Consumer confidence shows Indonesia’s prayers may be answered

An Indonesian woman buys her daily needs at a market in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nigel West, UK.

Despite many economists claiming a rocky outlook is ahead, both investor and consumer confidence in Indonesia is very high. The ANZ-Roy Morgan Indonesian Consumer Confidence survey published in February 2014 revealed that nine out of ten Indonesians believe that the situation over the next five years will be positive, and almost eight out of ten believe that the upcoming year will be one of good fortune. Read more…

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…

Free trade agreements should happen for the right reason

Former ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan makes a victory sign as he walks into the plenary session on global issues at the ninth Asia Europe Summit at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane, Laos, 6 November 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Olson, Economic Strategy Institute

Typically, countries pursue free trade agreements (FTA) with each other because they share common negotiating objectives and subscribe to broadly similar economic principles.

And based on those commonalities, they see benefit in deepening their trade and investment relationship by taking on a higher degree of mutual commitments within the context of an FTA or regional trade agreement (RTA). Read more…

Fight or flight for foreign capital in Myanmar?

A girl chats on her mobile phone near Sittwe, Rakhine State, western Myanmar on 30 March 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Josh Wood, ANU

Myanmar is in the midst of a foreign investment boom.

Over the last 12 months it has received over US$3.6 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI), an increase of nearly 300 per cent, according to government figures released in February. Despite this encouraging news, enormous barriers to future investment remain, and if reforms are not quickly enacted, foreign capital may take flight as quickly as it has arrived.   Read more…

Strategic zones and labour reform to get Abenomics back on track?

Mt Fuji is seen between Shinjuku skyscrapers in Tokyo, Japan. The new Abe policy Strategic Special Zones focuses on the development of Tokyo and other major metropolitan cities through regulatory reform and fiscal incentive measures (Photo: AAP).

Author: Naohiro Yashiro, International Christian University

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came back to power at the end of 2012, the first two arrows (expansionary monetary and fiscal policy) of his ‘Abenomics’ economic policy package have been relatively successful in re-igniting Japan’s economy and raising expectations for economic growth. But momentum seems to be falling away as the third and decisive arrow — structural reform — has yet to be released. Read more…

Can Abe’s third arrow pierce Japan’s agricultural armour?

Japanese farmers picking tea leaves under the summit of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka province, Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The third arrow of Abenomics (economic growth through structural reform) is flying neither high nor fast in Japan’s agricultural sector. The Abe administration’s agricultural reform program falls far short of what is needed for structural reform of the farm industry. This has implications for agricultural trade policy and for the kind of concessions that Japan will be prepared to make in international trade negotiations, both bilateral and plurilateral, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 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…

Mongolia’s economic prospects and challenges

Another aspect of Mongolia's mining boom: illegal gold miners, known as Ninjas, operating a sluice near Ulanbataar. Most of the gold they extract is sold to customers in China. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tuvshintugs Batdelger, National University of Mongolia

In recent years Mongolia has become one of the most rapidly expanding economies in the world. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was one of the top performers in 2013, with economic growth of 11.7 per cent, and it is projected to be the second top-performing economy in 2014, only after South Sudan (about 15 per cent). Read more…

China debates the TPP

Chinese Chief Delegate Wang Shouwen, Assistant Minister of Commerce of China, speaks during the 4th Round of Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement among China, Japan and South Korea in Seoul on 4 March 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Paul Bowles, University of Northern British Columbia

A host of issues continue to plague Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Constant reminders of how difficult these issues are to conclude come from actors as diverse as Japanese rice farmers, health care advocates in Canada and Australia, and Chilean officials concerned about intellectual property rights and capital controls. Read more…

Trade policy in swing: Indonesia’s attitude to liberalisation and the TPP

Indonesian dock workers unload  sugar imported from Mexico at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Yose Rizal Damuri, CSIS

When Indonesian officials are asked about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Indonesia’s involvement in the proposed trade agreement, they normally answer that the country is paying attention to the process and the possible results of the negotiation, but has no interest in joining agreement at this time.

Doubt over Indonesia’s capacity to carry out proposed commitments in the trade deal as well as uncertainty regarding the potential for any significant benefits to the economy are cited as the main reasons for this position. 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…

China, Taiwan stuck in the ‘friend zone’ on Pingtan

A man reacts as a wave hits a sea wall at a beach on Pingtan island, Fujian province. Located off the east coast of China's Fujian province, Pingtan island is the country's 5th largest and relies heavily on a tourism-driven economy, although an 'experimental zone' aims to draw in foreign investment from neighboring Taiwan.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sheryn Lee, ANU, CSIS

In January, China appointed a Taiwanese citizen, Liang Qianlong, as deputy chief of an experimental ‘common homeland’ for both nations on Pingtan Island.

Beijing aims to transform Pingtan into a special economic zone of industrial cooperation between China and Taiwan. Read more…

Policy changes needed to unlock Indonesia’s energy options

An Indonesian fuel vendor puts petrol into plastic bottles as she sells them on a street in central Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Raymond Atje, CSIS

Indonesia is richly endowed with energy resources of various kinds: renewable, non-renewable, as well new-energy capacity.

Hypothetically, the government has a reasonably rich list of energy options from which it can choose the most viable resources to exploit. In reality, however, things are not so simple. Read more…

Asia’s economic challenges and policy choices

Elderly people walk through a shopping mall in Tokyo, Japan, 17 September 2013. Although Asia’s share of the global economy will continue to rise, Asia faces various economic challenges, such as demographic change. (Photo: AAP).

Author: David Gruen, Australian Treasury

The global economy is fundamentally changing, and the centre of global economic gravity is returning to the East. Over the past decade, Asia accounted for around 55 per cent of global growth. Based on UN population projections and plausible assumptions about the gradual convergence of productivity growth rates, Australian Treasury projections suggest that Asia will continue to account for more than half of world growth in the coming decade Read more…