ASEAN a perennial quiet achiever

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders pose for the group photo after the opening ceremony of the 24th ASEAN Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, 11 May 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Rodolfo Severino, ISEAS

On 12 November 2014, ASEAN leaders will gather in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s new capital, for their twice-yearly summit.

High on the ASEAN agenda for this November’s summit is, of course, the South China Sea. Read more…

BRICS, banking on development

Night view of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in Shanghai, China, 30 July 2014. Shanghai will host the headquarters of the BRICS New Development Bank that will challenge for the first time the US postwar dominance of multilateral lending institutions. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Keshav Kelkar, UBC

The creation of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies is a landmark achievement. Developing nations have lost faith in the current system with its strict conditions on development finance and its inability to insulate countries from financial shocks. International observers have however expressed mixed views about the creation of the bank and what it represents for the nascent multilateral BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Read more…

A role for APEC: accelerating investment in economic infrastructure

Construction workers move stainless steel at a building site in Beijing. APEC leaders can agree this year on steps to promote infrastructure investments. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The world has a huge demand for economic infrastructure, including better transport and communications among economies. The world economy is performing well below its potential and, in 2011, Indonesia alerted APEC and G20 leaders to the significant potential benefits of meeting this demand. In the short term, new investment would help to further boost demand, while current low rates of interest provide an excellent opportunity to invest in economic infrastructure that would raise long-term productivity and integrate economies. Read more…

TPPing over?

Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari listens during a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

Why is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) taking so long to conclude? It has already missed three deadlines, the latest being October 2013. And President Barack Obama’s recent Asia visit did not produce the widely anticipated push towards the finish line. And what will the TPP will look like when finally concluded? Despite WikiLeaks’ best efforts, the negotiations are walled by secrecy. Will the TPP be the comprehensive twenty-first century agreement proponents tout? Or will it wallow as a watered-down compromise, riddled with exemptions, as detractors predict? Read more…

Europe’s broken weapons of mass seduction

A Greek flag flies beside an EU flag. Greece is one of the worst affected countries in the ongoing eurozone crisis, which has threatened European solidarity. (Photo: Flickr/ Theophilos Papadopoulos).

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

For Asia, the decline of Europe is not necessarily bad news. Though the market will be less buoyant, it will remain large — given the amount of wealth accumulated over centuries. The lack of competitiveness and increasing number of failing European companies will also provide more opportunities for acquisitions by Asian investors. Read more…

No reason to rush into a Eurasian Economic Union

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko before a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Alibek Konkanov and Bakhytzhan Kurmanov, Economic Research Institute, Kazakhstan

On 29 April at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit in Minsk, where the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia discussed the future of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), it was announced that the agreement to establish the EEU would be signed on 29 May in Astana. This is a project that can be traced back to 1994, when the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, proposed creating a Eurasian union. Read more…

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…