The new normal of Chinese growth

20150120001089613228-minihighres

Author: Wang Yong, Peking University

The Chinese economy is widely perceived to have entered a ‘new normal’ — annual GDP growth has slowed to between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent from the double-digit levels of previous years. This was something that policymakers expected: an inevitable result of economic restructuring. Read more…

Why China’s growing cities do not threaten farmland

A Chinese farmer drives a buffalo to plow his farm field in on the outskirts of Guilin city, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 28 March 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: John Gibson, University of Waikato

China recently announced strict controls to stop big cities expanding on to neighbouring farmland. The Minister for Land and Resources Jiang Daming justified these controls by claiming that good farmland has been ‘eaten by steel and cement’. To safeguard food security, land on the outskirts of cities will be classified as ‘permanent basic farmland’ that can be used only for cultivation. Read more…

Political preference crowding out enterprise in Malaysia

Author: Hwok-Aun Lee, University of Malaya

Malaysia’s government-linked companies (GLCs) are, relatively speaking, among the most extensive and powerful in the world in terms of capitalisation, market presence and socio-political mandate.

GLCs reportedly comprise 36 per cent of the Malaysian stock exchange’s capitalisation and 54 per cent of the entities that make up the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index. Read more…

Tentative but no fundamental change in Singapore

Singapore's skyline gliters with lights as spheres in the waters of Marina Bay form the number '50' to mark Singapore’s 50th anniversary in 2015, ahead of the New Year's countdown celebrations in Singapore on December 31, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Mukul G. Asher, NUS, and Chang Yee Kwan, Independent

On the usual measures of economic prosperity, Singapore went from strength to macroeconomic strength in 2014. Real economic growth was between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent for the year. The world economy was forecast by the IMF in October to have grown at 3.3 per cent. Singapore continued to grow in importance as an ASEAN hub for RMB-denominated financial services, and was named, for the ninth year running, the best global location for business and enterprise. Read more…

The tricky economic tasks facing Najib Razak

Malaysia army personnel loading food and goods inside a boat in the Kuala Krai district of Kelantan, Malaysia, 28 December 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shankaran Nambiar, MIER

After a year of solid achievement on the economic front, Malaysia’s leaders will face difficult circumstances as they implement reform in 2015.

One of the more impressive achievements of the Malaysian government in 2014 was the resolve it demonstrated in trying to balance the budget. Read more…

Strengthening the state and market in ASEAN

A construction worker builds iron reinforcement column at a high rise office building construction site in Indonesia's capital Jakarta on April 22, 2013. Asia-Pacific growth will edge up this year on the back of a recovery in the US and emerging nations, a United Nations study said April 18, 2013, but it urged governments to take bolder steps to lift millions out of poverty. (Photo: AFP)

Author: Peter McCawley, ANU

An embarrassing fact about ASEAN governments that is generally avoided in public policy discussions is that the capacity of most ASEAN states is quite limited — much more limited than they, and the international community, generally wish to admit. Until it is recognised that state capacity is limited, it will be hard to understand the implications for public policy. Read more…

India’s laggard states need attention, too

Indian farmers prepare their agricultural field for planting paddy seedlings on the outskirts of Guwahati city, India, 20 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tridivesh Singh Maini, OP Jindal Global University Sonepat

A handful of India’s regions have marched ahead economically, while others have been left behind.

India is heavily dependent upon a few states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. But states in East and Northeast India have, for various reasons, not seen the same levels of growth. Read more…

Rural China’s economic model limps on

This picture taken on November 19, 2013 shows a farmer working in her rice field in the farming village of Gangzhong in China's eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Graeme Smith, ANU

‘Benghai’ was changing. Returning to my old office, my home for ten years of fieldwork in rural China, it was clear something was amiss. Gone was the grizzled caretaker, listlessly following his mop around the ground floor of the four-storey building. In his stead was a bank of impossibly cheerful uniformed women in their early twenties. Their smiles could signify only one thing: real estate. Read more…

Is RCEP just the same old trade paradigm?

Workers contruct the foundation at a new construction site for an office high-rise building in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta on September 5, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sanchita Basu Das, ISEAS

What will it take to change the way Asia thinks about trade strategy?

As the negotiators of the RCEP agreement are meeting in New Delhi, India, from 1–5 December 2014, attention is turned to the question of whether this mega-regional represents a ‘new paradigm’ of regional trade agreements or not. Read more…

Three keys to unlocking Cambodia’s growth

Cambodian garment workers buy fish in front of a factory in Phnom Penh on 12 November 2014. The Cambodian government on 12 November raised the minimum wage for its garment workers by 28 percent, following a series of strikes and protests over pay and conditions, to the dismay of unionists. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Heng Pheakdey, Enrich Institute

After the global recession in 2009, Cambodia’s economy recovered steadily with its GDP growing at an average rate of 7 per cent per year in 2010–13. It is expected to maintain its growth rate of 7 per cent this year.

But despite these rosy short-term prospects, Cambodia’s long-term growth prospects might be hampered by its low competitiveness. Read more…

India needs to be clever about smart cities

20140922001034427781-minihighres

Author: Mahendra Sethi, National Institute of Urban Affairs

With more than half of the global population now living in urban areas, some in abject poverty, the path to sustainable development must pass through cities. In a meeting in July, the Working Group for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals set a target to build ‘inclusive, safe resilient and sustainable’ cities and human settlements.

India is embracing this push for smart cities. Read more…

Modi’s new financial inclusion plan is a step in the right direction

Authors: Akshay Gakhar and Geethanjali Nataraj, Observer Research Foundation

On Independence Day 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his financial inclusion plan to provide a bank account to every Indian household. His ‘Jan-Dhan Yojana’ (Scheme for People’s Wealth) — which, in typical Modi vernacular, plays on rhyming words — seeks to provide financial independence to unbanked Indians through a two-phase plan.

Phase one focuses on providing every household in India with a free zero-balance bank account and a RuPay debit card — which allows for electronic payment at all Indian banks — with an aim of increasing financial literacy among the poor. Read more…

The past successes and future pitfalls of decentralisation in Vietnam

Author: Thomas Jandl, American University

Vietnam’s market reforms are inseparable from the policy of economic decentralisation, which allowed for local experimentation and forced provincial leaders into competition. This improved the business climate throughout the country. In this sense, decentralisation is a root cause of Vietnam’s attractiveness to investors around the globe. Yet it would be a mistake to view decentralisation as one smooth process. Instead, it has gone through two main phases and is now entering a third. Read more…