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  • Author: Dinshaw Mistry
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the early and mid-2000s, US policymakers anticipated India becoming one of America's top global partners. Have New Delhi's policies on key strategic issues actually aligned strongly with US objectives, as would be typical of close partners? An analysis of twelve prominent issues in US-India relations indicates that New Delhi's policies mostly converged moderately, rather than to a high extent, with US objectives. Specifically, the alignment between New Delhi's policies and US objectives was high or moderate-to-high on three issues—UN peacekeeping, nonproliferation export controls, and arms sales. It was moderate or low-to-moderate on six issues—China, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean security, Pakistan, and bilateral defense cooperation. And it was low or negligible on three issues—nuclear reactor contracts for US firms, nuclear arms control, and the war in Iraq. To be sure, despite the low or negligible convergence, New Delhi did not take an anti-US position on these issues. Four factors explain why New Delhi's policies aligned unevenly with US objectives across the issues: India's strategic interests (that diverged from US interests on some issues); domestic political and economic barriers (that prevented greater convergence between India's policies and US objectives); incentives and disincentives (that induced New Delhi to better align with US objectives); and certain case-specific factors. This analysis suggests that, rather than expecting India to become a close ally, US policymakers should consider it a friendly strategic partner whose policies would align, on the average, moderately with US strategic interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Unconventional monetary policy (UMP) has had predictable effects. How exit plays out is scenario-dependent. Quantitative easing has had the predictable effect of encouraging currency depreciation and some partner countries may have attempted to offset these exchange rate effects. Korea presents a particularly interesting case: it is relatively small and relatively open and integrated, in both trade and financial terms, with the United States and Japan, two practitioners of UMP. Authorities have acted to limit the won's appreciation primarily against the currency of China, not the US or Japan. Nevertheless, Korea's policy is a source of tension with the US. Under legislation currently being considered, the currency manipulation issue could potentially interfere with Korean efforts to attract direct investment from the US and create an obstacle to Korea joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Jon Dorsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: At the end of 2015 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In theory, this agreement should produce an association-wide economic integration. However, following the announcement, and for the foreseeable future, ASEAN member states will continue in significantly less than full regional economic integration. Why? Some observers believe that the AEC plans involve an "overly ambitious timeline and too many ill-thought-out initiatives." Others point to ASEAN's traditional aversion to legally binding agreements. While progress has been made in reducing or eliminating intra-ASEAN trade tariffs, substantial non-tariff barriers to trade persist. However, for most member states, the ASEAN market is relatively small while external markets, especially China, are growing rapidly. Given this outward-orientation for ASEAN trade, is the lack of an unhindered regional market really a problem?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Peter A. Petri, Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN has become a focal point of the rapidly changing economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN members are increasingly stable and politically confident, and constitute an emerging economic powerhouse. The region is dynamic, with 600 million citizens and a gross domestic product (GDP) that exceeds $2 trillion and is expected to grow 6 percent annually for the next two decades. (The Appendix at the end of this paper reports detailed output and trade projections to 2025.) Through deeper internal integration via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and external initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN is becoming a driving force in regional cooperation and a much-courted economic partner. The AEC and the RCEP projects are globally significant: the AEC could generate powerful demonstration effects for other developing regions, and the RCEP could become an important building bloc of the multilateral trading system.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Luke Simon Jordan, Katerina Koinis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Despite the region's economic growth over the last few decades, countries across Asia still face the complex challenge of structural transformation. Low-income economies must build formal industrial and service sectors from agricultural and informal bases; middle-income economies must move up the value chain; and high-income economies must continually generate new capabilities at the frontier of innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Economic engagement between South and North Korea is often justified as a means of encouraging economic and social evolution in North Korea, with the ultimate goal of national unification. The South has invested heavily in the North, and firms have employed more than 50,000 workers. Yet expectations of a transformational impact rest on unexamined assumptions. The North recognizes the Trojan horse nature of the engagement policy: results of an original survey of South Korean employers show that the North Korean government has largely circumscribed the exposure of its citizens to both South Koreans and market-oriented economic practices, in the process violating labor rights defined by covenants to which both countries belong. The problem seems intractable, given that South Korea's diplomatic commitment to engagement with North Korea trumps labor rights concerns and South Korean firms perceive that the North Korean status quo confers benefits. As the experience of labor rights movements elsewhere shows, conditions will likely improve only if an aroused citizenry—here, the South Koreans—demands change.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Jefferson M. Fox, Jean-Christophe Castella, Alan D. Ziegler, Sidney b. Westley.
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For centuries, farmers in the mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia have practiced shifting cultivation, with plots of land cultivated temporarily and then allowed to revert to secondary forest for a fallow period. Today, more than one million hectares have been converted to rubber plantation. By 2050, the area under rubber trees in the montane regions of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province is predicted to increase fourfold. Preliminary research suggests this massive land-use change could lead to drier conditions at the local level plus surface erosion, loss of soil quality, sedimentation and disruption of streams, and risk of landslides. And it appears that when primary or secondary forests are converted to rubber, carbon emissions are likely to increase. Despite environmental concerns, both local farmers and outside entrepreneurs are likely to continue expanding rubber plantations because of high economic returns. Production systems that provide the best balance between economic return and environmental sustainability are needed to improve the long-term outlook for the region.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Charles E. Morrison
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the past quarter-century Asia has seen vast changes, including increased economic growth, integration, and liberalization. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process, now marking its 25th anniversary, facilitated these changes through its institution of the first regular meetings of ministers and then leaders. But what role should APEC play in the future? With a continuing diffusion of power, what was once hailed as an imminent "Asian century" is much more likely to be a global one. This international system, however, will have a trans-Pacific core with much of the economic power and potential to provide global leadership for the further development of international norms, rules, and cooperation. Thus, we may be able to refer to an "Asia-Pacific century." Two questions arise: Is North America, with a relatively small share of global population and a declining share of global world product, still relevant? Will the nations on the two sides of the Pacific really be able to use their power effectively to assume global leadership? The answer to the first of these is "yes," and to the second, "it depends."
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Francis X. Hezel
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Pacific is receiving a fair share of attention today from many quarters. Even as the parade of economic consultants continues, others are coming to explore concerns that have more recently claimed the attention of western nations. These concerns cover a broad range, including food security, global warming, elimination of illegal drug traffic in the region, prevention of AIDS or even drug-resistant tuberculosis, protection from spouse abuse, and public-school improvement. These are legitimate interests, but none of them addresses the central concern that vexes each of the island nations of Micronesia, and perhaps the islands elsewhere in the Pacific: How will the country grow its economy to ensure its survival in the future?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia, Island
  • Author: Tin Maung Maung Than
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: By-elections in electoral democracies usually elicit very little excitement beyond the affected constituencies. However, Burma/Myanmar's recent by-elections held most of Asia and the West in rapt attention, with droves of international observers, media representatives, and curious foreigners flocking to Myanmar on an unprecedented scale. As anticipated, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 43 of the 44 seats that it contested, subsequently hailed as the “victory of the people.” The lead-up, campaigning, and the actual voting, along with the post-election euphoria, resembled a regime-changing national election rather than a series of by-elections that secured the NLD a very minor 6.4 percent of the overall seats in the parliamentary Union Assembly's Lower and Upper Houses. The current government of President U Thein Sein most likely regarded these by-elections as a means of legitimizing its mandate to govern and enhance its own reform credentials.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Politics, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar