Asia Fresh News

Asia Fresh Stories

Archive for November 10th, 2010

Vietnam’s Rice Farmers to Get Loss Protection If Yields Fall; Swiss Re and ABIC Deliver a First for World’s Second Largest Rice Exporter

leave a comment »

HANOI, Vietnam, Nov. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — Rice farmers in Vietnam may worry less about losses from low yields due to natural catastrophes such as drought, flood and typhoon. Swiss Re today announced the introduction of an index-based insurance program, a first in Southeast Asia, developed for the Vietnam Agribank Insurance Joint Stock Company (ABIC) to cover loans to rice farmers in up to 10 provinces in Vietnam, with the potential to extend the scheme to the entire country.

Under the arrangement, ABIC — the insurance arm of Agribank, Vietnam’s agriculture bank and key provider of agriculture loans — will insure Agribank’s rice farming clients against the inability to make loan repayments due to low yields.

ABIC will in turn transfer the risk via reinsurance to Swiss Re and the Vietnam National Reinsurance Corporation (Vina Re). Payouts are defined by an independent “area-yield index” that is based on data from the Vietnam’s Bureau of Statistics.

Agriculture is a key sector in Vietnam, and rice is by far the most important crop. With an annual production of 39 mio tons on 7.4 mio hectares of land, Vietnam contributes 20% to the global tradable rice surplus and is the world’s second largest exporter. In this market, Agribank issued loans to 5 million rice-farming households.

“Vietnam already has a high exposure to natural perils such as floods, typhoons and droughts, and climate change might make rice harvest even more volatile in the future. The insurance scheme will ensure AgriBank can confidently offer rice loans and use potential payouts of the parametric insurance program to mitigate the impact of credit defaults resulting from poor harvests. With this solution, we can also in the future continue to sustain a key sector that provides a means of livelihood to more than 50% of Vietnam’s 86 million people,” said Nguyen Van Minh, Chairman and General Director of ABIC. This is especially important considering damage in agricultural production has reached up to 5% of National GDP in the past.

“Aside from offering our capacity for at least five years, Swiss Re also provided the know-how in structuring and implementing the program. Our agriculture experts conducted field visits to Vietnam to understand local rice farming practices and loan mechanisms, and to assess agriculture production and the exposure to natural perils,” said Pham Xuan Thai, Vice President, Client Markets at Swiss Re.

“Countries in Southeast Asia with similar conditions to Vietnam will find this product very interesting and we believe that our solution is flexible enough to be tailored to the specific needs of these markets,” said Roman Hohl, Head Agriculture Asia-Pacific at Swiss Re.

“We appreciate Swiss Re’s expertise in establishing the area-yield index product which is an important step in Vietnam’s efforts to introduce sustainable risk management frameworks for key sectors, chief among them the agriculture industry,” said Dang The Vinh, Deputy CEO of Vina Re, Vietnam’s leading reinsurer and Swiss Re’s strategic partner.

Today’s announcement is further demonstration that Swiss Re’s agricultural risk expertise is making inroads into Asia. In July 2009, Swiss Re entered into an agreement with the Beijing Municipal Government to provide reinsurance coverage for catastrophe risks under Beijing’s government-funded agricultural insurance scheme.

Swiss Re has also set up a dedicated agriculture team in Asia since August 2010 to support the growth of this line of business in the region.

Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd

Swiss Re is a leading and highly diversified global reinsurer. The company operates through offices in more than 20 countries. Founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1863, Swiss Re offers financial services products that enable risk-taking essential to enterprise and progress. The company’s traditional reinsurance products and related services for property and casualty, as well as the life and health business are complemented by insurance-based corporate finance solutions and supplementary services for comprehensive risk management. Swiss Re is rated “A+” by Standard & Poor’s, “A1” by Moody’s, and “A” by A.M. Best.

Swiss Re has been associated with Asia since 1913 and now has more than 1,000 staff in Asia Pacific. The company’s Asian headquarters are in Hong Kong. In 2006, Swiss Re celebrated 50 years since opening its first offices in Asia Pacific.

SOURCE Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd

Written by asiafreshnews

November 10, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Business & Finance

DHL Predicts Additional Growth in APEC Economies Through More Efficient Logistics

leave a comment »

TOKYO, Nov. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ —

— Says better logistics powers growth, raises prosperity and standard of living
— Urges governments and regulators to decrease administrative burden, pursue smarter approach to customs and security, and focus on infrastructure investment to unleash growth potential

DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, has identified three key levers to help emerging economies improve their logistics efficiency and reduce the cost of trading by up to 30% by 2020. It appeals to governments, shippers and logistics companies to become active partners in reducing paperwork and administration, reform customs and security processes, and invest in infrastructure to maintain the APEC countries’ competitive advantage.

(Logo: )

Speaking to media in Tokyo ahead of the APEC CEO Summit 2010, Hermann Ude, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding, said: “Over the past 30 years, world trade as a percentage of GDP has increased from a third to over 50%1, making international trade the most important driver of economic growth and rising living standards. However, inefficient logistics in many economies are still a roadblock to trade growth. For example, BRIC countries on average require twice2 as many export/import documents versus Singapore or Germany. As a result, paper-work can be the single most time consuming element in the life of a shipment, with vital days lost and costs increasing as products spend more time in warehouses than on the move.”

Ude said that of the 60 days it currently takes from order to delivery in a typical ocean freight shipment from India to Mexico, goods were on the move for less than half of that time — with over 323 days spent on export and import documentation and customs. A decreased administrative burden is the lever that can provide the most logistics cost savings and is a relatively easy win via the increased use of technology, such as e-customs, and better cross-border co-operation and governmental agreements.

Customs and security are of paramount importance in this day and age, but increased physical security requirements alone are not the panacea. On average, BRIC countries do 10 times more physical cargo inspections than best-in-class countries, without notably improving security. Introducing smarter and globally more consistent security regulations are necessary to promote intelligence sharing. “The way forward is through improved intelligence, not sole reliance on physical security measures. Information sharing, facilitated by stronger collaboration between businesses, industries and public authorities all need to take place to make our world a safer place,” said Ude.

Infrastructure investments in key areas such as strategic ports and interlinked road and railway systems are also needed if costs are to remain competitive with growth maintained. “Infrastructure bottlenecks or sub-standard transport facilities can force logistics companies such as DHL to use sub-optimal routes in order to guarantee delivery and this increases costs. For example, insufficient port capacity can lead to 15% to 30% higher sea transportation rates on otherwise comparable routes and these costs come with additional CO2 emission,” said Ude.

With emerging economies growing two to three times faster than developed countries, infrastructure limitations could seriously hamper competitiveness in the long-term. However, strategic investments in key areas could contribute 6% of the 30% reduction in logistics costs possible by 2020.

Cost savings are not the only benefits emerging economies could enjoy if they address customs, security and infrastructure issues now. Trade transit times could also be cut by 65%4 and 20% to 40%5 more trade could be generated.

As the global expert in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation and contract logistics, DHL plays a key role facilitating trade between more than 220 countries and territories, including all emerging and key economies and has established global best practice benchmarks.

It is working proactively with policy makers and shippers with the ambition of facilitating a logistics cost saving of 30% and a lead time reduction of 65% for an average BRIC shipment traveling by sea.6 To this end, DHL has developed a wide platform of solutions to cut administration costs such as e-freight, EDI connections, and created over 100 high security locations to ensure the security of transport operations. In addition to working with governments to identify strategic areas requiring infrastructure development, DHL invests in infrastructure globally and has invested over EUR2.2 billion in Asia alone in recent years.

“30% improvement is a big ambition but one that governments, shippers and service providers such as DHL can jointly achieve and must work towards achieving if countries are to enjoy continued economic success and rising standards of living. If regulators decrease bureaucracy and become more process-orientated, logistics companies work consistently to reduce costs and improve lead times and shippers form deeper partnership with logistics providers, emerging market growth will stay on track,” said Ude.

– End –

DHL — The Logistics company for the world

DHL is the global market leader in the logistics industry and “The Logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 300,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting climate protection, disaster management and education.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of more than 46 billion euros in 2009.

For the latest news and happenings about DHL in Asia Pacific, visit


1 World Bank
2 World Bank
3 World Bank/DHL
5 DHL, London School of Economics
6 Using average cost of TEU based on World Bank and DHL estimates


Written by asiafreshnews

November 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Logistics

Meritus Hotels & Resorts’ Global Brand Push Begins

leave a comment »


Meritus Hotels & Resorts’ Global Brand Push Begins
New campaign embraces Asian heritage and supports the brand’s expansion into new markets

SINGAPORE, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — Meritus Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s pioneering luxury hospitality brand, marks its foray into international markets with the commencement of a global brand campaign to complement its exciting expansion pipeline slated to take shape from 2011.

(Photo: )
(Logo: )

The campaign invigorates Meritus’ longstanding presence as Singapore’s icon of world-class hospitality and centres around its signature “Asian grace, warmth, and care” as the essence of the Meritus service culture that the brand hopes to bring to other parts of the world.

“Our service philosophy is inspired by the virtue and richness of our Asian heritage,” says Michael Sengol, Chief Executive Officer of Meritus Hotels & Resorts.

“Over thousands of years, Asians have perfected the art of making guests feel right at home. It is this heritage that our brand uniquely embraces as we expand globally and move ahead with the times. Therein lies the difference — at Meritus, we give our guests the opportunity to enjoy the long-renowned tradition of Asian hospitality, today.”

Meritus’ global campaign kicks off with a series of brand ads depicting the iconic Meritus Ambassador in her elegant red cheongsam, graciously embodying Asian hospitality in contemporary settings.

The rollout of brand refresh initiatives will see a more contemporary look and feel to the Meritus identity, from above- and below-the-line communications to product and service features that will be introduced at every customer touch point to define the hallmarks of the “Meritus Experience.”

With close to 40 years of hotel management expertise through its flagship Mandarin Orchard Singapore, Meritus’ current portfolio also includes Marina Mandarin Singapore, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa Langkawi in Malaysia, and in China — Shanghai JC Mandarin, Meritus Mandarin Haikou, and Meritus Shantou China.

New developments being eyed by the hospitality group span fast-growing business and tourism hubs in Southeast Asia, China, and Europe.

Meritus is expected to open the doors of its flagship property in Europe in 2011.

For more information on Meritus Hotels & Resorts, visit

About Meritus Hotels & Resorts

Meritus Hotels & Resorts is the hospitality division of Overseas Union Enterprise Limited (OUE:SP) which is amongst the key property players in Asia, and one of the few integrated developers in Singapore boasting a complete portfolio of prime assets across the retail, commercial, residential, and hospitality sectors.

As a hospitality brand, Meritus is synonymous with Asian hospitality and heritage, with luxury properties strategically located in key cities and idyllic resort destinations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Mainland China. Its current portfolio includes the flagship Mandarin Orchard Singapore, Marina Mandarin Singapore, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa Langkawi, Shanghai JC Mandarin, Meritus Mandarin Haikou, and Meritus Shantou China.

Combining chic contemporary decor, comprehensive meetings, business and leisure facilities, and warm intuitive service, Meritus strives to consistently deliver an impeccable hospitality experience steeped in Asian grace, warmth, and care. For more information, visit

SOURCE Meritus Hotels & Resorts

Name of Printer:Finet Holdings Ltd.
Address of Printer:Room C, 11/F., Bank of East Asia Harbour View Centre, 56 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Written by asiafreshnews

November 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

PayPal Expands Consumer Protection in Asia Pacific Just in Time for Holiday Shopping Season

leave a comment »

Exclusive deals and free shipping** on PayPal Plaza to boost holiday shopping for consumers across the region

SINGAPORE, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — PayPal announced today that it will expand its consumer protection for shoppers across the Asia Pacific region just in time for the busy holiday shopping season when they make purchases at any of the 8 million merchants worldwide that accept PayPal. Starting this month, the enhanced PayPal Buyer Protection policy now protects shoppers across the region if they receive an item* that is significantly different than described by a merchant. This new layer of safety strengthens PayPal’s current protection for shoppers across the region when they do not receive the item* they purchased using PayPal. For more info about PayPal Buyer Protection policy, please visit: .

“Since we launched our original Buyer Protection policy in June, Asian consumers have been much more comfortable with shopping online and they have increased their purchases using PayPal over the past 5 months. We value the trust that over 16 million PayPal users across the region place in us and our Buyer Protection Policy for a safer online shopping experience,” said Nimish Dwivedi, Regional Head of Marketing, PayPal Asia Pacific.

Commenting on the upcoming holiday shopping season, Nimish said, “We’re excited to expand our successful Buyer Protection policy to give Asian shoppers greater peace of mind when they shop for holiday gifts at this time of the year. We are also launching a new online shopping site for our users across the region called PayPal Plaza that offers exclusive deals and free shipping** from merchants across the region. With greater consumer protection and more savings for Asian consumers, shopping online this holiday season with PayPal is even safer and more rewarding.”

PayPal Plaza ( ) features over 60 merchants from around the Asia Pacific region – including Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand – that offer up to 50% discounts along with free shipping** to any location in the region. The merchants are grouped into 15 categories – such as fashion, electronics, toys, books, jewelry, cosmetic, health products – as well as by three locations: China, Australia and Southeast Asia. More merchants and offers from around the region and the world will be added every month.

PayPal Plaza also provides useful shopping features including:

— “Gift finder” to search for the perfect gift by budget, category, gender and age
— “Wishlist” to keep track of great product offers and share the wishlist with friends and family
— “Reminders” to find a gift for upcoming events like birthdays and anniversaries

About PayPal

PayPal is the faster, safer way to pay and get paid online. The service allows members to send payments without sharing financial information, with the flexibility to pay using their account balances, credit cards, and bank accounts where available in various markets. PayPal is an eBay company and enables global e-commerce with more than 90 million active accounts in 190 markets and 24 currencies around the world. The company’s open payment platform, PayPal X, allows developers to build innovative payment applications on multiple platforms and devices. More information about the company can be found at .

PayPal is headquartered in San Jose, California and its international headquarters is located in Singapore.

* For eligible items.

** Subject to participating merchant terms and conditions. The free shipping promotion is provided by the participating merchants and their preferred shipping partner, not by PayPal.

Media Contacts:

Dickson Seow
PayPal Asia Pacific
Tel: +65-6510-6463

Jeremy Seow / Jolin Tan
Text 100 Public Relations (for PayPal)
Tel: +65-6603-9000

SOURCE PayPal Asia Pacific

Written by asiafreshnews

November 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

Posted in Business & Finance