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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 "Trade"

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 »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 31, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Meat products of Shuanghui (Shineway) Group are seen on display on a shelf at a supermarket in Wuhan, Hubei province on May 31, 2013. Meat products of Shuanghui (Shineway) Group are seen on display on a shelf at a supermarket in Wuhan, Hubei province on May 31, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Chinese buy into America’s pork market. Chinese meat giant Shuanghui Group announced that it plans to acquire Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, for $4.7 billion. Both companies would benefit from the deal: Shuanghui would gain a steady and safe supply of pork while Smithfield would gain entry into the expansive Chinese market. If approved—the deal still needs to face the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process, which assesses national security risks—it would be the largest Chinese acquisition of an American company to date. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 17, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Former police officer Abner Afuang burns a replica of Taiwan's national flag as he protests against the mistreatment of Filipinos working overseas, along a main street of Manila on May 17, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Romeo Ranoco) Former police officer Abner Afuang burns a replica of Taiwan's national flag as he protests against the mistreatment of Filipinos working overseas, along a main street of Manila on May 17, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Tensions between Taiwan, Philippines escalate. The Philippine navy opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel last week in disputed waters, killing one man on board and igniting a new round of tensions in the South China Sea. Though Philippine officials (including the president) have expressed their sympathies, Taiwan has rejected these apologies as lacking “sincerity.”  In response, Taipei recalled its envoy to the Philippines, announced a hiring freeze of Filipino workers, and held military drills. Yesterday, the Philippine envoy to Taiwan advised thousands of Filipino workers not to leave their homes. Read more »

Post-Summit Decisions for Prime Minister Abe

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe participates in a media conference at a Washington hotel, February 22, 2013 Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe participates in a media conference at a Washington hotel during his visit to meet with President Barack Obama February 22, 2013 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, returned to Tokyo this weekend after his first summit meeting in Washington with President Barack Obama. Post-summit, Abe faces two important economic decisions. The first is his nomination for the next governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ). The second is whether Japan’s prime minister will urge his party onwards to participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To succeed, Abe now has to confront some political hurdles at home. Read more »

The World’s Imminent Deglobalization?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
People attend a demonstration against the government’s proposed plan for increased immigration at Speakers' Corner in Singapore February 16, 2013. People attend a demonstration against the government’s proposed plan for increased immigration at Speakers' Corner in Singapore February 16, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy Reuters).

On Saturday, 3,000 demonstrators turned out in Singapore—in one of the biggest protests in the country’s history—to protest the government’s new plan to increase the tiny nation-state’s immigrant population by nearly two million people by 2030. And who are this proposal’s greatest opponents? The Singaporean middle class, which has increasingly seen its political capital and purchasing power strangled by the influx of wealthy immigrants, mainly from China. Read more »

The Myanmar Mirage

by Joshua Kurlantzick
An employee stands behind a MasterCard logo during the launch of the international credit card issuer's first ATM transaction in Myanmar, in Yangon November 15, 2012. An employee stands behind a MasterCard logo during the launch of the international credit card issuer's first ATM transaction in Myanmar, in Yangon November 15, 2012 (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters).

In advance of President Obama’s historic visit to Yangon this week, the U.S. government announced Friday the easing of yet another round of sanctions against Myanmar. The latest suspension will allow for goods made in Myanmar to enter the U.S. market for the first time in nearly a decade.  Since the Obama administration first began lifting economic restrictions against the one-time pariah in April, Western companies have been clamoring to enter Myanmar —an enormous (60 million) market that, because it was essentially closed to Western investment for decades, could be a sizable opportunity. Its abundance of natural resources and its geographically strategic location, between China and India, further add to its allure. Read more »

Hillary Clinton Meeting With Thein Sein Major Success

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's president Thein Sein addresses the sixty-seventh United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York. Myanmar's president Thein Sein addresses the sixty-seventh United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

As reported yesterday, following a meeting with Myanmar president Thein Sein, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would now be easing the American ban on imports from Myanmar, which will be enormously beneficial to the Myanmar economy. This follows a similar move by the European Union, which now has allowed Myanmar to join the Generalized System of Preferences scheme it has for poor countries to access the EU market.

Though the announcement was important, just as important was the fact that Clinton met with Thein Sein during his trip to the United States —the United Nations General Assembly period is packed with bilaterals, and it would not have been hard for her to skip one more bilateral—and publicly handed Myanmar a reward that reflected positively on President Thein Sein. Read more »

A New Twist on Chinese Foreign Policy: Beijing Mixing Business with Politics?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Filipinos chant anti-China slogans as they march towards the Chinese consulate in Manila's Makati financial district on May 11, 2012. Filipinos chant anti-China slogans as they march towards the Chinese consulate in Manila's Makati financial district on May 11, 2012 (Erik de Castro / Courtesy Reuters).

One of the cardinal rules of Chinese diplomacy is that China doesn’t mix business with politics. The precept fits in nicely with the primacy that China places on sovereignty, respecting the right of a country—or at least the leaders of the moment—to determine how things ought to work. And, of course, it also provides Beijing with the opportunity to rationalize its lack of enthusiasm for tough foreign policy action in places such as Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Zimbabwe as a matter of principle. Read more »

Economics and Indian Strategy

by Evan A. Feigenbaum
Leaders of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand pose for a picture at the second summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi, November 13, 2008. (B Mathur / Courtesy Reuters) Leaders of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand pose for a picture at the second summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi, November 13, 2008. (B Mathur / Courtesy Reuters)
South Asia is among the least economically integrated regions of the world, in part because partition cleaved apart various natural economic communities. Regions, such as Bengal, which had been well integrated historically, suffered considerable economic ill effects. And post-1947 policies have only exacerbated the problem through tariffs, production restrictions, and various trade controls.

Actually, the lack of economic integration in South Asia is endemic. It’s not just a challenge for India and Pakistan but for many other countries in South Asia as well. Read more »