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

Will Indonesia’s stimulus packages spur its COVID-19 affected economy?

Firefighters spray disinfectant using high pressure pump trucks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the main road in Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 March, 2020 (Reuters/Willy Kurniawan).

Author: Pierre van der Eng, ANU

Indonesia announced stimulus packages on 25 February, 13 March and 18 March with a total value of US$12 billion (Rp 181 trillion) aimed at keeping Indonesia’s economy ticking over during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is equivalent to 1.1 per cent of GDP in 2019 and 6.5 per cent of the 2020 state budget, indicating the government’s concern about the impact of the pandemic. A further package is being prepared. Read more…

Trying times for the US–South Korea alliance

South Korean marines stand during a media tour organised by the Defence Ministry at a marine base near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Gimpo, South Korea, 10 June 2016 (Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: S Nathan Park, Washington DC

The alliance between the United States and South Korea is being tested by the Trump administration’s demands that Seoul quintuple its contribution for hosting US forces from just over US$923 million to US$4.7 billion. This outrageous demand, which does not reflect the extent to which South Korea already contributes militarily to the alliance, may yet be withdrawn. But in terms of eroding trust between two crucial allies, the damage may already be done.

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The role of public policy in Indonesia’s COVID-19 response

A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a dinosaur depicted on a wall, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Depok, near Jakarta, Indonesia, 30 March 2020 (Antara Foto/Asprilla Dwi Adha via Reuters).

Author: Pierre van der Eng, ANU

In mid-February, Indonesia’s Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto pointed to divine intervention when explaining that no cases of COVID-19 had been identified in Indonesia. Despite his advice for continued prayer, the first case was confirmed on 1 March. During the following weeks many more cases were confirmed. As of 30 March, the total stood at 1285 and the number of related deaths increased to 114. Read more…

Philippine drug policy could be humane

Filipino activists, and relatives of people killed in the country's war on drugs, hold a rally in observance of Human Rights Day in Manila, Philippines, 10 December 2019. (Photo:Reuters/Eloisa Lopez).

Authors: Gideon Lasco, University of the Philippines Diliman and Vincen Gregory Yu, Manila

On the night of 30 January 2020, Ireneo Ramos was killed in a motorcycle drive-by shooting in the Sampaloc district of Manila. Mere hours later, Jerick Lucana was shot and killed on a residential street in Mandaluyong City. Both men were reportedly in their respective neighbourhoods’ watch lists of alleged drug personalities. Read more…

Is India prepared to handle the COVID-19 pandemic?

Migrant labourers sit on a handcart as they wait for work at a wholesale market in the old quarters of Delhi, India, 10 October, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Siddiqui).

Author: Padmanesan Narasimhan, UNSW

As of 30 March 2020, there were 901 cases and 27 deaths of COVID-19 reported by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The cases were unequally distributed across the states with Maharashtra and Kerala recording the highest numbers. India has an estimated population of 1.35 billion, making it home to 17.5 per cent of the world’s population, but has less than 1 per cent of the world’s COVID-19 cases. These numbers could reflect that India has been successful in combating the pandemic. Read more…

G20 leaders fail to step up

Video conference of G20 leaders, 26 March 2020 (Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR via Agencia Brasil; Creative Commons).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

A US$1 trillion increase in the IMF’s crisis-fighting war chest, US$5 trillion in coordinated fiscal stimulus, US$250 billion to support trade finance, US$100 billion of additional lending by the multilateral development banks, the creation of new international institutions and reforms to existing ones, a commitment to reform global finance and a pledge not to impose any trade protectionist measures.

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Australia in a post-COVID-19 world

Workers make masks at a medical supplies company on 11 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Allan Gyngell, ANU

COVID-19 has done more to close borders, reverse globalisation, decouple supply chains and marginalise multilateral institutions than the most fervent efforts of the world’s populist nationalists.

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Can we stop the protectionist wave?

A worker cycles past containers outside a logistics center near Tianjin Port, in northern China (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee).

Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung, PIIE

Globalisation was under threat even before the pandemic. US President Donald Trump set the tone by declaring himself ‘tariff man’, imposing bogus ‘national security’ tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from allies while launching a trade war with China and eviscerating the WTO Appellate Body. But Trump was not alone in attacking the global trading system.

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Going the fiscal distance to save Indonesia’s economy from COVID-19

A worker sprays disinfectant in the bus, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Surabaya, East Java Province, Indonesia, 22 March 2020 (Photo: Antara Foto/Zabur Karuru via REUTERS).

Author: M Chatib Basri, University of Indonesia

The COVID-19 outbreak recalls Albert Camus’s novel The Plague. While Camus was not writing about COVID-19, those who have read The Plague can see in it the anxiety and confusion currently gripping those isolated throughout the world.

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The coronavirus crisis calls for novel economic policy solutions

A worker sprays disinfectant on a street during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 28 March 2020 (Photo :Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

To help save the economy in the coronavirus crisis, governments need to target and design financial assistance at different phases of shutdown, lockdown and recovery and they need to do so urgently and responsibly. The strategy needs to be simple, communicated clearly and use tried and tested Australian policy innovations to succeed longer term. Read more…

Looking beyond Tsai’s big election win

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen listens to a speaker in New Taipei City, Taiwan, 26 December 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Ann Wang).

Author: Gerrit van der Wees, George Mason University and George Washington University

President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) momentous election victory on 11 January 2020 represents a significant turning point for Taiwan. It marks the culmination of a democratic transformation that started with the end of martial law in 1987 and the commencement of democratic reforms by former president Lee Teng-hui in the early 1990s. Since then, the government has changed hands three times. Read more…

Too little, too late? Washington rediscovers Central Asia

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Akorda presidential residence in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, 2 February 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque).

Author: Matthew Sussex, ANU

Does the recent visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signal renewed US interest in Central Asia? Maybe. The broader question is why Pompeo is seeking to engage with the region in the first place. Read more…

Is the Philippines moving to active middle power diplomacy?

Vessels from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Philippine Navy sail in formation at sea, in this recent taken handout photo released by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on 9 May 2019 (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force via Reuters).

Author: Aileen S P Baviera, University of the Philippines

The Philippines was first a colony and then a formal treaty ally of the United States for so long that many Filipinos tend to take the existence of reciprocal defence obligations for granted. For the most part, the Philippines has always supported US security objectives when asked — whether during the Pacific War, the Korean War, the Cold War, the conflicts in Indochina or the ‘Global War on Terror’. Read more…

Assessing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on ASEAN countries

An immigration police officer wears a protective mask due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a check point in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 March 2020 (Photo: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Jayant Menon, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy. Measures introduced to deal with the pandemic could save lives but are having wide-ranging economic effects and inducing economic contagion. There are already studies estimating the economic impact of the virus. But greater focus is needed on the transmission mechanisms of the economic contagion and in critiquing how assessments of the economic impacts are made, concentrating on the ASEAN region.

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The damaging consequences of Modi’s Hindu agenda

A demonstrator attends a protest against riots following clashes between people demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, 3 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Ramesh Thakur, ANU

India’s slide into illiberalism began before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power in 2014 under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his book The Intolerant Indian, Gautam Adhikari contends that extremist religious ideologies and the violent politics of left and right forces alike have overshadowed the idea of a tolerant, plural society on which modern India was established. Read more…