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

Papua New Guinea stumbles to an election

An Australian Federal Policeman guards the entrance during a demonstration against police violence earlier in the week against university students in Port Moresby, outside the Papua New Guinea Consulate in Sydney, Australia, 10 June 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Author: Paul Flanagan, Canberra

2016 saw the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government muddle down through a series of poor policy decisions. This continued the negative trend set in 2015, when the country went from having the highest expected GDP growth rate in the world to crisis management mode. Read more…

Another pivot for Vietnam

Labourers work to make Zara jackets at a garment factory in Bac Giang province, near Hanoi 21 October 2015. Vietnam's textiles and footwear would have gained strongly from the TPP, after exports of US$31 billion in 2014 for brands such as Nike, Adidas, H&M, Gap, Zara, Armani and Lacoste. (Photo: Reuters/Kham)

Author: Thomas Jandl, VNU

One year ago in this series, I argued that 2016 would be crucial for bringing domestic political structures in line with Vietnam’s new position in the global economic and security architecture. After the US election, Vietnam is in need of new and better advice. Vietnam needs to make its own pivot. Read more…

Pacific perspectives in 2016

Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, addresses the UN General Assembly after being elected as General Assembly President for the 71st session at UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York, 13 June 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar).

Authors: Matthew Dornan and Tess Newton Cain, ANU

2016 was a big year for Pacific politics. Vanuatu and Nauru held elections — each in the context of significant concerns about governance. Censorship, deportation of the chief justice and arrests of opposition MPs have led to a serious decline in the credibility of democracy in Nauru in recent years. In Vanuatu, the election this year followed 14 members of parliament having been jailed for corruption in 2015. Read more…

The international fallout from Najib’s 1MDB scandal

US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch answers reporters' questions after announcing the filing of civil forfeiture complaints associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in Washington, 20 July 2016 (Photo: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan)

Author: Amrita Malhi, ANU

The international consequences of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal will likely continue to escalate. The affair concerns US$800 million from the development fund that investigators believe to have passed through Najib’s personal bank accounts, in addition to other funds believed to have moved through foreign intermediaries and investment vehicles. Read more…

More economic uncertainty hangs over China

Author: Yiping Huang, Peking University

Official and unofficial data confirms that the Chinese economy stabilised during the middle of 2016. But there is still a lot of disagreement about the country’s growth outlook moving forward. Read more…

Myanmar’s year of high hopes

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi attends a meeting event with Myanmar citizens residing in Japan in Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Matthew J. Walton, University of Oxford

2016 was supposed to be Myanmar’s year. After an overwhelming victory in the November 2015 election, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) would get to form a government, realising a democratic transition decades in the making.

Read more…

Malaysia’s old players in a new game?

Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and former minister Zaid Ibrahim stand for the national anthem during a meeting of political and civil leaders looking to change the government in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo: Reuters/Olivia Harris).

Author: Sebastian Dettman, Cornell University

The most surprising twist of Malaysian politics in 2016 has been the rapid evolution of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad from ultimate regime insider to opposition leader. Read more…

Keeping Cambodia competitive beyond 2016

Labourers work at a construction site in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring).

Author: Heng Pheakdey, Enrich Institute

For the last two decades Cambodia has been one of the fastest growing countries in Asia with an average annual GDP growth rate of 8.1 per cent.

Cambodia has been highly successful in embracing the ‘factory Asia’ model of growth, supplying its low-cost labour to export-oriented industries. Read more…

A year to forget for Nepal

Author: Sujeev Shakya, Nepal Economic Forum

In Nepal the start of 2016 was sombre. The country was still recovering from the earthquake of April 2015 and reeling under the impact of a blockade at the Indian border at the end of that year. Read more…

Najib fights to retain control after 1MDB scandal

Author: Amrita Malhi, ANU

As 2016 draws to a close, Najib Razak remains Malaysia’s prime minister. This is despite two years of scandal, scrutiny and speculation over funds missing from state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), including US$800 million that is believed to have passed through his personal bank accounts. Read more…

Mongolia’s disappointing come down of 2016

The Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia (Photo: Reuters/David Stanway).

Author: Julian Dierkes, UBC

It has been a momentous year both economically and politically for Mongolia. But not in a good way. Just five years ago Mongolia was flying high. It was the world’s fastest growing economy with a wealth of resources to fuel further development, a solidly institutionalised democracy and a young population with a high standard of at least basic education. It seemed like the eternal blue sky was the limit. Read more…

The end of Japan’s very long post-war era

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 3 November 2016 Japan celebrated the 70th anniversary of its post-war constitution, which has survived unchanged for longer than any other existing written constitution in the world. The occasion was one of mixed emotions. Read more…

Can Laos restore growth while global economic uncertainty reigns?

An agricultural farmer works in a field in Khammouane province, Laos (Photo: Reuters/Aubrey Belford).

Author: Buavanh Vilavong, ANU

Laos is among the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, with growth rates averaging 7 per cent since 2000. But the Lao economy has trended downwards in recent years. Amid global economic uncertainty, it remains to be seen how Laos will manage its macroeconomic policies and export diversification strategy. Read more…

Sri Lanka’s economy marches slowly into 2017

A customer receives a bag after purchasing from a vendor of a stall at a main market in Colombo, Sri Lanka 30 November, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Dushni Weerakoon, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s meandering economic progress received a boost in November 2016 with the announcement of the proposed 2017 budget. Under the watchful eye of the IMF, reversing flagging revenue collection is finally the centrepiece for fiscal consolidation Read more…

Duterte’s year of living dangerously

Author: Ronald D. Holmes, ANU

Philippine politics in 2016 has been dominated by Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to power. With five contenders for the presidency, pre-election polls in early January 2016 indicated that the administration candidate, Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, would struggle to garner popular support. Read more…