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July, 2020 Current Topics

 

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Taking Stock of United States-Vietnam Relations 45 Years After the Fall of Saigon, June 2020. In April President Donald Trump tweeted a thank you note for Vietnam’s shipment of protective suits. Since then, Vietnam has sent about half a million personal protective equipment (PPE) items to the United States. This is how far U.S.-Vietnam relations have come on the 45th anniversary of the dramatic day (April 30) known in Vietnam as Saigon Liberation, or the Fall of Saigon. “I cannot think of two countries that have worked harder, done more, and done better to try to bring themselves together and change history, to change the future, to provide a future for people that is very, very different" - said then Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 – the year when the two became comprehensive partners. As a young soldier, Kerry had fought and later opposed the war in Vietnam...

 

EWC

The New in the “New Normal” for the Post-COVID Pacific Islands, June 2020. Finding a “new normal” has become a ubiquitous catchphrase expressing the hope that the instability and uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic will end soon. The concept describes either a temporary transitional state on the way back to an old pre-Covid normal or the altered reality of a transformed post-Covid order. For the Pacific Community’s 21 Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), their post-Covid options will be determined more by the choices made elsewhere than by their own preferences. Ironically, their new normal is likely to be business as usual for the PICTs. External influences have limited the extent to which they can control own their fate for centuries...

 

EWC

Regional Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific: Vietnam’s Role as the 2020 Chair of ASEAN, April 2020. With rivalry escalating between the US and China, the stability of the Indo-Pacific region is under threat. As a newly elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and the 2020 chair of ASEAN—the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—Vietnam will have an opportunity to help maintain peace and stability. At the same time, as one of the smaller countries, Vietnam will look for ways to use regional rivalries to promote its own national interest. Vietnam’s perception of the balance of power between the US and China determines its foreign policy toward these two countries and toward ASEAN. In response to the China-US rivalry, Hanoi supports further US engagement in the region, not only to offset Beijing’s influence but also to leverage the role of ASEAN and avoid any extreme outcomes. Keywords: Vietnam, US, China, ASEAN, Indo-Pacific region, South China Sea...

 

EWC

Going Digital, Going Green: Changing Value Chains and Regimes of Accumulation in the Automotive Industry in China, December 2019. This paper analyzes the changes in production and innovation networks in the automobile industry in China that have resulted from the transition to new-energy vehicles and digital driving technologies. This transformation is seen as a fundamental break with the present “neo- Fordist” regime of accumulation in the car industry and a rise of new forms of network-based mass production, comparable to the IT industry since the 1990s. The paper traces the complex politics of this transition embedded in different modes of regulation in the Chinese automotive sector, its impact on work and regimes of production, and the perspective of a broad-ranging “Foxconnization” of car manufacturing...

 

EWC

'Ike Pono—Designing the Political and Economic Systems of the Internet Generation, May 2019. Like the Open World Movement, ‘Ike Pono itself is written using the principles of collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment. The stories and ideas in this introductory paper are, in effect, crowdsourced from numerous intellectuals into a single document. "'Ike Pono" is the Hawaiian term for certain knowledge. It is the shorthand I am using here for this dynamic collection of work by thought leaders that explains this movement, reveals its foundations, examines its tool, and provides a vision of what the political and economic systems of the internet generation will look like...

 

EWC

Thailand’s Strategic Drift: Domestic Determinants Amidst Superpower Competition, June 2020. After more than five years of military-authoritarian government following its 13th successful coup in May 2014, Thailand’s most recent elections on 24 March 2019 yielded a controversial parliament and a fractious post-election coalition government, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. This report argues that despite the challenges of domestic political preoccupations and the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Thailand’s strategic role in the Indo-Pacific is too important to be marginalized and that the country is an indispensable piece of the regional jigsaw puzzle in an era of global power shifts and transitions. The current Sino-US competition involves far-reaching battleground between democracy and authoritarianism, and Thailand – one of America’s oldest treaty ally with increasingly close ties with China – is strategically consequential. The report explains the complexity of Thai’s foreign policy and implications for Australia.

 

ASPI

Covid-19 Disinformation & Social Media Manipulation, June 2020. A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online, and will occasionally publish investigative, data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories by these actors. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool - a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This new tool can ingest data in multiple languages and auto-translate, producing insights on topics, sentiment, shared content, influential accounts, metrics of impact and posting patterns...

 

ASPI

A Pacific Disaster Prevention Review, June 2020. Disaster risk reduction is a global policy issue. Reducing the likelihood and severity of damage and related cascading and cumulative impacts from natural hazards has become central to all nations and has triggered the evolution of international cooperation, multilateral responses and humanitarian aid efforts over many years. The nexus between natural hazards and vulnerability is central to appreciating the scale of the damage caused by large disasters and resultant sociotechnical impacts. Multilateral efforts to mitigate the impacts of weather and climate hazards have progressed over time. The Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation was a harbinger for the Hyogo Framework for Action, which emphasised building the resilience of communities and nations to the effects of disasters, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as the current flagship of unified effort...

 

ASPI

From Concentrated Vulnerability to Distributed Lethality—or How to Get More Maritime Bang for the Buck With Our Offshore Patrol Vessels, June 2020. This report proposes a way for the Australian Government to acquire maritime war-fighting capability quickly and affordably while promoting Australian industry and the continuous Naval Shipbuilding Program. It would deliver substantial new maritime capability in the next few years, in contrast to the current investment program, and it would introduce a transformative force structure for the price of one or two traditional large multi-role platforms. This would address key challenges faced by the ADF by enabling it to transition more quickly to a force structure that better supports operating concepts employing distributed lethality and greater use of autonomous systems and human–machine teaming.

 

ASPI

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #9: Advocacy in a Time of Change: Business Associations and the Pakatan Harapan Government in Malaysia, 2018–20. There are at least 80–100 business associations (such as chambers of commerce or industry-specific bodies) in Malaysia today, representing over 600,000 firms. In February–April 2020, a range of chamber leaders and officers were interviewed to record their experiences of the recent Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, and any future lessons for business associations in post GE-14 Malaysia. Few Malaysian chambers have had experience in dealing with changes of government, creating challenges when PH took office. Most associations were able to build effective working relationships with the new administration. Compared to Barisan Nasional (BN) ministers, PH ministers emphasized greater policy rigour, more evidence-based arguments, lower tolerance for corruption, and enhanced public accountability. Criticisms of PH include an early focus by some ministers on seemingly trivial issues, an initial distrust of some parts of the public service, and an inability to have all parts of the federal government work cohesively...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #8: Party Mergers in Myanmar: A New Development. Party mergers are a new development in Myanmar politics. Given that such mergers often assist the consolidation of new democratic regimes, some broader system-wide effects may also occur. Myanmar’s ethnic parties consistently choose merger strategies over other forms of pre-electoral coalition. This highlights a transition from a focus on questions of authoritarianism and democracy to one on the creation of a federal system of government with a stronger cleavage between competing Bamar and ethnic nationalisms. Despite cooperation among political parties outside the electoral process, pre-electoral coalitions such as constituency-sharing or campaigning for allies have generally not been successful. Five of the six mergers among ethnic parties attempted prior to the 2015 general election failed. However, between 2017 and 2019, five mergers involving parties representing the Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin or Karen, and Mon ethnicities, achieved success...

 

ISEAS

When Does Trade Reduce Poverty? Revisiting the Evidence for East Asia, June 2020. East Asia’s openness to trade is often credited as one of the main drivers behind the region’s impressive gains in economic growth and poverty reduction. In this paper, we examine the literature to determine whether there is a sound theoretical and empirical basis for this presumed relationship between trade and poverty reduction. Like many other studies on this topic, we find that the linkages are not automatic; the impact of trade on poverty is highly context-specific, and many factors come into play. Complementary policies are necessary to maximise trade’s potential impact on poverty reduction. We also explore the role of Aid-for-Trade in addressing specific trade-related capacity constraints which prevent developing countries from maximising the benefits from trade.

 

ISEAS

Asian Development Outlook 2020 Supplement: Lockdown, Loosening, and Asia’s Growth Prospects, June 2020. This publication provides updated economic forecasts for Asia and the Pacific, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Developing Asia is now projected to grow by only 0.1% in 2020, which would be the lowest regional growth outcome since 1961. Contraction is expected in all subregions except in East Asia. Growth will rebound to 6.2% in 2021 but composite GDP next year will remain below its pre-crisis trend, so the recovery will not be V-shaped. Excluding newly industrialized economies, regional growth is forecast at 0.4% in 2020 and 6.6% in 2021. Regional inflation is expected to remain benign at 2.9% in 2020 and 2.4% in 2021.

 

ADB

Asia Bond Monitor, June 2020. This edition of the Asia Bond Monitor reviews developments in emerging East Asian local currency bond markets and discusses how the financial sector can help fund the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Local currency bonds outstanding in emerging East Asian markets climbed to USD16.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2020. Risks remain heavily tilted to the downside given uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19. A section on the financial sector and COVID-19 discusses the use of pandemic bonds and social bonds to mobilize resources and of fintech to support inclusive growth and pandemic resilience. A chapter on financial architecture and innovation examines whether banks or equity and debt markets are more conducive to innovation. It finds that a market-based financial system is more conducive.

 

ADB

Three Decades of International Financial Crises: What Have We Learned and What Still Needs to be Done? June 2020. This paper highlights lessons from the Asian Financial Crisis, the Global Financial Crisis, and the Eurozone Debt Crisis to identify what more can be done to strengthen financial systems. Fragility that periodically erupts into a full-blown financial crisis appears to be an integral feature of market-based financial systems despite the emergence of sophisticated risk-management tools and regulatory systems. This paper compares the three major crises of the past 3 decades to distill the lessons they offer and to identify what remains to be done. Its findings are especially pertinent as policy makers tackle the financial impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

 

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

Latest APEC publications:

 

APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAS Survey of Professional Forecasters, June 2020. The Singapore economy contracted by 0.7% in Q1 2020 compared with the same period last year, slightly less than respondents’ forecasts of a 0.8% decline in the previous survey. In the current survey, the respondents expect the economy to contract 11.8% year-on-year in Q2 2020...

 

MAS

Monetary Authority of Singapore: Macroeconomic Review, Volume XIX, Issue 1, April 2020 (Full Report, Presentation Slides for Briefing):  

MAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #7: From Tao Guang Yang Hui to Xin Xing: China’s Complex Foreign Policy Transformation and Southeast Asia. This article traces China’s foreign policy transformation from 2013 to the present. It also examines Deng Xiaoping’s doctrinal response to the political crises of 1989–91 and compares it to current Chinese foreign policy doctrines. From the early 1980s until the 2010s, China’s foreign policy has generally focused on keeping a low profile. Deng’s Tao Guang Yang Hui foreign policy doctrine is characterized by its “No’s”, while Xi Jinping’s Xin Xing is marked by its “New’s”. The move from Tao Guang Yang Hui to Xin Xing is a major doctrinal shift in China’s foreign policy. Since the 19th Party Congress in 2017, Xi’s “new” narratives have seemingly dominated Chinese foreign policy. However, old principles, particularly that of “non-interference” or “no hegemony”, are still alive, albeit in a different form...

 

ISEAS

Defending the Maritime Rules-Based Order: Regional Responses to the South China Sea Disputes, Published 2020. The seas are an increasingly important domain for understanding the balance-of-power dynamics between a rising People’s Republic of China and the United States. Specifically, disputes in the South China Sea have intensified over the past decade. Multifaceted disputes concern overlapping claims to territory and maritime jurisdiction, strategic control over maritime domain, and differences in legal interpretations of freedom of navigation. These disputes have become a highly visible microcosm of a broader contest between a maritime order underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and challenger conceptions of order that see a bigger role for rising powers in generating new rules and alternative interpretations of existing international law. This issue examines the responses of non-claimant regional states—India, Australia, South Korea, and Japan—to the South China Sea disputes...

 

EWC

Pyongyang’s Foreign Relations: Amidst a Diplomatic Standstill, Will Old Friendships Fade Away? May 2020. North Korea’s tumultuous path over the past few years from nuclear standoff to summit diplomacy put a spotlight on Pyongyang’s bilateral relations across the Indo-Pacific. The February 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half-brother at the Kuala Lumpur airport dramatized the malign aspects of North Korea’s overseas presence, and presaged Southeast Asia’s role as an important front in the incipient U.S.-led maximum pressure campaign against Pyongyang. As maximum pressure transitioned to engagement with North Korea, U.S.-DPRK summits in Singapore and Vietnam raised hopes that North Korea could follow the examples of these host nations, and move forward on a more hopeful path toward economic development and reconciliation with old adversaries...

 

EWC

The Strengths and the Opportunities of the New Silk Road Strategy in the Middle East, May 2020. The Middle East is situated at the heart of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The new Silk Road strategy is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in modern history, and has the potential to reconfigure and optimize global trade routes. Hence, China seeks to develop its relationships with Middle Eastern states for the need to secure its energy imports, to secure its exports via routes that pass through the Middle East and, in the longer term, to increase its regional influence and displace the United States in the region. BRI has become the main focus of China’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The weaknesses of China’s BRI can be turned into strengths and opportunities as long as Beijing faces them squarely and responds positively...

 

EWC

Same Game, No Winners: COVID-19, U.S.-China Rivalry, and Southeast Asian Geopolitics, May 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak has spawned a plethora of commentaries forecasting the geopolitical consequences of the pandemic. For some observers the virus has caused a decisive shift in the balance of influence, with China emerging as the paramount power (especially in the Indo-Pacific) and America teetering on the brink of losing its status as global hegemon. Other pundits have offered less paradigm-shifting assessments: that COVID-19 is unlikely to upend the existing international order but may catalyze existing global trends. Four months into what is very likely to be a long and wrenching crisis it is, of course, very difficult to make predictions. However, we believe that at least in Southeast Asia, what we are witnessing thus far is less a rupture event and more an amplification of the current geopolitical dynamics...

 

EWC

The United States and Japan’s Semiconductor Supply Chain Diversification Efforts Should Include Southeast Asia, May 2020. Responding to oncoming U.S.-China commercial friction in recent years, firms operating in the complex, dense semiconductor ecosystem centered on the United States and Northeast Asia began a gradual evaluation of whether and how to reshape their supply chains and investments, and still maximize profit. As a foundational industry for maintaining economic competitiveness and national security, semiconductors serve as a keystone in U.S. and Japanese technological leadership. Against the backdrop of nascent U.S.-China technology competition and the standstill from the coronavirus, adjustments to enhance resiliency and mitigate disruption through developing semiconductor supply chains and investments outside of China, including in Southeast Asia, should be supported...

 

EWC

U.S., Japan, and Southeast Asia Cooperation: Building a Data Governance Blueprint, April 2020. Data is the new oil. And as the latest and most valuable resource on the planet, whoever harnesses its currency will dominate the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The United States and Japan are at the forefront of advocating for the free flow of data across the world, while other states such a China and India support localizing data. As the vanguards of the current rules-based international order that embraces cross-border data flow, it is imperative for the United States and Japan to advance a collective vision toward data governance. However, to achieve this, they must work in unison with like-minded states along with diverse stakeholders, especially in Southeast Asia—where there are also conflicting views toward data governance. Such partnerships must be based on mutual interests supported by credible initiatives to bring forth concrete and equitable outcomes...

 

EWC

Assessing the Quad: Prospects and Limitations of Quadrilateral Cooperation for Advancing Australia’s Interests, May 2020. After a ten-year hiatus, the Australia-India-Japan-US Security Quadrilateral Dialogue — informally known as the Quad — was resurrected in 2017 with the aim to support a ‘free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific Region’. While there are important differences among the four countries on threat perceptions, military capability, strategic priority, capacity to bear the costs of potential retaliation, strategic culture and constitutional imperatives, these differences place limitations on Quadrilateral cooperation, but do not preclude it. All four countries have common interests in maintaining a stable balance of power in the region, freedom of the seas, an open rules-based economic order, to counter debt-trap diplomacy and to limit the use of coercion by a state to assert territorial claims. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has become more assertive and ambitious, vigorously pressing its claims in the East and South China seas and promoting its BRI. Concerned to preserve the existing liberal rules-based order, the Quad states have already responded by increasing their cooperation...

 

Lowy

After COVID-19: Australia and the World Rebuild (Volume 1),  2020. This Strategy report offers policy-focused analysis of the world we will face once the pandemic has passed. At a time when all our assumptions about the shape of Australian society and the broader global order are being challenged, we need to take stock of likely future directions. The report analyses 26 key topics, countries and themes, ranging from Australia’s domestic situation through to the global balance of power, climate and technology issues. In each case we asked the authors to consider four questions. What impact did Covid-19 have on their research topic? What will recovery mean? Will there be differences in future? What policy prescriptions would you recommend for the Australian government?

 

ASPI

National Security Agencies and the Cloud: An Urgent Capability Issue for Australia, May 2020. This new ASPI report, argues for the development of a national security cloud. If the community doesn’t shift to cloud infrastructure, it’ll cut itself off from the most powerful software and applications available, placing itself in a less capable position using legacy software that vendors no longer support. The report’s authors argue that if this need isn’t addressed rapidly and comprehensively, Australia will quite simply be at a major disadvantage against potential adversaries who are using this effective new technology at scale to advance their own analysis and operational performance. The report identifies four significant obstacles that stand in the way of Australia’s national security community moving to cloud infrastructure...

 

ASPI

North of 26° South and the Security of Australia: Views From the Strategist Vol. 2, May 2020, is a new report by ASPI’s The North and Australia’s Security Program. The report builds on Volume 1 by presenting an all new series of articles by a range of trusted and up and coming authors exploring the continued importance of Northern Australia to national security and defence strategy. Northern Australia had become key political, military and economic terrain in a new era of major-power competition. Despite those developments, Australian policymakers have struggled to develop a cohesive northern Australia strategy. While Australia has a long-term defence capability plan, we need to continue to test our assumptions about the defence of northern Australia and the north’s significance to national security. In December 2019, Defence had finished the first draft of its internal review of Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper...

 

ASPI

Cybercrime in Southeast Asia, Published 2020. Cybercrime is a serious threat facing Australia and the world, but this criminal activity is often wrongly viewed as a near invisible online phenomenon, rather than a ‘real world’ concern. Behind every attack sits one or more people in a physical location. Those people are products of particular socio-economic conditions, which influence the types of regional and local cybercrime activity they specialise in. Cybercrime isn’t evenly distributed around the globe, but is centred around hotspots, which offer potential breeding grounds or safe harbours from where offenders can strike. This is true in Australia’s own region, where some Southeast Asian countries are emerging as bases for serious regional, and even global, cybercrime threats. We’re not proactively tackling the locations where the cybercrime threat develops and matures...

 

ASPI

Terrorism Is Terrorism: The Christchurch Terror Attack From an Israeli CT Perspective, May 2020. This report by Professor Boaz Ganor examines the different phases of the Christchurch terror attack, its similarities to and differences from Islamic jihadist terror attacks, and the lessons to be learnt for preventing, thwarting and managing such attacks, based on Israeli counter-terrorism experience. Lone-wolf attacks have become a widespread phenomenon in many countries, some have ended with a limited number of casualties. The 2019 Christchurch terror attack resulted in dozens of casualties. This report rigorously examines each phase of the attack to assess where points of intervention may have been overlooked and what can be learned from this experience to evolve counter-terrorism strategy and methods...

 

ASPI

Running on Empty? a Case Study of Fuel Security for Civil and Military Air Operations at Darwin Airport, May 2020. Most Australians have no idea how quickly they’ll be running on empty if fuel supplies from overseas are cut in a crisis. For decades, the nation has relied on risky, “just in time” deliveries of the fuel necessary for transport systems, industry, policing and individual motoring needs—and even the operations of the Australian Defence Force. This report describes how this situation is so fraught, and the national reserve so small, that during major military exercises and actual operations such as the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, fuel stocks have reached critically low levels.

 

ASPI

Economic Corridors in Southeast Asia: Success Factors, Impacts and Policy, May 2020. Economic corridors have gained popularity as a potentially important instrument in the development and transformation of low and middle income economies. But why have some countries had more success with them than others? What role does governance, institutions, finance and policy frameworks play in determining their success? How can we measure their impacts? We try and answer these questions by looking closely at, and drawing lessons from, two case studies of successful corridors in Asia – Malaysia and Thailand. A key conclusion is that economic corridors are more likely to succeed with greater domestic spillovers when the physical and policy infrastructure are conducive.

 

ISEAS

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APEC

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ADB

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ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Papua: The Issue That Won't Go Away for Melanesia, May 2020. West Papuan grievances with Indonesian rule, including human rights abuses, militarisation and frustrations about self-determination, have attracted increasing international attention and concern, particularly in neighbouring countries of Melanesia. The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) comprising Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks, is the appropriate regional grouping to promote the issue, but struggles to do anything. A rising Indonesia is gaining in influence throughout the region, countering support for West Papuan independence aims, and MSG members have become divided over West Papua. But recent flare-ups between West Papuans and security forces, combined with steady international support for the West Papuan struggle, and the emergence of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), foreshadowed a looming regional diplomatic wrestle...

 

Lowy

Eyes Wide Open: Managing the Australia-China Antarctic Relationship, April 2020. Given recent broader tensions in the China–Australia relationship, China’s global ambitions, lack of progress on key Antarctic policy initiatives and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences for the future of Antarctica and for Australia’s strategic interests, it’s important that Australian policymakers reconsider our long-term Antarctic policy settings. The report found no clear evidence that China is violating the Antarctic Treaty. But it argues we should apply a more sharply focused assessment of the costs and benefits of cooperation, given China’s more assertive international posture and increasing interests in Antarctica...

 

ASPI

Returning to Work During the Pandemic: Testing, Surveillance, Apps and Data as Our Near Term Future, April 2020. National Cabinet is meeting to begin the pathway to get Australia back to work and school. That's while we are still in the midst of 'flattening the curve' and in a world without a vaccine or even effective therapeutic treatment to reduce death rates from the virus. So, how might Australia return to work without getting back on the elevator of exponentially growing infection and deaths? This Strategic Insight sketches out that path, with the answers involving mass testing, and companies funded and supported to do rapid testing, data collection and analysis. It will rely on smartphone apps for data collection to enable outbreak suppression and contact tracing. Critically, national cabinet must communicate how this new approach will work alongside the existing social distancing restrictions, which will need to remain in place for months to come...

 

ASPI

Automation Challenges in Southeast Asia, April 2020. Trends around much of the world toward greater automation are accelerating, with significant implications for workers. In 2018, McKinsey & Co. released a document claiming that, by 2030, up to 375 million people worldwide may forfeit their current jobs due to automation and technological disruption. ASEAN is especially likely to be affected. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the impact of technological disruption on ASEAN will be profound. Automation will result in the obsolescence of jobs in industries ranging from textiles to automotive manufacturing. Southeast Asia’s labor force and economic growth must address this challenge head on...

 

EWC

The Strategic Imperatives of Modi’s Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative, April 2020. The concepts of ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘inclusiveness’ have been core to India’s Indo-Pacific policies. Without taking a defined position on the contested power politics in the Indo-Pacific, India has largely maintained cordial relations with most countries and stakeholders in the region. As a corollary to this, the rubric of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) advances India’s maritime diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific, reflecting India’s desire to manage maritime security and governance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposition to establish the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI) at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) on November 4, 2019, primarily draws on this assertion...

 

EWC

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #6: The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Beyond 2020: Similarities and Differences between the Trump Administration and a Democrat White House. American Indo-Pacific policy will be driven by its China policy, regardless of whether there is a second-term Donald Trump administration or a first-term Joe Biden administration. The Republicans will continue to frame the major challenge as “balancing” against Chinese power and “countering” the worst aspects of Beijing’s policies. Establishment or moderate Democrats under Biden will choose the softer language of seeking a favourable “competitive coexistence” in the military, economic, political and global governance realms, and the reassertion of American leadership and moral standing...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #5: Malaysia’s Student Loan Company: Tackling the PTPTN Time Bomb. The Malaysian National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) was set up in 1997. Since then, it has accumulated a massive debt amounting to RM40 billion in principal plus RM13 billion in interest. All these are guaranteed by the Malaysian government. It is now the biggest provider of student loans in the country and continues to play a very important role in catalysing socio-economic mobility, especially among the ethnic Malays which is the majority community in the country. However, the business model employed by PTPTN is irrational and unsustainable. It borrows from the financial market at, on average, 4 to 5 per cent, and lends to students at 1 per cent. No serious effort has been made to revamp this model, and all public discussions around it have been driven by political populism...

 

ISEAS

Asian Development Outlook 2020 Full Report and Highlights. Growth in the region is expected to slow sharply to 2.2% in 2020 under the effects of the current health emergency and then rebound to 6.2% in 2021. Excluding Asia’s high-income newly industrialized economies, growth will drop from 5.7% to 2.4% this year before recovering to 6.7% next year. Headline inflation accelerated in 2019 as food prices edged up but remained low by historical standards. Inflation will climb further to 3.2% in 2020, but declining food prices in the latter half of the year will set the stage for easing inflation in 2021. Downside risks to the outlook are severe, most notably from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In these difficult times, when challenges to growth abound, innovation is critical to inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth. While some economies in developing Asia are near or at the global innovation frontier, many others lag behind.

 

ADB

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ADB

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

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ADB

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APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong: High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2020Q2, April 2020. Ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak, Hong Kong’s domestic and external demand is expected to collapse in 20Q1. Hong Kong’s real GDP is estimated to plunge by 8.3% in 20Q1 when compared with the same period in 2019. The instant spread of the pandemic disease likely drags developed economies into recession. Clouded by the coronavirus, trade tension and oil-price war, the output decline is expected to continue and drop by 5.2% in 20Q2, when compared with the same period in 2019. Unemployment rate is expected to worsen to 4.5% in 20Q2. Hong Kong will confront with difficult challenges amid the adverse economic condition in 2020. Hong Kong’s GDP is expected to shrink by 3% for the year 2020 as a whole, representing a 3.4 percentage points downward revision from our previous forecast, and is the largest decline since the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis...

 

HKU

The Path of Least Resilience: Autocratic Rule and External Powers in the Middle East, March 2020. Almost a decade since the Arab uprisings promised democratic revival in the Middle East, most countries in the region remain firmly in the grip of autocrats. External powers, from Russia and China to the United States and Europe, have either helped the region’s dictators stay in power, or have shaped their policies toward the region in the expectation that such regimes will persist. In effect external powers have made a bet on authoritarian resilience, not least because it has seemed an easier way to secure their respective interests. But a closer look at two countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism is often said to have been revived, underlines the way regimes are struggling to find a new basis for popular legitimacy. As a result, both regimes are becoming even more reliant than usual on repression, bringing with it risks of new explosions of civil unrest. External powers may have hoped they were making a safe wager on continued authoritarian rule in the Middle East. But the Saudi and Egyptian cases suggest that they have chosen instead the path of least resilience.

 

Lowy

Uyghurs for Sale, March 2020. The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen. This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps. The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances. Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assign minders and have limited freedom of movement.

 

ASPI

Counterterrorism Yearbook 2020. his year’s Counterterrorism Yearbook draws upon 19 contributing authors, each a renowned thought leader in their field, to promote practical counterterrorism solutions by reviewing a global range of terrorism developments and counterterrorism responses. ASIO’s Director General, Mike Burgess commends the publication for its ‘valuable contribution to the public discourse on counterterrorism’. While maintaining its geographic focus, the Yearbook now includes thematic chapters on mental health, strategic policing, the media, the terror–crime nexus and terrorist innovation. These new thematic chapters have been included to encourage governments to consider more proactive CT agendas that move beyond the current focus on disrupting plots and discouraging people from joining and supporting terrorist groups. The focus here has been on promoting new thinking on how to deal with emergent areas of concern, such as comorbidity of mental health, use of gaming platforms, and artificial intelligence.

 

ASPI

A United States-Kiribati Compact of Free Association Would Yield Mutual Dividends, March 2020. A Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the Republic of Kiribati would strengthen the U.S. strategic posture in the Pacific, win the moral high ground in the global climate change debate, and strengthen Washington's diplomatic footing in Pacific regional architecture, while giving Kiribati strong defense guarantees, generous immigration terms, and modest development assistance. Kiribati is a Pacific Micronesian country, as are Nauru and the Freely Associated States (FAS), consisting of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands...

 

EWC

New Zealand Picks up on the Indo-Pacific, March 2020. The United States should, I have argued, pursue the “Pacific Principle.” The main features of this principle are power, purpose, and commitment to access and engagement across the region in all dimensions from security to public diplomacy. These actions matter more than what the United States calls the region running from our west coast to the eastern coast of Africa. The Pacific Island countries (PICs) and region (PIR) are crucial for many reasons; and not only because of China’s rising activities there. Four Indo-Pacific contests, over the balance of power, order, relations, and narratives, are having particular impacts on the PIR...

 

EWC

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #4: Deepening the Understanding of Social Media’s Impact in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia’s Internet users are far more diverse than usually reported. They range from the urban youth with laptops and high-speed Wi-Fi, to the older generation semi-rural and rural users with affordable mobile phones for Facebook and WhatsApp.Southeast Asians generally trust social media platforms more than in Western societies. This trust in social media reflects a lack of trust in local mainstream media and official sources of information. What campaign information (and disinformation) is being spread and which ones are most successful are essential for understanding how voters in Southeast Asia use and trust social media...

 

ISEAS

Industry 4.0 Policies in Thailand, February 2020. The Thai government has implemented a number of policies to harness the potential of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). These policies can be categorized into three broad categories, namely, digital infrastructure, skill formation, and target industries. As is often observed for other policies in Thailand, the policy coverage for Industry 4.0 is too broad. Many aspects are included without a clear prioritisation. There is no effective mechanism to assess these policies and their implementation largely depends on government agencies’ preferences. The existing assessment mechanism induces these agencies to undertake easy-to-achieve activities such as training...

 

ISEAS

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APEC

The Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Developing Asia, March 2020. A new coronavirus disease, now known as COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China (PRC), in early January 2020. From the information known at this point, several facts are pertinent. First, it belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012. Second, the mortality rate (number of deaths relative to number of cases), which is as yet imprecisely estimated, is probably in the range of 1%–3.4%—significantly lower than 10% for SARS and 34% for MERS, but substantially higher than the mortality rate for seasonal flu, which is less than 0.1%...

 

ADB

Asia Bond Monitor, March 2020. This issue of the Asia Bond Monitor reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic and deepening global economic uncertainty are weighing heavily on local currency bond markets of emerging East Asian economies. Apart from emerging East Asia, government bond yields have also declined in major advanced economies and select European markets between 31 December 2019 and 29 February 2020. Local currency bonds outstanding in emerging East Asia totaled $16 trillion at the end of December 2019, up 2.4% from September 2019 and 12.5% higher than December 2018. Bond issuance in the region totaled $1.44 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 9.5% decline from September last year...

 

ADB

Innovate Indonesia: Unlocking Growth through Technological Transformation, March 2020. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation and its tenth largest economy. It is by far the largest country by both measures in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It has sustained average economic growth rates above 5% since 2000 and made significant strides in reducing poverty. Yet economic analyses point to a number of factors constraining Indonesia’s growth potential, notably tepid productivity growth and slowing expansion in the labor force and manufacturing industries. Technology has a key role to play in overcoming these constraints and boosting future growth. Internationally, advanced and developing economies alike see emerging technologies offering sustainable growth...

 

ADB

Work and Social Protection in Asia and the Pacific during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, March 2020. The universal right to social protection remains elusive in Asia and the Pacific, as in the rest of the
world. In developing Asia and the Pacific, most new entrants to the labor market do so informally; beyond the informal economy, the nature of work in the region is often in temporary contracts. Regular, full-time employment in the formal economy encompasses a minority of labor market participants, so the majority of those working are usually without social protection, which has been traditionally associated with labor market participation...

 

ADB

Handbook on High-Speed Rail and Quality of Life, Published 2020.  Since the origin of the railways in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century, “high-speed” has been a time-relative concept. The 56-kilometer (km) Liverpool–Manchester Railway was the world’s first commercial passenger railway developed for intercity transport. The 50 km per hour (km/h) speed record achieved by the steam-powered “Rocket” locomotive in 1830 represented a truly high speed for its time.
Soon, with the changes in technology, passenger rail travel would see tremendous upgrades in speed. The German diesel trains achieved 215 km/h in 1939 and the French electric-powered Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) holds the current record on steel rails at 574 km/h (set in 2007)...

 

ADB

Asian Development Review, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2020 (Full Report):
This edition discusses current economic, environmental, and development issues in Asia such as poverty, migration, and financial spillovers. It features research studies in Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
Studies presented in this edition also provide data and information about trends in seasonal poverty and seasonal migration across Asia as well as analyses of financial spillovers between emerging Asia and advanced economies across regions.safe working environment in Viet Nam's manufacturing firms.

  ADB
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ADB

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ADB

Journal of Bhutan Studies, Volume 40, Summer 2019

 

Bhutan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging Giant Shaking up the EU? Impacts, Challenges and Implications of China’s Investment Frenzy in Europe, March 2020. Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has experienced an exponential surge globally over the past decade, challenging the traditional norms of international investment. This phenomenon is the result of a long series of policies formulated by the Chinese government, that have ushered in key reforms driving China’s economic liberalization and its integration into the global economy. While initial reforms launched under the aegis of Deng Xiaoping in the 1970’s, were conceptualized as a tool to attract foreign capital and know-how, the onset of the millennium marked a new phase in China’s internationalization strategy, with Chinese multinationals staggeringly expanding their presence abroad and conquering global markets...

 

ISDP

Cyber Risk Surveillance: A Case Study of Singapore, February 2020. Cyber risk is an emerging source of systemic risk in the financial sector, and possibly a macro-critical risk too. It is therefore important to integrate it into financial sector surveillance. This paper offers a range of analytical approaches to assess and monitor cyber risk to the financial sector, including various approaches to stress testing. The paper illustrates these techniques by applying them to Singapore. As an advanced economy with a complex financial system and rapid adoption of fintech, Singapore serves as a good case study. We place our results in the context of recent cybersecurity developments in the public and private sectors, which can be a reference for surveillance work.

 

MAS

Private Banking Sales and Advisory Practices, February 2020. Singapore has established itself as one of the leading global private banking and wealth management centres. High-net-worth individuals and accredited investors choose Singapore because of its sound financial regulation and strong rule of law, amongst other factors. MAS expects financial institutions operating in the private banking industry in Singapore (referred to as “PBs” henceforth) to uphold high standards of market conduct and transparency in their dealings with clients, so as to safeguard clients’ interests and Singapore’s reputation as a leading wealth management hub...

 

MAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #3: Terrorism in Indonesia after “Islamic State". The emergence of the Islamic State (IS) movement in Indonesia in 2014 re-energized violent extremism in Indonesia. As a result of effective counterterrorism policing, however, IS networks have been decimated and the structure of jihadism in Indonesia has shifted from organizations to autonomous networks and cells, increasingly organized via the Internet. Although support for violent extremism in Indonesia remains marginal, cells of IS followers maintain a low-level capacity to conduct lethal attacks against civilian and government targets. Most IS operations in Indonesia are sporadic and low-level attacks against the Indonesian police. Religious minorities have also been high-profile targets, as in the Surabaya church suicide bombings of 13 May 2018. There are some indications, however, of militants’ renewed interest in attacking foreign targets, such as tourists on the resort island of Bali...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #2: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle: Nurturing Exclusivist Interpretations of Islam in the Malaysian Home. As an increasingly conservative wave of Islam engulfs the globe, literalist Salafi interpretations of the faith have become prevalent in Malaysia. While there are several Islamic schools of thought in the country, including those deemed “deviant”, the loudest voices are always the more extreme. Over the past year, there has been increasing recognition of women’s roles as recruiters, financiers and influencers for radical Islamic groups. More women have been arrested for their support for and involvement in the Islamic State (IS), but much of the focus has been on their desire to marry a jihadi soldier or channel funds to the cause. In Malaysia, these women (including returnees from IS) are seen to be followers, not decision-makers or active agents in extremist action. While Malay-Muslim women were both economically and socially active prior to colonization, patriarchal norms are now commonplace because of Islamic and Western conventions, as well as increasing conservatism in society...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2020 #1: The Vietnam-US Security Partnership and the Rules-based International Order in the Age of Trump. Vietnam-US relations have kept strengthening since bilateral normalization in 1995, including in the defence and strategic domains. This has turned the two countries into increasingly important security partners for each other. The shared perception of the China threat, especially in the South China Sea, provided the strongest momentum towards bilateral strategic rapprochement in recent years despite the strategic uncertainties generated by the Trump administration. Such strategic dynamics also shaped Vietnam’s supportive view of the US-led regional and global orders. In the short to medium term, challenges for bilateral relations include the further improvement of mutual trust and the building up of Vietnam’s capacity to participate in more substantive defence cooperation initiatives with the United States. In the long run, how to balance its strengthening ties with Washington and the troubling yet important relationship with Beijing remains a challenge for Hanoi...

 

ISEAS

Taiwan Flashpoint: What Australia Can Do to Stop the Coming Taiwan Crisis, February 2020. A major strategic crisis is brewing across the Taiwan Strait, one which threatens to be significantly more serious than earlier crises of the 1950s and mid-1990s. Current tensions between China and Taiwan, and the fear that a major conflict could erupt, are generally attributed to Beijing’s growing assertiveness. However, these tensions are ultimately the product of changes in the dynamics of the triangular relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States and, most importantly, the balance of military power underpinning those ties. These tensions have sparked renewed debate in Australia over whether conflict would trigger Australia’s obligations under the ANZUS alliance...

 

Lowy

Taiwan’s 2020 Election and Its Implications for the New Southbound Policy, February 2020. The elections in January 2020 marked a new era for Taiwan, clearly demonstrating citizens’ resistance to China. The results showed that incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was re-elected with a landslide victory of 8.17 million votes (57.1%) which is higher than the previous record high of 7.65 million votes obtained by the Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying Jeou in 2008. Although KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-Yu failed to win the election, he also obtained 5.5 million votes (38.6%), surpassing the 3.81 million votes obtained by the KMT’s Zhu Lilun in 2016...

 

EWC

America’s “Pacific Principle” in an Indivisible Pacific Islands Region, February 2020. The United States should, I have argued, pursue the “Pacific Principle.” The main features of this principle are power, purpose, and commitment to access and engagement across the region in all dimensions from security to public diplomacy. These actions matter more than what the United States calls the region running from our west coast to the eastern coast of Africa. The Pacific Island countries (PICs) and region (PIR) are crucial for many reasons; and not only because of China’s rising activities there. Four Indo-Pacific contests, over the balance of power, order, relations, and narratives, are having particular impacts on the PIR. An emerging feature is the increasing indivisibility of the region; that is, the declining significance of the colonial-era, sub-regional delineations of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. These trends provide a basis for framing America’s policy approach to the PIR...

 

EWC

Ict for Development in the Pacific Islands, February 2020. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) as an invisible driver of socio-economic change have long captured the imagination of politicians, policymakers and aid professionals alike. Since the first fibre-optic submarine cable connected Fiji 20 years ago, many reports and studies have been written about the potential that the introduction of ICTs in the South Pacific would bring for reaching targets of poverty reduction and economic growth. The internet, mobile devices and e-commerce have already penetrated the Pacific, configured to the political, economic and sociocultural context of the various island nations. Fiji was the first island to get linked up to the global network of submarine communications cables in 2000. In 2020, all major islands in the region are connected through one or more domestic and international fibre-optic cables. The region is connected...

 

ASPI

Australia's Implementation of Women, Peace and Security: Promoting Regional Security, February 2020. Australia’s implementation of women, peace and security examines the benefits of Australia strengthening its implementation of the women, peace and security agenda to bolster its regional stability and national security efforts. Since its formal establishment by the UN Security Council in October 2000, the women, peace and security agenda has become the central framework through which to advocate for women’s participation across all peace and security decision-making processes, to promote the rights of women and girls in conflict and crisis settings, and for the integration of gender perspectives into conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict rebuilding efforts and throughout disaster and crisis responses. The agenda, when implemented holistically, can also complement states’ national security efforts and strategies aimed at promoting regional stability...

 

ASPI

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ADB

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ADB

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ADB

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APEC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia's Next Cybersecurity Strategy: Views From the Strategist, February 2020. Back in 2016, Australia launched a new national cybersecurity strategy. The strategy covers a four-year period to 2020, and given the changes in the security environment, an update is now clearly warranted. To that end, the government has just released a discussion paper to kick off the public consultation. The closing date for submissions on the discussion paper is 1 November. To complement the public submission process, ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is initiating a public debate on what should be included in the next cybersecurity strategy. Contributions will be compiled into a report that we will deliver to the Department of Home Affairs to inform the strategy’s development...

 

ASPI

Four Factors that Could Shape Southeast Asia in the Coming Decade, January 2020. Southeast Asia is witnessing major changes to its political, strategic and economic fabric. Some of these, such as the rise of China, have been anticipated for some time, while others, such as the US-China trade dispute, the growing prominence of the Indo-Pacific as a strategic concept, and the Trump administration’s retreat from liberal internationalism, have unfolded rapidly and disruptively during the past few years...

 

EWC

Has U.S. Government Angst over the China Danger Diminished? January 2020. The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding. The American government’s hardening policies toward China emerged somewhat erratically following publication of the surprisingly tough Trump administration national security and national defense strategies at the turn of 2017-2018. Both strategies identified China as America’s top international danger...

 

EWC

Addressing China’s Exported Emissions, December 2019. Once known as the world's top carbon polluter, China has recently recommitted itself as a leader in sustainability and renewable energy. Moving to fill the gaps left by the United States at the Paris Climate Talks, China has ramped up its renewable energy commitments, including plans to cap its CO2 emissions, drastically increase forest stocks, and expand its non-fossil fuel market share to 20 percent, all by 2030. This move has been highly favorable for Chinese diplomatic relations with its Southeast and Pacific Island neighbors who have labeled climate change as a top priority...

 

EWC

Thailand’s Response to the United States on Labor Rights, December 2019. The United States has suspended Thailand’s trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), emphasizing the inadequate protection of worker rights in Thailand as the reason for its judgement. Washington suggests Thailand has not done enough to improve working conditions for both Thai and migrant workers despite numerous domestic reforms in recent years...

 

EWC

Cooperation Between the United States and Pakistan: What is the Future? January 2020. Within the Indo-Pacific region, the United States and Pakistan have sharply divergent strategic objectives. While American objectives have changed over time, focusing in recent years on rivalry with China, Pakistan’s strategic objective has remained constant—to maintain a balance of power with India. Yet Pakistan retains close strategic and economic ties with China, and the United States considers India an important strategic partner. Nevertheless, the two countries have worked together for nearly two decades toward two tactical goals—achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan and eliminating terrorism in South Asia. There is potential for them to cooperate more broadly, for example, increasing direct foreign investment to Pakistan and helping Islamabad balance its relations with the United States and China. Washington’s willingness to expand such cooperation will depend on Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting terrorism in the region.

 

EWC

Women, Leadership, and Asian Economic Performance, January 2020. In an era of slowing economic growth, Asian countries face an imperative to boost productivity. One possible source of economic revitalization would be to make better use of women in the labor force. Although female representation in corporate leadership has been rising gradually over time, as of 2017, women comprised only 16 percent of executive officers and 11 percent of board members in publicly listed firms in Asia. Research shows that Asian firms with female executive officers and board members perform better in terms of net profit margin and return on assets than firms that lack females in leadership positions. Public policy can improve this gender gap. For one thing, countries that produce large numbers of female college graduates in fields such as law, business, or economics tend to generate more female corporate executives.

 

EWC

Determinants of E-Commerce Adoption and Utilisation by SMEs in Thailand, January 2020. This study empirically investigates the factors and barriers which hinder e-commerce adoption and utilisation levels by Thai SMEs in the food and beverage and retail industries. Older SMEs are likely to have lower levels of e-commerce utilisation. Larger SMEs are more likely to adopt e-commerce. Social media and website are significantly drivers of e-commerce utilisation levels. Food delivery platforms are crucial in enhancing higher e-commerce utilisation levels in the food and beverage industry. Smartphones are found to be a cost-effective tools for e-commerce transactions. The most significant barriers which can hinder the e-commerce adoption are customers’ knowledge of e-commerce and internet security...

 

ISEAS

MAS Survey of Professional Forecasters, December 2019. The December 2019 Survey was sent out on 21 November 2019 to a total of 27 economists and analysts who closely monitor the Singapore economy. This report reflects the views received from 22 respondents (a response rate of 81.5%) and does not represent MAS’ views or forecasts. The Singapore economy expanded by 0.5% in Q3 2019 compared with the same period last year, higher than the 0.3% projected by respondents in the previous survey. In the current survey, year-on-year growth in Q4 2019 is expected to come in at 1.0%...

 

MAS

2018 Singapore Asset Management Industry Survey, September 2019. 2018 was a challenging year for global financial markets and the asset management industry. Global assets under management (“AUM”) declined by 4% to US$74 trillion, compared to an increase of 12% in 2017, weighed down by uncertain global growth prospects. Global net inflows for 2018 also slowed to US$944 billion, below the record high of US$2.2 trillion in 2017, reflecting investors’ cautious stance amidst the uncertain outlook. In contrast, Singapore’s asset management industry registered a relatively good expansion of 5.4% to S$3.4 trillion, or US$2.5 trillion. Singapore continues to serve as the Global-Asia gateway for asset managers and investors to tap the region’s growth opportunities, with 75% of AUM sourced from outside of Singapore in 2018. 67% of total AUM was invested in the Asia Pacific, of which more than a third of Asia Pacific AUM were investments into ASEAN countries...

 

MAS

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APEC

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ADB

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ADB

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PIDS

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PIDS

Philippine Institute for Development Studies - Development Research News, October-December 2019  

PIDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong: High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2020Q1, January 2020. Hong Kong’s real GDP is estimated to drop by 3.3% in 19Q4 when compared with the same period in 2018, extending the downward trend of a 2.9% drop in 19Q3. Hong Kong’s economy is expected to shrink by an annual 1.3% for 2019, representing a 1.3 percentage points downward revision from our previous forecast. Global economic slowdown and prolonged protests brought by the anti-extradition bill have hampered consumer confidence and discouraged investments, leading to a higher unemployment rate. In 20Q1, contraction of real GDP is expected to continue to drop by 2.8%, when compared with the same period in 2019. With the government’s supportive stimulus measures, the situation is expected to stabilize in the latter half of 2020. Hong Kong’s annual GDP growth for 2020 is forecast to be a mild 0.4%...

 

HKU

China’s Economic Choices: Where to from Here? December 2019. China’s economic progress is slowing. A rapidly ageing population means its demographics are becoming increasingly unfavourable, and China has reached the limits of its traditional reliance on investment and exports to fuel rapid economic growth. The key question is what comes next. Continuing with the same approach risks a further decline in the pace of growth. This would create major difficulties for its highly leveraged economy, disappoint the growth expectations of its populace, and add to the internal and external economic risks that are already evident. Deep reforms will be required just to sustain a trajectory of 5–6 per cent growth over the coming decade. Beijing’s current policy strategy, with its focus on domestic innovation and protecting the privileged status of state-owned enterprises, is unlikely to prove sufficient...

 

Lowy

Rethinking Taiwan Policy: History, Politics, Ideology, December 2019. The issue of Taiwan has long been one of the most intractable and multilayered in regional political, defence, foreign affairs, trade and security policy. Taiwan is claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as part of its territory, and, under its official title of the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan is limited by Beijing to a marginal position in the international system. Political relations between Taipei and Beijing are fractious, but the Taiwan Strait is at the same time a critical link in global supply chains, carrying hundreds of billions of dollars of cross-strait trade in goods and services and investments every year. Hanging over this political and economic relationship is the constant threat of military action from Beijing...

 

ASPI

Augmenting Maritime Domain Awareness in Southeast Asia: Boosting National Capabilities in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, December 2019. Promoting maritime domain awareness (MDA) has become an increasingly high priority area for many Southeast Asian states. The rising salience of a regional maritime ‘disorder’ that’s increasingly being shaped by the influence of so-called ‘grey area’ phenomena, combined with a growing awareness that these non-state challenges can be dealt with only through a whole-of-government approach, has prompted several regional countries to create multiagency operational fusion centres (FCs) to mitigate these dangers...

 

ASPI

Ocean Horizons: Strengthening Maritime Security in Indo-Pacific Island States, December 2019. The report examines how Pacific island countries (PICs) and Indian Ocean island states (IO island states) are managing and prioritising their maritime security challenges. These islands, which we call the ‘Indo-Pacific island states’, face an intricate offshore tapestry. In particular, this report suggests that most of the maritime threats and risks facing the Indo-Pacific island states are increasing. That’s in part because of the general lack of effective maritime security identified in this report. The report describes the current geopolitical environment of the Indo-Pacific island states and how we should understand maritime security in the context of island states...

 

ASPI

How the Geopolitical Partnership Between China and Russia Threatens the West, November 2019. We’re in an era when the risks of major-power conflict are growing. The most likely contenders are China, the rising power, and the US, the formerly dominant power that’s now in relative decline. The other worrying contingency is conflict between Russia and US-led NATO. But what about the third possibility: the prospect of China and Russia collaborating to challenge American power? The most dangerous scenario for America would be a grand coalition of China and Russia united not by ideology, but by complementary grievances. This paper examines Russian and Chinese concepts of great-power war in the 21st century, their views of the West and its military capabilities, and what risks they might both take to regain lost territories...

 

ASPI

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #18: The Belt and Road Initiative: Environmental Impacts in Southeast Asia. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is expected to be the largest infrastructure development scheme of the twenty-first century. There is escalating concern over BRI’s potential environmental impacts in Southeast Asia, a global biodiversity hotspot and a focus area of BRI development. Case studies of Indonesia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Malaysia show that the success of BRI in bringing about sustainable growth and opportunities depends on the Chinese government and financiers, as well as the agencies and governments involved when BRI investments take place. The adoption of best environmental practices is critical in ensuring that growth is sustainable and that bad environmental practices are not locked in for decades to come...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #17: "Old" and "New" Chinese Business in Cambodia’s Capital. China’s influence over economic and political affairs in Cambodia is undisputed. It is the biggest investor in Cambodia, adding nearly US$5.3 billion between 2013 and 2017, especially into real estate development, the garment industry and the tourism sector. For Phnom Penh’s SMEs, “new” Chinese migrants are an increasingly important clientele, and raw materials, machinery, consumer goods and capital from Greater China have been vital resources. At the same time, they face competition from entrepreneurs from China entering the Cambodian market. For Cambodia’s elite entrepreneurs, known as oknha, China is an export destination for Cambodian timber and cash crops, and “new” Chinese investments provide business opportunities in the form of construction contracts and joint ventures in real estate and tourism development, industrial parks or the energy sector...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #16: E-commerce for Malaysian SMEs in Selected Services: Barriers and Benefits. Findings from a recent survey done to identify the barriers and benefits of e-commerce for Malaysian SMEs in the retail and food and beverage services indicate that both e-commerce adopters and non-adopters are similar in that they perceive the CEO or decision-maker to be the most important factor in the adoption of e-commerce. The relative importance of the other three main factors (namely, organizational, technological and environmental) differ for adopters and non-adopters. Likewise, there are also differences in response based on firm size. Based on the survey findings, Malaysia needs to shift from one-size-fits-all strategies to a more nuanced policy response that addresses the differences in perceived barriers of adopters and non-adopters and which is also cognizant of firm size...

 

ISEAS

A Steady Hand: The EU 2019 Strategy & Policy Toward Central Asia, November 2019. The launch of a new EU Strategy for Central Asia in June 2019 marked a milestone in the gradual development of relations between the EU and the region. The Strategy’s launch coincides with considerable change in and around the region. Internally, Central Asia has experienced a renewed commitment to reform and regionalism; meanwhile, the region has seen a greater engagement by neighboring powers, most immediately through large-scale Chinese and Russian initiatives, but also in the shape of a growing interest on the part of Asian powers as well as the United States. A closer analysis of the EU’s engagement with Central Asia paradoxically indicates a sort of parallel evolution: both the EU and the Central Asian states are products of the post-cold war era, and their relations have intensified along with their own internal evolution into ever more solid entities on the international scene...

 

ISDP

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APEC

Asian Development Outlook 2019 Supplement: Growth Slows Further in Developing Asia’s Giants, December 2019. This Supplement projects growth in developing Asia of 5.2% in both 2019 and 2020, having revised forecasts down given the challenging global environment. Excluding newly industrialized economies, regional growth forecasts are revised down to 5.7% for both 2019 and 2020. Regional inflation projections are revised up to 2.8% for 2019 and 3.1% for 2020 as African swine fever continues to elevate pork prices. Elusive trade conflict resolution weighs on sentiment and activity in the region, with further delay still the foremost downside risk to the forecasts.

 

ADB

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ADB

Hmong Studies Journal, Vol. 20, 2019  

HSJ

Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, Volume 8, 2019  

CSDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

  

 
 

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