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Water: Solutions and opportunities in a thirsty world

  WATER covers over two-thirds of the earth’s surface, but only a tiny fraction of fresh water is readily available for use. Recent reports indicate a looming crisis. By 2030, global demand for fresh water is expected to surpass supply by 40 per cent. As a result, billions of people are living without safely managed water and sanitation. It is estimated that 700 million people could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030. What is causing this imbalance between water supply and demand? Climate change, urbanisation, ageing infrastructure and pollution are among the many factors at play. Increasingly, innovative technology also contributes to this challenge. Driving demand, impacting water Semiconductors, crucial to the modern economy, drive investment in water. From cloud computing to automotive systems, their role is indispensable. With investment in semiconductor fabrication plants soaring to meet growing demand, here is a lesser-known fact: Semiconductor manufacturing is highly water-
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Americans invested billions in Chinese companies. Now their money is stuck

WHEN  investors talk about “zombie” companies, they’re usually referring to distressed startups that are hobbling along, unable to grow and unlikely to ever return the money they’ve raised. But as deal-makers feverishly debated efforts this past week by lawmakers to force TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app, they talked about a new version: China zombies. China zombies may have booming businesses, but they’re unlikely to provide investors with any immediate return because they’re stuck in geopolitical crosshairs. It’s not just the investors in ByteDance who, after handing it more than US$8 billion, are stuck. What looked like a mammoth growth opportunity just a few years ago – inspiring investors to pour money into companies such as Ant Financial, PingPong and Geekplus – has turned hostile. “There’s more out there like ByteDance,” Evan Chuck, a partner at the advisory firm Crowell, said of companies with investors who may find themselves in this position. “It’s

ByteDance investors could win in TikTok sale, Republican lawmaker says

INVESTORS in TikTok’s Chinese parent company stand to benefit if it sold the app because divestment would remove a source of uncertainty, a Republican lawmaker said. “It would be in the financial interest of ByteDance’s investors to effectuate a forced sale,” Representative Mike Gallagher, who spearheaded a House-passed bill aimed at making the company divest TikTok to allow its continued operation in the United States, said on CBS’s  Face the Nation  on Sunday (Mar 17). Efforts to remove Chinese corporate influence over the popular social-media platform is back on the political agenda in an election year. At least two United States senators voiced support in principle for the bill on Sunday, though it faces a slower process in the chamber after winning bipartisan backing in the House last week on concern over Chinese government influence on the American public. Key senators have expressed constitutional reservations about banning the platform. Gallagher, who chairs a House committee l

Strong US dollar hits Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit hardest among Asean currencies

STORM clouds are gathering for South-east Asian currencies as the US dollar fires up in a robust start to the dragon year, fuelled by stubborn inflation and rosy jobs data, heightening expectations that the US Federal Reserve will maintain rates higher for longer. Across South-east Asia, the Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit have been the hardest hit, although there was a brief recovery on Thursday (Mar 21) following the US central bank’s latest decision to hold rates. “Almost all currencies in the world weakened against the US dollar in the first quarter. Asean FX (foreign exchange) was not an exception,” HSBC Head of Asia FX Research Joey Chew told  The Business Times .  

Wealth in Vietnam growing fast, but low productivity tests high-income goal

[HO CHI MINH CITY] Vietnam is expected to experience one of the sharpest surges in wealth in the next 10 years, as the South-east Asian nation becomes increasingly popular as an investment destination and safe manufacturing base, says a wealth report. Over the next decade, Vietnam’s number of millionaires – estimated at 19,400 as at end-2023 – is expected to grow faster than in any other country in the world, noted wealth-intelligence firm New World Wealth. This observation was based on research for the firm’s wealth report series, carried out with investment migration advisers Henley & Partners. By 2033, Vietnam’s wealth per capita is forecast to more than double its 2023 level of...  

Thailand delays 500 billion baht handout scheme to fourth quarter

  THAILAND’S government expects to launch a signature handout scheme worth 500 billion baht (S$18.5 billion) by the fourth quarter of this year, a deputy finance minister said on Monday (Mar 25), delaying it beyond a former target date of May. Concerns over the funding have dogged the controversial digital wallet scheme to transfer 10,000 baht to 50 million Thais to spend within six months, with some experts having called it fiscally irresponsible. Authorities will hold further discussions on the programme on Wednesday and again on Apr 10, Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat told reporters. The government planned to carry out registration of eligible Thais and stores in the third quarter, and distribute the money in the fourth, he added. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has said the government will forge ahead to deliver on the election campaign promise intended to boost weak growth. Julapun had earlier flagged that the scheme could be delayed beyond May. REUTERS

Thailand to benefit from semiconductor production rejig, says US commerce secretary

THAILAND  stands to gain from a move by the United States to diversify semiconductor production, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday (Mar 13), adding that American firms were ready to “supercharge” investments into the South-east Asian country. The electrical and electronics industry is one of Thailand’s main foreign investment magnets, and a key sector that Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s government is looking to expand as it seeks to kickstart a sluggish economy. “Production of semiconductors is dangerously concentrated in one or two countries in the world,” Raimondo said at an event in Bangkok, outlining that the US would look to push additional investments into countries that are part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) as it seeks to diversify production. The US-led IPEF, aimed in part at providing countries in the region with an alternative to closer ties with China, consists of 14 countries, including Thailand. “So we’re all in this together. I