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September, 2019 Current Topics

 

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Once More with Feeling: Russia and the Asia-Pacific, August 2019. The rise of Asia is the central challenge of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy. No other continent will have a greater impact on Russia’s international prospects in the coming decades. The Asia-Pacific, in particular, is already the principal region of global growth, geopolitical rivalry, and clashing values. Moscow’s long-time Westerncentrism is increasingly obsolescent, and the need for a fundamental reorientation of Russian foreign policy has become compelling. Recent developments point to a new level of commitment in Russia’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific. Moscow has moved beyond platitudes about a ‘turn to the East’ and is pursuing a multi-dimensional approach towards the region: reinforcing the partnership with China; reaching out to other major players; and promoting itself as a significant security and economic contributor...

 

Lowy

Thematic Review of Collateral Management Standards and Practices of Corporate Lending Business, August 2019. The slowdown in global growth over the past year, amid heightened uncertainty and increased downside risks posed by trade and geopolitical developments, would have an impact on credit risk faced by banks. As credit risk remains a key concern for the financial sector, MAS expects banks to be vigilant in adopting sound credit risk management standards and practices to guard against these external vulnerabilities. Against this backdrop, MAS conducted a thematic review on collateral management standards and practices of banks’ corporate lending business over 2018 and 2019. This is the third in a series of credit thematic reviews of banks’ corporate loan portfolios, which started in 2015. These thematic reviews, taken together, covered key control elements of banks’ credit life cycle, and highlighted sound practices that the industry should benchmark against...

 

MAS

MAS-SGX Trade Surveillance Practice Guide, August 2019. In its regulation of the capital markets, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) seeks to promote fair, efficient and transparent markets, where participants have equal access to information and transparent trading rules are effectively enforced. Such market integrity preserves investor confidence and is crucial for well-functioning capital markets that support trade and economic growth. As a frontline regulator, the Singapore Exchange Regulation (“SGX RegCo”), an independent subsidiary of the Singapore Exchange (“SGX”), works closely with brokers, MAS and other stakeholders to uphold robust compliance and surveillance standards, and encourages early disruption of irregular trading activities in SGX’s markets...

 

MAS

Joko Widodo’s Re-Election and Indonesia’s Domestically Anchored Foreign Policy, August 2019. On July 14, newly re-elected Indonesian incumbent President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo delivered a speech on his visions for the second term, set to kick off in October 2019. The president’s speech did not touch upon foreign policy, a subject many have claimed to be his weakness. Expectedly, Jokowi focused his speech on infrastructure and economy — which reflects the administration’s main concerns since he first assumed presidential office in 2014. This does not mean, however, that Indonesia under Jokowi has been neglecting foreign affairs. It is perhaps true that Jokowi has not been a president with a grand vision for foreign policy...

 

EWC

Emerging Trends in India-U.S. Oil and Gas Engagement, August 2019. Oil and gas trade is emerging as a new area of engagement between India and the United States against the backdrop of increasingly complementary interests. The emergence of the United States as the world’s top oil and gas producer in the last few years dovetails perfectly with India’s energy-deficient status and growing demand. With high rates of economic growth and over 17 percent of the world’s population, India’s energy consumption growth is largely fed by foreign imports of fossil fuels. While the increasing supply and demand are the obvious drivers of this upward trend in trade, the contours of energy ties have been fleshed out in the India-US Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) launched in April 2018. The trade component of the SEP envisages the sale of oil and gas to India from the burgeoning shale rigs in the United States...

 

EWC

Towards a Commonwealth Law Enforcement Innovation Framework, August 2019.In March 2019, ASPI, with the sponsorship of Oracle, coordinated the ASPI–Oracle Innovation Framework Workshop. The workshop brought together subject-matter experts from federal law enforcement agencies, academia and the private sector to explore the feasibility of a Commonwealth law enforcement innovation framework (CLEIF). This followed a 2018 research project that explored the current state of innovation in law enforcement. That research was based on a case study of innovation in Australia’s federal anti-money-laundering (AML) provisions...

 

ASPI

Indo-Pacific Election Pulse 2019: Thailand, Indonesia, India and Australia: Views from the Strategist, August 2019.With democracy under stress globally, a deeper understanding of the impact elections in the Indo-Pacific in 2019 will have on the region’s strategic direction is crucial. In the context of growing concerns over the strength of democracy, the influence of authoritarianism and ideological competition, this Strategic Insight—a collection of articles from The Strategist — delves into the complexities and implications of elections in India, Indonesia, Australia and Thailand.

 

ASPI

The Australian Defence Force and Contested Space, August 2019. This new Strategy report looks at war on the high frontier of outer space, and what the implications such a development might have for the ADF. It highlights that space is not a sanctuary from geopolitical rivalries. The report notes that Australia is heavily dependent on the space environment, both for its national prosperity and societal well-being, and for its defence and national security, and the report examines Australia’s current approach to use of space for Defence. The report then examines emerging counterspace threats. China and Russia are moving towards deploying a suite of ‘counterspace capabilities’ to deny access to essential space systems used by the US and its allies, including Australia, prior to, or at the outset of a military conflict...

 

ASPI

Defence Projects and the Economy, August 2019. This report examines what the national economy stands to gain from nearly $100 billion of planned investment in new defence capital equipment including submarines, frigates and military vehicles. The report emphasises that although the general public has been informed about some of the economic benefits of those projects, it has limited access to reliable information on most of their economic costs. Nor has the public been fully informed of how much of what goes into the projects will be produced in Australia...

 

ASPI

Strong and Free? The Future Security of Australia's North, August 2019. This report argues that ‘there is a need to reconceptualize Northern Australia, as a single scalable Defence and National Security ecosystem’. This ecosystem should be developed to ‘deliver integrated support to current and future ADF and National Security operations’. The strategic importance of Australia’s north to Australia’s defence has long been recognized by government and policy makers. Despite strategic policy commitments to Northern Australia, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the gap is widening between strategic policy and Defence’s actual activities and presence in the north. This could well be symptomatic of a gap in Australia’s northern development policies...

 

ASPI

Projecting National Power: Reconceiving Australian Air Power Strategy for an Age of High Contest, August 2019. Author Peter Hunter says, ‘There’s rich potential for the Air Force’s new platforms—from F-35 to P8 to Growler—to help project our national influence. Air power’s value will be measured not just by its ability to deter and discourage traditional military threats, but also by its role in helping achieve influence in our region.’ Dealing with challenges like coercive diplomacy and political warfare will mean the ADF needs to help shape regional events to our advantage, as well as prevent others from doing things we don’t want. But that will require disruptive thinking about how air power assets can be used in unconventional ways...

 

ASPI

Firm Performance and Structural Change: The Case of Thailand, August 2019. A key aspect of the development process is structural change. For most countries, this takes the form of a decline in the contribution of the agriculture sector in the economy accompanied by the rise of the shares of manufacturing and services. The theories and empirics of structural change have mostly focused on economy-wide and sectoral-level analysis. There is a scarcity of studies on the microeconomics of structural change due to the lack of long-term panel data at the firm level. This study undertakes a microeconometric analysis of structural change by studying how firm-level performance as defined by ROA and ROE is affected by structural change in the Thai economy. A key finding of this study is that trends in the financial performance of firms provide a useful perspective of the micro-level impact of structural change in the economy.

 

ISEAS

Latest APEC publications:

 

 

APEC

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ADB

Latest ADB Publications:  

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreseeing India-China Relations: The 'Compromised Context' of Rapprochement, July 2019. India-China relations witnessed a new wave of optimism for a progressive and engaging partnership following the Wuhan Summit, the informal 2018 meeting between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping. Key to this has been continuous exchange of political and official visits from both sides. However, these exchanges might not be sufficient to remove uncertainty and suspicion from their relations. As long as China’s relationship with the United States remains adversarial, China will embrace India—without guaranteeing that it will not adopt a confrontational posture in the future. Their shifting relations, though suggesting an official longing for an upward trajectory, are based on a compromised context. External circumstances have pushed them to rapprochement, but could also drive them apart. Whether India and China will sustain this rapprochement is difficult to foresee...

 

EWC

Australia’s Approach to the South China Sea Disputes, July 2019. Over the past five years, Australia has expressed concern over China’s island building, militarization of land features, and excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS). Australia shares similar interests with the United States in upholding the maritime rules-based order, yet there are important divergences that reflect differing perspectives on geostrategic competition in the Indo-Pacific. While bipartisan support for the U.S. alliance remains strong, the importance of protecting trade relations with China has also shaped Canberra’s response to the SCS disputes...

 

EWC

Belt and Road Initiative 2.0: ‘Qualitatively’ Different? June 2019. Following five years of periodic controversies and criticism – some factual, others contrived – President Xi Jinping used the Belt and Road (BRI) Forum in April to set the agenda for the next five years of his hallmark project. At the forum’s second edition, meant to promote a “stronger partnership network,” the Chinese leader pledged to “clean up,” stressed “zero tolerance” to corruption, and emphasized readiness to adopt “internationally acceptable” standards in the bidding process of BRI projects in the future. This language indicates Beijing’s openness to constructive criticism and willingness to objectively tweak some inherent weaknesses in the strategy and implementation mechanisms for the BRI during the 2013-2018 period...

 

EWC

Jokowi’s Second Term: Economic Challenges and Outlook, July 2019. After winning the 2019 election, President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s has a great opportunity to bring the Indonesian economy into a stronger footing. Jokowi’s economic policies achieved mixed outcomes in his first term (2014–2019). He hasn’t delivered a promised 7% economic growth, but steady 5% growth is perceived as a commendable achievement, given slowing global growth, rising uncertainties, and low commodity prices. Macroeconomic stability has been well maintained, and Indonesia’s creditworthiness has improved during this first term...

 

ASPI

From Board Room to Situation Room. Why Corporate Security Is National Security, July 2019. Corporations already protect their assets and functions. Corporate security encompasses those managers who address the preventive ‘likelihood’ and the resilience ‘consequence’ elements of risk management and seek to secure the business from a wide range of hazards, including criminals, issue-motivated groups, terrorism, cyberattacks, environmental events, natural disasters, espionage and supply-chain disruption. However, considering the company’s capabilities as part of our national security capabilities isn’t normally a factor in business planning. Our approach to national security planning should now include key companies and their supply chains: it’s time to rethink our national security approach in a more complex, dynamic and interconnected world...

 

ASPI

The Post-Caliphate Salafi-Jihadi Environment, July 2019. In 2019, the global Salafi-jihadi architecture is very different from the one that emerged in September 2001, when transnational terrorism burst on to the international scene, or July 2014, when ISIL controlled more than 34,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq and thousands of young men and women were flocking to be part of its ‘caliphate’. Many of the leaders of the Salafi-jihadi movement are gone. Some, like Osama bin Laden and Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, have been killed, and many others have been captured or are in hiding. And yet, despite having no territory and having lost many of their leaders, both al-Qaeda and ISIL continue to pose a threat to the maintenance of international peace
and security. In fact, one could argue that they pose more of a threat today, as the structure of the groups has moved from integrated to fragmented, making command and control more tenuous...

 

ASPI

North of 26° South and the Security of Australia Views from the Strategist, July 2019. The idea of the north of Australia being central to the new concept of the defence of Australia in the 1970s derived from the key strategic fact that the only country in the region with the conventional military capabilities to threaten Australia was Indonesia. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Indonesia had the world’s third-largest communist party and was armed by the Soviet Union with modern submarines and long-range bombers. Australia’s response was to acquire F-111 fighter-bombers and Oberon-class submarines. However, by the 1980s, much of Indonesia’s military equipment was either out of date or suffering from a chronic lack of maintenance. Hence, the 1986 Dibb review and the 1987 defence white paper focused on the potential threat of low-level conflict, which could conceivably be escalated to the use by Indonesia of its deteriorating Soviet military equipment...

 

ASPI

Between Japan and Southeast Asia: Australia and Us–China Economic Rivalry, June 2019. Recently, the economic front of US–China major-power rivalry has deepened and expanded beyond the legalistic confines of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many in Australia, which has the US as its security ally and main source and destination of investment and China as its main trading partner, are rightly concerned by this evolution. Within the WTO and outside, Australia’s alignment on the economic dimensions of the US–China contest has been consistent for decades. Here, Australia is less aligned with the US than Japan and less aligned with China than Southeast Asian states despite trading more heavily with China...

 

ASPI

The Leniency Programme in Malaysia’s Competition Regime: A Critical Evaluation, July 2019. Malaysia’s competition law came into force in January 2012. Detailed guidelines on a leniency programme were published in October 2014. Despite the leniency programme being designed based on best-practices found in more mature competition regimes and ICN, it has been under-utilised in the cartel cases investigated in Malaysia. This under-utilisation of the programme could be due to the enforcement agency having too much discretionary powers. Another reason could be the lack of immunization from civil proceedings. De-facto government oversight and spillover from deterioration in the country’s state of governance in the past could also have affected the public’s perception of quasi-independent commissions. This is reflected in the perceptions of the business community on courts and corruption in the country.

 

ISEAS

High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2019Q3, July 2019. According to its High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecast, real GDP is estimated to grow by 1.3% in 19Q2 when compared with the same period in 2018, improved from the 0.6% growth in 19Q1. The US-China trade tension severely dampened Hong Kong’s consumer sentiment and external trade in the first half of 2019 but it is expected to improve slightly in the upcoming quarters. In 19Q3, real GDP is expected to grow by 1.6% when compared with the same period last year. We forecast Hong Kong GDP to grow by 1.8% in 2019 as a whole, slower than the 3.0% growth in 2018 and a downward revision of our previous forecast by 0.5 percentage points...

 

HKU

Emergency Liquidity Assistance in Singapore, June 2019. This Monograph outlines the approach taken by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in providing Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to financial institutions (FIs). As a central bank, MAS conducts money market operations daily to ensure that there is an appropriate amount of liquidity in the banking system. To reduce interest rate volatility and to facilitate the smooth functioning of S$ payment systems, MAS also operates two liquidity facilities1 – the MAS Intra-day Liquidity Facility (ILF) and the MAS Standing Facility (SF). These facilities allow eligible FIs to obtain intra-day or overnight S$ liquidity on a collateralised basis. Details of MAS’ liquidity management framework are set out in the monograph on Monetary Policy Operations in Singapore...

 

MAS

A Guide to Digital Token Offerings, April 2019. This paper provides general guidance on the application of the relevant laws administered by MAS in relation to offers or issues of digital tokens in Singapore.  For purposes of this guide, the securities laws refer to the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (“SFA”) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110) (“FAA”). The contents of this guide are not exhaustive, have no legal effect and do not modify or supersede any applicable laws, regulations or requirements...

 

MAS

Incentive Structures in the Banking Industry, March 2019. Financial institutions (FIs) across jurisdictions have shown a clear shift in their view of the importance of sound culture and conduct in the years following the Global Financial Crisis. Notwithstanding the heightened awareness of their importance, progress in steps taken to improve culture and conduct has been uneven. We continue to witness how gross misconduct and unethical practices by FIs in some countries have eroded customers’ trust and public confidence in the financial sector. In many of these incidents, imprudent incentive structures were contributing factors...

 

MAS

MAS' Approach to Macroprudential Policy, January 2019. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is an integrated financial supervisor that is responsible for “fostering a sound and reputable financial centre and promoting financial stability in Singapore. MAS achieves this objective through microprudential supervision of individual financial institutions and macroprudential oversight of the financial system as a whole. The objectives of MAS’ supervision and the principles that guide our approach are set out in “Objectives and Principles of Financial Sector Oversight in Singapore”, issued in April 2004. The schematic representation below illustrates how the various supervisory functions of MAS support its mission to promote a sound and progressive financial services sector...

 

MAS

Fostering an Enabling Policy and Regulatory Environment in APEC for Data-Utilizing Businesses, July 2019. The objectives of this study is to better understand: 1) how firms from different sectors use data in their business models; and considering the significant increase in data-related policies and regulations enacted by governments across the world, 2) how such policies and regulations are affecting their use of data and hence business models. The study also tries: 3) to identify some of the middle-ground approaches that would enable governments to achieve public policy objectives, such as data security and privacy, and at the same time, also promote the growth of data-utilizing businesses. 39 firms from 12 economies have participated in this project and they come from a diverse group of industries, including aviation, logistics, shipping, payment services, encryption services, and manufacturing. The synthesis report can be found in Chapter 1 while the case study chapters can be found in Chapter 2 to 10.

 

APEC

Promoting Regional Connectivity of Professionally Qualified Engineers in APEC, June 2019. This project comprises two main components: creation of the APEC Engineer Databank and the organization of the HRDWG-GOS Workshop and Dialogue on Promoting Regional Connectivity of Professionally Qualified Engineers in APEC. This report provides insights into the databank’s usage statistics to examine its usefulness as the official platform; and captures the gist of views and ideas raised by participants of the HRDWG-GOS workshop and dialogue. It concludes with specific short- and long-term recommendations that aim to guide APEC to support cross-border mobility for professionally qualified engineers.

 

APEC

Latest ADB Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Latest ADBI Working Paper Series:  

ADB

Other ADB Publications:  

ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modernization and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: A New Spring? November 2018. Until recently, regional cooperation among Central Asian states has left much to be desired. While a number of initiatives have been launched over the past quarter-century, there is no functioning mechanism for coordination among the region’s states, and by early 2018, a decade had passed since Central Asian leaders met without the presence of foreign powers. Little wonder, then, that despite the close cultural and historical connections linking Central Asians together, the very existence of a Central Asian region has come to be questioned. In the past two years, there are important indications that this gloomy picture is rapidly changing. The pace of interaction among regional states has grown considerably. Controversies over border delimitation and water use have been largely resolved...

 

ISDP

Overestimating the Power of China´s BRI – Lessons Drawn from Japanese ODA Engagement in Asia, June 2019. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 is among the most ambitious global visions promoted by one country. The general goal of BRI is the provision of economic infrastructure worth at least $1 trillion to improve the land and sea routes between Asia, Africa, and Europe. In order to attract additional international investments to finance the initiative, China even created a multilateral bank – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — in 2015. However, China’s ambitious BRI strategy has met considerable criticism from politicians and policy-makers, journalists, analysts, and scholars. These criticisms include accusations of pursuing debt-trap diplomacy to gain concessions from countries participating in BRI...

 

EWC

Pathways for the United States and Vietnam to Establish a Strategic Partnership by 2020, June 2019. The United States and Vietnam, former enemies, have transformed relations into a partnership since rapprochement in 1995. Moving away from their twentieth-century enmity, the two sides reached a breakthrough in relations with the establishment of a comprehensive partnership in 2013. A further step was taken in 2017 when a joint statement was issued for enhancing the comprehensive partnership. The next step should be establishing a strategic partnership by 2020. The foundation of the relationship between the United States and Vietnam comprises more than strategic considerations. It is deeply emotional, as people from both sides have worked together to address war legacies...

 

EWC

Slim Prospects for US-Pakistan Relations to Pivot from AFPAK to Indo-Pacific, June 2019. The United States has not reoriented its Pakistan strategy away from a solely Afghanistan-Pakistan basis toward a wider Indo-Pacific perspective. Even so, a significantly positive transformation in Islamabad’s domestic environment and foreign relations can change the U.S. and international perspectives about Pakistan. For starters, there is a strong perception in Washington policymaking circles that until the Afghanistan issue is resolved, chances are slim that the United States will think of Pakistan in a broader Asian framework. Even the resolution of the Afghanistan conundrum would not guarantee an improved U.S.-Pakistan relationship...

 

EWC

North Korea: Sanctions, Engagement and Strategic Reorientation, October 2018. This paper examines the roles that sanctions, and inducements might play in resolving the North Korea problem. It finds that while the "maximum pressure" narrative is plausible, the evidence to substantiate it is thin. Likewise, the North Korean regime is aware of the potentially constraining (or even destabilizing) political implications of cross-border economic integration and has acted to structure engagement in ways to blunt its transformative impact. Maximizing the transformative possibilities of engagement will require conscious planning by North Korea's partners...

 

EWC

Australia-China Law Enforcement Cooperation, June 2019. Australia and China have an extensive and growing economic relationship underpinned by diverse people-to-people connections. China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in goods and services (A$195 billion in 2017–18). Chinese investment into Australia’s real estate industry increased by 400% in the five years to 2015, to A$12 billion in 2014–15. Money flows from China into Australia almost doubled between 2011–12 and 2015–16, from A$42 billion to almost A$77 billion. China is Australia’s largest source of overseas students (over 157,000 studied in Australia in 2016) and second largest and highest spending inbound tourism market (with 1.2 million visits in 2016). This economic relationship is mutually beneficial, but it also creates opportunities for criminals...

 

ASPI

Women, Peace and Security: Defending Progress and Responding to Emerging Challenges, June 2019. his is the third year ASPI has run a series on The Strategist to coincide with International Women’s Day and examine Australia’s approach to women, peace and security (WPS). The series offered a timely opportunity to assess progress and identify some of the challenges that need further examination as the international community prepares to mark twenty years since the adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, and as Australia approaches the release of its second National Action Plan on WPS. The range of topics and themes canvassed in this year’s collection of articles reminds us that we cannot afford to be complacent...

 

ASPI

Forward Defence in Depth for Australia, June 2019. With the re-election of the Scott Morrison-led Coalition government in May 2019, the future shape of Australian defence policy needs to be examined. The strategic assumptions that underpinned defence policy choices in the 2016 Defence White Paper were made in the years preceding the release of that document and extend from earlier white papers, including those released in 2009 and 2013. Their foundation goes back to the days of the 1986 Dibb Report and the 1987 Defence White Paper. In the next Defence White Paper, which could emerge as early as 2021, a continued approach that places too much emphasis on defending the inner arc—notably the ‘sea–air gap’—would not adequately address emerging strategic risks to regional stability. The strategic environment has evolved at such a pace that policies announced in 2016 have been overtaken by events. It’s time for a review of Australian defence strategy. It’s time for something new.

 

ASPI

ANZUS and Alliance Politics in Southeast Asia, June 2019. Discussion over the future of US alliance politics in Asia has recently intensified. China’s power is growing, and US President Donald Trump is showing antipathy towards what he views as insufficient allied efforts to support America’s defence strategy in the region. While much attention has been understandably directed towards the US’s security ties with Japan and South Korea during Trump’s ongoing efforts to negotiate a denuclearisation agreement with North Korea, US strategic relations with Southeast Asia and its neighbours—what’s termed here as the ‘southern flank’—are also critical to Washington’s own long-term geopolitical interests and to that region’s sustained economic growth and geopolitical stability.

 

ASPI

The PNG-Australia Development Partnership: A Redesign That’s About Listening and Transformation, June 2019. Stephanie Copus-Campbell brings a deep knowledge and passion about Papua New Guinea (PNG) to her work. In this ASPI Strategic Insight, she describes both her personal history with this key neighbour to Australia’s north and the complex, difficult challenges PNG faces. Refreshingly, she uses this context to propose a redesign of Australian development engagement with PNG, which is particularly timely and needed as the Australian and PNG governments contemplate further cooperation flowing on from the initiatives agreed with Port Moresby in Canberra’s ‘Pacific step up’...

 

ASPI

Behind the Veil: Women in Jihad After the Caliphate, June 2019. Women have long played an important role in jihad, but the Islamic State has, since its inception, expanded both the potential and scope of those female roles. The caliphate may be no longer, but Islamic State’s military defeats have not dampened the appeal of jihad in many quarters. In fact, conditions are already set for an IS resurgence. There is a global cohort of over 73 000 women and children (10 000 of them foreigners) in Kurdish camps who surrendered after the fall of Baghouz. The Islamic State considers this cohort, as well as other female supporters, a key part of its future survival. As Islamic State shifts from governance project to global terrorist movement, women will continue to play an important part of that transformation...

 

Lowy

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #10: Interreligious Conflict and the Politics of Interfaith Dialogue in Myanmar. Amidst successive episodes of interreligious violence in Myanmar between 2012 and 2014, interfaith dialogue emerged as a crucial conflict resolution and prevention mechanism. The 2011–16 Union Solidarity and Development Party administration often indirectly promoted the use of interfaith dialogue to defuse interreligious tensions and conflicts, though its political will was questionable. Various governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental actors have engaged in interfaith dialogue, peace, and harmony initiatives in the past seven years...

 

ISEAS

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #9: The Significance of Everyday Access to Justice in Myanmar’s Transition to Democracy. Legal pluralism in Myanmar is a reality that is not sufficiently recognized. A lack of recognition of and clear mandates for the informal justice providers, along with the absence of coordination between these providers and the judiciary, present critical challenges to local dispute resolution and informal legal systems. This results in a high level of unpredictability and insecurity concerning the justice outcomes and in the underreporting of cases. The lack of jurisdictional clarity represents an even greater challenge in areas of mixed control and where numerous armed actors are present...

 

ISEAS

Smallholders and the Making of Malaysia’s Oil Palm Industry, June 2019. As part of efforts to curb the oil palm industry’s harmful socio-environmental impacts in Southeast Asia, scholars and policymakers have been showing more interest in independent smallholder farming arrangements. Smallholders, however, continue to encounter significant barriers to entry. Focusing on Southeast Asia, scholars have often claimed that oil palms are naturally endowed with processing cost economies favoring large-scale production arrangements. With their limited access to capital, technology, and skills, smallholders are disadvantaged relative to estates. The history of Peninsular Malaysia, with particular reference to Johor, suggests a different argument...

 

ISEAS

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APEC

Asia Bond Monitor, June 2019. This issue of the Asia Bond Monitor features a special chapter on housing bond markets, including insights on how they can be further developed in the region. Local currency bond markets in emerging East Asia continued to expand over the first quarter of 2019 despite trade conflicts and moderating global growth. At the end of March, there were $15 trillion in local currency bonds outstanding in emerging East Asia, 2.9% more than at the end of 2018 and 14.0% more than at the end of March 2018. Bond issuance in the region amounted to $1.4 trillion in the first quarter, 10.0% higher than in the last quarter of 2018 on the back of stronger issuance of government debt.

 

ADB

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ADB

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ADB

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ADB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2019.

 

VRAS

Religion, Morality and Conservatism in Singapore, May 2019. This paper documents and tracks evolving trends of perceptions and attitudes towards social and moral issues. These include respondents’ opinions towards homosexual sex and marriage, gambling, infidelity, freedom of speech, and the desired balance between personal responsibility and reliance on the state. Data for this study relies on relevant sections of the second wave of the Institute of Policy Studies’ (IPS) Survey of Race, Religion and Language (RRL), which was conducted between August 2018 and January 2019. It also compares the relevant results from the 2013 wave of the same survey. Altogether, 4,015 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents were polled in this second wave on issues ranging from aspects of their racial and religious identity, and their attitudes towards social and political issues...

 

IPS

The Impact of the Trump Administration’s Indo- Pacific Strategy on Regional Economic Governance, Published 2019. The Trump administration's Indo-Pacific regional economic governance strategy addresses trade, investment, and infrastructure development. Its reception by regional states varies by issue area, with infrastructure and investment being positively received, and trade being negatively received. To alleviate policy clashes and lessen the “noodle bowl” effect of overlapping rules and regulations, this paper suggests that American and Asian governments should: (1) immediately pursue collaboration in the areas of investment and infrastructure; (2) advance investment cooperation via capacity training and investment treaty consolidation; (3) enhance infrastructure collaboration via the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (or BUILD Act of 2018), joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and capacity training; (4) push forward trade cooperation via formal and Track 2 (informal networks) dialogue to facilitate a policymaking process; and (5) encourage more inter-bloc dialogue.

 

EWC

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Inroads into Central Asia: Comparative Analysis of the Economic Cooperation Roadmaps for Uzbekistan, Published 2019. China, Japan, and South Korea have regarded Central Asia as a new Asian frontier in their foreign policies since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With time, their policies evolved into regionbuilding initiatives exemplified by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Belt and Road Initiative, Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue Forum, and Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum. This paper raises the following research questions: What are the areas of interest for China, Japan, and Korea in their relations with Central Asian states and Uzbekistan in particular? What are the patterns of agenda setting in establishing intergovernmental cooperation? What are the particular projects that these states initiate? What are the objectives of projects initiated within these areas of interest? How competitive or complementary are these projects of China, Japan, and Korea? Throughout, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean “Silk Road” roadmaps with Uzbekistan are discussed to highlight their similarities and differences.

 

EWC

Expanding Opportunities for Multinational Corporations in U.S.-Japan-Southeast Asia Relations, May 2019. Southeast Asia taps the private sector to help finance its more than $3 trillion infrastructure deficit by promoting public-private partnerships (P3). To facilitate transparent and profitable P3 participation by the private sector, most Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have established P3 institutions and ratified legal reforms. Nevertheless, Southeast Asia’s initiatives have not been complemented by reciprocal initiatives and reforms by its major economic partners such as the United States to encourage multinational corporation (MNC) participation in P3...

 

EWC

Demystifying Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty Talks Before the June 2019 G20 Osaka Summit, May 2019. In this time of strategic uncertainty as well as the return to sovereignty discourse in international politics, Russia and Japan have embarked on a complex negotiation process aimed at the signing of a post-World War Two (WWII) peace treaty and the settling of the longstanding dispute over the South Kuril Islands. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sudden proposal to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the September 2018 Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok to sign an unconditional peace treaty, followed by subsequent summits in Singapore, Buenos Aires, and Moscow, demonstrated the two leaders’ resolves to move closer than ever to a final agreement...

 

EWC

Russia and India: Correcting Damaged Relations, May 2019. Russo-Indian relations have a long history. During the Soviet-era, especially from 1971, India was, in the full sense, a strategic partner to the USSR. It was not a member of the Eastern Bloc, but nonetheless maintained a friendly posture as one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which engaged in resisting the world order led by traditional colonial powers. At the same time, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supported the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) member state Pakistan, an important element of the Western Bloc’s security system. NATO’s propensity to support Pakistan automatically pushed India towards rapprochement with the USSR...

 

EWC

China in Russia's Turn to the East, May 2019. In his February 2019 annual address to the Federal Assembly (the Russian parliament), President Vladimir Putin put Asian countries first in the foreign policy section of the speech — ahead of Europe and the United States — and spoke in positive terms about Russia’s relations with China, India, Japan and ASEAN. Putin’s statement is another indication of what has come to be known as Russia’s “turn to the East.”...

 

EWC

Russia’s Ambivalence about an Indo-Pacific Strategy, May 2019. More than half-a-decade has passed since Russia started its ‘Turn to the East’, a foreign policy reorientation toward Asia. Throughout this period, the international environment as well as the Russian position in global and regional affairs has changed dramatically. In 2012, hosting the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia saw a generally positive international attitude and was optimistic about cooperation with both West and East. However, the 2014 political crisis in Ukraine followed by a referendum in Crimea, which laid the background for the peninsula’s incorporation into Russia, and sanctions against Russia from the United States and the EU brought Russia’s relations with the West to their lowest point since the collapse of the Soviet Union...

 

EWC

Understanding Russia’s Strategic Engagement with the Indo-Asia-Pacific, May 2019. During his annual address to the Federal Assembly on February 21, 2019 Russian president Vladimir Putin highlighted Moscow’s growing preoccupation with relationship building across the Indo-Asia-Pacific. China, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Japan were singled out as players with which Moscow plans to have either special partnerships or close and robust relations. With respect to Tokyo, Putin’s remarks may be haven been more aspirational than realistic, given Russia’s hard stance on the ongoing territorial dispute...

 

EWC

The U.S.-Japan Alliance and ASEAN-centric Security Institutions: Vietnam's Perspective, April 2019. ASEAN-centered security institutions have long been criticized for being ineffective, especially in light of challenges from China. Despite these institutions’ weaknesses, the United States and Japan have long supported them. Two recent trends have altered the U.S.-Japan alliance: declining support for multilateralism within the Trump administration, and Shinzo Abe’s effort to strengthen Japan’s security capabilities and extend its presence into the “gray zone.” How will these trends affect the future of ASEAN-centered security institutions and regional security more generally...

 

EWC

The End of Chimerica: The Passing of Global Economic Consensus and the Rise of US-China Strategic Technological Competition, May 2019. This Strategic Insights argues Australia has been slow or else reluctant to accept that the previous global economic consensus of free and open trade (especially with China) being an unmitigated good is over. Chinese economic and trade malpractices over a long period of time are having profound distorting effects on the global economic system and US dissatisfaction is deepening and irreversible. Advanced economies such as the EU and Japan share identical concerns. There is little prospect of Australia ‘waiting out’ the US-China economic dispute. We can help shape and improve elements of a US-led collective effort to impose carrots and sticks on China to persuade the latter to play by the rules or sit and wait for a world which has already passed.

 

ASPI

Australia's Pacific Pivot, April 2019. Australia is doing a policy pivot to the South Pacific. The headline driving the pivot is the challenge from China. Australia’s deep strategic denial instinct is roused. Our announced ‘step-up’ is aimed at Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the other island members of the Pacific Islands Forum. Add to that list Timor-Leste, which faces the same problems as the islands and is part of the island arc that has obsessed Australia since before federation.
With the pivot, we’ve made an ambitious offer to the South Pacific—economic and security ‘integration’—to uphold the region by holding it closer. Integration is a confronting idea for the identity and sovereignty of newly independent nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shown political and diplomatic insight by talking about Australia as part of the ‘Pacific family’...

 

ASPI

Chinese Influence in the Pacific Islands, April 2019. Over the past two decades, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has emerged as the most prominent new star in the firmament of Pacific Island affairs. Depending on the metric used, the PRC is now the second most engaged external power in the region. Beijing has made policy decisions and devoted significant resources during this time to build its
stock of soft power in the region to support its expanding influence. Is it reasonable to conclude that China’s growing influence in the South Pacific is a consequence of a successful soft-power campaign? This report argues against rushing to such a finding. The admiration that Pacific Island states feel for China is genuine. However, on balance, China’s current regional soft power lacks breadth and depth, although it’s still evolving...

 

ASPI

Monetary Authority of Singapore: Macroeconomic Review, Volume XVIII, Issue 1, April 2019 (Full Report, Presentation Slides for Briefing):  

MAS

The Game of Go: Bounded Rationality and Artificial Intelligence, May 2019. The goal of this essay is to examine the nature and relationship between bounded rationality and artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of recent developments in the application of AI to two-player zero sum games with perfect information such as Go. This is undertaken by examining the evolution of AI programs for playing Go. Given that bounded rationality is inextricably linked to the nature of the problem to be solved, the complexity of Go is examined using cellular automata (CA).

 

ISEAS

US-China Trade War: Potential Trade and Investment Spill-overs into Malaysia, May 2019. The trade conflict between the US and China has the potential to affect Malaysia’s trade with both countries as both are important trading partners. The imposition of safeguard tariffs by the US will affect Malaysia’s solar exports to the US though its exact impact is unclear due to the complicated implementation of this tariff. The tariffs imposed on China raises the possibility of trade and investment diversion to Malaysia. Re-exports play an important role in Malaysia’s export adjustments to the US and China from 2017 to 2018. The possibility of investment diversion from China is high given the growing presence of China’s investment in Malaysia since the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

 

ISEAS

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May, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Caledonia’s Independence Referendum: Local and Regional Implications, May 2019. After a long history of difference, including civil war, over independence, New Caledonia’s 4 November 2018 referendum began a self-determination process, but ended 30 years of stability under peace accords. Persistent ethnic division over independence revealed by this first vote may well be deepened by May 2019 local elections. Two further referendums are possible, with discussion about future governance, by 2022, amid ongoing social unease. Bitter areas of difference, which had been set aside for decades, will remain front and centre while the referendum process continues...

 

Lowy

Taiwan's New Southbound Policy: Limited Progress and Future Concerns, April 2019. After three years, the expected effects of Taiwan’s “New Southbound Policy” (NSP) appear less substantial than hoped. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s NSP has put on its radar screen a few South and Southeast Asian countries and attracted some attention within Taiwan, but it has not been able to transfer a substantial part of Taiwan’s economic activities from mainland China to the NSP-identified countries and regions...

 

EWC

The New Southbound Policy and Legal Constraints to Indonesia-Taiwan Education Exchange, April 2019. The Taiwan government is increasingly aware of the need to improve its soft power by promoting inter-state and society cooperation in various fields, including education and tourism. This effort is manifest in the New Southbound Policy (NSP). In the field of education, Taiwan’s government has created the Industry Academy Collaboration Program for foreign students, which has fulfilled two purposes: helping Taiwanese universities recruit foreign students, and providing Taiwanese industries with skilled workers through internships in the scholarship program...

 

EWC

Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy: Accomplishments and Perceptions, April 2019. The Tsai Ing-wen administration’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) promises long-term gains for Taiwan and its population. If effectively executed, the policy can help bolster Taiwan’s relationship with its immediate neighbors, moderate some of the economic and strategic risks it faces, and even complement Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Using NSP engagement to push labor, environmental, and intellectual property regulation reforms could even help make Taiwan CPTPP compliant. Yet, the policy seems to face an ambivalent and somewhat muted public response within Taiwan itself...

 

EWC

Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy in the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific, April 2019. During her inauguration speech as president of Taiwan in May 2016, Tsai Ing-wen announced her administration’s revitalized New Southbound Policy (NSP) to engage countries in South and Southeast Asia, and Australasia. More than a year later, in November 2017, President Donald Trump laid out the American vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) region — an area stretching from the U.S. west coast to the west coast of India. Both the United States and Taiwan have adopted engagement strategies focused on strengthening ties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region...

 

EWC

Strategic Highlights of Taiwan’s People-Centered New Southbound Policy, April 2019. Launched in 2016, Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) is now in its third year. Regarded as Taiwan’s “regional strategy for Asia,” the NSP is the island’s response to regional dynamics in South and Southeast Asia. The NSP also articulates Taiwan’s strategic interests and practices echoing major powers’ approaches and initiatives toward the region. The strategic highlights of the NSP are characterized by the “4S” approach: systemizing Taiwan’s regional strategy for Asia, strategizing Taiwan’s importance, synergizing public and private partnerships, and structuring social links between Taiwan and regional neighbors...

 

EWC

Indo-Pacific Development and Stability as Context for Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, April 2019. The importance of Southeast Asia is supported by the dynamic energy of its emerging markets (ASEAN is now the world’s 5th largest economy and 3rd largest market), the integration of the transnational development hinterland (via the advancement of the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity), and its institutional arrangements in maintaining regional stability (the so-called ASEAN-led long peace). These three aspects are all closely related to the ASEAN-led regional integration processes, which is yet another overarching effort supporting the growth of the region...

 

EWC

The United States and Japan Should Engage Southeast Asia through Science Diplomacy, April 2019. Withdrawal from major international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proliferation of “America First” rhetoric, and an apparent return to economic bilateralism under the Trump administration have eroded American soft power. Compared to 2013, fewer respondents in 2018 from Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Japan expressed belief that US foreign policy takes the interests of their countries into consideration...

 

EWC

Challenges for US-Japan Collaboration on Southeast Asia’s Energy Infrastructure, April 2019. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been the headline response to the vast infrastructure gap that faces developing Asia, especially countries in Southeast Asia. But no country is capable of single-handedly filling the gap, and BRI is prompting other donor governments to give higher priority to infrastructure assistance. Under the Trump Administration, the United States has overhauled its development finance strategy through passing the BUILD Act and establishing various economic initiatives under the Indo-Pacific Strategy...

 

EWC

Huawei and Telefunken: Communications Enterprises and Rising Power Strategies, April 2019. This Strategic Insight, examines Huawei through a historical lens. It identifies strong parallels between the industrial policy adopted by Germany in the early twentieth century to cultivate a ‘national champion’ in communications – Telefunken – and the Chinese party-state’s support for Huawei since its formation in 1987. It demonstrates that Huawei and Telefunken both benefitted from guaranteed government orders for their hardware, protected domestic markets, long-term backing from national financial institutions, and diplomatic support for overseas expansion. These policies increased the firm’s competitiveness on the world market, facilitating the development of national capacity in advanced communications. The development of capacity in communications brings strategic benefits for a rising power – allowing it to escape dependence on the outside world for vital infrastructure, build capabilities with potential military applications, and build geostrategic influence in key regions.

 

ASPI

Mapping China's Tech Giants, Published 2019. Chinese technology companies are becoming increasingly important and dynamic actors on the world stage. They’re making important contributions in a range of areas, from cutting-edge research to connectivity for developing countries, but their growing influence also brings a range of strategic considerations. The close relationship between these companies and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) raises concerns about whether they may be being used to further the CCP’s strategic and geopolitical interests. The CCP has made no secret about its intentions to export its vision for the global internet. Officials from the Cyber Administration of China have written about the need to develop controls so that ‘the party’s ideas always become the strongest voice in cyberspace.’ This includes enhancing the ‘global influence of internet companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu [and] Huawei’ and striving ‘to push China’s proposition of internet governance toward becoming an international consensus’...

 

ASPI

Politics in Indonesia: Resilient Elections, Defective Democracy, April 2019. Incumbent President Joko Widodo is the front-runner to defeat long-time rival Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia’s fourth direct presidential election on 17 April. Constrained by compromises and knocked off balance by the rise of identity politics, if Jokowi wins a second (and final) term, he is unlikely to make significant progress on much-needed economic, legal, and political reforms. Despite these concerns, there is hope for the future with a new generation of politicians from outside the elite now seeking to follow Jokowi’s path to national office. Indonesia’s future will depend on how far they use their electoral mandates to shake up a defective system...

 

Lowy

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #8: The Politics of Thai Buddhism under the NCPO Junta. The past two decades have been a time of turmoil in Thailand’s religious affairs. Disputes, debates and controversies concerning the administration of Buddhism, Thailand’s national religion by tradition, have erupted more and more frequently. This chronic and unresolvable conflict originates from Thai Buddhists’ inability to achieve a broad consensus on religious reform. Under the governance of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta that came to power in 2014, the fierce struggle concerning Buddhist reform seemed to subside...

 

ISEAS

Manufacturing Performance and Services Inputs: Evidence from Malaysia, February 2019. The Malaysian economy has been deindustrializing since the late 1990s. The relative decline of the country’s export-oriented manufacturing sector has led to a decline in the trade ratio. This could reflect a decline in the country’s participation in manufacturing global value chains. The services sector makes important contributions to the performance of the manufacturing
sector in terms of productivity and exporting. Therefore, any policy attempt to enhance manufacturing performance is likely to require improvements in the performance of the services sector. This is particularly important as there is evidence that the country’s manufacturing sector is increasingly dependent on services generated domestically.

 

ISEAS

Economic Voting and the End of Dominant Party Rule in Malaysia, February 2019. This essay seeks to empirically examine economic and non-economic factors that determined the outcomes of the fourteenth general election in Malaysia. In the election, the incumbent coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) which had ruled the country since its independence in 1957 was defeated. Relatively robust economic growth in months prior to the elections failed to bolster voter support for the incumbent coalition. Unemployment and inequality further eroded voter support for BN. The election also saw a decline in the support of the Bumiputra community and East Malaysian voters for BN. A key factor in the end of BN rule was the defections of elite politicians from UMNO. Mahathir Mohamad, a former Prime Minister and UMNO President, together with other former UMNO stalwarts joined the opposition coalition and mobilized voters against BN.

 

ISEAS

Religion in Singapore: The Private and Public Spheres, March 2019. This paper analyses Singapore data from a multi-country survey conducted in late 2018 as part of the International Social Survey Program Study of Religion (2018). The Singapore component of the survey, conducted face-to-face, examined the views of a random sample of 1,800 Singaporean residents on issues relating to religious beliefs, religiosity and the role of religion in the private and public sphere. The survey sample closely mirrored the general profile of the Singapore population. In the midst of contradicting trends of both religious resurgence and a decline in religiosity in various parts of the globe, analysing the trends of religiosity in Singapore and its impact on perceptions, attitudes and beliefs is critical. Religion is an influential and powerful force that seeps into multiple domains of public and private life. Tracking the expansive reach and influence of religion is thus crucial in maintaining interreligious harmony and surveying public sentiment in public policy.

 

IPS

MAS Survey of Professional Forecasters, March 2019. The Singapore economy expanded by 1.9% in Q4 2018 compared with the same period the year before, lower than the 2.4% forecast in the December 2018 survey. In the current survey, year-on-year growth in Q1 2019 is expected to be 1.9%...

 

MAS

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APEC

Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience. (Full Report and Highlights). Growth in developing Asia is projected to soften to 5.7% in 2019 and 5.6% in 2020. Excluding Asia’s high-income newly industrialized economies, growth is expected to slip from 6.4% in 2018 to 6.2% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020. As oil prices rose and Asian currencies depreciated, inflation edged up last year but remained low by historical standards. In light of stable commodity prices, inflation is anticipated to remain subdued at 2.5% in both 2019 and 2020...

 

ADB

ADB Annual Report 2018 (Main Report, Financial Report). The report focusses on the adoption of ADB’s new long-term corporate strategy, Strategy 2030, approved in July 2018, and highlights the strategic transition in progress across all aspects of ADB’s operations and organization.

 

ADB

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April, 2019 Current Topics

 

Source

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong: High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecasts Current Quarter Model: 2019Q2, April 2019. According to its High Frequency Macroeconomic Forecast, real GDP is estimated to grow by 1.0% in 19Q1, when compared with the same period in 2018, a further slowdown from the 1.3% in 18Q4. The global economic slowdown brought by the US-China trade tension severely dampened Hong Kong economic growth in the first half of 2019 but it is expected to improve in the second half. In 19Q2, real GDP growth is expected to revert to grow at 2.1% when compared with the same period last year. We forecast Hong Kong GDP to grow by 2.3% in 2019 as a whole, slower than the 3.0% growth in 2018 and a downward revision of our previous forecast by 0.5 percentage points.

 

HKU

18 Years and Counting: Australian Counterterrorism, Threats and Responses, April 2019. This report provides a general overview of what successive Australian governments have done since 9/11 to counter the threat posed by Salafi-jihadi to the maintenance of international peace and security, to regional security and to domestic security. Since 2014, the threat level in Australia has been assessed as ‘Probable’, which means that credible intelligence exists to indicate that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia. Both Melbourne and Sydney have featured in jihadist videos and publications...

 

ASPI

Jemaah Islamiyah: An Uncertain Future, March 2019. The reappearance of JI has major relevance for Australia given that Indonesia is a large and important strategic partner; any threats to Jakarta’s internal stability must therefore occupy a central place in Canberra’s foreign, defence and security calculations. This is especially true at a time when Australia is seeking to court a closer relationship with Indonesia in response to Beijing’s increased assertiveness in the region and its uncompromising stance on territorial disputes in the South China Sea. At the same time, Australia has been directly caught in the cross-hairs of JI’s past violent activities, with the 2002 bombings in Bali remaining the largest loss of life to a terrorist attack in the nation’s history...

 

ASPI

Australia’s Second Sea: Facing Our Multipolar Future in the Indian Ocean, March 2019. This report argues that Australia needs a comprehensive strategy for the Indian Ocean that articulates our regional objectives and outlines a whole-of-government approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by the region. Australia is a major Indian Ocean state. We have by far the longest coastline and by far the largest area of maritime jurisdiction of any country in the region. In one way or another, Australia relies on the Indian Ocean for much of its wealth. But despite the magnitude of its interests, Australia tends to see itself as an Indian Ocean state only in a secondary sense—literally, the Indian Ocean is Australia’s second sea. We’ve long seen ourselves as principally a Pacific Ocean state, reflecting our history and demography. Most Australians have probably only seen the Indian Ocean out of the window of a plane, en route to a holiday in Bali or Europe...

 

ASPI

US-Japan Water Diplomacy in Southeast Asia, March 2019. Southeast Asia is often considered "a global hot spot for water crises", where clean water supplies and sanitation in many cities are fragmented and suffering from weak planning, monitoring, and investment. Southeast Asia is going through rapid urbanization today, and its urban population is set to rise from 280 million today to 373 million by 2030. The structure of water governance in Southeast Asia is multi-level, linking local actors to transnational actors in various structures, making regulatory coordination challenging...

 

EWC

Japan Holds the Reins of the US-Japan Trade Talks, March 2019. The US-Japan negotiation framework was affirmed in a joint statement issued in New York in September 2018. This simple seven-paragraph document allows for various interpretations. Paragraph three of the statement indicates that the two Parties will first discuss trade in goods, and some early achievable key issues. Paragraph four mentions negotiations on other trade and investment issues “after the completion” of that “discussion”...

 

EWC

Israel in the Sino-US Great Power Competition, March 2019. The construction of the “Northern” port in Haifa began in 2015 in cooperation between two Israeli companies, Ashtrom and Shafir. The first one hundred and eighty acres were transferred in July 2018 to Shanghai International Port Group Co. (SIPG), which won the tender to manage the port for 25 years. This sparked a heated discussion in the Israeli press, academia, and even the Israeli cabinet. The debate concerned the implications of the port’s management by a Chinese company for Israel itself and for Israel’s ties with its main strategic ally, the United States...

 

EWC

The Thailand-U.S. Defense Alliance in U.S.-Indo-Pacific Strategy, March 2019. After 200 years of diplomatic relations, the time has come for the United States and Thailand to build upon this strong foundation and chart a new course for their alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. This re-examination has hit roadblocks in recent years, as Thailand grapples with the effects of its ongoing coup and the role of the United States in the region is questioned at home and abroad. However, an opportunity has presented itself in the form of the United States’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIP). Both the United States and Thailand could capitalize on FOIP’s call for an updated, comprehensive strategy towards the region. Though still in the early stages, Thailand’s central role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) combined with its long history with the United States position it to have a strong influence on what shape FOIP will take and highlight its importance as an ally to the United States...

 

EWC

Central Asia: Japan's New 'Old' Frontier, February 2019. Japanese Silk Road Diplomacy, launched in 1997 by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, was to become one of the first international diplomatic initiatives appealing to the connectivity and revival of the Silk Road within Central Asia (CA). Subsequently, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dispatched a “Silk Road Energy Mission” in July of 2002, launched the “Central Asia plus Japan” region-building initiative in August 2004, and visited CA in 2006. Most recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all five CA states in 2015. Collectively, these initiatives demonstrate that CA is Japan’s latest “frontier” in Asia, where its presence can be further expanded. For CA states, Japanese involvement in the region represents an attempt to balance Russian and Chinese engagements, while offering access to the technologies and knowledge needed to upgrade their economies’ industrial structures...

 

EWC

Trends in Southeast Asia 2019 #7 : Whither Myanmar’s Garment Sector?. The EU has threatened to suspend Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status for Myanmar, under which the country’s exports can enter Europe without any tariffs or quotas. The official reason cited by the EU is a growing concern over human rights violations and issues around labour rights in Myanmar. If this threat were to be carried out, the business sector that will be most affected is Myanmar’s burgeoning garment sector, which employs around 700,000 people, most of whom are women. The principal worry in Myanmar is that if EU buyers and brands have to start paying tariffs to import Myanmar-made garments, then they will opt to shift their sourcing to other countries. Without GSP, Myanmar’s garment exports may no longer be price competitive...

 

ISEAS

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APEC

Asia Bond Monitor, March 2019. This publication reviews recent developments in emerging East Asian local currency bond markets, and includes analysis of the fourth quarter of 2018. It notes that the local currency bond market in emerging East Asia reached a size of USD13.1 trillion at the end of December 2018. Investor sentiment has improved but concerns persist about financial stability in the region. Yields have fallen while foreign holdings have increased in most markets. Local currency (LCY) government bond yields declined in most emerging East Asian markets between 28 December 2018 and 15 February 2019. The foreign holdings share in LCY government bonds climbed during the fourth quarter of 2018 in all markets except the PRC and Malaysia...

 

ADB

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ADB

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ADB

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ADB

Asian Development Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2019 (Full Report):
This edition covers intergenerational mobility of families in slums of Jakarta, exports and imports of Thailand, and the effects of foreign direct investment on the productivity of 15 emerging market economies, among others. It also discusses labor market returns to education and English language skills in the People's Republic of China, agricultural and nonagricultural labor productivities in low- and middle-income economies in Asia, the Kuznets postulate on the association of structural transformation with increasing inequality for 32 developing and recently developed economies, the determinants of the nominal yields of Indian government bonds, and the effect of credit policy in the economy of the Republic of Korea.

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