Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Competition the litmus test for Myanmar’s upcoming election

Author: Adam P. MacDonald, Halifax

Despite numerous concerns surrounding Myanmar’s upcoming election, the most important factor determining its success will be whether the electoral system becomes an arena of genuine competition for political power or remains subject to manipulation for the purposes of regime maintenance. Read more…

India’s TPP dilemma

Author: Geethanjali Nataraj, Observer Research Foundation

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was agreed to on 5 October 2015 covers almost a third of world trade and 40 per cent of global GDP. By not being part of the TPP, India risks losing out. According to a Center on Global Trade and Investment study, India’s nominal GDP is likely to be trimmed by more than 1 per cent as a result of trade and investment diversion caused by the TPP. Read more…

Will growing pains mar the Myanmar election?

Author: Chit Win, ANU

The November 2015 election is the largest election held in the history of Myanmar in every way. It is the largest in terms of the number of candidates (6189), the number of political parties (93), the number of registered voters (23 million), the number of female candidates (13 per cent) and the number of independent candidates (323). Read more…

The case for Cambodia’s SEZs

Authors: Peter Warr, ANU, and Jayant Menon, ADB

Cambodia’s special economic zones (SEZs) are attracting new investments that enable the country to participate in global value chains (GVCs). The zones are still small, but hold great potential.

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The return of India’s irrational exuberance

Author: Ranjit Goswami, RK University

There has been a saying in India of late: ‘India never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity’. This is in stark contrast to the Chinese aphorism that President Xi Jinping referred to while addressing the British parliament in October: ‘An opportunity missed is an opportunity lost’. No one would deny that India has great potential. Read more…

The TPP isn’t a done deal yet

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

After more than five years of missed deadlines, trade ministers from the 12 participating Asia-Pacific countries that met in Atlanta finally concluded the negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on 5 October 2015. So is the TPP settled? The short answer to the question is not yet. Read more…

China’s state-owned enterprises to remain Party animals

Author: Paul Hubbard, ANU

After much internal wrangling, China’s State Council and Communist Party Central Committee have released new guidelines for reforming state-owned enterprises (SOEs). China’s economic reform is setup to balance less formal state interference with more informal Party influence. To the delight of technocrats, the new SOE guidelines draw heavily on modern corporate governance principles that are designed to insulate business management from administrative meddling. Read more…

Will things fall apart in the Malaysian federation?

Author: Andrew Harding, NUS

The Irish poet WB Yeats was not thinking about Southeast Asia when he wrote ‘things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’, but his words may accurately describe the situation in Malaysia. The monarchy governing the state of Johor is rattling the federation agreement and talking of secession. Sarawak wants significant devolution. And Sabah is gearing up for the same demand. Read more…

China, Japan still far apart on Asia’s strategic future

Author: Amy King, ANU

In August and September 2015 Japan and China commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The observance activities were keenly anticipated as a way of gauging the temperature of the China–Japan relationship. The commemorations showed that the two governments worked hard to prevent further deterioration in the bilateral relationship, but that China and Japan are still far apart on Asia’s future strategic order. Read more…

Freedom of navigation not rocking the boat in the South China Sea

Author: Raul (Pete) Pedrozo, United States Department of Defense

Recent statements suggest that the United States will soon conduct freedom of navigation (FON) operations against China’s artificial formations in the South China Sea (SCS). But there is far more handwringing going on than necessary, as demonstrated in a recent East Asia Forum article in which Mark Valencia warns that proposed FON challenges are ‘ill-advised, and even dangerous’. Read more…

Historical revisionism undermines Abe’s apology

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 14 August, the day before the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a long-awaited statement on Japanese memory of the war and his vision for the future. In it, he emphasised that the apologies given by previous Japanese cabinets ‘will remain unshakable into the future’. Read more…

Can India make it without manufacturing?

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

There’s one school of thought in Indian academic and policy circles that India represents a completely new model of development on the way to prosperity. India, it’s claimed, will be a services-led growth model, built on the spectacular international success of its IT hub in Bangalore, and its supply of English-literate back office services to the world. Read more…

Modi’s mantra to ‘Make in India’

Author: Anthony P. D’Costa, University of Melbourne

Every nation deserves a visionary leader, from whom its citizens can expect real results. India has had its share of visionary leaders. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, to name two, held views on the economy that were not only diametrically opposite but also influential in shaping the trajectory of Indian political and economic independence. Read more…

Why FDI is not enough for Modi’s ‘Make in India’ strategy

Author: Geethanjali Nataraj, Observer Research Foundation

India has pulled ahead of China and United States as the most favoured destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the Financial Times (FT), India received US$31 billion in FDI in 2015, which is US$3 and US$4 billion more than China and the United States respectively. Moving from fifth place in 2014 to first certainly reiterates that India is a bright spot in the world economy today. Read more…

Rising inequality hampers poverty reduction in Laos

Authors: Peter Warr, ANU, Sitthiroth Rasphone, NERI, and Jayant Menon, ADB

Since 1990, global inequality has declined, following almost two centuries of gradual increase. Inequality has fallen between countries, but increased, on average, within countries. On average, poor countries have grown more rapidly than rich countries, causing between-country inequality to fall. Most, though not all, economic literature on inequality has focused on the increase within rich countries. Read more…