Can Abe’s third arrow pierce Japan’s agricultural armour?

Japanese farmers picking tea leaves under the summit of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka province, Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The third arrow of Abenomics (economic growth through structural reform) is flying neither high nor fast in Japan’s agricultural sector. The Abe administration’s agricultural reform program falls far short of what is needed for structural reform of the farm industry. This has implications for agricultural trade policy and for the kind of concessions that Japan will be prepared to make in international trade negotiations, both bilateral and plurilateral, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 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…

Land of the free still trapped in political turmoil

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra answers questions from the press after voting at a polling station in Bangkok on February 2, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University

Thailand’s economy began 2013 with initial forecasts for yearly growth ranging between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent. The country had recovered from the 2011 flooding and the stock market had enjoyed a sharp rise since 2012. External demand was expected to improve thanks to signs of an upturn in the United States and Japan. General sentiments were high, although concern over domestic consumption grew out of rising household debt. Read more…

How should the world deal with Chinese reforms?

A man walk past a branch of the Bank of Shanghai in Nanjing, China, 11 April 2013. The Bank of Shanghai is preparing to set up a financial leasing company in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

The liturgy in the West is that so long as China becomes a responsible stakeholder in the international economic system — conforming to the western created rules and norms — its accommodation into the global economy is guaranteed. The same liturgy used to be cited when Japan was on the make.

Were it only so simple. Read more…

IMF reform and isolationism in the US Congress

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and U.S. President Barack Obama arrive for the plenary session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2011 in Kapolei, Hawaii. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University

A long-awaited reform of the International Monetary Fund has now been carelessly blocked by the US Congress. This decision is just the latest in a series of self-inflicted blows since the turn of the century that have needlessly undermined the claim of the United States to global leadership. 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…

Stepping up for free trade in the US

US President Barack Obama meets with Trade Representative Michael Froman in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC, 16 December, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Claude Barfield, American Enterprise Institute

In the modern era, US Republicans have espoused free trade — and FTAs — as an extension of their domestic goals to foster vigorous market competition and limit government intervention on behalf of favoured protectionist interests. To carry forward that tradition, even in the face of the current bitter partisan divide, Republicans in Congress must take the lead in granting President Obama the authority to conclude new FTAs and get an expeditious decision on the agreements from Congress. Read more…

Vietnam’s foreign policy tightrope

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attends the 11th ASEAN Summit as part of the 23rd Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bandar Seri Begawan on 10 October, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Dennis C McCornac, Loyola University Maryland

Vietnam’s new foreign policy approach, which some analysts have labelled ‘more friends, fewer enemies’, reflects its precarious position as a bird on the wire caught between China and the United States. Read more…

Asia gets on with it while America’s out of play

President Barack Obama turns from the podium after speaking in the James Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, regarding the budget fight in Congress. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Make no mistake, President Obama’s cancellation of his Asian trip to APEC in Indonesia and the East Asia Summit in Brunei at the weekend is a serious blow to American standing and its interests in the region and globally. Read more…

The US–Vietnam comprehensive partnership: key issues and implications

President Barack Obama meets with Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 25, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Le Hong Hiep, UNSW Canberra

On 25 July President Truong Tan Sang had his first official White House visit, where both leaders announced the establishment of the new US–Vietnam comprehensive partnership.

The diplomatic venture looks at three central issues: Vietnam’s intensifying rivalry with China over the South China Sea, its gloomy economic conditions, and the communist regime’s human rights record. Read more…

As Asia rises, new challenges emerge

SINGAPORE-ASIA-SECURITY

Author: Barry Desker, RSIS

Analysts of global trends can easily get caught up in the hype of the rise of Asia. What is forgotten is that Asia’s rise has occurred in an era of peace and relative political stability.

Read more…

Revitalizing Japan’s politics and economy the key to Japanese foreign policy and regional stability

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

Looking at East Asia through Japan’s eyes, there are a number of challenges that, if not managed carefully, risk spoiling the future stability and prosperity of Japan and the entire region.

Four challenges in particular stand out: the North Korean nuclear threat; Japan–China tensions surrounding the Senkaku Islands; Japan–South Korea relations, which further deteriorated after former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Takeshima; and the need to reinvigorate Japan’s politics and economy. Read more…