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…

Why no investor–state arbitration in the Australia–Japan FTA?

Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian Minister for Trade Andrew Robb lead bilateral negotiations in Tokyo on April 5, 2014. An FTA was concluded on 7 April, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Australia and Japan finally concluded a bilateral free trade agreement on 7 April 2014.

Some Australian media outlets had prior inklings that negotiations had achieved significant breakthroughs, especially for agricultural market access into Japan, but a frequent assumption was that Australia must have ‘given up’ something major in return. Read more…

Incredible India?

The Qutab Minar is silhoutted against the setting sun in New Delhi during the launch of the Clean India campaign aimed at keeping tourist destinations and public places clean. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Manjula Chaudhary, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management

‘Incredible India’, an international marketing campaign launched by the Indian government, incorporates images of a vibrant heritage that would seem to guarantee tourism success. India is, after all, a country the size of a continent, bestowed with a variety of natural attractions, archaeological remains, and monuments that showcase over 5000 years of history. Read more…

Challenges remain for China–Sri Lanka FTA

Sri Lankan students watch coal being unloaded for the only coal-powered electricity generating plant in the nation, which is Chinese built. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Saman Kelegama, IPS

Although China–Sri Lanka trade had been growing steadily beforehand, China was not a large trading partner of Sri Lanka until 2005, which was a turning point in China–Sri Lankan economic relations. In the mid-2000s, China was increasingly asserting its global power via bilateral loans for developing countries in Asia and other continents. In Sri Lanka, a new government was looking for unconditional loans with negotiable repayment periods to defeat a drawn-out separatist war and develop neglected infrastructure in the country. 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…

Break down the barriers to trade in South Asia

Harbour cranes unload cargo from a container ship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Navi Mumbai, India (Photo: Jaxer / Wikipedia).

Authors: Abhirup Bhunia, IEG and Geethanjali Nataraj, ORF

It is widely thought that non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) are the main obstacles to intra-regional trade in South Asia. Intra-regional trade in South Asia is merely 5 per cent as compared to 58 per cent in the EU, 52 per cent in the NAFTA region, and 26 per cent in the ASEAN zone. Read more…

Will visa power boost India’s tourism?

A man wears traditional costume at the booth of India, during the International Tourism Fair in Berlin, March 2014.

Author: R. Harish, IBS, India

The Indian government recently decided to extend visa-on-arrival to 180 countries — hoping to provide a much-needed boost to tourist inflows. Previously, visa-on-arrival was available to the citizens of only 11 countries that account for just 7.5 per cent of tourist arrivals into India. Read more…

Time for Indonesia to regain confidence in economic integration

Indonesian workers at Astra Daihatsu Motor manufacturing company in Jakarta. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sjamsu Rahardja, World Bank

Integrating with the global market place was once Indonesia’s offensive strategic choice to accelerate economic reform and development.

Indonesia has benefited significantly from opening up to trade and investment. It responded without hesitation to plummeting revenues from oil exports in the early 1980s with sweeping reforms to reduce tariffs, non-tariff barriers, red tape in customs clearance and procedures for obtaining business permits. Read more…

Charting a course for Asian integration and security

Delegates from 16 Asia Pacific nations pose for photos in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on 9 May 2013, prior to the first round of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

This week another round of TPP negotiations is taking place in Singapore. USTR Michael Froman is talking up protections for US vested interests at home in order to obtain Congressional authority to complete the negotiations, rather than free trade across the region. The package on the table in TPP still has very little in it for countries like Australia, especially if the Australia-Japan trade deal is pulled off separately. Read more…

The best hope yet for trade multilateralism

Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan shakes hands with WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo after the final agreement before the closing ceremony of the WTO conference in Nusa Dua, Bali on 7 December, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS and ECIPE

Success at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 has brought the WTO back to life after years of lying moribund. But can it keep up the momentum from Bali and deliver other deals that eluded 12 years of Doha Round negotiations?

The Bali agreement on trade facilitation is indeed welcome. Read more…

Ten trends that will shape Asia in 2014

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao talks with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 22 January 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Evan A. Feigenbaum, Carnegie Endowment

A fraught 2014 lies ahead for Asia. Political risks will rise, security tensions will increase and scepticism will continue to grow about whether major Asian governments are sufficiently committed to growth-conducive reforms. Ten trends will shape this more volatile Asia over the next 12 months and beyond. Read more…