G20 must shape a new world trade regime

The G20 meeting at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings 11 April 2014 at the IMF Headquarters in Washington, DC. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Mari Pangestu and David Nellor, Indonesia

Over the past decade global trade and investment discussions have moved far away from the formal global trade regime. The multilateral system has been mired in the Doha Development Round — defined by a single undertaking and a fixed agenda that is increasingly out-of-date. In the meantime, most countries have devoted their energies to regional trade and investment discussions. Read more…

India looks east to RCEP for economic growth

Billboard of an aircraft on final approach outside the venue of the  India-ASEAN Business Fair and Business Conclave in New Delhi, (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADBI

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Japan after the budget session of parliament in mid-August 2014 for his first state visit outside South Asia. Reinvigorating economic ties with Japan and the rest of East Asia presents a critical opportunity for the Modi Government to foster new business opportunities and address India’s recent growth slowdown. By looking to East Asia, business and government can work together to foster economic gains for India. Read more…

We must improve trade connectivity in South Asia

Indian passengers travel on a train in Amritsar on 20 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Bipul Chatterjee and Joseph George, CUTS International

South Asian countries trade with each other far less than they could. The high cost of doing trade in the region, among the highest in the world, is the prime deterrent of trade among South Asian countries. An urgent upgrade of transport connectivity is needed in order to revitalise regional trade and decrease costs.

But there is more to trade connectivity than usually thought, and, in South Asia, improvement in transport connectivity alone may not be enough to spur a rise in trade volume. Read more…

Asia’s economic strategy beyond free trade agreements

This photo shows a bustling Singapore port. The 5th RCEP negotiation round will be held on 23-27 June 2014 in Singapore. RCEP, unlike the TPP, involves all Asia's major economies. (Photo: Jake/Flickr).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The launch of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (in APEC’s backyard led by the United States) and (later) the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (under the umbrella of ASEAN) is dominating thinking about regional integration. These agreements are designed in part to leverage value out of the plethora of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) negotiated over the past 15 years. Read more…

Mega-regionals and the mega-mess

Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang adjust their glasses and headphones during a TPP meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. More mega-regionals means the world trade system fragments rather than tangles like spaghetti. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

The rise of mega-regionals — such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)— suggests that the world trade system is starting to appear more like a fragmented jigsaw puzzle than a spaghetti bowl.

How can we resolve this growing mess and buttress the global regime? Read more…

Smoke and mirrors in trade disputes will harm public health

Some worry that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will make public health measures, like the plain packaging of cigarettes, liable to be challenged by foreign companies. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Matthew Rimmer, ANU

The 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), indicates that the number of new cancer cases has reached an all-time high. On the 19 May 2014, Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, gave a stirring speech to the 67th Health Assembly on the heavy health burden associated with cancer. Chan was particularly interested in public health measures designed to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Read more…

Obama gets down to business in Malaysia

President Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak smile as they participate in a joint news conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shankaran Nambiar, MIER

President Obama’s two-day visit to Malaysia is a feather in Prime Minister Najib’s cap. But it is a decoration that carries certain obligations given the implications of what Obama has conveyed.

The decision to include Malaysia as part of Obama’s Asia tour was strategically timed since the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is still being hotly debated there. Read more…

A new crisis for Asia’s emerging economies?

Chinese migrant worker labours at the construction site of a real estate project in Shandong province, China on 1 May 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hiro Ito, Portland State University

Countries around the globe have been nervously paying attention to the world’s advanced economies. Many have still not been able to embark on a sustainable path of recovery since the global financial crisis.

The United States, the euro zone, the United Kingdom and Japan essentially exhausted conventional monetary policy measures by guiding their policy interest rates to almost zero. Read more…

Deepening India’s export basket

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang waves at the media in front of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his ceremonial reception in New Delhi last year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Keya Chaturvedi, NUS

As India elects a new government in the summer of 2014, many analysts have vociferously discussed the incumbent government’s domestic economic management. Yet less attention has been paid to India’s external economic engagement. Read more…

The secret to Alibaba’s success

People visit the stand of Alibaba during an exhibition in Shanghai, China, 6 November 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Cai, Melbourne

When Yahoo released its first-quarter financial results, the most keenly-watched figures were not about the company itself but instead those of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which Yahoo partly owns. Yahoo’s shares surged as much as 9 per cent in heavy trading after Alibaba revealed its fourth-quarter earnings.

Read more…

India: new trade policy for a new government

Indian labourers sort mangoes at the Gaddiannaram Fruit Market on the outskirts of Hyderabad. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pradeep S. Mehta and Bipul Chatterjee, CUTS International

In India, 150 million new and better jobs need to be created, lest the country’s perceived demographic dividend fails to become a reality and, instead, becomes a burden. To achieve this, and provide much-needed lift for the economy, India can follow a combination of consumption-, investment- and trade-led growth. Read more…

Myanmar: making the next Asian miracle

An employee works in a factory in an industrial zone in Yangon on 13 February 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Anders Engvall, Stockholm School of Economics

Myanmar’s reforms are lifting the economic outlook for one of Asia’s economic laggards as indicators show prospects for an economic boom.

For decades, Myanmar was the regional basket case as irrational policies, isolationism and domestic conflict wrought havoc on the economy and society. Read more…

The principles for governing international trade

US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speak at a joint conference after holding their summit meeting in Tokyo on 24 April 2014. Obama failed to reach a conclusion or agreement with Abe on the TPP. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The success of President Obama’s swing through Japan on his Asia trip last week, he is supposed to have told Prime Minister Abe in The Hague recently, would be measured by whether it delivered a satisfactory conclusion to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations between Washington and Tokyo. On that metric, the trip was an abject failure. There was no conclusion or agreement. Read more…

Japan and Australia ‘beef up’ relations

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the National Security Council in Tokyo on 7 April 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Economic Partnership Agreement that Japan recently concluded with Australia (JAEPA) has everything to do with Japanese trade strategy and little if anything to do with agricultural reform.

Some of the commentary on the agreement has argued that JAEPA was the product of Abe’s reform agenda, but it is neither part of that agenda nor will it advance it. 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…