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  • Author: Nicu Popescu, Iana Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Long ignored by the West, the Eurasian Customs Union (consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) has recently been brought into the international limelight. The project – an attempt by the Kremlin to create a rival to the European Union and its Eastern Partnership project – attracted attention when Moscow, with its characteristic bluntness, began to pressure Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to join the grouping and drop their plans to sign Association Agreements with the EU. Although Russia has not succeeded in convincing all these states to join, it managed to do so with Armenia in September 2013, and the political tussle over the issue with Ukraine played a central role in triggering the country's current crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Gerald Stang
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In 2012, China was the world's seventh biggest producer of natural gas, the fourth largest oil producer, and the biggest producer of hydroelectricity. It also produced almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Still, this is not enough. China's domestic energy bounty has long allowed the country to keep its overall import dependency relatively low but, as the country's economy continues to boom, its import dependency is growing quickly, particularly with regard to oil.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, 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: Karl P. Sauvant, Victor Z. Chen
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: China's rising outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) faces rising skepticism abroad. This is partly the result of the leading role of state-owned enterprises in her OFDI (and the fear that it serves non-commercial purposes), the speed with which this investment has grown, the negative image of the home country in some quarters, and the challenges it poses to established competitors. Moreover, Chinese multinational enterprises (MNEs) may not always keep in mind that host countries see FDI as a tool to advance their own development and hence seek maximum benefits from it.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Balkan Devlen
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: From the start of the Ukrainian crisis Turkey kept a low profile and adopted a strategy best described as "don't poke the Russian bear". Russia is a major Turkish trading partner and Turkey relies heavily on Russian natural gas for its energy needs, while Turkish prime minister Erdogan has also been dealing with serious domestic challenges in the last year. Therefore, due to both external and internal factors, Turkey will avoid confronting Russia directly and will pass the buck to the U.S. and EU. In the short to medium term there are three plausible scenarios under which Turkey will change its current policy. They include the oppression of Crimean Tatars by the Russian authorities; military confrontation in the Black Sea between Russia and NATO; or a more unified, tougher stance against Russia by the West. In the long term Turkey most likely will revert to its traditional role of balancing Russia by strengthening its ties with the West, while reducing its energy dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In recent years, despite a history of enmity and armed conflict that never really ended after the Korean War more than 60 years ago, South Korea has been a major investor in North Korea, and South Korean firms have employed more than 50,000 North Korean workers. South Korea's stated goal has been to encourage sufficient economic progress by North Korea, emboldening it toward establishing a meaningful basis for reconciliation and, ultimately, national unification. The expectation, or at least the hope, has been to use economic engagement to lessen the North's direct state control over the economy and to encourage the development of a middle class that might demand greater internal opening. The goal, as enunciated by former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, has also been to foster a rise of interest groups with an enhanced stake in peaceable external relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For the major advanced economies and the world as a whole, insufficient aggregate demand—that is, too little spending—impeded recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09. By manipulating their currencies to boost their net exports, many countries made a bad situation worse for their trading partners, which saw demand shifted away. The world needs policies that increase total demand rather than policies that fight over the allocation of the existing amount of demand.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Singapore
  • Author: Marcus Noland, Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Myanmar is in the midst of a long and difficult multifaceted transition, involving political liberalization, economic reform, and the resolution of multiple long-standing civil conflicts. The country has a history of ethno-religious conflict and separatism. Civil-military relations are muddy, and business-military-state relations are similarly opaque. An ongoing natural resource boom, and the blessings and curses that come with it, further complicates these developments. Given the country's evident institutional weaknesses, external policy anchors could play a critical role in this transition. Hendrix and Noland address the possible role for such international precommitment mechanisms—in particular, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)—in Myanmar's growing extractive sector.
  • Topic: Economics, Ethnic Conflict, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: John Lee, Charles Horner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: U.S. administrations and officials are consistently caught flat-footed by the increasing assertiveness of the People's Republic of China (PRC) over disputed territories in the East China and South China Seas. This assertiveness is strident, yet controlled. Beijing's objectives in the region, with respect to maritime issues in particular, have been apparent for several decades. While the United States is well aware of the PRC's "talk and take" approach—speaking the language of negotiation while extending de facto control over disputed areas—U.S. policy has been tactical and responsive rather than strategic and preemptive, thus allowing China to control the pace and nature of escalation in executing talk and take.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia