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

Is Trump’s America the ‘dispensable’ power in Asia?

Activists burn an effigy depicting US President Donald Trump during a protest in New Delhi, India, 12 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal).

Author: David Camroux, Sciences Po (CERI)

Madeleine Albright, one of several scholar–statespersons the unique American spoils system used to produce as secretary of state, characterised the United States as ‘the indispensable power’. In relation to East Asia today, that description seems no longer salient. In this vein, perhaps thirty years from now we will look back on US President Donald Trump’s first official visit to East Asia as the moment when the United States abandoned a superpower role in Asia and grudgingly accepted that hegemonic power in the region would be shared with China. Read more…

Trump’s democratic destruction and Asian absenteeism

US President Donald Trump speaks on the final day of the APEC CEO Summit, part of the broader Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit, in Danang, Vietnam, 10 November 2017 (Reuters/Wallace).

Author: TJ Pempel, University of California, Berkeley

In the twelve months since the 2016 elections, the United States has undergone an unrelenting series of attacks on its constitutional provisions, its regulatory regime, its democratic procedures and its social cohesion. US President Donald Trump has been the knife-edge of these assaults. Read more…

Timor-Leste’s ‘government of national disunity’

Supporters of the the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) political party attend a rally ahead of parliamentary elections in Dili, East Timor, 18 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Lirio Da Fonseca).

Author: Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University

A year that started so well for Timor-Leste has ended badly. The country is in a constitutional crisis, its minority government had refused to reconvene the Parliament and there is the prospect of another round of elections in 2018. Read more…

Can private standards restore credibility to the palm oil industry?

A worker shows palm oil fruits at palm oil plantation in Topoyo village in Mamuju, Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, 25 March 2017 (Photo: Antara Foto/Akbar Tado/via Reuters).

Author: Helen E S Nesadurai, Monash University Malaysia

Palm oil has gained notoriety for its links to tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of carbon-rich peat land, exploitation of workers and land grabs. Despite various non-governmental organisation (NGO) campaigns against palm oil since 1997, its principal producers and exporters (Malaysia and Indonesia) had previously been reluctant to do more to regulate its production. Read more…

Reorienting Hong Kong’s external relations

China's President Xi Jinping and Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam talk during the APEC–ASEAN dialogue, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in Danang, Vietnam, 10 November 2017 (Reuters/Silva).

Author: Kalvin Fung, Waseda University

After more than six years of negotiations (including a failed attempt to become part of the ASEAN–China free trade agreement) Hong Kong has finally signed the long-awaited ASEAN–Hong Kong free trade agreement (AHKFTA). Read more…

Communist coalition concludes Nepal’s political transition

A man searches for his name on the voters list near a polling station during the parliamentary and provincial elections in Bhaktapur, Nepal, 7 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Sujeev Shakya, Nepal Economic Forum

The completion of federal and provincial elections in December 2017 marks the end of an almost 12-year political transition and the beginning of a new economic future for Nepal. Read more…

Search for new sources of growth momentum in Asia

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang shakes hands with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Danang, Vietnam, 11 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Author: Christopher Findlay, University of Adelaide

It has not been an easy year for Australia or the Asia Pacific and many of the challenges the region has faced will continue over into 2018.

The first is to find new sources of growth. Read more…

Democracy between military might and the ultra-right in Pakistan

Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan far right Islamist political party shout slogans during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan 10 November 2017, (Photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz).

Author: Farooq Yousaf, University of Newcastle

Pakistan’s 2017 was a mixed bag. Unlike what the ruling party had expected, the country’s opposition parties and electronic media were still clinging on to the Panama leaks issue that started in 2016 and were still asking former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. The year also saw a stark decline of trust between the civilian leadership and the Pakistani military establishment. Read more…

Moon’s economic reform agenda takes flight

South Korea's President Moon Jae-In delivers a statement during the 19th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related summits at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila, Philippines, 13 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Noel Celis).

Author: Hwa Ryung Lee, Korea Development Institute

While every year has its challenges, 2017 was no ordinary year for South Korea. In the aftermath of former president Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, a presidential election was held in May 2017 — much earlier than originally planned. This election saw the key economic priorities of the former government (deregulation and innovation) give way to a new regime focused on values of fairness and mutual prosperity. Read more…

Can New Zealand’s unlikely coalition deliver in 2018?

New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern speaks to the press after leader of New Zealand First party Winston Peters announced his support for her party in Wellington, New Zealand, 19 October 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Charlotte Greenfield).

Author: Stephen Levine, Victoria University of Wellington

In September 2017, the New Zealand National Party lost office after being in power for nine years. It was unable to secure a parliamentary majority after two of its coalition partners failed to return to Parliament and a third, ACT New Zealand, retained only its one seat. Read more…

Timor-Leste’s precarious position after 2017

An election official holds a ballot during the counting process for parliamentary elections in Dili, East Timor, 22 July 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Lirio da Fonseca).

Author: Bec Strating, La Trobe University

Timor-Leste ends 2017 with great uncertainty over the future of the Greater Sunrise gas field, over the stability of its government and over its ambitions to become a member of ASEAN.

In the long-running Timor Sea dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste, the year started with a bombshell. Read more…

Myanmar peace process bends under military and ethnic division

A boy displaced in the conflict between Kachin Independence Army and the Tatmadaw military for the control of an amber mine stands at a Christian church in Tanai township, Kachin State, Myanmar, 15 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Ashley South, CMU

In October 2015, during the last months of Thein Sein’s military-backed regime, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the government, the Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw) and eight of the country’s 21 main ethnic-armed organisations (EAOs). EAOs are militias recruited from the local population from different parts of Myanmar, some of which are aligned with the government. Read more…

Time-on for Japan’s reform

A Japan Yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken 1 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Thomas White).

Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum

The Japanese economy slumped into a lost decade of growth after the spectacular asset bubble burst in 1991. In the decade that followed, growth was even slower at less than 1 per cent a year on average. Japan hasn’t yet broken free of its economic malaise, and is well on the way to its third lost decade. But how does that square with a Japan that still appears prosperous, safe, clean and whose people live the longest in the world? Read more…

Goldilocks and the three bears in Japan

Pedestrians are reflected on a window of a commercial building at closing hour at a financial district in Tokyo, Japan, 22 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon).

Author: Masahiko Takeda, Hitotsubashi University

The Japanese economy is in very good shape. Japan is experiencing its second-longest period of continuous economic upswing since the end of World War II and many expect this to continue to become the longest in the country’s post-war history. Read more…

Nepal’s leftist victory and the changing trans-Himalayan order

Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) (CPN–UML) party Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, shakes hands with the chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, during a news conference in Kathmandu, Nepal, 17 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Chitraka).

Author: Anil Sigdel, Nepal Matters for America

The Himalayan nation of Nepal, which has been mired in violence and political chaos for two decades, has taken a great leap forward with the peaceful conclusion of multi-phased federal elections on 7 December 2017 after an 11-year transition period. Read more…