Why ‘womenomics’ is the way forward for Japan

Graduates ready to plunge into the world of work. Labour market reform is critical to letting young women fully use their abilities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Naohiro Yashiro, International Christian University

‘Womenomics’ is a key pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy. In 2013, just 64 per cent of Japanese women aged 15–64 were participating in the labour force — a low rate by OECD standards. As Japan’s labour force is already in decline, it is wasteful that women, and particularly those who have a higher education, have been underutilised. To address this, Abe has set a target to increase the ratio of female managers to over 30 per cent by 2020. Read more…

Balancing the short and long term in Indonesia fuel subsidy debate

Indonesian motorists wait for their turn to fill up their motorbikes with subsidised fuel at a gas station in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 27 August 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Keoni Indrabayu Marzuki, RSIS

Despite having won the president and vice-president posts respectively, Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla will possess little control, if at all, on the formulation of the next Indonesian budget for fiscal year 2015–16. One particular issue that concerns the new administration is the large portion of funds for energy subsidies, particularly fuel subsidies. Read more…

Moving too slowly towards an ASEAN Economic Community

Container cargo ships unload containers at the Manila International Container Port in Manila, Philippines, 7 October 2014. Slow progress on the ASEAN Economic Community means it is unlikely to be established by the end of 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jayant Menon, Asian Development Bank

Launched as a political bloc and security pact in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, ASEAN has evolved to embrace an ambitious economic agenda. Its latest project is to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 31 December 2015. But is this likely? The blueprint for achieving the goal envisages the AEC standing on four pillars and meeting the deadline depends on progress on each of them. Read more…

Abenomics: The good, the bad and the unfinished

Japan's Minister of Finance Taro Aso speaks with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda as finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations gather for a photo at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington, 10 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, East Asia Forum

After two decades of stagnant growth and the Fukushima triple disaster, Japan appears more confident both domestically and internationally. The economy has been inflated, much-needed social change is being discussed with some progress being made, and international diplomacy is once again active. Read more…

What can we learn from Abenomics?

The sweet taste of success: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (second from right) and members of Japan’s delegation show their jubilation at the announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adam S. Posen, Peterson Institute of International Economics

One of the striking things about the past few decades of Japan’s economic history has been the fact that textbook macroeconomics could have predicted most of it. Back in the late 1990s, this was a controversial point of view. Many people spoke about the ‘specialness’ of the Japanese economy, just as they have about the ‘specialness’ of recent monetary policy. Read more…

Are free trade agreements a dead end for India?

make in india

Author: Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

When India began negotiations with ASEAN in 2004 for a free trade agreement (FTA) covering the goods sector, it marked a major step in the evolution of the country’s engagement with the global economy.

The agreement signalled a departure from India’s previous position regarding bilateral and regional agreements. Until its deepened engagement with ASEAN in 2003, India was almost unequivocally wedded to the multilateral trading system. Read more…

Myanmar cannot afford to pass up reform

A forklift moves containers at Asia World port in Yangon, Myanmar, 02 July 2014. Tapping into the potential benefits of regional integration will depend largely on how the country addresses its poor infrastructure and connectivity, strengthens its industrial and commercial base and enhances its institutional and human resource capacity. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Cyn-Young Park, ADB

Myanmar has embraced greater economic openness since it emerged from decades of economic and political isolation. Reforms so far and re-engagement with the international community have successfully stimulated growth. The economy has sustained GDP growth of more than 7 per cent for two years running, bolstered by rising exports and foreign investment, according to the latest IMF estimates. Read more…

Inflation fears blurring Modi’s ‘Made in India’ vision

Author: Ranjit Goswami, IMT Nagpur

On 15 August 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his inaugural Independence Day speech. At 80 minutes, it was the longest speech by an Indian Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. The speech touched upon the various challenges that the world’s largest democracy faces, from female feticide to sanitation. He talked about the need for a new institution in the place of the Planning Commission, created back in 1950, and the need for girls’ toilets at every school, to tackle the high drop-out rates of girls. Read more…

Revitalising India’s manufacturing industry

Indian workers use blowtorches in the heavy fabrication department of a factory near Ahmedabad. (Photo: AAP),

Authors: Anwarul Hoda and Durgesh Kumar Rai, ICRIER

Increasing the GDP growth rate will be a major task for India’s new government. GDP growth will be critical for eradicating poverty and improving the living standards of India’s population. The economy also faces the daunting challenge of providing employment opportunities to about a million people being added to the job market every month. Rapid expansion of the industrial base of the country through labour intensive manufacturing appears to be the perfect solution to the country’s problems. Read more…

Energy market reform needed as China heads for national emissions trading

Smoke is discharged from chimneys at an oil refining and chemical plant of Sinopec in Qingdao city, east China’s Shandong province, 9 February 2014. China has announced that its national emissions trading scheme will begin as early as 2016. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

China is shifting up a gear in its drive towards national emissions trading. Yet, for carbon pricing to be effective, market reform in China’s energy sector will be needed — a big task that will bring benefits not only for the environment but also to the quality of China’s economic growth.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission recently announced that a national emissions trading scheme would start as early as 2016. Read more…

Why is Indonesia terminating its bilateral investment treaties?

Authors: Leon E. Trakman and Kunal Sharma, UNSW

The value of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures has been questioned by Australia and, more recently, Indonesia. The Australian government’s controversial 2011 Trade Policy Statement — stating that Australia would not agree to ISDS in its treaties — caused significant debate. In part, Australia’s policy was motivated by Philip Morris’ legal action against the government over legislation requiring the plain packaging of cigarettes. 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…

Can Nishikawa resolve Japan’s TPP agricultural impasse?

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa speaks during a press conference at the official residence of the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo, 3 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointment of Koya Nishikawa as the new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is a big plus for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Nishikawa is an executive of the so-called ‘agricultural tribe’ (norin zoku) in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Read more…