Are Myanmar’s reforms stalled?

Myanmar worker carries two baskets loaded with gravel on his shoulders as he unloads a boat to a jetty of Yangon River, Yangon, Myanmar, 27 January 2015. (Photo:AAP).

Author: Trevor Wilson, ANU

Myanmar’s initial reforms beginning in March 2011 were dramatic and surprised everyone, but they are still incomplete and not always operating well. Many problem areas have not yet undergone reform (such as land reforms, judicial system reform, and ending human rights abuses), meaning that much ‘unfinished business’ remains. Read more…

AEC not just about the economics

ASEAN Foreign Ministers clasp hands at a retreat in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 28 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sanchita Basu Das, ISEAS

Regardless of whether or not the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be successfully concluded by its deadline of 31 December 2015, we shouldn’t be solely obsessing about its ability to deliver its ‘single market’ objective on time: the AEC project has broader strategic objectives too, and on that front, it’s been a success. Read more…

A year of relative stability for Central Asian regimes

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov inspect an honor guard before their meeting at the Kuksaroi Presidential Residence in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 10 December 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Dr Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

By local standards, 2014 was a reasonably successful year for the leaders of Central Asian countries. There were no revolutions, insurgencies or mass protests threatening their grip on power. Incumbent heads of state carried out regime maintenance in their customary manner: focusing primarily on managing the inner circle of the ruling elite. Read more…

Modi’s reformation

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a campaign rally ahead of local elections in Indian-held Kashmir on December 8, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Deepanshu Mohan, O.P. Jindal Global University

Entering 2015 with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power at the federal level in India, there appears to have been a metamorphosis in India’s social, political and economic environment. The BJP and its coalition was voted into power in 2014 in a landslide victory, promising ‘development’ for India. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development agenda has been held back by attempts to promote Hindu nationalism. Read more…

Abe’s womenomics needs to include men too

A mother and child cycle past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, 21 January 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Helen Macnaughtan, SOAS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to enable more women to participate in the Japanese workforce. But his policy has largely amounted to rhetoric and there has been no discussion of the impact of these policies for male employment. In order to realistically increase opportunities for women, the current system of male-focused employment needs to be reconfigured. And Abe shows no willingness to address this. Read more…

Sri Lanka chooses changes

New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena hands a letter of appointment to Mangala Samaraweera as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in Colombo, 12 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

The recent election of President Maithripala Sirisena heralds a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to heal old wounds and to open up its economy — and for the West, India and even East Asian countries to re-engage.

In November 2014 the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called an early election in the hope it would be a cakewalk. Read more…

Kim Jong-un secure as North Korean economy picks up

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Author: Chung-in Moon, Yonsei University

The longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea has been subject to widespread speculation by outside observers. Several factors led some to predict an early downfall for the regime: young and immature leadership, a potential factional struggle, a stagnant economy and a hostile external environment. But this prediction has not yet been realised. The Kim Jong-un regime is alive and well. Read more…

Falling fossil fuel prices create a climate change opportunity

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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…

Where there’s a will there’s a way to reform

A man rides his bicycle past stacked shipping containers carrying his wife and child in Shanghai. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Zhao Changwen, DRC

The further reform of China’s state-owned enterprises has attracted a lot of attention and triggered debate since it was discussed last year at the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee (the Third Plenum). Three areas need to be addressed if reforms are to be meaningful and comprehensive: reforming the property rights system of SOEs by developing a ‘mixed ownership economy’; shifting from managing state assets to managing state capital; and promoting a modern corporate system. Read more…

What will Abe deliver now?

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows after being re-elected, as lawmakers applaud in the Lower House of the Parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 24 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

After a decisive election victory on 14 December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would seem to be in an extremely sweet spot to deliver on both his main domestic and international policy agendas. Read more…

What now for Abe third time round

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at a New Year party of business group Japan Association of New Economy, 22 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University

Shinzo Abe’s second term as prime minister of Japan, unlike his first, was a modest success through till 2014. But he will have to bring real and tangible outcomes for Japan and the Japanese economy if it is to succeed the third time round. 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…

Why the Aussie dollar needs to devalue further

People are reflected in the window as they walk past the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) boards showing the Australian dollar has fallen to a four-and-a-half-year low after the release of very strong US employment growth figures, in Sydney on December 8, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Janine Dixon, Victoria University

The Australian dollar depreciated significantly in the second half of 2014, losing around 14 per cent of its value against the US dollar and almost as much against the Chinese renminbi. But the Australian dollar needs to devalue by a further 15 per cent in the coming years if the Australian economy is to continue operating at close to full employment. Read more…