A new vision for China–Australia relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk together as they leave the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, 17 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Stuart Harris, ANU

Australia’s foreign policy has been a mix of positives and negatives under the Liberal-National Coalition government, as was true of the previous Labor government. Former prime ministers Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke recognised the need for Australia to think strategically about future regional developments, and John Howard’s thinking gradually moved in that direction. Read more…

How will Japan’s new agriculture minister influence the TPP negotiations?

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW, Canberra

Japan’s new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Yoshimasa Hayashi, who previously served in the position in 2012–14, was a logical choice to take over from his disgraced predecessor Koya Nishikawa. He arrived at the Prime Minister’s Office (Kantei) only five minutes after Nishikawa left, and was apparently selected because he was ‘the only one that could immediately do the job’. Read more…

What the TPP portends for Japan–Australia agricultural trade

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, attends a meeting of trade chiefs from 12 countries involved in the negotiations in Sydney on 25 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Australia’s farmers, particularly beef producers, may have celebrated too early when the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) took effect on 15 January 2015. The deal may be gazumped by another that is taking shape between Japan and the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read more…

Vietnam’s economy steady as it grows

A bicycle stands in rice fields in Vietnam. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Suiwah Leung, ANU

The Vietnamese economy has stabilised but is growing below trend. In 2014, the economy relied principally on manufactured exports. The government seems to be pushing on with structural reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the banking sector. But it remains to be seen whether its current efforts will be sufficient to restore economic growth in time for the country to transform itself into a high-income industrialised economy in the longer-term future. 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…

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…

Economic community key to ASEAN’s centrality

ASEAN leaders pose for the group photo after the opening ceremony of the 24th ASEAN Summit in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, 11 May 2014. ASEAN has become a central feature of Asian regional architecture, but tensions over the South China Sea are threatening to cause geopolitical upheaval (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Over the past few days ASEAN leaders met in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, for the first time ever at their 24th summit. Against what were once considered long odds, ASEAN has become a central feature of Asian regional architecture. It is a bulwark of regional stability and increasing prosperity in Southeast Asia and a pivotal element in the geopolitics of the whole Asian region. Read more…