By Gavin Bowring and Felipe Salvosa

The City of Dreams Manila, an integrated gaming and entertainment resort that cost $1bn to build, threw open its doors this week in an attempt to lure a slice of the revenues of Asia’s gambling market away from Macau and Singapore.

The resort, which was developed by Melco Crown Entertainment in conjunction with Belle Corp, a subsidiary of major conglomerate SM Group, is banking on its 380 gaming tables, 1,700 slot machines, and 1,700 electronic table games to bring in the high rollers and boost its owners’ stock prices. Read more

Emerging Asia is set to be the world’s fastest-growing region again in 2015, skirting the contagion from Russia’s crisis and riding the fall-out from weak commodity prices, according to Fitch, the credit rating agency. Nevertheless, structural frailties stalk seven out of 10 countries in the region, with surging debt levels a particular concern, the agency said.

The region, excluding China, is expected to expand by 5.9 per cent in 2015 and 6.1 per cent in 2016 – compared to an average for global emerging markets of 4.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively, Fitch said in a report. These forecasts compare with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) estimates that developing economies would this year grow at 4.3 per cent, accelerating to 4.7 per cent in 2016. Read more

In spite of Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning this month that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War, it is Asia that we should be worrying about, says former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The region is home to seven flashpoints which, if they erupt, could end the greatest economic growth story of the 21st century.

“We face this remarkable set of circumstances where global growth will be driven from Asia,” Rudd told beyondbrics in a recent interview in Dubai.“But Asia from a political perspective is a potentially unstable region. So the world [should have] a deep interest in not just the future growth trajectory, but also the political and security circumstances which underpin that equation.” Read more

Of all the colonial legacies left by Britain, France and the Netherlands in Asia, one of the least talked-about – yet arguably one of the most lasting and problematic – is the patchwork of legal systems that divides the region.

Doing business in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is gradually getting easier thanks to the elimination of tariff barriers, expansion of supply chains and gradual harmonisation of customs procedures.

Yet one of the big “soft” barriers to greater Asean integration, and one which makes life hard for multinationals and ambitious local companies alike, are the differing jurisdictions across the 10-member bloc. Read more

Chronic congestion at the Philippines’ biggest port is forcing Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipper, to treble the frequency of container services that it diverts to an alternative port 130km away to keep goods flowing in and out of the country.

The snarl up highlights the infrastructure bottlenecks that are threatening the Southeast Asian country’s ability to maintain the rapid growth of recent years.

While creaking infrastructure has long been a problem in the Philippines, it is being exposed as a serious constraint amid a flood of foreign investment in the country, which has helped turn it into a star performer in Asia. Read more

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time”, US Army officer and Vietnam veteran Creighton Abrams once said.

In his new book, The Rise of the New East, Ben Simpfendorfer does just that. His elephant is “The East”, the group of almost 50 emerging markets ranging from Turkey to China that is home to well over half of the world population.

Simpfendorfer gives his topic a thorough treatment. While his insights seem logical and intuitive, taken together they give an impressive oversight of into key trends shaping the region. beyondbrics noted five insights that particularly stood out. Read more

It is a truth almost universally recognised that internet penetration in the 10-member bloc known as Asean – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – is low, even though the region is humming economically.

Or is it?

UBS has come out with some interesting research that will give the e-commerce crowd something to cheer. The bank finds that Asean has a 32 per cent “internet penetration rate”, or almost 200m users, out of a total population of 620m.

This contrasts with market data apparently widely accepted – and cited by UBS – saying that penetration could be as low as 62m users. Read more

If you are doing business in Asean – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – be prepared for an electric shock.

Analysts at ANZ have looked at what’s happening with electricity prices across the region and are warning that they are set to rise, making it considerably more expensive to run factories. It will also add half a basis point on average to inflation, which is already inching up. Read more

While the world’s media has focused its attention on Tacloban, the biggest city affected by Typhoon Haiyan, other places on the island of Samar have been badly hit. Basey is one such town. Just across the bay from Tacloban, it has received very little in the way of aid or assistance from the government in spite of extensive damage. Tom Griggs reports.

It’s hard to imagine the scale of destruction following the typhoon that hit the Philippines on Friday, killing an estimated 10,000 people and leaving a trail of devastation.

However, despite Haiyan being one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, the impact on the Philippines economy may be relatively slight, and the reconstruction effort may even boost GDP. While that is hardly a comfort to people without homes or in mourning, an economic slump would be a double whammy better avoided. Read more

Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand are on the face of it a relatively homogeneous, integrated group of nations with similar trading partners. So why did the first two emerge from the 2008 financial crisis in a much better shape than the latter?

A working paper from the IMF concludes that it was because Indonesia and the Philippines were less open to trade and had greater fiscal stimuli. Read more

Out of 60 countries, Indonesia and the Philippines are home to the most optimistic consumers. Thailand comes fourth on the consumer confidence index compiled by Nielsen, a research company.

Yet ask these consumers how they will spend their cash, and they tell Nielsen they’d prefer to save it, actually. Read more

Christmas has come a few months early for families in the Philippines getting remittances from relatives living and working overseas.

Money sent home rose 7.4 per cent to $2.1bn in August from the same period a year ago, according to data released by the central bank on Wednesday. Last year, remittances reached that amount only in December, when transfers hit their annual peak because of holiday spending. Read more

There was plenty of thinly-veiled gloom in the World Bank’s semi-annual update on the economies of East Asia. It expects the region to growth at 7.1 per cent this year, down from its projection of 7.8 per cent six months ago. Most of that is down to falling growth in China, though all the countries covered are experiencing problems of some sort.

All except one, that is: the Philippines. Read more

Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday lifted the Philippines’ credit score one notch from Ba1 to Baa3, becoming the third international credit rating agency to give the southeast Asian country an investment-grade rating. It said the Philippines’ ratings outlook is positive, making another upgrade possible in the next year and a half. Read more

Philippine electronics exports, which account for almost half the country’s overseas sales, surged by a surprising 11.2 per cent from a year ago in July to $1.9bn, in what could be the start of a rebound from a plunge of almost a fifth in the first half of the year. Read more

By Leif Lybecker Eskesen of HSBC Global Research

Japan’s economy has struggled for decades, weighed down by the debt hangover from the era of burst bubbles and other structural impediments. However, this may change if “Abenomics” delivers on its promises, which in turn has major trade and investment implications for the Asean-5 countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Read more

Amid the worldwide emerging market sell-off, it’s understandable that a small data point like Philippines monthly exports might have failed to garner much attention.

But hidden in the detail, there’s an interesting statistic that hints at a broader trend that’s worth keeping an eye on – not just in Asia, but across the emerging world. Read more

In another sign that the benefits of faster economic growth in the Philippines have yet to trickle down, the country’s jobless rate in April rose to 7.5 per cent, the highest in almost four years, the government statistics office said Tuesday.

That is roughly in the same quarter that GDP surged 7.8 per cent, the highest in more than two years. Asia’s fastest growing economy also has one of the region’s biggest unemployment problems. Read more