Hong Kong and Singapore to, finally, start air bubble

Hong Kong and Singapore to, finally, start air bubble

Hong Kong and Singapore will announce a start to their highly anticipated two-way air travel bubble as soon as Today.

This according to people familiar with the matter, after multiple delays.

The number of flights will be increased by June 26 if there aren’t further outbreaks in either city, one of the people said.

Hong Kong and Singapore have been working on the creation of a travel corridor for months after plans for a November start were shelved due to a virus flareup in the Chinese territory.

A plan to announce its revival last week was also canceled at the last minute by the Singapore side, a spoke person said.

The Hong Kong government said a discussion with Singapore on the re-launch “is at an advance stage and the government will make announcement as soon as practicable.”

Singapore’s transport ministry referred Bloomberg News to its most recent press release on the matter.

Singapore last week said the two cities had not fixed a date to announce the resumption of the bubble.

But “will do so once we are ready, hopefully very soon.”

While Covid-19 cases in the two places pale in comparison to many countries.

Strict requirements for the bubble to open meant outbreaks that would be regarded as small elsewhere were enough to halt progress.

Virus flare-ups in Hong Kong were the main reason for the months of delays.

Now, after stemming a March outbreak centered on a gym, Hong Kong has been reporting only a handful of new infections a day, or low double-digits at most.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on April 12 that the virus was “obviously contained” in the city and encouraged more people to get vaccinated.

Dangling the prospect of looser rules on social distancing for those who were inoculated.

Source: Channel News Asia

Japan’s output and retail sales rose in November

Japan’s output and retail sales rose in November

Japan’s industrial output rose for the fifth straight month in October and retail sales in the same month grew the most in over a year, signaling the economy was recovering further from the damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The world’s third-largest economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to surging consumption and exports, though some analysts worry about slowing growth ahead due to a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

“There’s a possibility China-bound exports and output will be sluggish if the United States gets worse, and that would spread to China,” said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research.

“But if there will be any impact, it’ll be with a bit of a time lag,” he said, adding that Japanese manufacturers could feel it most strongly in the first quarter of next year.

Breakdown of the November output

Official data released showed factory output jumped 3.8 percent in October from the previous month, mainly due to strength in general machinery production and motor vehicle manufacturing.

The solid increase beat the median market forecast of a 2.1 percent rise in a Reuters poll of economists and was in line with the prior month’s 3.9 percent gain.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) expected output to grow another 2.7 percent in November and decline 2.4 percent in December.

“The overall figure was quite strong. The output of capital expenditure-related machinery such as general machinery production was picking up,” Tsunoda said.

Inventories across all industries fell 1.6 percent in October, the seventh straight month of decline, as inventories of inorganic and organic chemicals as well as iron, steel, and non-ferrous metals, were reduced.

Separate data showed retail sales posted their largest gain since September last year in October year-on-year after consumers sharply curtailed spending in October 2019 following a sales tax hike at that time.

Retail sales jumped 6.4 percent year-on-year in October to rise for the first time in eight months, matching a 6.4 percent gain expected by economists in a Reuters poll and turning around from an 8.7 percent drop in the previous month.

Source: Jakarta Post

People traveling by plane during COVID 19, wearing N95 face masks, carrying luggage in airport terminal.

Residence track for travels between Singapore and Japan

Singapore and Japan have launched a residence track for essential travel between the two countries by businesspeople who are work-pass holders, the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press statement last Friday.

The residence track will enable the movement of “business executives and business professionals who are work-pass holders”, with the necessary public health safeguards in place, MFA said.

Those interested in the scheme may file their applications from next Wednesday (Sept 30).

Singapore and Japan have been in talks on the residence track since July.

This residence track comes on top of an existing business track, or reciprocal green (or fast) lane, between the two countries that started on Sept 18, paving the way for short-term essential business and official travel between Singapore and Japan.

Other residence track or fast lane

Since September 1, Singapore relaxed its measures and has allowed general travel to Brunei and New Zealand, including students studying abroad.

In addition to this, Since September 4, a fast-lane started between Singapore and South Korea. This has allowed essential business and official travel between the two countries.

It also has helped restore connectivity and support economic recovery. All the necessary public health safeguards have been taken.

Besides this, Singapore is in negotiations of a possible air traffic bubble with Malaysia.

Malaysian Transport Minister said that the closely-linked business communities in both Singapore and Malaysia urgently need to be able to commute back and forth soon, with stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

Singapore and Malaysia’s health authorities “will be speaking soon to iron out the agreements on the SOPs and move forward”, he added in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.

All these special arrangements have been done in order of economic recovery of the country, due to the crisis it faces because of the COVID-19 pandemic.