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In 2015, Central Asia made some important improvements in the environment for cross-border e-commerce: Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will boost commercial transparency, while the Kyrgyz Republic’s membership in the Eurasian Customs Union expands its consumer base. Why e-commerce? Two reasons. First, e-commerce reduces the cost of distance. Central Asia is the highest trade cost region in the world: vast distances from major markets make finding buyers challenging, shipping goods slow, and export prices high. Second, e-commerce can help pull in populations that are traditionally under-represented in export markets such as women, small businesses and rural entrepreneurs. Read more.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted December 16, 2015
At this week’s 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, trade ministers are trying to advance 15 years of Doha Development Agenda talks to reduce trade barriers. The real issue, however, is whether African economies can follow East Asia's success in global supply chains amid “new normal" growth and rising inequality. Read more.
By Matthias Helble. Posted November 24, 2015
At the beginning of October, 12 Pacific Rim countries agreed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP agreement has been hailed as a landmark trade pact, as it includes many issues that have so far not found their way into the rule of law in the multilateral trading system. As a reaction to the successful deal, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced that the TPP “will serve as an inspiration for WTO members” for the forthcoming 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. In this article, I argue that neither the process of TPP talks nor the content of the TPP agreement can provide a positive stimulus for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations. Read more.
By Jayant Menon. Posted October 28, 2015
After more than 5 years of numerous missed self-imposed deadlines, trade ministers from the 12 participating Asia-Pacific countries finally concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Atlanta on 5 October 2015. The public fanfare accompanying the announcement led many to believe the agreement would soon come into force. Yet there is a lot that needs to be done before that happens, and there is no guarantee that it will. In this article, I examine two issues: (i) what concluding the TPP means in terms of what was achieved and what remains to be done; and (ii) what the TPP is likely to look like, given what we now know following the negotiations. Read more.
By Garth Taylor. Posted July 15, 2015
When viewed through the lens of trade deals negotiated with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Japan has shown recent willingness to engage in global free trade. However, is there any indication that these deals are striking a chord where it matters most, with Japan’s services sector, which comprises 70% of its economic activity? Read more.
By Alexis Yong. Posted April 9, 2015
Chile, Mexico, and Peru are the three Latin American countries participating in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Although these countries have cultural and geographical proximity, they exhibit different export structures and consequently different objectives toward the ongoing TPP negotiations. Even more intriguing is to understand the particular interests of each country in light of the key issues being negotiated and discussed, such as agriculture, intellectual property rights, and trade in services. Read more.
By Peter S. Rashish. Posted March 31, 2015
It is sometimes said that in politics it is not the text that counts, but rather the context. Policies that are seen as benign or even ignored by the electorate in one political constellation can suddenly fuel intense debate when there is a shift in the alignment of external forces. Think of Chancellor Merkel’s sudden decision to abandon nuclear power in Germany after the Fukushima reactor meltdown caused by the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. Nothing had changed about the safety of the German reactors themselves, but everything had changed about the broader context. Read more.
A pressing policy question facing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders at their summit in April 2015 and beyond is whether the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) can be sustained without more effective institutions. This article explores the link between achieving the AEC agenda and institutional effectiveness. To remedy the implementation gridlock, it proposes reforms to the leadership and the technical level of ASEAN bodies, prioritization of new institutions, an effective monitoring mechanism, and an empowered ASEAN Secretariat. Read more.
Plurilateral trade agreements: an overlooked but powerful force for international trade opening for Asia?
After over a gloomy decade of inconclusive talks, a small but important step was taken in early December 2014 to finish the Doha Round negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2015 and beyond, actions to arrive at a Doha Round Agreement should be accompanied by embracing new plurilateral trade agreements within the WTO. This move can benefit growth and development in Asia. This article reviews the outlook for the WTO Doha Round and examines the case for plurilateral trade agreements for Asia. Read more.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted January 28, 2015
Latin America is firmly on the economic radar of Asia in the post-global financial crisis world economy. Both Asia and Latin America have grown faster than the world economy. As Figure 1 shows, during 2009–2013, annual average growth was 4.6% in Asia, 2.4% in Latin America, and 1.9% for the world economy. Trade between the two regions has grown significantly, reaching a historic high of over half a billion dollars in 2014 (see Figure 2). This figure is projected to increase to $750 billion by 2020. Increased trade has prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity. In July 2014 the President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Xi Jinping, visited Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela. Shortly afterward, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Brazil, Chile, Columbia, and Mexico. Pledges of trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign aid accompanied these high-level visits. Read more.
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