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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.
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.
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.
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