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


What next for New Zealand in its post-COVID-19 era?

A bull statue with a mask covering its face is seen in a township called Bulls, near Palmerston North, on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 12 July 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Praveen Menon).

Authors: Nick Wilson and Michael Baker, University of Otago

Having successfully eliminated COVID-19, New Zealand now faces the option of sitting tight or exploring various ways of loosening its stringent border controls. All these options involve complex health and economic trade-offs. Read more…

Building on the modular design of DEPA

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana in Singapore, 17 May 2019 (Reuters/Feline Lim).

Author: Giridharan Ramasubramanian, ANU

On 12 June 2020, three countries — Chile, New Zealand and Singapore — signed the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), deepening their international cooperation on digital economy issues. One of the most unique aspects of DEPA is its innovative modular design, which trade policymakers in other countries should explore and build upon. Read more…

Tough choices dealing with COVID-19 in the Pacific

A Fijian family board their canoe as a sunset lights up the sky behind an island's mountain range in Suva 28 April, 2004 (Photo: Reuters/Gray).

Author: Tess Newton Cain, Griffith Asia Institute

In the Pacific islands region, the COVID-19 story is one of contrasts. There have been few confirmed cases of infection. Many Pacific island countries are COVID-19-free thanks to the swift and decisive actions of governments in closing borders early and keeping them firmly shut. But the danger is not over yet so there is no room for complacency. Significant risk factors are still present in Pacific island countries, including a prevalence of chronic disease and weak healthcare systems despite recent international efforts to provide support by way of funding and equipment.

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Small states show the world how to survive multipolarity

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold jerseys bearing their names after a joint press conference, 19 September 2019 in Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters/ Tomohiro Ohsumi)

Author: Jason Young, New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre

Small states such as New Zealand lack the decisive military power or economic leverage needed to pursue their interests unilaterally. They must live with asymmetrical power relations. An obvious example is New Zealand’s relationship with China. Read more…

Why some advanced countries fail to deal with COVID-19

United States President Donald J Trump, left, and United States Vice President Mike Pence arrive to a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington DC, United States, 13 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Stefani Reynolds).

Authors: Elizabeth Thurbon, UNSW and Linda Weiss, Sydney University

Stark differences are emerging in how national authorities in advanced democracies are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Compare the strategic responses of Denmark, Taiwan, and South Korea with the more faltering actions of the United States, Italy and Spain. Read more…

DEPA lacks added value

Customers try out smartphones at a mobile phone store (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland

Negotiations on the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) between Chile, New Zealand and Singapore were concluded on 21 January 2020. The Joint Ministerial Statement issued in May 2019 promised a ‘first-of-its-kind’ and ‘forward-looking’ agreement that would be a pathfinder for the WTO and APEC — offering new approaches to digital trade issues and exploring new frontiers in the digital economy. But significant new rules and obligations were never likely.

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COVID-19 and geopolitics in the Pacific

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 9 October 2019 (Photo:Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Authors: Anna Powles, Massey University and Jose Sousa-Santos, Victoria University

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Pacific has several frontlines. In addition to health security, a geopolitical front has opened up: China and the contest for influence in the Pacific region. The Pacific is a contested arena between China and US allies such as Australia. It was inevitable that pandemic diplomacy would emerge as either a fault line or a site of cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. Read more…

COVID-19 exposes cracks in Pacific regionalism

Maxi Mart employee Nena Nena is interviewed by Pacific Daily News reporter Jojo Santo Tomas about the use of nearby hotels, Wyndham Garden Guam, and Days Inn, as 14-day quarantine zones for passengers coming from COVID-19 affected areas, on Ypao Road, 20 March, 2020 (Photo: Reuters).

Authors: Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos, Massey University

At the time of writing, there are 63 reported cases of COVID-19 in the Pacific. This includes one in Papua New Guinea, three in Fiji, seven in New Caledonia, 23 in French Polynesia, 29 in Guam and suspected cases in Samoa. The number is relatively low but there is a sense that tragedy is unfolding in slow motion across a region where health sectors are already under-funded and poorly equipped. Read more…

PNG needs to prepare for Bougainville negotiations

Officials count ballots in Buka, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in this undated picture obtained December 11, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Jeremy Miller).

Author: Shane McLeod, Lowy Institute

The 2019 Bougainville referendum result is a clear and unambiguous statement: 97.7 per cent of Bougainvilleans see their political future as independent from Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Peace Agreement that has guided the process to this point sets out consultations between the two governments as the next step in responding to the referendum outcome. Read more…

New Zealand–India trade an unfinished story

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attend the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) summit in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha).

Authors: Rahul Sen, Auckland University of Technology and Mukul Asher, Singapore

New Zealand’s trade dependency and long history of actively pursuing both bilateral and multilateral preferential trade agreements (PTAs) makes it one of the strongest free trade proponents. Among the world’s largest agreements, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement — capturing ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand — India opted out in its final stages of negotiation. Read more…

An eventful year in Papua New Guinea

Residents hold a Bougainville flag at a polling station during a non-binding independence referendum in Arawa, on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville, 26 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Melvin Levongo).

Author: Ronald May, ANU

It was an eventful year in Papua New Guinea in 2019. What happened was not so much a change of government but a convoluted change of leadership from Peter O’Neil to James Marape. In early statements, the new Prime Minister spoke of a ‘change of direction’ and a commitment to ‘take back the economy’, which he said was ‘bleeding and struggling’. He also spoke of a wish ‘to diversify Papua New Guinea’s [foreign] relationships’. Marape described his government as ‘pro-investment and pro-business’ but looking to shift focus from mining and petroleum to agriculture.

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Ardern, stardust and a closer-than-you-would-think 2020 election

Author: Gary Hawke, Wellington

Seldom has there been as big a gap between overseas perceptions of the New Zealand government and its domestic standing. There is surprise overseas that New Zealand’s 2020 election is expected to be a close call. Read more…

Bougainville is an issue for all of Papua New Guinea

The Panguna mine is seen in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in this Planet Labs satellite photo received by Reuters 26 September, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Hammond).

Author: Thiago Cintra Oppermann, ANU

The Peace Agreement that ended the armed conflict in the Bougainville region of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1998 has three pillars: disarmament, the establishment of an autonomous government in Bougainville and a referendum including the option of full independence. Set to be held 10 to 15 years after the establishment of the autonomous government, that referendum is now fast approaching — taking place this 23 November 2019.

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James Marape battles PNG’s gas fire

Author: Colin Filer, ANU

After eight years as Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill was replaced by his former finance minister, James Marape, in May 2019. Marape declared that it was time to ‘take back’ Papua New Guinea and turn it into the ‘richest black Christian nation on the planet’. It certainly wasn’t getting much richer under O’Neill’s stewardship. Read more…

New Zealand’s resolute response to tragedy

A woman holds a fern during a vigil for the victims of the mosque attacks during an ecumenical celebration in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva).

Authors: Nur Diyanah Anwar, NIE, and Cameron Sumpter, RSIS

On 15 March 2019, New Zealand experienced the deadliest peacetime attack on civilians in its history. Questions remain regarding security oversight leading up to the tragedy, but the overall response in New Zealand has been thorough, constructive and inclusive. Overwhelming displays of solidarity observed throughout New Zealand society have also mitigated the damage caused by this dark day in the nation’s history.  Read more…