Posts Tagged ‘ASEAN’
In it, I outline several steps to sustain Europe’s recent increasing attention to Southeast Asia in the economic, security and cultural realms. While much ink has been spilled on America’s pivot to Asia, I continue to believe it is important to pay equal attention to the EU’s shift to the East as well.
Here is an excerpt:
During his visit to Singapore recently German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle made a convincing case for deeper European Union engagement in Asia and more specifically with ASEAN. Germany is hardly alone in recognising this. Indeed, 2012 seemed to be the year of Europe’s pivot to Asia. Leading officials attended key Asian summits, and the EU made advances in its relationship with ASEAN by suspending sanctions on Myanmar, acceding to the ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and completing a successful ministerial meeting in April.
But while ASEAN-EU ties have certainly warmed recently due to Europe’s increasing interest in the region, “upgrading” the relationship between the world’s two major regional integration initiatives will require sustained and significant progress by both sides across several areas in the coming years…
You can read the full thing here.
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.
Given that 2013 could be the year of reckoning on Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention the likely denouement for Syria, John Kerry will require real strategic discipline to keep a focus on Asia. The administration has also had some difficulty managing the inherent tension between engaging China and maintaining a favorable balance of power in the region. Allies such as Japan and the Philippines worry that in the second term the administration may tilt back towards an emphasis on reassuring, rather than dissuading, Beijing. That would be unfortunate, since lack of consistency on that front hurt the administration in the first term with both the allies and Beijing.
Engagement of ASEAN is a noted success for this administration, but the terrain could become tougher in the years ahead, given renewed ethnic conflict in Burma, leadership transitions in Indonesia, and domestic political problems in Vietnam, Malaysia and elsewhere. A strong U.S. Trade Representative empowered to move forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership would certainly help the sustainability of the Pivot, particularly with ASEAN. Finally, all eyes will be on the defense budget. A carefully managed cut to defense spending that allows reprogramming for naval and air force capabilities in the Pacific is necessary. Sequestration that throws the defense establishment into chaos would damage the region’s image of American strategic competence.
I have highlighted similar concerns in several recent pieces, including here.