Archive for the ‘Southeast Asia’ Category
This is a big week for ASEAN-related summitry, and the headlines will usually center on things like territorial disputes in the South China Sea, progress on the ASEAN Economic Community and some developments on the haze issue.
But one area that has seen progress but gets little attention is ASEAN-Japan relations. I’ve already harped on how this is important and why we may see strengthened ties this year, which is the 40th anniversary of the official relationship here and here. But here have also been promising moves over the past week from both sides, with Japan easing some visa entry requirements for ASEAN travelers and both sides agreeing to discuss maritime security in their December summit.
Though these may seem like small steps, they are significant and worth keeping an eye on.
The stellar group of Asia hands at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has released an updated report articulating policy recommendations for the second Obama administration with respect to economic strategy in Asia.
The report covers several key countries including Japan, Korea, India, China and ASEAN. Some of the recommendations include supporting ASEAN ‘connectivity’ efforts and working towards a full US-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA), expanding cooperation with Japan and Korea in the G-20 and bringing them into the fold of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), establishing an ambitious 10-year “New Framework for U.S.-India Economic Cooperation”, and modifying the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) with China.
There is also a list of lessons learned recommended for policymakers drawing partly on an earlier report released on the subject for Obama’s first term, which deals with issues like negotiation, public relations and bureaucratic politics.
One of the key challenges that the study highlights for the future of Asia economic policy is the resource constraints in Washington:
For the United States to have an effective strategy in Asia, and to be taken seriously by partners there, it must have sufficient talent and resources for the job. At present, U.S. government personnel and funding devoted to Asia policy, especially in the economic arena, are insufficient to the size, challenges, and opportunities of the region. In particular, the State Department and other agencies traditionally focused on political and security issues need more senior officials versed in Asian economics.
You can read the full thing here.
2013 is the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan relations, so we can expect a flood of commentary to accompany the ceremony this year. I’ve written a blog piece for Foreign Policy looking at the recent flurry of visits by Japanese officials to Southeast Asian capitals over the past few weeks.
In it, I highlight some of the opportunities in ASEAN-Japan relations, which lie in various areas from economics to maritime security to people-to-people ties. But while there is plenty to celebrate, I also look at the challenges which tend to get less of an emphasis. Quoting from the article:
Yet Tokyo faces several challenges as it courts ASEAN. To some, Abe’s rhetoric on democracy and human rights rings hollow: he was silent on those issues in Vietnam despite a recent government crackdown there. And while Japan and Southeast Asian states both have territorial disputes with China, any sense that Tokyo is enlisting ASEAN in a broad effort to contain Beijing could produce a squabble between the organization’s hawks and doves.
Japan’s domestic priorities may also make advancing the relationship difficult. Japan’s seventh prime minister in just six years must secure his political legitimacy while reviving the country’s moribund economy. Over the next few months, his administration will likely be consumed by its main short-term goal of securing victory in this summer’s Upper House elections.
You can read the full thing here.