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

Cambodia’s foreign policy post-COVID-19

A woman walks outside the Royal Palace which has being closed for visitors as precaution against the coronavirus outbreak in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 19 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Cindy Liu).

Author: Kimkong Heng, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the global economy, affecting the lives of millions, and increasing uncertainty of a new Cold War between the United States and China. Cambodia, like a few other countries in Southeast Asia, appears to have been fortunate in succeeding to contain the spread of the virus. But its economy is faltering, if not failing. Read more…

Mongolia’s success and challenges against COVID-19

People ride horses near the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, east of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Photo: Reuters/B Rentsendorj).

Author: Ariun-Erdene Bayarjargal, ANU

The COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history because of the extraordinary impact it has had on health, the economy and people’s lives across the world. Mongolia is no exception and sound government policy is essential to steer it through the next phase of the crisis.

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A chance for Chinese economic leadership

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 25 October, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lee).

Authors: Peter A Petri, Brandeis University and Michael G Plummer, Johns Hopkins University

In late June 2020, 15 East Asian countries — representing nearly 30 per cent of the world’s economic output and population — committed to signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November. This will be the largest free trade agreement ever and complements the 2018 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

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Indonesia’s garment industry in crisis

Workers produce protective suits at a textile factory which usually produces jeans trousers before amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Malang, Indonesia, 6 April 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto/Ari Bowo Sucipto).

Authors: Deasy Pane, Bappenas and Donny Pasaribu, ANU

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a slowdown in all parts of the world, but its impacts on exporters of textiles and textile products are hitting developing countries hard. The sector is one of the main exporters for many developing countries because its production process is generally labour-intensive and requires little formal training. The effects of the pandemic on the textile industry are especially concerning because the sector is a large source of employment in developing countries, including in Indonesia.

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Populists in a pandemic

US President Donald Trump speaks with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines, 13 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

When the former mayor of the southern city of Davao, Rodrigo Duterte, surged ahead of his establishment rivals in the 2016 presidential elections, some western media fell back on labelling him the ‘Trump of the East’. Read more…

Lifting the veil on Thailand’s COVID-19 success story

A promoter wears a face shield during the 41st Bangkok International Motor Show, after the Thai government eased measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Silva).

Author: Wannaphong Durongkaveroj, ANU

Thailand has been internationally praised for avoiding a COVID-19 disaster. Despite recording the first case of the virus outside of China on 13 January 2020, Thailand managed to avoid its first death until almost seven weeks later. Its peak of new daily COVID-19 cases was 188 in late March — a low figure compared to many Western countries.

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The COVID-19 squeeze on South Korea’s labour market

South Korean medical staff members wearing facemasks and protective clothing while on duty at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu, South Korea, 19 March 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak (Photo: Reuters/Lee Young-ho).

Author: Vladimir Hlasny, Ewha Womans University

In the densely populated South Korea, just a hop away from China, COVID-19 hit early and strongly. By mid-February, South Korea had the second highest number of infections in the world. Since then the number of cases has been slowed down to a trickle — but clusters keep resurfacing in blind spots such as church congregations, fitness classes, night clubs and warehouses.

Read more…

Political crackdowns follow Cambodia’s COVID-19 lockdown

An activist is detained by police during a protest where activist groups urged the government to release and drop charges against a union leader Rong Chhun who was arrested last week in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 3 August, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Lach).

Author: Sorpong Peou, Ryerson University and Emma-Jane Ni, McGill University

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia is enjoying considerable success compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours despite its relatively poor healthcare system — recording just 240 cases and no deaths by early August. While critics argue that these remarkably low numbers are due to underreporting, the government’s restriction measures for public safety have genuinely succeeded in containing the pandemic. Its crackdowns on the opposition, on the other hand, remain problematic.

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COVID-19 undermines South Korean diplomacy

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, wearing a face mask, arrives at a briefing for foreign diplomats on the situation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the foreign ministry in Seoul, South Korea 6 March, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Jung Yeon-je).

Author: Jeffrey Robertson, Yonsei University

South Korea attracted global attention from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the BBC reported that Seoul’s ‘trace, test and treat‘ approach was saving lives while hospitals in Europe and the United States were overwhelmed. In April, the New York Times reported on South Korea’s capacity to hold democratic elections despite COVID-19, and by June, CNN reported on the lessons to be learned from South Korea’s public health success story. Read more…

Why Thatcherism and Reaganomics won’t work after COVID-19

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks next to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during a news conference in Canberra, Australia (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Abul Rizvi, University of Melbourne

All governments are thinking hard about how they will manage economic recovery once international borders re-open after COVID-19. Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently rejected fiscal austerity but wants to copy other policies from the era of Thatcher and Reagan.

So which policies from this era are suitable for developed nations as they re-open their borders after COVID-19?

Read more…

Myanmar’s COVID-19 response banks on Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi pays her respects to her late father during a ceremony to mark the 73rd anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon, 19 July 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Ye Aung Thu).

Author: Kyaw San Wai, Yangon

With an official total of 351 cases and six deaths four months after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed, Myanmar appears to be weathering the pandemic. Despite limited testing, the combination of government responses, community involvement and arguably sheer luck has so far spared the country’s long-neglected and under-resourced health system from being overwhelmed. Read more…

Building South Korea’s economy after the great pandemic recession

A retail store looks nearly empty amid the continuing spread of the new coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, 18 March 2020. On 17 March, the National Assembly approved an additional budget of 11.7 trillion won (US$9.42 trillion) to help contain the virus and minimise the economic consequences of the outbreak (Photo: Reuters/Yonhap News Agency).

Author: Troy Stangarone, Korea Economic Institute of America

In the span of a little more than a decade the world has experienced two economic crises. The Great Recession was precipitated by the global financial crisis of 2007–2008. Now an economic recession is being induced by government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. South Korea came out of the Great Recession better than many other developed economies and is positioning itself to do the same after COVID-19. Read more…

Japan needs to step up its COVID-19 testing capacity

Students wearing protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, clap along instead of singing a song during a music class at Takanedai Daisan elementary school, which practices various methods of social distancing in order to prevent the infection, in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan 16 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Author: Keiichiro Kobayashi, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

As COVID-19 cases began to mount in Japan in February, it became clear that the government needed to respond with strong policy measures. It was crucial to increase testing capacity and adopt isolation measures to contain the virus and allow economic activity to resume quickly. The Japanese government needed to set and clearly announce a timeline and numerical targets for testing capacity and medical care provision. Read more…

How COVID-19 is changing Indian federalism

A volunteer distributes masks to people in Jammu, the winter capital of India-controlled Kashmir, 16 March, 2020 (Photo: Retuers).

Author: Anirudh Burman, Carnegie India

India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the balance of its federal structure. The pandemic has enabled the central government to implement far-reaching reforms in areas, such as agriculture, traditionally considered to be the domain of states. This exercise by the central government is indicative of its willingness to take advantage of a global crisis and use the levers of federal power to implement significant reforms. Read more…

What lies ahead for global value chains in Asia?

An aerial view of containers piled up at Yangshan Port, a deep water port for container ships, waiting to be stored and exported, Shanghai, 20 March 2020 (Reuters).

Authors: Hoe Ee Khor and Suan Yong Foo, AMRO

Against a backdrop of trade tensions, disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and a global recession, global value chains (GVCs) are being tested like never before. This is raising uneasy questions for Asian economies. Read more…