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  • Author: Saori N. Katada
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2015, two mega-initiatives took shape that will affect economic relations in the Asia-Pacific region: the US-promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Although they address different needs, both are expected to have profound effects on Asia's economic governance in the near future, and will shape economic norms in the Asia Pacific and beyond. Japan has joined the TPP but stayed out of the AIIB, decisions that might seem counterintuitive considering its history of resisting trade liberalization and of promoting infrastructure investment. Is Japan simply favoring its US ally over rival China? Or is it that Japan's position on the TPP and AIIB aligns with its own economic priorities, and enhances its geo-economic advantage? With a US-China competition over economic ideas and regional strategies, Japan occupies a unique position that may allow it to influence the direction of Asia-Pacific economic governance, which is now being battled out by the two "titans."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyop Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: China, the world's leading exporter of electronic products, faces a fundamental dilemma. It is the largest and fastest-growing market for semiconductors, the core component of those electronics products. Yet, at least 80 percent of the semiconductors used in China's electronics products must be imported. As a result, China's trade deficit in semiconductors has more than doubled since 2005 and now exceeds the huge amount it spends on crude oil imports. To correct this unsustainable imbalance, China's new strategy to upgrade its semiconductor industry seeks to move from catching up to forging ahead in semiconductors. The strategy calls for simultaneously strengthening advanced manufacturing and innovation capabilities in China's integrated circuit (IC) design industry and its domestic IC fabrication, primarily through foundry services. Drawing on policy documents and interviews with China-based industry experts, this study takes a close look at the objectives, strategy, and implementation policies of China's new push in semiconductors and examines what this implies for China's prospects in this industry. The study shows that China's new policy resorts to private equity investment rather than subsidy as the tool of industrial policy. The government participates in equity investment and claims it will do so without intervening in management decisions. This policy is expected to reduce the cost of investment funds for a selected group of firms, which is to form a "national team" in the semiconductor industry. China's new policy to upgrade its semiconductor industry through innovation does not represent a radical break with its deeply embedded statist tradition. Within these boundaries, however, the study detects important changes in the direction of a bottom-up, market-led approach to industrial policy. In response to the rising complexity and uncertainty of today's semiconductor industry, the government seems more open to experimentation with new approaches to investment finance and flexible, bottom-up policy implementation, based on multilayered industrial dialogues with private firms. China's policies to forge ahead in semiconductors, thus, provide an interesting example of its current efforts to move from investment-driven catching up to an innovation-driven development model.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Science and Technology, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jon Dorsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: At the end of 2015 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In theory, this agreement should produce an association-wide economic integration. However, following the announcement, and for the foreseeable future, ASEAN member states will continue in significantly less than full regional economic integration. Why? Some observers believe that the AEC plans involve an "overly ambitious timeline and too many ill-thought-out initiatives." Others point to ASEAN's traditional aversion to legally binding agreements. While progress has been made in reducing or eliminating intra-ASEAN trade tariffs, substantial non-tariff barriers to trade persist. However, for most member states, the ASEAN market is relatively small while external markets, especially China, are growing rapidly. Given this outward-orientation for ASEAN trade, is the lack of an unhindered regional market really a problem?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For its proponents, America's voluntary standards system is a "best practice" model for innovation policy. Foreign observers however are concerned about possible drawbacks of a standards system that is largely driven by the private sector. There are doubts, especially in Europe and China, whether the American system can balance public and private interests in times of extraordinary national and global challenges to innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Globalization, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Governance
  • Political Geography: China, America, Europe
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For its proponents, America's voluntary standards system is a "best practice" model for innovation policy. Foreign observers however are concerned about possible drawbacks of a standards system that is largely driven by the private sector. There are doubts, especially in Europe and China, whether the American system can balance public and private interests in times of extraordinary national and global challenges to innovation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: A central hope of engagement with North Korea is that increased cross-border exchange will encourage the strengthening of institutions, and eventually, a moderation of the country's foreign policy. An unprecedented survey of Chinese enterprises operating in North Korea reveals that trade is largely dominated by state entities on the North Korean side, although we cannot rule out de facto privatization of exchange. Little trust is evident beyond the relationships among Chinese and North Korean state-owned enterprises. Formal networks and dispute settlement mechanisms are weak and do not appear to have consequences for relational contracting. Rather, firms rely on personal ties for identifying counterparties and resolving disputes. The weakness of formal institutions implies that the growth in exchange does not conform with the expectations of the engagement model and may prove self-limiting. The results also cast doubt that integration between China and North Korea, at least as it is currently proceeding, will foster reform and opening.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Israel, North Korea
  • Author: Barry Naughton, Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The paper examines the role of global technology sourcing, and its drivers and impacts in China's integrated circuit (IC) design industry. IC design is one of the priority targets of China's innovation policy, as codified especially in the ―Strategic Emerging Industries‖ initiative. At the same time, however, China's IC design industry is deeply integrated into the vertically disintegrated global semiconductor industry, through markets, investment and technology. The paper highlights a fundamental challenge for China's innovation strategy: How can China reconcile its primary objective of strengthening indigenous innovation with the benefits that it could reap from its deep integration into international trade and into global networks of production and innovation?
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Jane Nakano
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The United States, Japan, and the European Union—the three key consumers of Chinese rare earth materials—formally complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in March about Chinese restrictions on its rare earth exports. Several weeks later, China announced the establishment of a 150-plus member association with the official aim of promoting sustainable development within this sector. Some analysts wonder if this is part of a Chinese plan to circumvent international complaints by instituting an oligopolistic arrangement to control its rare earth exports. Others ask if this could be another step in an escalating dispute with China over the global supply of rare earth materials.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: John Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In a recent online article in Foreignpolicy.com, regular columnist and head of the Economic Strategy Institute, Clyde Prestowitz, argued that the next president of the World Bank should be Zhou Xiaochuan, Chairman of the People's Bank of China. For Prestowitz, it was not just Zhou's excellent credentials that made him ideal for the position, but also the fact that he is Chinese. China is accurately accused of “gaming” the global economic liberal order through its currency policies, restricted market access for outside firms and governments, and internal intervention in the economy to the detriment of foreign firms. But Prestowitz believes that such an appointment would significantly encourage China to behave as a “responsible stakeholder.” Behind this thinking is the argument that the more power, prestige, and authority China accumulates within the existing order, the more liberal Chinese economic policies will become.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China