Tough times ahead for China–Japan–South Korea joint FTA

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean officials attend the Fifth Round of China-Japan-Korea FTA Negotiations in Beijing, China, 1 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jing Li, CASS

The fifth round of the China–Japan–South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CJK FTA) negotiations concluded in Beijing on 5 September. The three countries hope the negotiations will finish in 2015, but this partly depends on the progress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read more…

The new nuance in Chinese diplomacy

China's President Xi Jinping during his recent visit to Australia and New Zealand, 21 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Much energy has been expended on projecting the impact of the rise of Chinese economic power on its political and military might and the strategic contest with the United States. Read more…

China flexes its muscles at APEC with the revival of FTAAP

United States President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing at the APEC CEO Summit on 10 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mireya Solís, Brookings Institution

The 2014 APEC leaders’ summit witnessed a string of successes in Chinese trade diplomacy. Key among these successes was the endorsement of China’s signature trade initiative as APEC host: the realisation sooner rather than later of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). Read more…

Australia and China after their FTA

Chinese president Xi Jinping and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speak at a press conference following the signing of several memorandums of understanding to strengthen trade in Canberra, 17 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The past week has seen big breakthroughs in Asia Pacific economic diplomacy. At the APEC summit, Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe broke the diplomatic ice in the China–Japan relationship. The United States and China paved the way towards extending the successful International Technology Agreement through the WTO. They also did a game-changing deal that will entrench deep cuts to carbon emissions through to 2025–30. Read more…

TPPing APEC?

Chinese women pose for photos in front of a decoration for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Week at the Olympic Park in Beijing, China, 4 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

The race is on between the United States and China to dominate the rules-setting game for trade by being the first to be able to announce plans for a free trade area in the Pacific Rim. China hopes to use its position as chair of APEC this year to propose that a feasibility study on a Free Trade Agreement for the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), first mooted in 2006, be pursued. Read more…

Time for India to punch above its weight with Japan

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Authors: Keshav Kelkar and Marc McCrum, UBC

Since taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made efforts to entice foreign investment into India and to establish closer ties with Japan. Warm diplomatic gestures between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have garnered considerable attention, with some commentators arguing that Modi’s recent visit to Japan marks the beginning of a new Indo-Japanese relationship aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region. Others have referred to ‘India’s pivot to Japan’ and ‘Japan’s pivot to India’. 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…

Rough sailing in the iron ore shipping business

A crane prepares to load a COSCO shipping container onto a ship at the Port of Rizhao in Shandong province, China, 5 April 2014. Fearful of losing business and under the guise of safety concerns, COSCO successfully lobbied to have Valemax ships banned from docking at Chinese ports. (Photo: AAP)-minihighres

Author: Pascale Massot, University of British Columbia

The impact of Chinese demand on global iron ore prices is well known. A less acknowledged consequence of China’s emergence is the transformation of incentive structures in the global shipping market. Dramatic increases in freight rates shifted global iron ore producers’ comparative advantage further in favour of Australian exporters to the detriment of the Brazilians. During the commodities boom, between 2002 and 2008, the freight differential between Brazil–China and Australia–China rates increased to around US$60 per tonne for 150,000–160,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) ships. Read more…

Refining the role of government in the Australia–Indonesia live cattle trade

Indonesian workers unload Australian cattle from a ship in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ray Trewin, ANU

The governments of Australia and Indonesia have become heavily involved in the live cattle trade. The 2011 Australian ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia, after some animal cruelty was drawn attention to, may have been the blackest day for Australian agricultural politics. And the issues continue, as governments inappropriately use trade policy to address sensitive domestic non-trade issues (like Australian animal welfare and Indonesian self-sufficiency). But government involvement, rather than disadvantaging trade and livelihoods by raising uncertainty and lowering prices as is the case now, could help solve these issues. Read more…

Is bigger better for ASEAN in a mega-regional world?

This photo shows a view of a container port in Singapore. Singapore is part of negotiations in both RCEP and the TPP, two mega-regional deals involving ASEAN countries. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

Big-block trade agreements or ‘mega-regionals’, revolving around one or more major powers, are the latest trend in trade policy negotiations. ASEAN is involved in two: the American-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Read more…

Can Nishikawa resolve Japan’s TPP agricultural impasse?

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa speaks during a press conference at the official residence of the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo, 3 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointment of Koya Nishikawa as the new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is a big plus for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Nishikawa is an executive of the so-called ‘agricultural tribe’ (norin zoku) in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Read more…

Why the US struggles against Japan in TPP negotiations

US Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to reporters while Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari looks on during a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. Trade ministers from 12 nations completed a two-day Ministerial meeting in Singapore targeted at creating a 12-nation trade pact in the Asian-Pacific region. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Real progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has stalled until Japan and the United States reach some kind of basic trade agreement — which is still elusive even after numerous rounds of talks. The United States has been pressuring Japan to make concessions in key areas such as agriculture.

It is well known that current TPP negotiations are running on two separate tracks: the plurilateral track in which all 12 countries are participating and the bilateral track which amounts to a series of bilateral deals being negotiated on the side. Read more…