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  • Author: Zena Grecni, Eric M. Derrington, Robbie Greene, Wendy Miles, Victoria Keener
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Hotter weather, stronger typhoons, coral reef death, and physical and mental health risks are among the major challenges detailed in a new report on climate change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Threatened resources include high-value coastal infrastructure and the millions of dollars that ocean ecosystems add to the CNMI economy annually, according to the report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a consortium of several government, NGO, and research entities. Climate Change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors is one in a series of new PIRCA reports aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian archipelago. Authors from the CNMI Office of Planning and Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, and the East-West Center—along with 50 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups—collaboratively developed the CNMI PIRCA report. Climate change is expected to disrupt many aspects of life in the CNMI. Those who are already vulnerable—including children, the elderly, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities—are at greater risk from extreme weather and climate events. Climate Change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand the implications of climate variability and change for CNMI and its communities. This assessment also identifies the additional information and research needed to support responses that enhance resilience and help CNMI to withstand the changes to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, Northern Mariana Islands
  • Author: Victoria Keener, Zena Grecni, Kelley Anderson Tagarino, Christopher Shuler, Wendy Miles
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Human health risks, stronger cyclones, coral reef death, and coastal flooding are among the major challenges detailed in a new report on climate change in American Sāmoa. Threatened resources include high-value coastal infrastructure and the millions of dollars that ocean ecosystems add to American Sāmoa's economy annually, according to the report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a consortium of several government, NGO, and research entities. Climate Change in American Sāmoa: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors is one in a series of new PIRCA reports aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian archipelago. Authors from the University of Hawai‘i and the East-West Center—along with 25 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups—collaboratively developed the American Sāmoa report. Climate change is expected to disrupt many aspects of life in American Sāmoa. Those who are already vulnerable—including children, the elderly, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities—are at greater risk from extreme weather and climate events. Climate Change in American Sāmoa: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand the implications of climate variability and change for American Sāmoa and its communities. This assessment also identifies the additional information and research needed to support responses that enhance resilience and help American Sāmoa to withstand the changes to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, American Samoa
  • Author: Sabyasashi Dutta
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest Bay, is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. On its western rim, lies the coastline of the Indian Peninsula and to its south, the island nation of Sri Lanka. To the east the bay connects key parts of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea and the Malacca straits. At its very northern cusp lies Bangladesh, which is also the delta of the great rivers of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. These rivers connect the Bay in a unique “mountain to sea” ecosystem with natural connectivity to the Bay for the landlocked states of North Eastern India and the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan. In turn, the monsoon currents which regulate the climate of the Bay of Bengal gather moisture from the bay and dictate precipitation patterns in the mountains and plains in the hinterland. The hills of Meghalaya in North Eastern India record the highest rainfall in the world as they are first hit by the monsoon clouds that gather moisture from the Bay. An interlace of snow and rain fed rivers, their basins, and their estuaries at the Bay nurture a large diversity of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife flora and fauna (e.g., the Sunderban mangroves spanning parts of Myanmar, India and Bangladesh) and offer a great diversity of agricultural produce. The Bay and the countries along and connected by its littoral are a compact maritime sub region connected at the level of economy and ecology, having an enormous impact on the hundreds of its inhabitant who live on its coasts and in its hinterlands.
  • Topic: Economy, Maritime, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Tariq Karim
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The core Bay of Bengal countries today account for a population of almost 1.78 billion, while adjacent states with interest account for an additional 490 million. The “core states” (X, Y, Z) have a combined GDP of approximately $7.5 trillion, while adjacent states with interest add another $811 billion. While SAARC countries’ total intra-regional trade accounts for only 5% of their total global trade, ASEAN has a more respectable 25% intra trade while EU and North America boast 40-50%. One may reasonably imagine an economically and ecologically integrated Bay of Bengal community to increase SAARC’s current comparatively low figure, given their advantage in population, demography, and entrepreneurial vigor. The Bay of Bengal countries do not have a cohesive community identity, yet. If the Bay of Bengal littorals could evolve toward comprising a Bay of Bengal Community, replicating EEC and ASEAN, possibilities for prosperity for all the littorals would be almost limitless, while hitherto so-called land-locked entities (northeast Indian states, Bhutan, and Nepal) would get a much-needed outlet to the seas. However, the peoples of this region need to “rediscover each other”, revive memories of old civilizational, cultural, and commercial ties that had linked them historically in the past until the post-War new order rent them all asunder. They need to reinvent their regional identity, in a manner of speaking.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Economy, Trade, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Pritam Banerjee
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Facilitating cross-border movement by road is the most critical element of any strategy for greater economic integration among BIMSTEC countries. Cross-border road freight can facilitate even a small consignment to be delivered directly across the border with cost-effectiveness; unlike a full railway rake or even a coastal short-sea feeder vessel which require some level of aggregation of consignments into a larger parcel of goods. Direct road services also reduce multiple handling and trans-shipment requirements. Multi-modal solutions that support optimal use of international connectivity from different air and marine hubs in the region can only be facilitated by an existing efficient road freight feeder network. For example, a Bangladeshi exporter can exploit the cheaper and faster shipping connectivity to Europe via India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port with the help of an efficient cross-border road feeder service that directly connects the exporter’s factory in Bangladesh to this port in western India. As feeder services for ocean and especially air transport? reduce frequency or become more expensive in the post-Covid ‘normal’, access to cheaper and faster connectivity to global markets from large regional hubs will be critical for the region’s entrepreneurs.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Economy, Regional Integration, Trade
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Rajesh Basrur
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India has experienced rising tensions with China in recent years, as demonstrated by two border crises in 2017 and 2020-21. The second event saw the death of some 20 Indian troops, and at least 4 Chinese soldiers, in hand-to-hand combat – the first fatalities in nearly half a century of periodic border face-offs. New Delhi’s policy response has spanned both internal and external balancing. The former has involved augmenting India’s capacity to engage in limited combat of the type that nuclear-armed states have occasionally fought, as did the Soviet Union and China in 1969 and India and Pakistan in 1999. The Indian military has bolstered its border by deploying combat troops, cruise missiles, and advanced combat aircraft. However, China has done much the same, putting pressure on India to upscale its military capabilities. Simultaneously, India has tried to reduce its dependence on the Chinese economy, a more complicated task. Despite a 10 percent decline in bilateral trade owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and border tensions, China was India’s largest trading partner ($77.7 billion) in 2020. The Narendra Modi government sharply cut Chinese investment when the 2020 border confrontation in Ladakh broke out, expelling major Chinese companies like TikTok, WeChat, and UC Browser. Despite these measures, India’s ability to shut China out of its economy is limited. The Indian market depends heavily on Chinese electronic components (70 percent in value terms), pharmaceutical ingredients (70 percent), and consumer durables (45 percent).
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With both the US and China facing a long economic slowdown, the bilateral relationship between the globe's two largest economies faces massive challenges. Making matters worse, Washington and Beijing have attempted to divert domestic attention away from their own substantial shortcomings by blaming each other. Given the economic uncertainty, each side has limited leverage to force the other into making concessions. Harsh rhetoric only serves to inflame tensions at the worst possible time. For better or worse, the US and China are locked in a messy economic marriage. A divorce at this time would exact an enormous cost in an already weakened economy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andew Mason, Sang-Hyop Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Elderly populations in Asia are expanding more quickly than other age groups. This shift in population age structure had two major impacts: demand for income support for the elderly will rise because their labor income tends to be extremely low; and gross domestic product (GDP) and other aggregate economic indicators will grow more slowly as growth in the effective labor force declines. In countries where government programs play an important role in old-age support, tax rates will have to rise or benefits will have to be curtailed or both—all options with significant political costs.
  • Topic: Demographics, Labor Issues, Population, GDP, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an era of slowing economic growth, Asian countries face an imperative to boost productivity. One possible source of economic revitalization would be to make better use of women in the labor force. Although female representation in corporate leadership has been rising gradually over time, as of 2017, women comprised only 16 percent of executive officers and 11 percent of board members in publicly listed firms in Asia. Research shows that Asian firms with female executive officers and board members perform better in terms of net profit margin and return on assets than firms that lack females in leadership positions. Public policy can improve this gender gap. For one thing, countries that produce large numbers of female college graduates in fields such as law, business, or economics tend to generate more female corporate executives.
  • Topic: Women, Leadership, Economy, Business , Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Scott
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Traditionally, New Zealand’s strategic focus has been on Australia and the South Pacific. As recently as 18 October, 2018, Ben King, New Zealand’s Deputy Secretary for Americas and Asia said that “the term Indo‑Pacific may not resonate in New Zealand yet.” And this despite a July 2018 Strategic Defence Policy Statement that already pinpointed New Zealand’s “Indo-Pacific partners reinforcing the rules based order” as being Australia, India, Japan and the United States. It is worth noting that the Strategic Defence Policy Statement gave lengthy details on the threat posed by China; in its Maritime Silk Road push into the Indian Ocean, its militarization of the South China Sea, and its push into the Pacific islands. Events from August 2019 to February 2020 reinforce that New Zealand is seeking out “Indo-Pacific” cooperation with these four particular “partners” (Japan, United States, India, Australia) over shared concerns about China.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The concepts of ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘inclusiveness’ have been core to India’s Indo-Pacific policies. Without taking a defined position on the contested power politics in the Indo-Pacific, India has largely maintained cordial relations with most countries and stakeholders in the region. As a corollary to this, the rubric of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) advances India’s maritime diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific, reflecting India’s desire to manage maritime security and governance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposition to establish the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI) at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) on November 4, 2019, primarily draws on this assertion.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economy, Narendra Modi
  • Political Geography: India, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Alicia Campi
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Dr Alicia Campi, President of the Mongolia Society, explains that “The [“Third Neighbor”] policy was reinterpreted in content and meaning to include cultural and economic partners as diverse as India, Brazil, Kuwait, Turkey, Vietnam, and Iran. With increased superpower rivalry in its region, Mongolia has expanded this basic policy.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Turkey, India, Mongolia, Asia, Kuwait, Brazil, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Zena Grecni, Wendy Miles, Romina King, Abby G. Frazier, Victoria Keener
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Hotter weather, risks to freshwater supplies, coral reef death, and stronger typhoons are among the major challenges detailed in a new report on climate change in Guam. Threatened resources include high-value coastal infrastructure and the millions of dollars that ocean ecosystems add to Guam’s economy annually, according to the report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a consortium of several government, NGO, and research entities. Climate Change in Guam: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors is one in a series of new PIRCA reports aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian archipelago. Authors from the University of Guam and the East-West Center—along with more than 30 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups—collaboratively developed the Guam PIRCA report. Key climate change issues affecting Guam include threats to human health, risks to freshwater resources, increasing wildfire, and the potential for damage to infrastructure caused by future sea level rise and stronger typhoons. Climate change is expected to disrupt many aspects of life in Guam. Those who are already vulnerable are harmed more than others by extreme weather and climate shifts. Climate Change in Guam: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand how climate variability and change impact Guam and its communities. This assessment also identifies needs for additional information and research, which if met could support responses that enhance resilience and help Guam to withstand the changes to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, Guam
  • Author: Bich T. Tran
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Under the Obama administration’s Rebalance to Asia, Vietnam gradually gained importance in U.S. foreign policy as the two countries formed a “comprehensive partnership” in 2013. Despite the Trump administration’s America First policy, the United States prioritizes its partnerships with Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries in its Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. While a common concern about China’s behavior in the South China Sea has facilitated the growth of U.S.-Vietnam relations, the foundation of the relationship is cooperation on Vietnam War legacy issues. The two countries have made remarkable progress in advancing diplomatic, economic, and defense ties regardless of remaining challenges. The year 2020 would be ideal for the United States and Vietnam to upgrade the relationship to a “strategic partnership”: it marks the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations, Hanoi’s ASEAN chairmanship, and the start of Vietnam’s term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Economy, Donald Trump, Barack Obama
  • Political Geography: Asia, Vietnam, United States of America
  • Author: Timur Dadabaev
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: 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.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Central Asia, Asia, South Korea, Uzbekistan
  • Author: Kaewkamol Karen Pitakdumrongkit
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: 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.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Governance, Partnerships, Economy, Investment, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In April 2019, the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) approved a compact program for Sri Lanka. This is a large five-year grant that was provided to Sri Lanka on the basis that it meets the MCC’s eligibility criteria of good governance, economic freedom, and investment in its citizens. It will be implemented by a team appointed by the Sri Lankan government, under the guidance of MCC. As the process has taken longer than expected, it is hoped that the MCC Board when they meet on 18 September 2019 will grant additional time for the MCC Sri Lanka Compact (MCC Compact) to be approved by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet. President Maithripala Sirisena has suggested that a decision would be taken after the upcoming Presidential elections in Sri Lanka in December 2019. Proponents argue that it can reduce bottlenecks in transport and commercial land administration. Meanwhile, critics of the MCC Compact raise a host of legal, environmental, and external political interference issues. As Sri Lanka prepared to make a decision on whether to proceed with the MCC Compact, a simple cost-benefit analysis of the MCC-Sri Lanka Compact from a national economic perspective is imperative.
  • Topic: Governance, Economy, Investment, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Conventional narratives are either supported by facts or overcome them. Recent increased trade flows between the US and the ten economies of Southeast Asia suggest that the predominant narrative of the commercial displacement of the United States by China in Southeast Asia is incorrect. However, the United States’s growing trade deficits and shrinking surpluses with Southeast Asia do bolster an American mercantilist narrative that bilateral deficits are an economic loss for the US caused by Southeast Asian governments’ unfair trade policies.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Deficit
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Amitendu Palit
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations concluded at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019. Fifteen RCEP members, including the ten-ASEAN countries, and Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, agreed to commence preparation of the legal text of the agreement for signing in 2020. India was the only member to opt out, citing significant unresolved outstanding issues. India’s decision was surprising as it actively participated in the negotiations that lasted for 29 rounds and went on for more than six years since beginning in 2013. Domestic pressures forced Prime Minister Modi to withdraw India from RCEP at the last minute. It also points to disengagement becoming the prominent character of India’s trade policy as domestic protectionist interests successfully undermine outward-oriented economic visions.
  • Topic: Politics, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Trade, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia