Banking on better SME financing in ASEAN

A rice shop owner counts money he earned at the biggest rice market in Jakarta, Indonesia, 9 September 2015. ASEAN countries should focus on improving commercial financing for small and medium enterprises to boost economic and jobs growth. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, Asian Development Bank

Concerns about moderating economic growth and rising income inequality in ASEAN economies have brought small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the policy limelight. Arguing that SMEs have significant potential for creating jobs, some commentators are suggesting a host of industrial policies such as financial subsidies and local content rules to promote SMEs. But this risks heavy-handed state intervention in SMEs. Read more…

Asia’s growing ties with Latin America

Trade officials of South Korea and Chile hold consultations on upgrading their free trade agreement in a video conference. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADB Institute

Amid a recovering world economy beset by risks, the outlook for Asia–Latin America economic ties seems bright. Asia needs commodities for its dynamic global factory and Latin America has abundant natural resources. Asia needs food for its large population and Latin America has fertile agricultural land. Read more…

ASEAN shouldn’t get hung up on the AEC deadline

Undocumented Indonesian workers walk on the tarmac towards an Indonesian military C-130 aircraft at Subang Air Force base in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, on 23 December 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI and Jenny Balboa, ADBI

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is unlikely to come into being by its December 2015 deadline due to its overambitious design and apathetic implementation. But there are still plenty of things that ASEAN can do to prepare for when the AEC is eventually launched. Read more…

India looks east to RCEP for economic growth

Billboard of an aircraft on final approach outside the venue of the  India-ASEAN Business Fair and Business Conclave in New Delhi, (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Japan after the budget session of parliament in mid-August 2014 for his first state visit outside South Asia. Reinvigorating economic ties with Japan and the rest of East Asia presents a critical opportunity for the Modi Government to foster new business opportunities and address India’s recent growth slowdown. By looking to East Asia, business and government can work together to foster economic gains for India. Read more…

Bali Ministerial a turning point for the WTO?

Delegates attend the opening of a World Trade Organization ministerial conference on December 15, 2011 in Geneva. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Matthias Helble and Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

Trade negotiators are currently intensifying their efforts to prepare a deal for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali from 3–6 December 2013. Agreeing on an early harvest would be an important step to re-launch the beleaguered Doha Round and boost Asia’s trade. If little progress is visible in Bali, it is likely that trade policy attention will shift more to mega-regional trade agreements. Read more…

Future of the world trading system: Asian perspectives

World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy answers a question during a news conference following a Trade Negotiations Committee meeting, at the WTO Headquarters, in Geneva. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Richard Baldwin, Graduate Institute, and Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

The WTO risks losing its centrality in the world trading system due to its focus on 20th century trade issues and lack of progress in the Doha Round.

Asia, meanwhile, has built a deep network of supply chains and is experimenting with new forms of regional trade governance. Read more…

Addressing the challenges of Asian FTAs

Opposition lawmakers and civic activists chant slogans during a rally in Seoul on 15 March 2012, to voice their objection to a free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

Today Asia is a world leader in free trade agreements (FTAs) with 76 concluded agreements as of April 2013. With this high number of FTAs, Asian economies face key challenges regarding their use, scope, and impact on regionalisation trends. Read more…