Domestic politics slow down Obama’s ‘fast track’ plan to free trade

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye talks to US President Barack Obama at a summit meeting at the White House on 7 May 2013. South Korea is considering joining the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership for which President Barack Obama hopes to conclude negotiations expeditiously. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Claude Barfield, AEI

Trade policy stands at the intersection of a nation’s diplomatic and security strategies and its broad economic goals. Though not necessarily in conflict, security imperatives and economic realities exist in two very different universes, inhabited by very different constituencies and interest groups. The recent history of America’s free-trade agreements with Korea and Colombia are telling examples of the uneasy juxtaposition of diplomatic priorities with domestic economic interests. Read more…

Abe’s defence ambitions alarm region

Camouflaged members of Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces airbourne troop hold automatic rifles on a UH 1 helicopter during the new year exercise in Narashino in Chiba prefecture, suburban Tokyo on 12 January, 2014. A total of 300 personnels, 21 aircrafts and helicopters took part in the open exercise at the defense forces Narashino training ground. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Gui Yongtao, Peking University

The move by Shinzo Abe’s administration toward lifting the ban on the exercise of the right to collective self-defence is not driven by the imperatives of the US-Japan alliance, nor by Japan’s internationalist aspirations to contribute more to global peace. Read more…

China and the future of Asia Pacific trade

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a bilateral meeting at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, on 7 June, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The backbone of stability and amity in Asia and the Pacific is an open economic system, which has encouraged deep trade and investment interdependence within the region, and the United States security umbrella that provides reassurance to US allies and partners as well as those, like China, outside the alliance framework against a resurgence of military or political adventurism. Read more…

Averting economic cold war

US President Barack Obama presents Chinese President Xi Jinping with a gift of an inscribed redwood park bench at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, 8 June, 2013. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza).

Author: Yiping Huang, Peking University and ANU

When the first G20 summit was held at the end of 2008 in Washington DC, many believed that the time had finally come for developed and developing countries to work together to reconfigure the international economic architecture. Some even suggested that the US and China formally adopt the G2 mechanism to jointly manage global affairs. Read more…

Park’s hesitant approach toward Japan

South Korean President Park Geun Hye holds her first press conference of the year in Seoul on 6 January, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Keeseok Kim, KNU

Since the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 1965, interaction between South Korea and Japan has been coloured by both the darkness of the past and the brightness of the future. On the bright side, the two neighbours have achieved remarkable improvements in most aspects of political, economic and socio-cultural relations. Read more…

Time to create an ASEAN Academy

From left, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gather for a group photo at the recent summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei , 10 October, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Giovanni Capannelli, ADBI

At their recent summit in Brunei Darussalam, ASEAN leaders agreed on 9 October 2013 to establish a high-level task force that will help identify ways to strengthen the Secretariat and other key ASEAN organs. As some of the association’s governance principles are obsolete and need an urgent update, this is a timely and welcome decision. Read more…

South Korea–Vietnam FTA will open up East Asian opportunities

South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks to a dinner meeting of businessmen of South Korea and Vietnam in Hanoi on 8 September, 2013. (Photo:AAP)

Author: Jaewan Cheong, KIEP

In the mere 20 years or so since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, economic cooperation between South Korea and Vietnam has deepened significantly. Both countries have pledged to conclude a bilateral FTA by 2014.

Vietnamese participation in the East Asian production network has increased rapidly in the last decade. Read more…

ASEAN principles need efficiency updates

South Koreas President Park Geun-hye, Singapores Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailands Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnams Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Chinas Premier Li Keqiang, Bruneis Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Myanmars President Thein Sein wait for Australias Prime Minister Tony Abbott to link their hands for a photo session during the 8th East Asia Summit at the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits at the International Convention Center in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 10 October 2013 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Giovanni Capannelli, ADBI

Last month in Brunei Darussalam, the 23rd Summit of ASEAN resolved to prepare a post-2015 strategy, and to strengthen the powers delegated to the Secretariat as well as other organs. This is good news. The current ASEAN institutional set up is obsolete and some of its basic principles need urgent efficiency updates. Read more…

APEC paves the way for greater regional connectivity

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum are pictured ahead of their joint press conference after concluding a two-day summit on the island of Bali in Indonesia on Oct. 8, 2013 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

For more than a decade, the business sector has been telling governments to shift the focus of regional economic integration. Dealing with across-the-border problems of connectivity and behind-the-border problems caused by needless differences in economic regulations is now more important to business than further liberalisation of border barriers to trade or investment. Read more…

Russia’s pivot to Eurasia and the battle for Ukraine

Members of non-government public movement Nastup ('The attack') burn goods made in Russia during their protest in front of the Russian embassy building in Kiev, Ukraine, 16 August 2013 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Kirill Muradov, Higher School of Economics

Nearly one year after the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia’s trade policy focus seems to have drifted away from the Asia Pacific. Russia has reverted to a relatively silent profile in APEC, showed ambivalence towards the economic dialogue with ASEAN, and suspended negotiations for an FTA with New Zealand after the last negotiating round was held in July 2012. Read more…

A Canadian military turn to East Asia?

Canadian National Defence Minister Peter Gordon Mackay (centre) listens to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, left, and Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith, at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore on 31 May 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adam P. MacDonald, Halifax

Canada has begun a gradual re-engagement with East Asia after over a decade’s hiatus.

The driving force has been the establishment and intensification of economic relations, specifically with Canada’s second-largest trading partner, China. Read more…

Beyond choosing between China and the US

U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits through the Pacific Ocean, December 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Satu Limaye, East–West Center

The current ‘balance of relations’ in the Asia Pacific is at risk if the United States and China pressure countries in the region to ‘choose’ between them.

The two-day summit between President Obama and Xi Jinping in California on 8–9 June, while not a milestone in US–China relations, inadvertently confirmed the prevailing ‘balance of relations’ in the Asia Pacific: that US relations with China and Asia are more favourable to regional stability and prosperity than relations between China and Asia or within Asia alone. Read more…

ASEAN: between China and America

US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Brunei Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr, right, and other ministers at the ASEAN security conference in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on 1 July 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Heng Sarith, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace

Where is ASEAN going right now? Cambodia had a difficult year as ASEAN Chair in 2012,  struggling with unfortunate regional tension on the issue of South China Sea, which resulted in ASEAN’s disunity for the first time in 45 years.

Read more…

Future of the world trading system: Asian perspectives

World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy answers a question during a news conference following a Trade Negotiations Committee meeting, at the WTO Headquarters, in Geneva. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Richard Baldwin, Graduate Institute, and Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

The WTO risks losing its centrality in the world trading system due to its focus on 20th century trade issues and lack of progress in the Doha Round.

Asia, meanwhile, has built a deep network of supply chains and is experimenting with new forms of regional trade governance. Read more…