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


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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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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China’s challenge in Morocco’s Africa-to-Europe commercial corridor

French President Emmanuel Macron and Moroccan King Mohammed VI speak as they attend the inauguration of a high-speed line at Rabat train station, in Rabat, Morocco November 15, 2018 (Christophe Archambault/Pool via Reuters)

Author: Michaël Tanchum, University of Navarra

Morocco’s West-Africa-to-Western-Europe commercial transportation corridor is redefining the geopolitical parameters of the global scramble for Africa. Morocco has surpassed Spain and is poised to become the dominant maritime hub in the western Mediterranean. Morocco is now the geopolitical gatekeeper in a new global competition for manufacturing value chains, connecting West Africa to Europe in which the Middle East and China are vying for a role in this emerging commercial nexus. Read more…

Rebranding China’s internationalisation of higher education

Tourists crowd in front of the main gate of Peking University. Global university rankings show a direction for the development of China's higher education rather than a mere realization of the gap between top foreign and Chinese universities. China's prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University dropped respectively from 54th to 92nd and 65th to 98th in the annual world university rankings published by the Center for World University Ranking (CWUR), headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, in Beijing, China, 4 October, 2018 (Reuters).

Author: Qiang Zha, York University

While China is having extraordinary success in internationalising higher education, progress mostly driven by a state-led agenda and a top-down approach is limited by the subordination of academic and educational interests to political ones. When China launched its world-class universities initiatives in the mid-1990s, it pledged to raise Chinese universities to a first-rate standing. Read more…

Incentivising Indonesia’s academics

Testing for bacteria believed to help reduce the chances of mosquitoes passing dengue and Zika to humans in a lab at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 5 February 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside).

Author: Muhammad Beni Saputra, UIN Sulthan Thaha Saifuddin Jambi

In his visit to Australia early in 2020 to ratify the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo announced that Australia’s Monash University will open a branch in Indonesia. The historic initiative is intended to improve Indonesia’s human capital — Jokowi’s top priority in his second term in office. But Indonesia’s university reform must centre around incentivising its own academics to publish better research.

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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…

Nepal’s geopolitical dilemma

Activists affiliated with 'Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal' protest near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu against the alleged encroachment of the Nepal border by India, 12 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Gaurab Shumsher Thapa, Nepal Forum of International Relations Studies

Nepal is situated in a geostrategic location between two big and powerful states. Historically, Nepal’s foreign policy has focussed on maintaining a balanced relationship with its neighbours. Modern Nepal’s founder, the late King Prithvi Narayan Shah, once remarked that Nepal was a ‘yam between two boulders’.

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Debt relief boosts Myanmar’s COVID-19 recovery

Person waving a Myanmar flag at Kyite Ka San Football Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, 29 November 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Sean Turnell, Macquarie University

On 1 July 2020, the European Union and six of its member governments announced a moratorium on debt repayments due from Myanmar. The agreement allows Myanmar to ‘focus efforts on economic recovery from COVID-19’ and is worth almost US$100 million — 20 per cent of Myanmar’s current debt payments schedule.

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A collective ASEAN response to COVID-19

An official wearing a face mask looks on as Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Hsien-Li Tan, NUS

When COVID-19 cases first appeared in the ASEAN region early in 2020, there were fears that public health systems would be overwhelmed. Responses around the region have varied. After decisive action — and missteps — in the initial months, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore are now cautiously relaxing restrictions while working to avert a second wave. Indonesia and the Philippines continue to see significantly higher infection and death rates, leading to strong criticism against the Jokowi and Duterte administrations.

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Understanding India’s renewable energy ambitions

Solar panels are seen inside the premises of the Jaisalmer Airport in desert state of Rajasthan, India, 13 August 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee).

Authors: Disha Agarwal and Rishabh Jain, Council on Energy, Environment and Water

India’s renewable energy sector has experienced a dream run. A rapid decline in tariffs ensured that new projects were deployed at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 18 per cent over the last five years. In the last three years, renewable capacity addition surpassed fossil-fuel based installations. The share of non-fossil-based capacity in India’s electricity mix is now 37.7 per cent — just 2.3 per cent short of India’s national contribution target for 2030. Read more…

India squanders its comparative advantage

Employees sew clothes at a garment factory in New Delhi, India, 29 September 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: John West, Sophia University

East Asia’s successful economies have achieved astonishing economic growth through export-driven development. They have exploited their comparative advantage of having an abundance of lower-skilled labour to drive economic growth. India should be digging into its comparative advantage too.

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Safeguarding food security amid COVID-19

A farmer harvests rice on a field in Lalitpur, Nepal 15 November, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Chitrakar).

Authors: Kijin Kim, Sunae Kim and Cyn-Young Park, ADB

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the entire food value chain from farm to fork as lockdowns and export restrictions hit food supply chains across the Asia Pacific. This is adversely affecting consumers’ choice of food and posing immediate threats to food security for the poor and vulnerable.

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Sustainable development is key in responding to COVID-19

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of residents of a slum area using an electronic thermometer during a check-up campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India, 6 July 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas).

Author: Aekapol Chongvilaivan, ADB

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments should spare no effort to strengthen public health systems and shield the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable. But for developing countries, fiscal and borrowing headroom were already limited before the outbreak. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should therefore be integrated into fiscal stimulus to bring about a swift, sustainable and resilient economic recovery. This will ensure fiscal responses achieve sufficient bang for their buck. Read more…

Vietnam’s environmental challenges risk EU free trade

A worker rides his motorcycle near lorries transporting coal at a port of the Cua Ong Coal Preparation Company in Cam Pha town, Quang Ninh, Vietnam (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Thang Nam Do, ANU

Vietnam needs to address environmental challenges to fully reap the benefits from its new free trade and investment agreements with the European Union. On 8 June, Vietnam’s National Assembly ratified the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement, following the European Parliament’s approval in February. Ratifying the agreement clears the path for Vietnam to expand exports to the potentially lucrative EU market and to attract more investment from the economic bloc.

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India’s rising infections and falling economic growth

A man carrying a sack walks past a graffiti of a healthcare worker during a lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India 29 June 2020 (Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas).

Author: Kaliappa Kalirajan, ANU

On 2 July 2020, India’s Ministry of Health announced 226,947 active cases of COVID-19, with 17,400 lives lost. India is unfortunately now among the world’s top five infected countries. As a country with one of the highest population densities in the world and a creaky public health system, India has experienced exponential growth in the number of infections. As a result, in addition to the health crisis, India’s economy has been brought to a standstill. Read more…