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

Surprising momentum but meagre outcomes from the G7

French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during a joint press conference at the end of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer).

Author: Yves Tiberghien, UBC

Following last year’s acrimony at the G7 in Canada and great US–China drama last Friday, the worst was expected in Biarritz, France. Surprisingly, this long G7 summit — a full three days — ended well. The tweets from US President Donald Trump following the summit have all been positive, including personal praise for each G7 leader and a pinned tweet thanking France.

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Bretton Woods and the China challenge

People walk along a busy street at Pudong financial district in Shanghai, March, 2013 (Photo: Reuters/ Barria).

Author: Priyanka Pandit, ICWA

On the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods Agreement this year, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for a rethink of China’s role in the global financial system. Talking about Bretton Woods reform, Le Maire argued that ‘the Bretton Woods order as we know it has reached its limits’ and that ‘unless we are able to reinvent Bretton Woods, the New Silk Roads might become the new world order’. These developments beg the question, does China need Bretton Woods?

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China’s hegemonic choice in the Mekong region

A Chinese boat with a team of geologists surveys the Mekong River, at the border between Laos and Thailand, 23 April 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Author: Sebastian Biba, Goethe University Frankfurt

If you are the world’s second-largest power, what do you dream about? How do you go about making this dream come true? Read more…

Australia shows up in Tuvalu and trips over

An abandoned house that is affected by seawater during high-tides stands next to a small lagoon near the village of Tangintebu, South Tarawa, Kiribati, 25 May 2013 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Tess Newton Cain, TNC Pacific Consulting

On 13-16 August 2019 the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum held their 50th meeting. The theme, as chosen by their host and current chair Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, was ‘Securing our Future in the Pacific’. The leaders’ meeting of 2018 provides context for what transpired in 2019 and why it is significant.


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Raising agricultural productivity in Vietnam isn’t rocket science

A farmer throws seeds to plant on a rice paddy field in Ngoc Nu village, south of Hanoi, January 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Malcolm McPherson, Harvard Kennedy School

After profound advances in manufacturing and services, most observers now believe that Vietnam is well-positioned to meet its principal Vision 2035 goal of achieving upper middle-income status. But sustained agricultural gains are by no means assured. Key agricultural officials recognise this. In 2013, the government introduced an ‘agricultural restructuring’ program and revised the Law on Land. Major international agencies, including the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, have urged broad-based reform. Action so far has been limited primarily because crop, livestock and aquaculture production continue to rise. Vietnam’s policy makers — well known for their conservatism — see radical reform as premature. This is a serious mistake.

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Academic freedom under pressure in Bangladesh

Thousands of students exit the campus of Dhaka University in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Photo: Reuters/Rafiqur Rahman).

Author: Mubashar Hasan, University of Oslo

Bangladesh has made economic progress under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The country has maintained an impressive growth record of between 6–7.9 per cent over the past five years. The World Bank endorses the country as among the five fastest-growing economies in the world and forecasts economic growth as both strong and stable.

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China and Russia’s sky-high strategy

A Russian A-50 military aircraft flies near the disputed islands called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, in this handout picture taken by Japan Air Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan 23 July 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan).

Author: Artyom Lukin, Far Eastern Federal University

On 23 July 2019, Russian and Chinese warplanes — long-range nuclear-capable bombers accompanied by fighter jets and surveillance aircraft — conducted a ‘joint patrol’ over the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. This marked the first ever joint air force operation by Russia and China beyond their borders. Read more…

Is Indonesia’s state-led development working?

A worker carries steel rods as he walks on the 18th floor of "The Wave" at Rasuna Epicentrum construction site in Jakarta, 24 January, 2011 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

Author: James Guild, RSIS

Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s first term in office has been characterised by a massive expansion of the state-owned sector, mostly directed towards big-ticket infrastructure projects like toll roads, railways, power plants and airports.

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India’s ‘multipolar Asia’ and China

hina's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for a signing ceremony during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, 10 June 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song)

Author: Jagannath Panda, IDSA

India envisions a ‘multipolar Asia’: shared regional leadership where major and minor powers have equal standing in decision-making. This model is based on the rationale that China’s rise in Asia is unbalancing the regional power structure and eroding India’s strategic choices. While a growing association with China in bilateral and multilateral mechanisms has made New Delhi more open to Beijing’s engagement, China’s strategic urge to dominate has also created a need for caution. Read more…

The end of China’s labour reform?

A labourer works at a construction site in Shanghai, China, 18 December 2008 (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song).

Author: Kevin Lin, International Labor Rights Forum

In 2009, Time magazine selected ‘The Chinese Worker’ as the runner-up to its Person of the Year. Reflecting on China’s 8 per cent economic growth rate one year after the global financial crisis, the magazine asked, ‘Who deserves the credit? Above all, the tens of millions of workers who have left their homes, and often their families, to find work in the factories of China’s booming coastal cities … Chinese men and women, their struggles in the past, their thoughts on the present and their eyes on the future’.

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Managing Thailand’s soaring baht

A Thai Baht note with the images of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen during the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Phornchanok Cumperayot, Chulalongkorn University

The Thai baht has been the best performing currency in emerging Asia since 2018. On a year-on-year basis, it has roared more than 8 per cent against the US dollar and this year reached a six-year high. But according to news headlines and commentary, the strong currency has lowered the country’s competitiveness and worsened both goods exports and tourism, two major drivers of Thailand’s economy. Read more…

Trump’s trade war wreaks havoc on the global economy

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on a range of issues during an event devoted to 'America's farmers and ranchers' in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, US, 23 May 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

Perhaps surprisingly, all the analysis suggests that the fortunes of the US economy are little affected by the policies of a particular administration. The institutional bulwarks that overwhelmingly shape US economic policy dominate the influence of particular presidencies. At least that was until the advent of President Donald Trump.

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No end in sight for China and America’s trade warriors

75,000 bushels of corn is stored in a shed after the regular bins have been filled to capacity with corn and soybeans on a farm in Illinois, US. (Photo: Reuters/Mark Weinraub).

Author: Yang Yao, Peking University

The meeting of President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump at the Osaka G20 summit in late June brought hope back to the US–China trade negotiations. Following the meeting, the US side quietly took 110 Chinese products off the 25 per cent punitive tariff list and allowed US companies to apply for permission to export parts to Chinese electronics giant, Huawei. In return, China promised to restart its imports of US soybeans. The distance between the two sides has since widened. And it’s not likely to narrow anytime soon.

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Trade war fractures Asian global value chains

A worker drives a forklift past sacks of polyester-making chemicals, waiting to be shipped, at Hengli Petrochemical complex at Changxing island in Dalian, Liaoning province, China (REUTERS/Chen Aizhu).

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

On 24 August, US President Donald Trump announced an increase from 25 to 30 per cent for the existing tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports from 1 October and new 15 per cent tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese imports from 1 September. In doing so, Trump has reneged on his 13 August decision to delay until mid-December the imposition of new tariffs, then set at 10 per cent, given the admission for the first time that they may ‘have an impact on US consumers’. Hopes that this signalled a possible end to the trade war have been dashed.

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What Asia can expect from the G7

European Council President Tusk, German Chancellor Merkel, US President Trump, French President Macron and Japanese PM Abe walk after a family photo at the start of G7 Summit at Greek Theatre, Taormina, 27 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Yves Tiberghien, UBC

The G7 meeting of the seven most powerful Western democracies along with the European Union is being held on August 23–24 in France. Also present are leaders from Australia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Egypt, India, Senegal, Spain, Rwanda and South Africa. Will this be a highlight for global governance and will there be positive impact for Asia?

Don’t bet on it.

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