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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Economics"

India’s Stakes in the Middle East

by Alyssa Ayres
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) shakes hands with India's Vice President Hamid Ansari upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi February 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

The Pew Research Center just released a superb infographic drawing on World Bank remittance data that makes it possible, with just a few clicks, to instantly see how remittances flow from source to recipient countries. It might not be a surprise to anyone that the United States is the number one source country, with more than $123 billion in remittances flowing to countries all over the world in 2012, the most recently available year. And it might not be a surprise, either, to learn that India is the number one recipient country, with $69 billion coming in during 2012. But how many people would guess that even though the United States is the number one source country for outflows worldwide, it isn’t the largest source of remittances going to India. That would be the United Arab Emirates (UAE). More than $15 billion was remitted to India from the UAE during 2012, compared with $11 billion from the United States. Read more »

A Closer Look at FDI Flip-flopping in India

by Alyssa Ayres
protest against FDI in retail sector A trader with mock chains around his wrists and a gag tied around his mouth attends a protest against the Indian government's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector in New Delhi September 27, 2012 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Last month, the new Delhi government—led by the upstart Aam Aadmi Party—sent a letter to the federal government mere days after taking office notifying it of their decision to rescind a relatively new policy allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector (department or big-box stores selling more than one brand). I wrote about this at the time, noting that a sudden flip-flop on allowing FDI would send a “confusing, conflicted signal” to potential investors. Read more »

Drip, Drip, Drip: The Impact of Thailand’s Political Chaos on the Thai Economy (and the World)

by Joshua Kurlantzick
An anti-government protester walks down an empty road during a rally near the Government Complex in Bangkok on January 24, 2014. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters) An anti-government protester walks down an empty road during a rally near the Government Complex in Bangkok on January 24, 2014. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters)

For months now, even as Thailand’s political crisis has escalated from street protests into daily violence, the disintegration of state institutions, and the threat of a coup, most Thai businesspeople, foreign investors, and analysts of the Thai economy have maintained a relatively positive outlook for the Thai economy this year and next. After all, as several long-time investors in Thailand have told me, the country’s economy has over decades proven extraordinarily resilient, surviving nineteen coups and attempted coups, natural disasters, the Indochina wars, and many Bangkok street protests that ended in bloodshed. Read more »

Aam Aadmi Party: Sweeping out Foreign Investment

by Alyssa Ayres
AAP- Policy reversal Arvind Kejriwal (R), leader of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, speaks during a meeting with his party leaders and media personnel after taking the oath as the new chief minister of Delhi, in New Delhi on December 28, 2013. (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters)

Monday’s news that the new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government decided to opt out of a year-old policy opening India’s “multibrand” retail sector to foreign investment will give international businesses interested in India pause. Amidst the news of a promising and hopeful rise of a political party focused on accountability and governance for the common man, many people outside of India have wondered what the AAP’s stance would be on economic policy. This is as good a preview as any—and it’s troubling. Read more »

Is Free Trade Back in Gear After the Bali WTO Meeting?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A man walks past a logo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ahead of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on December 2, 2013. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters) A man walks past a logo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ahead of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on December 2, 2013. (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters)

This month’s conclusion of the Bali World Trade Organization meetings was hailed by many business leaders and politicians as a major step forward for multilateral free trade, and an important step toward resuscitating the current round of WTO talks. But in reality, the results of Bali were minimal—officials at the meeting failed to reach any consensus on most of the substance on the table for the next WTO round, instead just deferring any substantial items on the WTO agenda. Read more »

The Real Challenge for China’s Third Plenum

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A security guard stands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 7, 2013 (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters). A security guard stands at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 7, 2013 (Kim Kyung-hoon/Courtesy Reuters).

A version of this post originally appeared in the Economic Times and can be found here.

Anticipation is high as China approaches the third plenum of the 18th Party Congress, scheduled to take place on November 9-12. Why the excitement? Read more »

Population Aging in China: A Mixed Blessing

by Yanzhong Huang
Chinese cyclists ride past three elderly men from neighborhood watch committees in central Beijing on February 27, 2003. Chinese cyclists ride past three elderly men from neighborhood watch committees in central Beijing on February 27, 2003. (Guang Niu/Reuters)

China is rapidly getting older. Three decades ago, only 5 percent of the population was over 65; today, 123 million people, or 9 percent of the population, are over this age. A report released by a government think tank forecasts that China will become the world’s most aged society in 2030. Further, by 2050 China’s older population will likely swell to 330 million, or a quarter of its total population. Read more »

Disillusionment in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's Police Chief Zaw Win speaks at a news conference about the recent bomb blasts around the country, at the Yangon Division government office in Yangon on October 18, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters) Myanmar's Police Chief Zaw Win speaks at a news conference about the recent bomb blasts around the country, at the Yangon Division government office in Yangon on October 18, 2013. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)

The United States Is Quietly Losing Its Innovation Edge to China

by Yanzhong Huang
A newly-made fuel-efficient vehicle travels along a street inside the Hunan University during a test drive in Changsha, Hunan province October 8, 2013. A newly-made fuel-efficient vehicle travels along a street inside the Hunan University during a test drive in Changsha, Hunan province October 8, 2013 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

I am not a supporter of the faddish idea that America is in decline. Despite all the hullabaloo about the rise of China, the United States still boasts the most formidable military force and the largest, most innovative economy. But as a student of international studies, I am keenly aware that the rise and fall of great nations are often associated with significant historical events. It is hard to deny that the 2008 financial crisis exposed the Achilles’ heel in our economy and accerlated the shift of international power balance. This month, the self-inflicted U.S. government shutdown highlighted the partisanship and immobilism in our political system and undermined our ability to engage with the outside world.  China for example lost no time in questioning U.S. global leadership, urging all the emerging countries to consider building of a “de-Americanized world.” At the same time, an OECD report forecasted that China will overtake the United States in 2016 to become the world’s largest economy. Read more »

Will There Be Another Asian Economic Meltdown?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A pawn shop worker sorts through gold jewellery at Easy Money Pawn shop in Bangkok on August 27, 2013. Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of Southeast Asians are putting their gold jewelry and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thailand's largest private pawnshop operator, Easy Money, has seen a 15-20 percent rise in the number of customers in recent months, especially in areas near Bangkok, said Managing Director Sittiwit Tangthanakiat. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters) A pawn shop worker sorts through gold jewellery at Easy Money Pawn shop in Bangkok on August 27, 2013. Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of Southeast Asians are putting their gold jewelry and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thailand's largest private pawnshop operator, Easy Money, has seen a 15-20 percent rise in the number of customers in recent months, especially in areas near Bangkok, said Managing Director Sittiwit Tangthanakiat. (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy Reuters)

Since the middle of this summer, emerging markets, particularly in Asia, have witnessed massive sell-offs of their bonds, enormous slides in their stock markets, and investors dumping their currencies as fast as they can. Many Asian and foreign analysts of Asian nations now worry that the easy credit masked huge problems in the foundations of emerging economies, and that Asia could witness an economic and financial crisis similar to the devastating meltdown that crushed the region in the late 1990s. This time, such a crisis would be even tougher for the world to withstand: emerging markets are far larger than they were 15 years ago, and a crisis in Asia could take down the entire international economy. Read more »