CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Trade"

Despite North Korean Political Risks, Sino-DPRK Trade Shows Stable Growth

by Scott A. Snyder
sinuiju-trade North Koreans sit beside bags of chemical fertilizer in Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, in March 2013. In 2013, China stepped up checks on shipments to and from North Korea almost two months after agreeing to new U.N. sanctions that demand greater scrutiny of trade, but the flow of goods in and out of the reclusive state appears largely unaffected. Picture taken March 29, 2013 (Jacky Chen/Courtesy: Reuters).

North Korea’s dependency on China for energy and food has long been cited as a source of Chinese political leverage and a primary factor that could influence North Korean stability.  But if North Korea depends on China for the bulk of its food and fuel, why does China not punish tiny North Korea for biting the hands that feed it?  On the contrary, underlying trends run in the opposite direction, possibly due in part to China’s energy demand and in part to North Korea’s growing foreign currency need. Read more »

Wenchi Yu: President Ma’s Communications Problem

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou speaks during a news conference about protesters' occupation of Taiwan's legislature, at the Presidential Office in Taipei on March 23, 2014. (Minshen Li/Courtesy Reuters) Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou speaks during a news conference about protesters' occupation of Taiwan's legislature, at the Presidential Office in Taipei on March 23, 2014. (Minshen Li/Courtesy Reuters)

Wenchi Yu is a former U.S. Department of State official and an Asia Society and Project 2049 Institute fellow. Previously, she was a legislative assistant in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, and she grew up in Taiwan. Follow her on Twitter: @WenchiY.

Taiwan is in the news again, this time because of a standoff between Taiwan’s government and protesters over a trade pact with China. For those who are concerned about Taiwan’s future, this is an opportunity to examine why Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou’s government has failed to lead. Read more »

Piekos and Tobias: China’s Place in ‘House of Cards’

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters) Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters)

Will Piekos is a program coordinator and Sharone Tobias is a research associate in the Council on Foreign Relation’s Asia Studies program.

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for House of Cards.

Netflix’s original series House of Cards returned with a second season on Valentine’s Day this year. 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 Economic Costs of North Korean Nuclear Development

by Scott A. Snyder
Kim Jong-un, here at the May 11 Factory, is taking a greater interest in economic reforms that may impact the international trade prospects for North Korea. Kim Jong-un, here at the May 11 Factory, is taking a greater interest in economic reforms that may impact the international trade prospects for North Korea (KCNA/Courtesy Reuters).

International sanctions have thus far failed to convince North Korean leadership that they cannot survive as a nuclear weapons state.  With its policy of simultaneously pursuing economic and nuclear development, North Korean leaders clearly assume they can manage the economic costs resulting from nuclear development. But the costs of such a policy are staggering compared to the economic benefits North Korea might enjoy without nuclear weapons. Comparing the estimated costs of the nuclear program to economic growth with the benefits of becoming a normal economy integrated with its neighbors reveals the steep price of the byungjin policy. Read more »

Why Obama Shouldn’t Cancel his Asia Trip

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before a Luau for APEC leaders after dinner during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before a Luau for APEC leaders after dinner during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

With the government shut down, the White House announced yesterday that the President’s upcoming trip to Asia, scheduled to begin October 6, will be cut short. Plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines have been shelved for now, though Obama will still attend the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of leaders in Bali, Indonesia. Read more »

The Futility of Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Brunei's Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah listens during the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders meeting at the Hale Koa Hotel during the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as Brunei's Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah listens during the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders meeting at the Hale Koa Hotel during the APEC Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 12, 2011. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Later this week, President Obama will embark on a six-day trip to Southeast Asia, visiting Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, to attend the East Asia Summit, the annual ASEAN leaders summit, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, along with a global entrepreneurs’ meeting in Malaysia. It might seem surprising that the president would leave the United States at such a critical time in federal budget negotiations, but these are the biggest leaders’ meetings in Asia, and since 2009, the White House has committed to increasing the presence of the president and other top Cabinet officials in Asia. Read more »

Abe’s Diplomatic Agenda

by Sheila A. Smith
Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspects the honour guard during the state welcoming ceremony in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur July 25, 2013 Visiting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe inspects the honor guard during the state welcoming ceremony in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur July 25, 2013 (Bazuki Muhammad/Courtesy Reuters).

Now that the Upper House election is over, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition has control over both houses in parliament, many expect Abe to begin addressing the difficult domestic policy issues on his agenda. In an article I published yesterday for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, I point out that Abe’s foreign policy choices will also greatly affect Japan’s future, particularly when it comes to how he manages three critical relationships: China, South Korea, and the United States. The first two will require Abe to address issues of deep historical distrust, while the last will test Abe’s ability to move forward long-overdue conversations on Japan-U.S. military cooperation. Read more »

Sean Connell: Lessons from KORUS for Japan and TPP

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
U.S. president Barack Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak tour the General Motors Orion assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan—which produces the Sonic sub-compact car, a joint venture with GM Korea—following congressional approval of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement U.S. president Barack Obama and South Korean president Lee Myung-bak tour the General Motors Orion assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan—which produces the Sonic sub-compact car, a joint venture with GM Korea—following congressional approval of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement October 14, 2011 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The agreement by the eleven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member nations on April 22 to include Japan in their ongoing negotiations was a significant breakthrough, both for advancing the high-standard “21st century” regional trade agreement envisioned in TPP and for Japan’s quest to revitalize its economy. With Japan now formally participating in the negotiating rounds, TPP covers 40 percent of global GDP, increasing its potential to shape the Asia-Pacific regional economic environment and global trade rules. Read more »

As the G8 Meets, Free Trade is in Chaos

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama on his arrival to the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013. (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters) Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama on his arrival to the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on June 17, 2013. (Yves Herman/Courtesy Reuters)

At the start of his second term in January, President Barack Obama announced a massive platform of new policy proposals. Since then, many of his ideas – on gun control, a solution to America’s debt crisis, and other issues – have been abandoned, leaving the president’s supporters on the left almost apoplectic. Yet even as he has backed off from fights on other issues, President Obama and his administration have continued to push for many new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that encompasses much of Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world. The White House also has proposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TATIP), a free trade deal with Europe. Read more »