Abbott’s awkward APEC moment

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Author: James Laurenceson, ACRI

Forget shirt-fronting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most challenging task in the summit season was breaking an uncomfortable silence with Chinese president Xi Jinping. And he had to do it twice: first at the APEC meeting in Beijing and again at the G20 in Brisbane. 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…

No easy task for India’s labour reforms

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Author: Pravakar Sahoo, IEG

Investors find labour laws in India restrictive. Although progress has been made since reforms began in 1991, the labour market is still subjected to around 250 labour rules at the central and state level. India, a democracy, has found it harder than China — where labour laws are more flexible and business friendly — to undertake important reforms. Read more…

China’s third quarter figures beat expectations but fall short of a knockout

A Chinese customer shops for cooking oil at a supermarket in Luoyang city, Henan province, China, 4 November 2014. In the third quarter consumption’s share of Chinese GDP hit 48.5 per cent but the contribution of consumption to year-to-date growth actually fell from 4 percentage points. (Photo: AAP).

Author: James Laurenceson, ACRI

The global economy breathed a sigh of relief last month with the release of China’s third quarter growth numbers. The result of 7.3 per cent was down from 7.5 per cent in the previous quarter but came in a touch above consensus forecasts. The result was sufficiently robust for worries about a hard landing to retreat significantly.

Global growth has come to depend upon China more than ever. Read more…

Japan’s economic experiment

Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda at a press conference at the BOJ headquarters in Tokyo. The Bank of Japan sent a new shock-wave through financial markets last week when Governor Haruhiko Kuroda announced another massive round of monetary expansion. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The Bank of Japan sent a new shock-wave through financial markets last week when Governor Haruhiko Kuroda announced another massive round of monetary expansion (Quantitative Easing or QE). The additional boost to the Japanese money supply was accompanied by a sharp lift of 4 per cent in the Nikkei stock market index and the yen falling to a seven-year low against the dollar. Some now fear that the impact of Japan’s monetary expansion will lead to the outbreak of a serious currency war. Read more…

What’s the score on Japan’s Abenomics

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie arrive at Beijing Capital Airport in China on 9 November 2014. Abe is in China to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2014 Summit and related meetings. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hugh Patrick, Columbia University

The December 2012 election gave Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party control of both houses of the Diet as the electorate sought positive, decisive, energetic leadership out of the malaise of the past two decades. Shinzo Abe offered himself as that leader, with Abenomics as his program. Elections are next scheduled for mid-2016. Read more…

Is that as good as it gets for Abenomics?

An eclipse over Tokyo: has Abenomics done its dash already? (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tobias Harris, Teneo

As the second year of Abenomics progresses, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program of coordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus and structural reform has lost some of its lustre. Not only have Abe’s approval ratings fallen below 50 per cent for the first time since he took office in December 2012, but a recent poll in the right-wing Sankei Shimbun found that, for the first time, disapproval of Abe’s economic policies had exceeded its approval ratings, with 47 per cent opposed and 39 per cent in favour. Read more…

Infrastructure spending is the medicine Thailand’s insecure economy really needs

Thai military junta head and new Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha greets in the traditional Thai way as he leaves after a meeting of the instruction on the procedures of members of the national reform council at the Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University & Cynn Treesraptanagul, Chiang Mai

In May 2014, the Thai army, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staged a coup d’état to prevent civil war breaking out after months of political deadlock and administrative paralysis. Since then, the interim constitution has been enacted, the new cabinet has received royal endorsement, and the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Council have been established. Read more…

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?

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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…