International Organizations

ASEAN Tries to Hold it Together

Clouded by controversy even before it began, the recently concluded 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Vientiane, Laos was conspicuous for two things: who was and was not present; and, perhaps more importantly, what was and was not discussed.

The Philippines and China Look to the AIIB

The Philippines’ new President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated that China could play a key role in developing the Philippines’ infrastructure. Even before the election, Duterte announced that he is willing to back down on the South China Sea dispute with China if it can build railway systems in the Philippines within his six-year term. So could infrastructure investment offer a way forward for the China–Philippines relationship?

ASEAN's Diversity Challenge

As 2015 ended, members of ASEAN announced the realisation of the ASEAN Community, although it shall remain a ‘work in progress’. The ASEAN Community idea sets a roadmap for continuing the work of regional integration over the next decade.

ASEAN+3 Strengthens its Surveillance Unit's Powers

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.

G7 Initiatives likely can't Overcome Desynchronized Business Cycles

The G7 heads of state summit has begun.  The host, Japan's Prime Minister Abe began with doom and gloom.  Accounts suggest he warned of the risk of a crisis on the scale of Lehman if appropriate policies are not taken.  It is not clear to whom Abe was addressing.  It may not have been the other heads of state. It may have been a domestic audience Abe had in mind.

OPEC: Let the Bickering Continue

The next OPEC meeting on 2 June will act as little more than a forum for continued altercations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  The 2 June 2016 OPEC meeting will be held amid a backdrop of oil prices near $50 per barrel, a sharp drop in Nigerian production due to sabotage, turmoil in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia operating with a new oil minister, and Iran aggressively pumping close to pre-sanction levels. 

ASEAN can still Influence the TPP and OBOR

In 2016, Southeast Asia has found itself engaged in proactive regional initiatives led by major powers. The recently signed, but still to be ratified, US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one attempt, while China’s land-based ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ — which together make up its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative — puts Beijing’s proactive engagement and growing confidence on display.

Prioritizing the G7 Countries' Priorties

Later this month, Japan will host the 42nd G7 summit. One point of discussion will be Japan’s plan to increase its consumption tax in April 2017. Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have come out against this plan, arguing that Japan should hold off on the consumption tax increase. Eminent economists Dale Jorgenson and Jean Tirole have mirrored these concerns, suggesting that long-term structural reforms, not short-term fiscal fixes, are the answer to Japan’s economic woes.

ASEAN+3 Could Find a Friend in the IMF

ASEAN+3 (the ASEAN members plus China, South Korea and Japan) was born from the ashes of the Asian financial crisis and the IMF’s response to it. It’s no secret that displeasure — if not hostility — to the policy prescriptions suggested by the Washington-based institution was a key driver behind ASEAN+3.

The ASEAN Regional Forum Needs to be More than Crisis Management

Over 20 years ago, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was founded to address highly sensitive and contentious political and security issues in Asia. Its objective was to develop confidence-building measures and, in time, preventive diplomacy with an ultimate goal of resolving conflicts in the region.