Record Port Investment After Tariff Is Deregulated – Businessweek

India has secured a record 207 billion rupees ($3.4 billion) of investment in port projects after it deregulated tariffs.

The nation has awarded bids for thirty ports in the year ending March 31, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi said in an interview. The value is more than three times greater than projects awarded in fiscal 2013, he said. The projects will add 217.6 million metric tons of annual cargo-handling capacity, according to the Ministry of Shipping.

The bids will ease congestion at Indian ports where the average turnaround time for ships was about three days in 2013, compared with about one day in Singapore and Shanghai, according to a report by Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers Ltd. They will also help India meet a 2020 target of more than doubling its port capacity to 3,200 million metric tons at an investment of 2.87 trillion rupees.

via India Gets Record Port Investment After Tariff Is Deregulated – Businessweek.

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Boeing to Raise India Plane Demand Forecast Amid Surge in Travel – Businessweek

Boeing Co. (BA:US) is set to raise its India market forecast as the planemaker expects surging travel demand in the world’s second-most populous nation to withstand a slowdown in economic growth and a fall in rupee.

Jet Airways Boeing 737

Boeing will increase its prediction for India plane demand in the next couple of months, Dinesh Keskar, a senior vice president at the Chicago-based company, said in an interview to Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin in Singapore today.

The planemaker in 2012 raised its 20-year India market forecast by 9.8 percent, at least the third increase in a row. Carriers in the Asian nation will need 1,450 new aircraft, worth $175 billion over the next two decades, it said last year.

via Boeing to Raise India Plane Demand Forecast Amid Surge in Travel – Businessweek.

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The Indosphere: Made outside India

The Economist: “INDIA’S diaspora of 25m people is something to behold. In colonial times Indian labourers and traders spread across the world, from Fiji to the Caribbean. A second wave of Indians left between the 1970s and mid-1990s, when the economy was in a semi-socialist rut. Migrant workers rushed to the Persian Gulf and South-East Asia, then booming. Educated folk and entrepreneurs fled to the rich world. Plenty struck gold, including engineers in Silicon Valley and Lakshmi Mittal, boss of ArcelorMittal, a giant steel firm. Often they now have little to do with India beyond sending cash to relatives and groaning as the once-vaunted economic miracle fades.

Yet alongside this distant diaspora, a network of people and places is more directly engaged with India’s economy. Its most conspicuous element is the plutocrat who owns firms in India, but like his Russian and Chinese peers shops in Paris, educates his children in America and Britain and sometimes has foreign citizenship: Cyrus Mistry, the boss of Tata Sons, India’s biggest firm, has an Irish passport. At the network’s core, however, is not the gilded elite but offshore hubs, including Dubai and Singapore, often with sizeable Indian populations and with their own economic strengths.

The idea that some things are better done abroad is hardly new. Hong Kong was a gateway to imperial and then Red China. In 1985 Yash Chopra, an Indian film-maker, led a trend of shooting Bollywood “dream sequences”—in which the hero and heroine sing amid meadows and snowy crags—in Switzerland. The Alps were easier, cheaper and safer than the more familiar location of Kashmir.

Film buffs now view Swiss dream-sequences as cheesy, but India’s big offshore hubs are more in fashion than ever. They present a mirror image of India’s red tape, weak infrastructure and graft. Dubai is a prime example. For long-haul flights Indians prefer its airline, Emirates, to their own. More than 40% of long-haul journeys from India go via a non-Indian hub, often in the Gulf. Indian airports no longer make grown men cry (Delhi’s is first rate), but few foreign airlines want to make them their base. Indian planes are usually serviced in Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore, reflecting a history of penal taxes in India and high customs duties on imported spare parts.

via The Indosphere: Made outside India | The Economist.


Yuan may continue to appreciate

China Daily: “The yuan may be trading at below 6.1 against the US dollar as the Chinese currency continues to rise in the next few months, said a currency analyst at DBS Bank.

Yuan may continue to appreciate

A trader with an Asian bank in Shanghai said that the yuan’s valuation has peaked for a few days, while sales of dollars are easing.

An employee from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is counting the renminbi and Japanese yen in Huaibei, Anhui province, on May 17. The yuan has gained some 20 percent against the yen since the beginning of the year. Woo He / For China Daily

“Most of my peers working in Shanghai share the opinion that in the short term the renminbi may further appreciate against the US dollar,” the trader said.

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, set the yuan’s midpoint at a record-high level of 6.1796 against the US dollar, while the spot yuan closed at 6.1345 per dollar on Friday.

It has been 12 months since Japan’s yen and China’s yuan became directly convertible, and the yuan has gained some 20 percent against the yen since the beginning of the year.

The appreciation of the yuan and the depreciation of the yen may cast risks to China’s currency as it’s the only currency which lacks the elasticity of East Asian economies, wrote Liu Yuhui, a financial researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in an article published on Tuesday.

“It has been very difficult for us to guarantee orders from Japan these days because our price advantage disappeared,” said Yuan Hongtao, owner of a Hangzhou-based plastic production company, which exports some 40 percent of its products to Japan.

Analysts said that policymakers now have to figure out ways to help companies grow, as the renminbi is increasingly going global.

“While the benefits of direct convertibility between the renminbi and other currencies are obvious, including cutting the costs of exchange and reducing the risks brought by the fluctuation of the US dollar, it can also bring some risks to companies and regions in China whose growth is driven by foreign trade,” said Liu Yang, a foreign exchange analyst with Shanghai Gaofu Consultancy.

Currently, the yuan is directly convertible to the yen and the Australian dollar. New Zealand and China are in an early stage of negotiations for direct convertibility of each other’s currencies, according to a Reuters report on May 26.

“One important step to make the renmibi more internationalized is to use more yuan in direct investment overseas”, said Nathan Chow, vice-president and economist of group research with DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd.

Chow said that only about 6 percent of China’s outbound direct investment uses renminbi, while 36 percent of foreign direct investment in China uses renminbi.

If regulations on ODI using renminbi are eased, a large amount of yuan will be released to overseas markets and help divert risks of the fluctuation of the US dollar, which is being used for foreign exchange reserves, said Chow.

He added that more big corporations may want to issue dim sum bonds — yuan-denominated bonds issued in Hong Kong — as the renminbi bond market grew significantly this year, driven by lower funding costs, improved macroeconomic conditions and the heightened expectations for yuan appreciation.

“Despite all these factors, market facilities for renminbi bonds still have a lot of catching up to do. Decision makers and financial institutions need to work closer with corporations, while continuing to improve the fundraising infrastructure in offshore renminbi centers such as Hong Kong and Singapore,” he said.

The yuan had appreciated 1.72 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year, following a moderate gain of 1.03 percent throughout 2012.”

via Yuan may continue to appreciate |Economy |

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* China, India, Singapore could join new Arctic Circle forum

Reuters: “China, India, Singapore and other countries far from the Arctic Circle could be part of a new global forum to widen the discussion about the fate of the planet’s Far North, Iceland President Olafur Grimsson said on Monday.

Map of the Arctic with the Arctic Circle in blue.

Map of the Arctic with the Arctic Circle in blue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The non-profit forum, Arctic Circle, will hold its first meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, in October.

Such a gathering is needed, Grimsson said, because, while most countries have a stake in the melting of Arctic ice, only eight – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States – are members of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group set up in 1996.

Some non-Arctic countries can observe the deliberations, but they have no formal voice on the Council about sustainable development and environmental protection in the region.

The Icelandic leader said he had discussions about the Arctic this year with officials from China, India and Singapore. The first agenda item of these discussions was when these countries would get a seat on the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Circle forum will be “an open, democratic tent where everybody who wants to participate will actually be welcome,” Grimsson said at an event at the National Press Club.

He said concerned citizens, representatives of non-governmental organizations, scientists, researchers can join governments and corporations to be part of this discussion.

And while it may take a while for the Arctic Council to decide which countries might become permanent observers at its meetings, these same countries can send representatives to the Arctic Circle to make the case for inclusion.

He also mentioned that China and Iceland announced a new free trade agreement on Monday.

Arctic sea ice is a key indicator of climate change and a powerful global weather-maker. Last year, Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest levels on record, authorities have said.

Besides making global sea levels rise and influencing world weather, the ice melt means new water routes are opening between Europe, Asia and North America, a trend that will have a profound impact on global shipping.

Last year, as summer sea ice shrank, the first Chinese icebreaker made the trip from Shanghai to Iceland via the Northern Sea Route along the Russian coast.

By mid-century, the quickest way to get goods from Asia to the U.S. East Coast might well be right over the North Pole, according to a University of California-Los Angeles study.”

via China, India, Singapore could join new Arctic Circle forum | Reuters.


* Asian Buyers Snap Up Half of New London Homes

WSJ: “If you’ve just moved into a newly built apartment in central London, don’t be perplexed if your neighbors speak mostly Chinese.

Market-cooling measures in Asia have helped fuel interest in London’s real estate market—long a popular destination for property buyers on the prowl, says property consultancy Knight Frank. Last year, overseas buyers spent $3.5 billion on apartments undergoing construction in central London, up 22% from the year earlier.

Together, buyers from Singapore and Hong Kong snapped up nearly 40% of all such apartments in central London. Adding in buyers from Malaysia and mainland China, Asian buyers accounted for roughly half of all purchases. By comparison, U.K. buyers made up just 27% of all purchases of apartments under construction, according to Knight Frank’s latest figures. Such figures were generally consistent with those seen in 2011.

Among overseas buyers, more than two-thirds bought for investment purposes, says Knight Frank, while another third said they were motivated to buy for a child enrolled at a local university.”

via Asian Buyers Snap Up Half of New London Homes – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?

BBC: “English has been the dominant global language for a century, but is it the language of the future? If Mandarin Chinese is to challenge English globally, then it first has to conquer its own backyard, South East Asia.

Mandarin-English dictionary

In Malaysia’s southernmost city of Johor Bahru, the desire to speak good English has driven some children to make a remarkable two-hour journey to school every day.

Nine-year-old Aw Yee Han hops on a yellow mini van at 04:30. His passport is tucked inside a small pouch hung around his neck.

This makes it easier for him to show it to immigration officials when he reaches the Malaysian border.

His school is located on the other side, in Singapore, where unlike in Malaysia, English is the main language.

It’s not your typical school run, but his mother, Shirley Chua thinks it’s worth it.

“Science and maths are all written in English so it’s essential for my son to be fluent in the language,” she says.

Continue reading the main story

Robert Lane Greene

Author of You Are What You Speak

The assumption that Mandarin will grow with China’s economic rise may be flawed. Consider Japan which, after spectacular post-war economic growth, became the world’s second-biggest economy. The Japanese language saw no comparable rise in power and prestige.

The same may prove true of Mandarin. The character-based writing system requires years of hard work for even native speakers to learn, and poses a formidable obstacle to foreigners. In Asia, where China’s influence is thousands of years old, this may pose less of a problem. But in the West, even dedicated students labour for years before they can confidently read a text of normal difficulty on a random topic.

Finally, many languages in Asia, Africa and the Amazon use “tones” (rising, falling, flat or dipping pitch contours) to distinguish different words. For speakers of tonal languages (like Vietnamese) learning the tones of Mandarin poses no particular difficulty. But speakers of non-tonal languages struggle to learn tones in adulthood – just ask any adult Mandarin-learner for their funniest story about using a word with the wrong tone.

An estimated 15,000 students from southern Johor state make the same bus journey across the border every day. It may seem like a drastic measure, but some parents don’t trust the education system in Malaysia – they worry that the value of English is declining in the country.

Since independence from the British in 1957, the country has phased out schools that teach in English. By the early 1980s, most students were learning in the national language of Malay.

As a result, analysts say Malaysian graduates became less employable in the IT sector.

“We’ve seen a drastic reduction in the standard of English in our country, not just among the students but I think among the teachers as well,” says political commentator Ong Kian Ming.

Those who believe that English is important for their children’s future either send their kids to expensive private schools or to Singapore, where the government has been credited as being far-sighted for adopting the language of its former colonial master.

Nearly three-quarters of the population in Singapore are ethnic Chinese but English is one of the national languages and very widely-spoken.

Many believe that this has helped the city state earn the title of being the easiest place to do business, by the World Bank.

Continue reading the main story

Lost in translation

Up to 7,000 different languages are estimated to be spoken around the world

Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French are world’s most widely spoken languages, according to UNESCO

Languages are grouped into families that share a common ancestry

English is related to German and Dutch, and all are part of Indo-European family of languages

Also includes French, Spanish and Italian, which come from Latin

2,200 of the world’s languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has 260

Source: BBC Languages

Read more about languages of the world

However, the dominance of English is now being challenged by the rise of China in Singapore.

The Singapore Chinese Chamber Institute of Business has added Chinese classes for business use in recent years.

Students are being taught in Mandarin rather than the Hokkien dialect spoken by the older Chinese immigrants.

These courses have proved popular, ever since the government began providing subsidies for Singaporeans to learn Chinese in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

“The government pushed to provide them with an opportunity to upgrade themselves so as to prepare themselves for the economic upturn,” says chamber spokesperson Alwyn Chia.

Some businesses are already desperate for Chinese speakers.

Lee Han Shih, who runs a multimedia company, says English is becoming less important to him financially because he is taking western clients to do business in China.

“So obviously you need to learn English but you also need to know Chinese,” says Mr Lee.

As China’s economic power grows, Mr Lee believes that Mandarin will overtake English. In fact, he has already been seeing hints of this.

“The decline of the English language probably follows the decline of the US dollar.

“If the renminbi is becoming the next reserve currency then you have to learn Chinese.”

More and more, he says, places like Brazil and China are doing business in the renminbi, not the US dollar, so there is less of a need to use English.”

via BBC News – Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?.


* U.S. plans 10-month warship deployment to Singapore

Strait of Malacca from globe at Field Museum

Strait of Malacca from globe at Field Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reuters: “The first of a new class of U.S. coastal warships will be sent to Singapore next spring for a roughly 10-month deployment, the Navy said on Wednesday, spotlighting a move that may stir China’s fears of U.S. involvement in South China Sea disputes.

Deployment of the shallow-draft ship “Freedom” will help refine crew rotations, logistics and maintenance processes to maximize the classs value to U.S. combat commanders, Rear Admiral Thomas Rowden, the Navys director of surface warfare, told reporters.”Well be deploying the ship for about 10 months in the spring of next year” to Singapore, he said in a teleconference. “In the meantime, were prepping her for success in the execution of that deployment.

“Singapore is strategically located along the Strait of Malacca, the chief link between the Indian and Pacific Oceans through which flows about 40 percent of world trade. The government has discussed hosting up to four such U.S. “Littoral Combat Ships,” or LCS, on a rotational basis at its naval facilities. Both countries have said the deployment stops short of a basing agreement.”

via U.S. plans 10-month warship deployment to Singapore | Reuters.

It takes two to tango. So it is with the US trying to ‘surround’ China with alliances or naval exercise with Australia, India, Philippines and with Singapore.  In the meanwhile, China is holding exercises or reaffirming military alliances with Russia and Thailand (see other post).

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