Malaysia, Japan to gain from trade war

HONG KONG • Asia, at the broad level, will lose from the US-China trade war, but a few countries will emerge as relative winners.

Nomura Holdings Inc found that a push by companies in the US and China for import substitution towards the rest of Asia will benefit Malaysia in particular, followed by Japan, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines, based on its analysis of specific products on the list of tariffs.

At the same time, Vietnam is the clear winner from companies switching production from China, followed by Malaysia, Singapore and India.

“As the saying goes, ‘when two quarrel, the third rejoices’,” analysts including Rob Subbaraman and Trevor Kalcic wrote in a note yesterday.

For BlackRock Inc, Thailand has the advantage in automotive production. The nation is the largest manufacturing centre of cars in South-East Asia.

“We are positive on Thai baht,” Neeraj Seth, Singapore-based head of Asian credit at BlackRock, said at a briefing in the island state. “From a relative perspective, Thailand is one of the possible beneficiaries of some of these trade tensions which could potentially improve their foreign direct investment (FDI) and balance of payments going into the next few years.”

Of the 13 countries in its analysis, Bangladesh, India and South Korea are the least likely to gain from import substitution. Pakistan benefits least from the diversion of production and FDI.

“The biggest benefit to Malaysia is likely to come from electronic integrated circuits, liquefied natural gas and communication apparatus,” according to Nomura.

There is usually one leading product for others; such as vehicles with only spark-ignition internal combustion reciprocating piston engines in Japan, units of automatic data processing in Thailand and electronic integrated circuits in the Philippines, it said. — Bloomberg