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

Power struggles dominate Central Asia in 2013

Author: Kirill Nourzhanov, ANU

By local standards, 2013 proved quite successful for the people and leaders of the five Central Asian republics. There were no major wars, natural disasters, or coups d’etat. The governments continued to muddle through the usual raft of problems, and ordinary citizens remained largely quiescent; there was a distinct lack of an Arab Spring-like atmosphere. Read more…

Australia’s die-hard diplomacy

Author: Susan Harris Rimmer, ANU

What an extraordinary beginning to foreign policy Australia has seen under the new Abbott government, especially in the realm of diplomacy. There has been more drama in a few months than would normally fill a book reviewing the decade.

Australia’s first female foreign minister, Julie Bishop, was sworn in and days later chaired the UN Security Council as Australian president for the first time in decades. Read more…

Foreign investment key to Philippine growth in 2014

Author: Cesar E. A. Virata, former Prime Minister of the Philippines

The Philippine economy is likely to register a GDP growth rate of 7 per cent in 2013. This comes even after many challenging events throughout the year, including the US tapering announcement, territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea with China, and the calamities that hit several areas in the central and southern Philippines. Read more…

A tale of two New Zealands

Author: Gary Hawke, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research

This year, like last, New Zealand will remain challenged by tension between its place in an Asian economic region and its history as part of the Anglosphere. In particular, there is always uncertainty over whether policy choices will be governed by analysis of New Zealand’s interests in the Asian region or by nostalgia for past associations and the comfort of familiarity. Read more…

Dog days for Australia after the boom

Author: Ross Garnaut, University of Melbourne

Australia is enjoying its 22nd year of economic growth without recession — an experience that is unprecedented in any other developed country. For the first decade of expansion, growth was based on extraordinary increases in productivity, attributable to productivity-raising reforms from 1983. In the early years of this century, reform and productivity growth slowed sharply and then stopped. Read more…

Sri Lankan economy looking good, but in need of long game

Author: Dushni Weerakoon, Institute of Policy Studies

Sri Lanka’s post-conflict development aspirations have been fashioned on a simple but socio-politically persuasive argument: sustain growth at high levels and extend its benefits to more people. In this, the government that swept into power in 2010 has delivered Read more…

Where is Myanmar going?

Author: Adam P MacDonald, Halifax

In 2013 President Sein’s government continued with their widespread — but not completely comprehensive — reform agenda, enacting important domestic changes alongside a number of successful foreign engagements erasing Myanmar’s previous pariah status.

Read more…

Pakistan from hope to despair in 2013

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

When the new chief justice of Pakistan took oath of office on 12 December 2013 Pakistan completed an historic changeover during a year that saw the first civilian government in 67 years complete its constitutionally mandated term. 2013 also saw Pakistan get a new prime minister, president and chief of army staff. Perhaps no other country has experienced such a total change of its constitutional officers within a calendar year. Read more…

Can India get back on the economic fast track?

Author: Raghbendra Jha, ANU

Two factors dominated perceptions about the Indian economy in 2013: first, the coexistence of high inflation and subdued economic growth and, second, the deterioration in the investment climate.

Latest reports of year to year inflation (in November 2013) are illustrative. Wholesale price index (WPI) inflation (7.52 per cent) was at its highest in 14 months whereas the index of industrial production shrank by 1.8 per cent in October after growing steadily during August and September. Read more…

Singapore, still growing strongly, resists social transformation

A foreign construction worker from Bangladesh walks past Singapore's city hall with the Singapore skyline in the background, 16 December 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Mukul Asher and Chang Yee Kwan, NUS

Throughout 2013, Singapore’s macroeconomic management revealed the economy’s strengths.

Read more…

Growing pains ahead for Myanmar

Author: Chit Win, ANU

The confused usage of ‘Myanmar’ and ‘Burma’ helps to portray some of the uncertainty surrounding Myanmar’s development in 2013, and was most obviously on display during the visits of President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Australia at the beginning and end of the year. Read more…

New battle lines in Malaysian politics

Author: Yang Razali Kassim, RSIS

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak enters 2014 with one big worry on his mind: how to win — and win decisively — the next general election (GE) that must be called by 2018.

The last one seven months ago on 5 May saw his ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition in its worst victory since 1969 Read more…

UMNO divides Malaysia

Author: Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Malaysia is a divided nation.

The grim reality of elusive unity, plagued by ethnocentric and ethno-religious divisions, is underlined by the continual existence of fault lines Read more…

Taiwan battles economic and cross-Strait tensions in 2013

Author: Sheryn Lee, University of Pennsylvania

In 2013, Taiwan’s political and economic developments again centred on its relationship with China, and the effect of cross-Strait rapprochement on Taiwan’s domestic conditions. Yet even without China as a factor, Taiwan would still face significant challenges. Read more…

Cost of doing business hurting Indonesia’s growth

Author: Thee Kian Wie, IIS

Indonesia is one of Asia’s economic success stories, with the reforms of the reformasi period having laid strong foundations for protracted growth. The country’s economic success looks set to continue but the agenda of reform is far from complete, especially when it comes to competitiveness in South East Asia’s intense business environment.

Estimates of Indonesia’s economic growth for 2014 vary widely depending on the source, but are all quite high. Read more…