Asian economies face important policy challenges regarding the use of free trade agreements (FTAs): primarily their scope and their impact on regionalization trends. These topics are the front line of contemporary negotiations and of interest to policymakers. This column examines these challenges based on new data on the business impacts of FTAs and contents of existing FTAs. It also discusses political economy considerations of FTA consolidation in Asia and its potential connection with North America and Europe. Asia’s rise as the “global factory” over the past several decades was underpinned by outward-oriented development strategies and multilateralism. FTAs, as trade-policy instruments in the region, were largely absent until the 1990s. [Read more]
Around the world, students at the best universities are experiencing a more international upbringing than their parents. Japan, however, stands apart because of its continued seclusion. In particular, the decline of the number of Japanese students at leading United States (US) institutions is startling: In 1998–1999 there were 705 Japanese enrolled at three of the best US universities—Columbia, Harvard, and MIT—but this number had dropped to 339 by 2011–2012. Enrollment has also declined over the past seven years at Yale and UC-Berkeley. Overall, the figure of 46,872 Japanese studying in the US in 2000–2001 had dropped to 19,966 by 2011–2012. We also looked at doctoral candidates in several renowned, mostly US English-speaking universities in business, economics, and science. [Read more]
One benefit of the fragile yet continuing growth in the United States (US) economy over the last 12 months is the restraining effect it has had on US political leaders who regularly clamor for the US to punish the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to raise the value of its currency. The PRC’s exchange rate policy and the presumed threat it poses to US jobs has been a topic of debate in the US Congress for years. Critics of the PRC maintain that the US president, no matter what the political party, needed to staunch the flow of US jobs to the PRC by demanding that it increase the value of the renminbi or be punished by being labeled a currency manipulator. [Read more]
At the 2009 G20 Pittsburgh Summit, leaders recognized the problem of fuel subsidies and made a commitment “to rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” (G20 2009). But Asian economies have gone the other way, and are pushing economic growth at a breakneck pace underpinned by fuel subsidies not only to consumers, but also to oil companies, mostly through production incentives. These subsidies have created an expectation that gas and oil are cheap and plentiful fuels available on demand. Yet without oil, the world would grind to a halt and chaos and social upheaval would probably ensue. Alternative and renewable energy resources are simply not yet available on a large commercial scale, leaving many people without recourse. [Read more]
This is the first question I have met across at the ADBI seminar on APEC on January 28th. Of course they have not. Nobody raised this within APEC, because APEC is a non-binding organization. But so long as APEC sticks in its weak modality, it may get left behind mushrooming FTAs. What is the APEC’s raison d’etre nowadays? Established in 1989, APEC seeks to promote trade and economic cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region. In 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders pledged to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia and Pacific region by 2010 for developed members and by 2020 for developing economies. [Read more]
Since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2010, guessing when the PRC would eclipse the United States (US) as the world’s largest economy has been an exciting game among PRC watchers. On 10 February came the surprising news that the PRC had surpassed the US to become the world’s No. 1 trading nation, after both countries officially announced their 2012 trade figures. According to the US Department of Commerce, total US trade in 2012 amounted to $3.82 trillion, about $50 billion short of the PRC’s exports and imports of $3.87 trillion, estimated by China Customs. [Read more]
Slowing growth and rising unemployment sometimes induce economies to become more inward-oriented with restrictive policies. Indonesia shows early signs of such tendencies and its future growth may be at risk. The experience of high performing East Asian economies, however, suggests that outward-oriented policies and infrastructure investment support sustainable growth. Indonesia’s growth slowed to 6.2% in 2012 from 6.5% in 2011. Its growth in the previous decade was below 6%. A slight dip notwithstanding, a turnaround seems to be continuing in this resource-rich economy once seen by the West as a basket case of crony capitalism during the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis. [Read more]
Seven of the world’s ten richest economies by real gross domestic product (RGDP) per capita are in Asia and the Middle East, and all have sizeable populations of foreign migrant workers (FMWs) that have contributed greatly to growth. The proper handling of FMW involvement in an economy is crucial for continued prosperity. Despite the widespread reliance of many economies on FMWs, much of the related research has focused on the narrower issue of the impact of foreign labor on local employment and the resultant downward pressure on local wages (e.g., Borjas et al. 1996. Goto 1998). In comparison, very little evaluation has been done on the extent of their contribution to economic growth across countries. [Read more]
Time is running out for Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), as the negotiating countries aim to conclude the talks before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in October this year. Although former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had expressed strong interest during his tenure in joining the TPP negotiations, his successor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has not expressed similar sentiments as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) took a cautious stance on the TPP during Japan’s December 2012 general election. The TPP is a high-standard and comprehensive trade agreement under negotiation by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States (US), and Viet Nam. [Read more]
Is fiscal and/or political union, where more sovereignty is shared among countries in Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, the way forward for the eurozone to stay together and deal with economic and financial divergences among member states? Differences in size, development, and institutions present the monetary union with a policy coordination dilemma, as countries often tend to let domestic interests prevail on agreed commitments. At the current juncture, and learning from the sovereign debt crisis, the countries of Europe need to consider what is the best institutional framework for the monetary union. Such a framework should avoid the building up of imbalances and help countries to live with the euro and within the currency union. [Read more]
- Tan Chee Hoong on Is political union Europe’s solution to the eurozone crisis?
- Dr. Will Hickey on Indonesia’s fuel subsidies benefit the rich far more than the poor
- Tariq Ali on Is political union Europe’s solution to the eurozone crisis?
- Vikram Chowdery on Is regional economic integration enough? The search for ‘Wave 3’ growth
- Vikram Chowdery on Internationalization of emerging market currencies: A way forward
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