China takes the lead on economic integration

A worker sits in the partial shade of a cement truck outside a construction site at the central business district of Beijing, China. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is currently the most important program for deep economic integration. The program envisages the revitalisation of old trading routes with a continental Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st century Maritime Silk Road. Despite its awkward name, the initiative is a well-conceived way for China to connect its economy to the rest of the world, with an early emphasis on links towards Europe through the rest of Asia. Read more…

AIIB miles ahead of TPP in promoting integration

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping head for their bilateral meeting in California on 7 June 2013. The United States is currently attempting to thwart the China-led AIIB by completing the TPP. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a far more economically efficient option than the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for integrating Asian economies to each other and to the rest of the world. While the United States is attempting to thwart China’s AIIB by completing the TPP, it is likely to result in net costs to countries other than the US. Read more…

Falling fossil fuel prices create a climate change opportunity


Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The recent and sharp fall in fossil fuel prices, thanks to new extractive techniques, will not last forever. It is high time to think about its threats and the opportunities.

In the short term, lower fossil fuel prices are terrible news for autocrats and kleptocrats whose survival depends on the resource rents created by higher prices. Read more…

APEC’s first 25 years and the road ahead

Lenovo ThinkPad laptop computers are lined up at the media center ahead of APEC China 2014 at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China, 4 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

APEC leaders will meet in Beijing in November, 25 years after the APEC process was launched in Canberra in 1989. Some early hopes have been met, while others have been dashed. Read more…

Welcoming China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiative

Chinese workers pave rails at a construction site of Chengmianle. China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiative will be launched this year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

In October 2013, just before the APEC meeting in Bali, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bank will be launched this year, possibly when APEC leaders meet in Beijing.

This new development bank can help fill the vast unmet demand for productive economic infrastructure, especially in the emerging economies of Asia. Read more…

A role for APEC: accelerating investment in economic infrastructure

Construction workers move stainless steel at a building site in Beijing. APEC leaders can agree this year on steps to promote infrastructure investments. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The world has a huge demand for economic infrastructure, including better transport and communications among economies. The world economy is performing well below its potential and, in 2011, Indonesia alerted APEC and G20 leaders to the significant potential benefits of meeting this demand. In the short term, new investment would help to further boost demand, while current low rates of interest provide an excellent opportunity to invest in economic infrastructure that would raise long-term productivity and integrate economies. Read more…

RCEP will help get Asian integration back on track

Leaders from ASEAN pose for a photo during the opening of the two-day World Economic Forum on Asia Thursday, May 22, 2014 at the financial district of Makati, east of Manila, Philippines. (Photo AAP)

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

Asian interest in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) process is rising. It is now perceived to be far better suited to Asia than the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is dominated by the interests of the United States. After recent failures to conclude United States–Japan market access negotiations, the proposed TPP is no longer expected to lead to comprehensive trade liberalisation. And, on closer inspection, so-called ‘platinum standards’ are seen to suit rich economies while limiting the ability of emerging economies to compete. Read more…