Reforms vital for Vietnamese economy to stay on track

Cyclists ride past a large poster advertising luxury cars on a road in Hanoi on July 4, 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Suiwah Leung, ANU

After several years of macroeconomic turmoil, 2013 finally saw a return to some semblance of stability in the Vietnamese economy. There is no time to lose.

The government needs to push through significant reforms in key areas in order to lift long-term growth. Read more…

Lifting Asia out of poverty needs to be done equally

Plain-clothes construction laborers from the countryside are seen in front of the glittering skyline of Guangzhou, China. Inequality is on the rise in China and across developing Asia with its combined Gini coefficient rising from 39 in the early 1990s to 46 in the late 2000s. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Juzhong Zhuang, Asian Development Bank

Developing-Asia’s impressive growth continues but faces a new challenge — inequality is on the rise. Over the last few decades, the region has lifted people out of poverty at an unprecedented rate. But more recent experience contrasts with the ‘growth with equity’ story that characterised the newly industrialised economies’ transformation in the 1960s and 1970s. Read more…

The rise of Asian lenders may benefit global financial stability

Pedestrians cross a street between commercial buildings in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ying Xu, ANU

It used to be the case that a small group of European and US banks dominated the international finance scene.

Today, Asian banks are steadily climbing up the ranks of global lenders, while US and European banks have started to slide. From 2007–13, data from Thomson Reuters indicates that Japanese mega bank Mizuho Financial Group climbed 10 places from 17th to 7th. Read more…

Road to constitutional amendment in Myanmar going nowhere

Workers carry salt in Maekaye village, Myanmar. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Melissa Crouch, NUS

Since Myanmar’s Joint Parliamentary Constitution Review Committee submitted its report to the Union Parliament on 31 January 2014, the constitutional amendment saga has taken another twist.

The Committee was given the task of reviewing the 2008 Constitution, which had been drafted by the previous military junta. It was required to make recommendations to the parliament, yet it ultimately avoided this responsibility. Read more…

Capital flows in Indonesia: managing the benefits and risks

A stallholder counts out her rupiah at the end of the business day in Jakarta, 16 May 2006. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hartadi A. Sarwono, Indonesian Banking Development Institute

The resurgence of capital flows to emerging economies took on renewed importance with the growing attractiveness of investment in Asia and elsewhere compared to investment in industrial economies.

The success in managing capital flows generates a great deal of benefit in development, but failure can jeopardise both internal and external stability. Read more…

Fast breeding insect devastates Java’s rice

An Indonesian farmer carries a sack of rice crop at a paddy fields in Kerawang, Indonesia, 26 January 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: James J. Fox, ANU

Java could lose up to six million tons of rice in 2014, unless something is done immediately to regulate and reduce pesticide use.

Brown planthopper populations have exploded due to the overuse of insecticides that destroy the planthopper’s natural enemies. This is a serious threat to Java’s rice production for 2014. Read more…

India needs original thinking to lift its economy

Welfare Society members distribute free food to passers-by at a roadside in Amritsar on 29 January 2014. India's economy grew at a decade low of five percent in 2013 - a far cry from near-double digit expansion during the nation's boom times - due in part to high interest rates to combat inflation that have slowed borrowing and spending. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Rajiv Kumar, CPR

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took the market by surprise by raising the repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks in the event of a shortfall of funds) on 28 January by 0.25 per cent to 8 per cent.

But to those who have followed the recommendations of the Urjit Patel Committee (UPC), the measure will be seen as consistent with the RBI’s declared target of bringing headline CPI inflation to below 8 per cent. With this move, the RBI has tried to move ahead of the curve of inflationary expectations, in line with its new official policy of inflation targeting. Read more…

Beijing redoubles counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang

Paramilitary policemen train in a snow in Kashgar, in Northwestern China's Xinjiang region on 7 January 2014. China's restive Xinjiang region is doubling its budget for fighting terrorism following an unusually bloody year of anti-government attacks. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Michael Clarke, Griffith University

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is taking an increasingly hard line on Xinjiang. But long-term Chinese policy itself is contributing to Xinjiang’s unrest.

On 15 January, authorities in Beijing arrested the outspoken critic of government policies in Xinjiang, Ilham Tohti. Tohti, an Uyghur scholar, has called into question the dominant government narratives on aggressive economic development for the Uyghur and the extent of Uyghur ‘terrorism’. Read more…

Can Indonesia educate itself out of middle-income status?

Indonesian students at the Ar Raudhatul Hasanah Islamic boarding school in Medan city in Sumatra island hold prayers during Ramadan on 26 July, 2012. Indonesia is the worlds most populous Muslim country. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Daniel Suryadarma, ANU

After successfully expanding their economies from low- to middle-income levels, many developing countries now face the risk of falling into the ‘middle-income trap’. The IMF defines this as ‘the phenomenon of hitherto rapidly growing economies stagnating at middle-income levels and failing to graduate into the ranks of high-income countries’.

Indonesia is now stuck in the middle-income mud. Read more…

Attaining ‘escape velocity’ in Indonesia: Time to re-industrialise

Workers load cement bags onto a ship for domestic distribution at Sunda Kelapa Port in Jakarta on 13 February, 2013. The Central Bank of Indonesia kept its key interest rate steady at 5.75 percent for the 12th straight month as it looks to boost growth. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Djisman Simandjuntak, Prasetiya Mulya Business School

In a world economy with a clouded outlook, Indonesia impresses as one of the few bright spots, attracting investors and traders from the eight winds. Indonesia is increasingly a necessary part of any market portfolio for players with global aspirations, owing to a projected share of 3.4 per cent of world population by 2015, ascent to middle-income status (with GDP (PPP) per capita of almost US$5000 in 2012), and recent growth of 4–5 per cent per annum. Read more…

Rising from Haiyan’s ruins

Filipino survivors riding through smoke from mosquito pesticide dispensed by officers at a damaged residential area in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines on  15 November 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ernesto M. Pernia, University of the Philippines

Recovering from the tragedy wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, the most potent typhoon ever to hit land in planet earth’s recorded history, is evidently no mean task. Difficult to estimate is the economic cost; virtually incalculable is the human cost, including lost human capital going to economic cost. Read more…

Time to rethink Vietnam’s socialist principles

Ceramic workers in the Red River Delta (Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbera).

Author: Quang Truong, Maastricht School of Management

There was a time when Vietnam was generally seen as a rising star among the emerging economies and one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investment in Asia.

During 1991–2010 the country achieved a steady annual GDP growth rate of 7.7 per cent (second only after China in the region). Read more…

China: still ‘going west’?

A rail laying ceremony at a construction site in Yunnan province, China (photo: AAP).

Author: Tim Summers, Chatham House

The dominant idea in China’s regional policy since the beginning of the 2000s has been to close the development gaps between coastal and inland China.

Since around 2007, aggregate GDP and industrial growth rates in western and central China have pulled ahead of those on the coast, suggesting some modest shift westwards — though parts of coastal China clearly remain the most prosperous. Read more…

The massive hidden costs of India’s food security act

An Indian homeless man rests along with a stray dog on a footpath in Ahmedabad on 7 November 2013.   Despite decades of fast economic growth, India still struggles to feed its population adequately, with more than 40 per cent of children malnourished according to a survey published last year. In August 2013, the parliament passed a flagship 18-billion-dollar 'Food Security Bill' program to provide subsidised food to the poor that is intended to "wipe out" endemic hunger and malnutrition in the aspiring superpower (Photo: AAP).

Author: Rajiv Kumar, Centre for Policy Research, India

India’s National Food Security Act is now a fait accompli. The United Progressive Alliance, desperate to maximise its electoral prospects, successfully ensured its passage through parliament in September. But the Act, with its exclusive focus on food grain and cereal availability, may well end up hurting the poor on two major counts. Read more…