Asia Pacific

Aust Govt looks to assist human rights of women and girls across the Pacific

THE Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade of the Australian Government presented a critical report on the human rights of women and girls in the Pacific to the Parliament in late 2020. A total of 14 substatial recommendations were made in the report.

A key theme of the inquiry was that the underlying issues were interconnected and touched on all areas of society. Work to progress gender equality issues cannot be relegated to a small number of targeted areas, the report affirmed.

"The committee acknowledges the considerable efforts of national governments in the Pacific nations," Chair of the Human Rights Sub-committee, Kevin Andrews MP said.

"Our recommendations seek to build on the strength of their efforts and to propose means whereby Australia can further assist local efforts," Mr Andrews said. 

Another clear theme of the inquiry was support for local leadership, design and delivery of programs. Local faith-based groups, local none-government organisations (NGOs), and local leaders were best placed to build and establish the institutions and infrastructure that lead to ongoing and sustained change, the report said.


"Women and girls are continuing to shape their societies for the better," Mr Andrews said.

"We trust that our recommendations will encourage their continuing commitment to supporting peaceful, resilient and happy communities throughout the Pacific."

Further details about the about the inquiry can be obtained from the committee’s website. A list of recommendations were made:

List of recommendations – Human Rights of Women and Girls in the Pacific

  1. The committee recommends that all support provided by the Australian Government to any organisation or bodies undertaking disaster management planning and response work include women representatives.
  2. To ensure that an understanding of women’s needs in local areas are taken into account, the committee recommends that the Australian Government works with Pacific governments to build the capacity of local organisations in the Pacific to respond to natural disasters and ensure Pacific women are included in the delivery and evaluations of programs.
  3. The committee recommends that the Australian Government works with Pacific governments to provide support for projects mapping the vulnerabilities experienced by women and girls in the region during disasters.
  4. The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the tertiary education sector to maintain networks with alumni from Pacific island countries who have studied in Australia, including women and girls.
  5. The committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to focus diplomatic efforts on the implementation of treaties and other legislation aimed at improving the quality of life for women and girls, including political representation and involvement in decision-making.
  6. The committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to work with Pacific governments on public sector capacity-building work.
  7. The committee recommends that the Australian Government publish an assessment of the progress on building the capacity of local organisations in the Pacific to advance the rights of women and girls. This should include data about what proportion of funding is provided to local organisations directly, and/or through intermediaries.
  8. The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with Pacific governments to provide support for the secondary and tertiary education sector within Pacific island countries, including infrastructure for education institutions.
  9. The committee recommends that the Australian Government extends the role of the multi-role vessel to include working in partnership with civil society to support the Pacific Islands.
  10. The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider long-term funding cycles for official development assistance to be at least five-years.
  11. The committee recommends the Australian Government extend its current five-year commitment to the Pacific Women Lead program to allow for funding cycles of this duration to be provided and to include a target for its gender expenditure.
  12. The committee recommends that the Australian Government commit to continuing to undertake and publish strategic, thematic evaluations focusing on substantive human rights issues affecting women and girls. This should allow evaluations of the full range of official development assistance, and extend evaluations beyond those focused only at the investment or program-level.
  13. The committee recommends that the Australian Government improve monitoring, evaluation and reporting of development assistance programs to ensure transparency and easy access to data, especially including reporting on funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment activities in the Pacific.
  14. The committee recommends that the Australian Government, on an annual basis, publish data on the disbursements made to organisations for the purpose of gender equality initiatives. This should list the organisations receiving disbursements.


Finder buys GoBear to help forage Asia

By Leon Gettler >>

LITTLE ATTENTION has been placed on Finder, a fintech company headquartered in Australia, announcing that it had acquired South East Asia-focused brand GoBear as part of its global expansion. The acquisition was for an undisclosed sum.

Based in Singapore, GoBear has operated as a comparison site for insurance, credit cards, and loans. In January, however, it announced it was ceasing operations because of the challenges of COVID-19.

Enter Finder, which compares more than 200 different verticals ranging from personal finance products such as credit cards, home loans and savings accounts to online shopping, cryptocurrency, share trading and much more.

Finder operates in 80 markets, with offices in Australia, the US, the UK, Poland, the Philippines and Canada, and a lot of its categories are global in nature.


Finder co-founder and global CEO Frank Restuccia said it was a natural fit for Finder and was perfect for expanding its market into South East Asia. Go Bear operates out of Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines and its main office is in Singapore.

He said the two had such similar business modes and he felt a “real alignment” with the brand.

“I knew that the customers that were using Go Bear would be very aligned to what our new service will be in that region for them so that was really the main attraction for me,” Mr Restuccia told Talking Business.

He said many of Go Bear’s clients were “unbanked” and he saw it as a great opportunity for Finder.

The other great opportunity was that all Go Bear’s were using mobile devices and Finder had recently developed an app.

“I see a great opportunity for those customers in the region to benefit from the Finder app in their mobile device so we are bringing that service straight into their mobile. That’s a massive motivation for this acquisition,” Mr Restuccia said.


Finder has now moved into cryptocurrency as a growth market. 

“It’s changing the world of finance so rapidly that we would be remiss not to keep on top of it,” Mr Restuccia said.

Back in 2016, Finder built a brand called HiveEx which was an over-the-counter brokerage which helped people trade in cryptocurrencies. While that was subsequently sold, Finder retained the knowledge and insights from that experience and is now looking to expand again into that space.

“A lot of consumers out there don’t fully understand cryptocurrencies, but they want to put some of their wealth into purchasing Bitcoin and Ethereum,” he said.

“It actually creates a new world of possibilities for participants, for consumers, to try and do things differently, to use technologies like blockchain to make things more accurate and to make things more transparent and to break down some of those walls and legacies that exist in the banking world.

“We are at the cusp of major change.”

Finder launched in 2006 so it is celebrating its 15th July.

“We feel like we are starting,” Mr Restuccia said. “We are building this brand and service to live beyond our lifetime. That’s the motivation for me.

“I want my children and their children to be able to experience the service and get that utility and satisfaction of being able to get some advice, use some of the tools that we provide and make some amazing decisions that are going to transform and help them live their life,” he said.

“So 15 years may seem like a long time, to me it’s just the beginning. It may sound odd to say this but we are gearing up for a 1000 year old company.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


Treaties Committee supports three important treaty actions

 THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has tabled Report 195, concerning three treaty actions: a film co-production agreement with Malaysia, revisions to the Radio Regulations which regulate radio spectrum and satellite orbits, and a new tax information exchange agreement with Timor-Leste.

“The Malaysian Government is a strong supporter of the Malaysian film industry and Malaysian films attract a large audience in South East Asia,” said committee chair Mr Dave Sharma MP.

Australia’s film co-production agreement with Malaysia would make it easier for Australian film makers to develop co-productions with Malaysian film makers and encourage closer cultural ties between Australia and Malaysia.  

The revisions to the Radio Regulations make a number of improvements to the management of the radio spectrum and satellite orbits, which are used to support everything from mobile phones to satellite communications. 

The improvements include providing greater bandwidth to support 5G mobile broadband services, enhanced connectivity on aeroplanes and ships, and expanded Global Maritime Distress and Safety System satellite services.

The new tax information exchange agreement with Timor-Leste allows the two countries to exchange information for the purpose of administering taxes associated with the Timor Sea Maritime Boundaries Treaty.

“Treaties don’t have to be spectacular to be important,” Mr Sharma said. "These treaties improve our international relationships, make our lives safer and more productive, and bring us closer together.”


HKTB welcomes agreement to relaunch bilateral Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble

HONG KONG Tourism Board (HKTB) chairman, YK Pang has welcomed the agreement between the governments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Singapore on relaunching the bilateral Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble (ATB).

Dr Pang said, “Relaunching the Air Travel Bubble with Singapore is the first step in Hong Kong’s resumption of international travel, and a milestone for preparing the city for gradually welcoming more visitors back. 

"We expect that travellers at the early stage of the launch of the ATB are those who travel for family visits or other essential reasons, and leisure travellers will return successively.”

Meanwhile, the HKTB will continue to work with the tourism-related sectors in enhancing Hong Kong overall anti-epidemic measures in the city, including a standardised hygiene protocol launched last year for hotels, restaurants, transportation, shopping malls, tour operators and other tourism-related sectors, establishing a healthy and safe tourism image for Hong Kong.


Report calls for urgent attraction of investment from Asia ... especially Hong Kong

AUSTRALIA must create better incentives to attract business and investment from Asia, including Hong Kong, to help boost the country's economy and global competitiveness.

This is an important theme of a recent report based on the recommendations of the 'Australia as a Financial and Technology Centre Advisory Group' to the Australian Government by Senator Andrew Bragg.

The Australia as a Financial and Technology Centre Advisory Group is a collection of leading industry advisors, including Atlas Advisors Australia who convened with Senator Bragg in August 2020 to advise on the best path forward for strengthening Australia as an Asia-Pacific business and financial services hub.

Executive chairman of wealth manager Atlas Advisors Australia, Guy Hedley congratulated Senator Bragg on the Advisory Group report. 

“The principles set out within are critical to guiding the future of Australia’s economy,” Mr Hedley said. “Most importantly this means removing barriers to business growth and attracting business, investment and expertise to help drive industry and innovation.”

Mr Hedley said reforming the Significant Investor Visa program was key to Australia’s competitiveness in attracting wealth and investment from prominent businesspeople in destinations such as Hong Kong.

“Venture capital is critical to growing Australia’s next generation of internationally competitive employers,” Mr Hedley said.

Start-ups and the early-stage segment of venture capital are in desperate need of funds with statistics showing that the number of early-stage funding deals in Australia have declined from around $320 million in 2016-17 to $120 million in 2018-19.

“The Significant Investor Visa program could be the driving force behind Australia’s ailing venture capital sector, having already contributed more than $11 billion in direct investment to Australia so far," Mr Hedley said.

“Wealthy migrant businesspeople can provide the investment and expertise to help build local businesses, industries and employment.”

Another key aspect to boosting venture capital, he said, was creating better incentives to attract world talent, who become the founders of internationally competitive companies.

“These people bring unique expertise and experience to Australia with a multiplier effect on domestic employment.” 


China moves closer to self-reliance in 7nm microchip production

A NEWS REPORT  by has revealed that China is moving closer to self-reliance in 7nm chip production.

China has recently made new breakthroughs in its 7nm chip-making process, reportedly developing tools and know-how for several segments of the manufacturing process amid efforts to reduce reliance on foreign equipment and material vendors.

Last month, China's chip customisation solution provider, Innosilicon, announced that it had taped out and completed testing of a prototype chip based on the FinFET N+1 process of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). This achievement marks a new step forward in China's homegrown chip development.

Amid major trade restrictions enforced by the United States, SMIC's new generation foundry node is said to be comparable to the 7nm process by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry.

As China's largest chip foundry, SMIC will introduce its N+1 7nm node, marking a significant improvement over its current 14 nm production node, boasting a 20 percent increase in performance, power consumption reduction of 57 percent, a reduced logic area of 63 percent, and SoC (System on a Chip) area reduction of 55 percent, according to the company.

The N+1 foundry node may enable SMIC to break its reliance on advanced Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines produced by Dutch microchip machine maker ASML, according to Liang Mengsong, co-CEO of SMIC. ASML is subject to US export controls as its products contain American technology.

At the same time, China is working hard to develop its own lithography system. 

The Suzhou Institute of Nano-tech and Nano-Bionics, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Sinano), along with the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, recently announced a breakthrough in a new type of 5nm laser lithography technology. Experts believe it could lay the foundation for research into a self-developed advanced lithography machine.

The new technology has broken the traditional constraint in laser direct writing (LDW) with its ability to process at the nano level. In addition to ultra-high precision, the technology also demonstrates potential for mass production.

According to research results published in Nano Letters, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, the new LDW technology "exhibits an attractive capability of well-site control and mass production of 500,000 nanogap electrodes per hour"breaking the trade-off between resolution and throughput using nanofabrication techniques.

During the recent China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, ASML, the global leader in lithography machines, showcased its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines, sending out a strong signal for its capability and willingness to export the equipment to China.

Previously, ASML's CFO Roger Dassen has stated that the company can export DUV lithography machines to China without a US licence. The technology can typically produce chips down to the 7nm node.

On the side of materials, Nata Opto-electronic Materials in east China's Jiangsu province announced that it has established China's first ArF photoresist production line, which is used to transfer electronic circuit patterns to silicon crystals in the 7nm chip-making process.

Previously, photoresist materials produced in China could only be applied in the production of chips with standards of 436nm and 365nm.

As the world's largest semiconductor market, China has been spending aggressively in semiconductor investment, acquisition, and talent recruitment to bolster the industry by on-shoring chip manufacturing equal to those of the world's top foundries.

A report by Goldman Sachs on July 2 predicted that China may be capable of producing 7nm chips by 2023.

Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, said during an online forum on November11 that China is attempting to build an entire microchip supply chain from end to end, and will be no longer dependent on the US technologies, according to the country's latest Beijing five-year plan.



Hong Kong Buyer-supplier connections boosted through online exhibition

THE Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has upgraded its Sourcing platform in the run-up to Autumn Sourcing Week, a large-scale online trade fair that will run from November 16 to 27, 2020.

The platform upgrade will help international traders transition to digital-sourcing models and capture business opportunities in China and the broader Asian region under the post-pandemic new normal. 

HKTDC deputy executive director, Benjamin Chau said,  "The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation or rescheduling of approximately 4,000 physical exhibitions around the world, affecting deals worth an estimated US$296 billion. At the same time, enterprises are seizing the opportunity to challenge conventional ways of working and develop new sourcing and marketing channels. The pandemic has changed the sourcing pattern for many companies and accelerated the transformation of the global supply chain."

Advanced smart sourcing opens up global business opportunities, he said. 

As a pioneer in digital sourcing, the HKTDC introduced Hong Kong's first large-scale business-to-business (B2B) marketing platform, Sourcing, back in 2000. To date, the platform has gathered more than 130,000 suppliers and 2 million buyers, facilitating 24 million business connections a year with the support of the HKTDC's 50 global offices.

To help buyers and suppliers worldwide find new partners and secure business deals amid these challenging times, the HKTDC has completed a significant upgrade to its Sourcing platform..

"Users will notice a refreshed design as well as easy-to-use features delivering a better smart-sourcing experience anytime and anywhere," Mr chau said.

"We have employed new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to facilitate more flexible and personalised functions, such as customised company profile pages, product recommendations and keyword suggestions triggered by product image recognition, providing more efficient business connection services," he said.

To further strengthen buyer confidence, the Third-Party Authentication Service allows suppliers to highlight their credibility.

"The new supplier authentication system classifies companies' reputations and activeness into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories," Mr Chau said.

" A record of companies' participation at HKTDC events and their last update time are also provided, serving as a reference for buyers as they seek out the most suitable suppliers.".

Another new feature is the NewsBites content page, which introduces the latest procurement trends and popular products and pushes notifications via various online media channels to provide buyers with access to relevant suppliers' pages on the platform.

Following the success of its Summer Sourcing Weeks, GO ONLINE earlier this year, which migrated a number of physical exhibitions online, the HKTDC is holding Autumn Sourcing Week ONLINE next week under the theme 'A New Connected World Beyond the New Normal', bringing together 2,600 suppliers from 33 countries and regions.

The exhibition features suppliers from 11 industries -- including electronics, houseware, lighting, outdoor lighting, eco tech, gifts and premiums, toys, baby products, stationery, optical, and watches and clocks -- to provide a one-stop sourcing platform where buyers can restock for the year ahead. Detailed information of the exhibitors and their products are also uploaded to Sourcing to help buyers identify new business partners.

The online exhibition features the AI-driven Click2Match business-matching platform. In addition to bringing buyers and suppliers together, the platform also supports meeting scheduling, video meetings, live-chat and contact exchange.

Autumn Sourcing Week | ONLINE will feature more than 20 webinars at the Intelligence Hub across four main series - SmartTech, Lifestyle, Business Essentials, and Green and Sustainability - with over 100 leading figures sharing insights into the latest trends.

Looking ahead, Mr Chau said the HKTDC would continue to enhance its online services to create more business opportunities for global buyers and suppliers. He said in the future, physical trade fairs and online platforms would need to integrate and complement each other.

"Even when physical exhibitions resume, the HKTDC will continue to organise regular thematic online sourcing events catering to the different sourcing cycles of various sectors. This will create an extended exhibition experience and fully utilise the advantages of O2O."

Autumn Sourcing Week ONLINE:


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