East Asia Forum

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East Asia Forum
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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

ASEAN+3 Strengthens its Surveillance Unit's Powers

Date: 17 June 2016

The first half of 2016 saw two notable steps in the development of regional financial institutions in Asia. The first occurred on 9 February 2016 when the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), the independent surveillance unit of the ASEAN+3 countries, was upgraded from a company registered in Singapore to an international organisation, which is not bound by the legal system and practices of any one member country.

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HA/DR Lessons from Japan's Private Sector Expertise

Date: 16 June 2016

Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) are on the rise as new forms of security cooperation in the Asia Pacific. The Japanese government has recognised the importance of HA/DR capacity building for a stable regional security environment through relevant legislation initiated under the former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government and continued by the current Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government under its banner of ‘proactive contribution to peace’.

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As China's Growth Slows, Income Inequality Speeds Up

Date: 16 June 2016

The slowdown in growth in China is a familiar story. Annual GDP growth has fallen from an average of 10 percent to less than 7 percent. While Chinese growth is still significant in absolute terms, slower growth combined with rising income inequality is becoming a big concern for the Chinese public.

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Evaluating Japan's Evolving Disaster Response

Date: 15 June 2016

On the night of 14 April 2016, five years after the devastating 3/11 triple disaster, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the Kumamoto region on the Japanese island of Kyushu. It was caused by a vertical strike-slip fault that runs underneath the area — a vertical rupture where, during an earthquake, two blocks of rock strata slide past each other.

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Hopes of Greater Security through Strategic Partnerships

Date: 15 June 2016

Strategic partnerships are becoming central to the management of international security in the Asia-Pacific region. All the major powers and many of the minor ones have entered into multiple partnerships with both friends and potential strategic rivals.

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India's Services Growth is Great...too Great?

Date: 14 June 2016

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the services sector is the largest contributor to the country’s GDP. In 2015–16, the services sector accounted for 53.3 percent of India’s gross value added at current prices. It is predicted to grow at 9.2 percent a year at constant prices. However, is this growth sustainable?

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Myanmar's Bumper Poppy Crop

Date: 14 June 2016

For the past 10 years, drug production in Myanmar has been on the rise. The amount of land used to grow poppy — from which the opium sap used to make heroin is derived — has more than doubled since 2006. According to the UN, Myanmar now accounts for more than 25 percent of the global area under illegal poppy cultivation, making the country the second largest producer of illegal opium in the world after Afghanistan.

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U.S. Treasury Department Lays Down the Currency Law

Date: 14 June 2016

For over a quarter-century now, the US Treasury Department has released a formulaic report on the currency policy and practices of key economies on a semi-annual basis. On occasion, it has hauled up a trading partner as a ‘currency manipulator’ and proceeded to jawbone that partner to appreciate its currency and shrink its bilateral trade surplus. This was the case with South Korea and Taiwan in 1988 and then again in 1992 with China and Taiwan.

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Aussie Voters Face a 'Double Dissolution' Election

Date: 14 June 2016

Australians will go to a federal election on 2 July 2016. At first glance the 19 seats in the House of Representatives that the Labor Party — the current Opposition — needs to win to take government seems a heroic undertaking. Yet, if the early polls are any indication, this may not be too far beyond its reach.

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India's GDP Growth May Be Discrepancy-Based

Date: 14 June 2016

India’s real GDP growth increased by 0.7 percent from the last quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016, rising from 7.2 percent to 7.9 percent. While both foreign and national media view this as a leap forward, the data and methods on India’s growth story should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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Trading the Motorbike for a Car

Date: 10 June 2016

After many years of slow growth and stagnation, the last couple of years have seen a significant boom in car sales in Vietnam. The country most known for its staggering motorbike population now appears to be rapidly heading for the age of the automobile. What has caused this change of fortunes for the auto industry, and will this new trend create a strong domestic auto industry in Vietnam?

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Are Fewer Indian Public Sector Banks Better?

Date: 10 June 2016

In India’s most recent budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley formally announced that it would slash the number of Indian public sector banks from the current 27 to just 10. Consolidating India’s public sector banks will result in improved efficiency, greater economies of scale and large-scale financial institutions that can cater to the needs of a growing economy.

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Chinese Investors Maintain Interest in North Korea

Date: 9 June 2016

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and has consistently encouraged cross-border trade and non-official investments in North Korea since 2006. Yet, despite its low-cost raw materials, cheap labour and large market potential, North Korea remains as a high-risk investment destination for Chinese businesses.

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Japan's 'Womenomics' needs to Work in Business and Government

Date: 9 June 2016

Japan has the lowest percentage of women’s political representation in the industrialised world. Women hold only 12 percent of seats in the national legislative assembly, the Diet. This is compared to a 22 percent world average and a 19 percent average in Asia.

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India-Iran Diplomacy Momentum Shift

Date: 8 June 2016

India’s West Asian diplomacy has undergone a remarkable shift, with Iran becoming a major foreign policy priority for the Modi government. Modi’s recent visit to Iran on 22–23 May resulted in the signing of 12 agreements in areas ranging from trade and commerce to security and counterterrorism, emphasising this progress.

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Singapore Wins in Deal with Australia

Date: 8 June 2016

Let there be no doubt about who is the main winner from the Australia–Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed on 6 May. It is Singapore. This tiny country is a quarter the size of the Australian city of Melbourne by land mass and it lacks space more than anything else.

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Can Immigration Solve Japan's Population Problem?

Date: 7 June 2016

Japan is experiencing a serious demographic crunch. About 27 percent of the Japanese population is over the age of 65 and there are 1.4 million fewer people today than there were in 2007, when the total population peaked at 128 million. Prospects for the future do not look good either.

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Or Maybe the South China Sea could be Demilitarized?

Date: 7 June 2016

Recent months have seen a continuing increase in military activities in the South China Sea, particularly by the United States and China, but also by ‘bit players’ like India and Japan. These activities only serve to heighten tensions in the region at a time when the priority should be to demilitarise the area.

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Philippine's Duterte needs to Spend Political Capital Wisely

Date: 6 June 2016

The Philippines has concluded its elections with Rodrigo Duterte coming from out of nowhere only to gallop passed better-known political figures and snatch the presidency. Duterte was a long-serving mayor of Davao City and, except for a brief tenure as a member of the House of Representatives, has not been a national political figure. Unlike other candidates who have long cherished the job, Duterte didn’t appear to harbour presidential ambitions until only a few months before the national elections in May 2016.

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Should Asia be Worried about Trump?

Date: 6 June 2016

Virtually every Asian academic, business leader, policymaker or taxi driver I have encountered in the last six months has, within minutes, pummelled me for answers to the Trump question.

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