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 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…

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…

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…

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…

New Zealand’s well-being budget more smoke than fire

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smiles as she attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 22 January 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann).

Author: Mark Fabian, ANU

New Zealand recently released its first ‘well-being’ budget to much fanfare. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern argues that her government is moving beyond a fixation on income growth to also consider sustainability, the distribution of wealth and social issues like mental health. Yet is far from clear that any government prioritises economic growth ahead of these things, or that an ‘economic’ approach to budgeting does not serve well-being. Read more…

Is New Zealand’s relationship with China on the rocks?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before the meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China 1 April 2019. (Photo: Reuters, Kenzaburo Fukuhara)

Author: Jason Young, New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre

Early April 2019 saw New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travel to Beijing for her first state visit to China. The visit included high-level meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, reinforcing previous government’s efforts to develop constructive relationships with regional partners.

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How online echo chambers enable far-right terrorism

A policeman stands guard as members of the Muslim community visit Al-Noor mosque after it was reopened in Christchurch, New Zealand, 23 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Natasha Quek, RSIS

On 15 March 2019, 50 Muslims were killed when a white supremacist targeted two mosques in a shooting spree in Christchurch, New Zealand. The latest attacks, while unprecedented in New Zealand, should not be viewed as an isolated incident but rather as an indication of a much broader trend: violent far-right extremism and terrorism.

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Ardern’s Labour-led government delivers on policy promises in New Zealand

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks to representatives of South Pacific island nations during the APEC Summit, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 17 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Stephen Levine, Victoria University

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has continued with her ‘relentlessly positive’ approach in both rhetoric and policy, demonstrating poise and grace while dealing effectively with an opposition National Party. Opposition leader Simon Bridges is a distant second (in single digits) in ‘preferred prime minister’ polls, with his continued leadership in jeopardy. Read more…

New Zealand policymakers need runs on the board

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, 27 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Caitlin Ochs).

Author: Gary Hawke, Victoria University of Wellington

The soft diplomacy of New Zealand’s new government — exemplified by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who smiled and exuded friendship and compassion throughout 2018, her first full year in power — has so far not been used to implement strategic changes. The year was one of preparations rather than initiatives. Read more…