Japan is still leading the Southeast Asia infrastructure race against China. Despite the massive economic growth and favour that China has garnered in the region, Japan still retains pending projects worth almost one-and-a-half times its rival, according to the data from Fitch Solutions.
Currently, Japanese-backed projects in the ASEAN region’s six largest economies, that being Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines stands at a value of US$367 billion; whereas China’s tally is valued at around US$255 billion.
By no means does this translate as China faltering in terms of favour in Southeast Asia, but it does underline the region’s rampant need for infrastructure development in Southeast Asia, as well as Japan’s dominance in the sector, despite President Xi Jinping’s push to spend on railways and ports via his signature Belt and Road Initiative.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that ASEAN economies will require approximately US$210 billion a year in infrastructure investment from 2016 to 2030, in order to maintain their current momentum in terms of economic growth.
The latest Fitch figures, count only pending projects, those at the stages of planning, feasibility study, tender and currently under construction.
Fitch data in February last year put Japan’s investment at US$230 billion and China’s at US$155 billion.
Vietnam is by far Japan’s focus in terms of infrastructure investment and involvement. Pending projects within the country sits at approximately US$209 billion in value, more than half of Japan’s total. This includes a US$58.7 billion high-speed railway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Indonesia on the other hand, is China’s primary customer, making up US$93 billion, or 36 per cent, of its overall. The crown jewel of China’s projects being the Kayan River hydropower plant in North Kalimantan, valued at US$17.8 billion.
Throughout Southeast Asia, Japan also carries the slight advantage over China in terms of total number of projects; with 240 infrastructure ventures have Japanese backing, versus 210 for China in all 10 Southeast Asian economies.