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

Singapore’s PAP managing uncertainty

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Singapore, 12 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha).

Author: Bridget Welsh, John Cabot University

Singapore’s 2018 was eventful. Key developments had less to do with the city-state’s ASEAN chairmanship and more to do with the governing People’s Action Party’s (PAP) responses to growing uncertainty related to domestic pressures and regional developments. In keeping with the norms of the conservative government, the PAP opted for the familiar. But in doing so it has opened itself to greater risk as the country faces increasing headwinds. Read more…

India’s stalled economic reforms

Labourers unload sacks of spices at the spice market in the old quarters of Delhi, India, 12 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

The Indian economy is the sixth largest in the world in market exchange rate terms and third measured in purchasing power parity. That makes the growth rate of over 7 per cent over the last year all the more remarkable. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world. Read more…

Financial sector under scrutiny ahead of India’s elections

Supporters of India’s main opposition Congress party celebrate after the initial poll results at the party headquarters in New Delhi, India, 11 December 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Suman Bery, Bruegel

India already is firmly in election mode. A new Union Parliament needs to be sworn in by May 2019, closing the ruling government’s fifth year in power. This will mark four full-term governments in a row, evenly divided between the United Progressive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and the National Democratic Alliance dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Read more…

Past, present and future of APEC at 30

Leaders pose for a family picture at the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 17 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is approaching its 30th year. But its origins stretch back to even earlier efforts to foster cooperation in trade, investment and development in the Asia Pacific region. Professor Ippei Yamazawa, who passed away recently in Tokyo, was among those who began to lay its foundations 50 years ago. Read more…

Integration without liberation in Central Asia

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon attend the signing ceremony during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 31 August 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Roman Pilipey/Pool).

Author: Paul Stronski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Twenty-seven years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the prospects for Central Asian integration finally look brighter. This development comes amid political and economic liberalisation in Uzbekistan, hardening authoritarianism elsewhere in the region, widespread economic distress and China’s growing influence — the five major trends that marked Central Asia in 2018. Read more…

New Zealand’s unusual coalition survives in a febrile world

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sits in a chair as she attends her first cabinet meeting since returning from maternity leave in Wellington, New Zealand, 6 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Charlotte Greenfield).

Author: Robert Ayson, Victoria University of Wellington

As 2018 began New Zealand did not have an answer to its leading political question: would the coalition government between Jacinda Ardern’s Labour and Winston Peters’ New Zealand First, bracketed by support from the Greens, go the distance? As the year ends we have a positive answer to that query. This unlikely coalition, a marriage of convenience, is on course to serve a standard three-year term. Read more…

Costly policies make for a hard year for Indonesia’s economy

An employee counts Indonesian rupiah banknotes at a currency exchange office in Jakarta, Indonesia 23 October 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

Author: Rainer Heufers, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies

The Indonesian public worried about the economy this year, despite economic growth of above 5 per cent and a poverty rate which, for the first time in history, was below 10 per cent of the population. Public unease stems from the trauma of the economic crisis in 1998. Even 20 years later, images of the past still haunt the Indonesian news. Read more…

Old wounds, fresh denial in Myanmar

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is silhouetted as she speaks to Reuters reporters during an exclusive interview in her office at the parliament in Naypyidaw, 3 April 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya).

Author: David I Steinberg, Georgetown University

Myanmar’s year was framed by the horrific residues of 2017 — the flight from death and destruction of over 700,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees, the largest tragic migration in modern Asian history, and Myanmar’s denial of responsibility for the situation. Read more…

Taiwan’s year of reversal

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announces her resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after local elections in Taipei, Taiwan, 24 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Ann Wang).

Author: Roy C Lee, CIER

In December each year, Taiwanese vote for a Chinese character that best reflects the past year. The 2018 Word of the Year is fan, which has multiple meanings depending on the context. Its direct translation is ‘reversal’. This is precisely how many Taiwanese felt in 2018. Read more…

An unsettled year for PNG

Papua New Guinea schoolchildren wave China and Papua New Guinea flags along the New Boulevard Road ahead of the APEC summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 16 November 2018 (Photo: ReutersMast Irham).

Author: Ronald May, ANU

It was a year of mixed outcomes for Papua New Guinea.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Highlands caused extensive landslides early in the year, killing more than 150 people and damaging houses, food gardens, roads, airstrips and buildings. The quake’s epicentre was in the Southern Highlands in an area of major oil, gas and mining operations, which were forced to close-down and evacuate staff. Read more…

Harnessing technology for equality

Workers inspect equipment before installing to a new Globe Telecoms tower in Imus, Cavite, in the Philippines, 8 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro).

Author: Jose Ramon G Albert, PIDS

Despite the Philippines recording an impressive average annual GDP growth rate of 5.3 per cent during 2003–15, this growth has not benefitted all Filipinos equally. Income poverty was estimated at a quarter of the population from 2003–12. This only reduced to 21.6 per cent in 2015. While some of the poor have found sustainable pathways out of poverty, others have fallen into poverty. Read more…

Vietnam’s economic ebbs and flows

A man works at a mechanical factory in Hanoi, Vietnam, 30 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Suiwah Leung, ANU

With world GDP growth initially predicted to peak at 3.1 per cent in 2018, the year looked to hold much economic promise for Vietnam. This held true initially, with first quarter real GDP expanding by almost 7.4 per cent, boosted by strong export growth in manufacturing and agriculture. The service sector also saw robust growth in domestic demand and tourism. But global conditions became more worrying and uncertain as the year progressed, particularly with the continued structural slowdown in China and threat of a US–China trade war. Read more…

Taiwanese democracy powers on

Supporters of Opposition Nationalist Kuomintang Party Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu celebrate after Han won the local elections, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 24 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu).

Author: Sheryn Lee, Macquarie University

The confluence of Taiwan’s domestic politics and cross-Strait relations remains complex. Local dissatisfaction with President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration resulted in low popularity and major losses for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the November 2018 ‘9 in 1’ local elections. But the continued strength of Taiwanese civil society and its participation in elections reflects Taiwan’s consolidated democracy — a trend that is accelerating China’s diplomatic pressure on Taipei. Read more…

Indian foreign policy not walking Modi’s big talk

US President Donald Trump meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 30 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Bharat Karnad, Centre for Policy Research

The 2018 G20 Summit in Buenos Aires offered Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi another international occasion to bolster his political standing at home. But while domestic audiences lapped up the Indian media coverage of his umpteenth such outing, in the world of global power politics the Indian Prime Minister lacks any real influence or standing. Read more…

The resurgence of strategic economic policymaking

US President Donald Trump, US President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attend a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1 December 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

There are few things that currently unite the political spectrum in the United States. Putting China back in its box is one of them. Read more…