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  • Author: Jennifer A. Hillman, David Sacks
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, political, climate change, security, and global health interests. Since BRI’s launch in 2013, Chinese banks and companies have financed and built everything from power plants, railways, highways, and ports to telecommunications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables, and smart cities around the world. If implemented sustainably and responsibly, BRI has the potential to meet long-standing developing country needs and spur global economic growth. To date, however, the risks for both the United States and recipient countries raised by BRI’s implementation considerably outweigh its benefits. BRI was initially designed to connect China’s modern coastal cities to its underdeveloped interior and to its Southeast, Central, and South Asian neighbors, cementing China’s position at the center of a more connected world. The initiative has since outgrown its original regional corridors, expanding to all corners of the globe. Its scope now includes a Digital Silk Road intended to improve recipients’ telecommunications networks, artificial intelligence capabilities, cloud computing, e-commerce and mobile payment systems, surveillance technology, and other high-tech areas, along with a Health Silk Road designed to operationalize China’s vision of global health governance.1 Hundreds of projects around the world now fall under the BRI umbrella.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Conflict, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regionalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Raoul Bunskoek, Chih-yu Shih
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Conventional explanations of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) focus on how the BRI will be in China’s interest, how it will strengthen China’s geopolitical position, or a combination of the two. We argue that such views are limited because they merely interpret the BRI through ‘Western’ IR lenses. This paper ‘re-worlds’ China by using the BRI as a case study to illustrate how in the discursive field(s) of China’s elite, China as a Westphalian nation state, and China as amorphous Tianxia under Confucianism coexist, struggle for recognition, and are interrelated. Consequently, we argue that China, because of the economic miracle it created domestically over the last few decades, is now convinced of its own ‘moral superiority’, and ready to export its self-perceived ‘benevolence’ abroad. In this light, we read the BRI to be undergirded by a combination of ‘Western’ and Confucian values, suggesting a post-Western/post-Chinese form of regionalism.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regionalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic Growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joshua Cavanaugh
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: A select delegation of leaders from the U.S. Democratic and Republican Parties and the global business community traveled to Beijing, China to meet with senior officials from the Communist Party of China (CPC) on November 18-21, 2019. The discussions were part of the 11th U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue organized by the EastWest Institute (EWI) in partnership with the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC). Launched in 2010, the U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue seeks to build understanding and trust between political elites from the U.S. and China through candid exchanges of views on topics ranging from local governance to foreign policy concerns. The dialogue process consistently involves sitting officers from the CPC and the U.S. Democratic and Republican National Committees. In the 11th iteration of the dialogue, the CPC delegation was led by Song Tao, minister of IDCPC. Gary Locke, former secretary of the United States Department of Commerce, former governor for the state of Washington and former United States Ambassador of China; and Alphonso Jackson, former secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; lead the U.S. Democratic and Republican delegations, respectively. Throughout the dialogue, members of both delegations spoke freely on relevant topics including foriegn policy trends, trade disputes and emerging areas of economic cooperation. EWI facilitated a series of meetings for the U.S. delegation, which included a productive meeting with Wang Qishan, vice president of the People’s Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People. The delegates also met with Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs; Dai Bingguo, former state councilor of the People’s Republic of China; and Lu Kang, director of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.S. delegates visited the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and met with their president, Jin Liqun, as well as the Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University to engage prominent scholars on the future of the U.S.-China relationship.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Wendy Cutler
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Much attention has been focused on China’s unfair intellectual property practices and the imbalance in the U.S.-China trade relationship, but equally troubling are large-scale Chinese industrial subsidies, the behavior of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in general, the oversized and opaque role of the Chinese state in the economy. While the U.S-China phase one trade deal tackled some important sources of bilateral tension and aimed to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, it was silent on industrial subsidies and related matters, leaving them for the next phase of negotiations, the fate of which is now in question. U.S. concerns on these matters are shared by other trading partners including the European Union (EU) and Japan. Yet despite widespread disapproval of such practices, building new global rules to combat subsidies has proven challenging. This is due to several factors, ranging from gridlock at the WTO, differences of views among like-minded countries on the required level of ambition, and uncertainty as to how best to approach the enormous complexities in China’s subsidies and related policies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has sought to unpack this complexity, conducting recent studies of Chinese subsidies in two key sectors: aluminum and semiconductors. Both studies illustrate how Chinese subsidies are not simple cash handouts from the state to protected firms so that they can sell at favorable and distorting prices. The OECD finds subsidies can take various forms, including downstream or upstream help that trickles up or down to the firm that’s intended to benefit. They can take the form of favorable equity or debt purchases or bonds provided at below-market rates. And with interconnected global value chains, subsidies can effectively be granted covertly, intended to benefit one firm that might be several links away along the chain. In China, the problem is compounded by an opaque “party-state” structure that obscures not only the recipients of subsidies, but also the source. According to Mark Wu, a Harvard Law School professor who previously served as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, subsidies not only flow directly from government bodies in Beijing, but also indirectly through informal responses to directives — sometimes even left unsaid, but understood — from the Chinese Communist Party. Against this backdrop, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened two roundtables in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020 to discuss how best to build a new rules-based infrastructure that might combat such subsidies and prevent trade-distorting results such as unfair competition, market access barriers, and, above all, overcapacity in global markets. Experts from the private sector, think tanks, governments, and academia weighed in with possible solutions, which included: Negotiating new rules in the WTO; Using the WTO dispute settlement system, despite its often-discussed flaws; Forming ad hoc rules-based approaches, where possible, like the U.S-EU-Japan trilateral initiative; Plurilateral negotiations conducted on a sector-by-sector basis; Forming coalitions of like-minded trading partners to establish an alternative model, much in the way that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was framed. During the roundtables, most experts agreed that there is no silver bullet that solves the subsidy and related issues on its own. And most agree that, left unaddressed, the problem is likely to deepen. The COVID-19 pandemic might even exacerbate it by leading to more state involvement in economies around the world and making it hard to discipline Beijing’s practices. Recognizing all of these real challenges that the international trade community faces, the roundtables reached the following key conclusions: Transparency on the scope, level, and nature of industrial subsidies is vital; Efforts to publicize the ongoing work in these areas, particularly that being done by the OECD, should accelerate; Turning research into tangible new policies is a key step; and Persuading China to agree to updated rules will be necessary, given that China is a singular contributor to overcapacity.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Trade, Industry, WTO
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dan Ciuriak, Maria Piashkina
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The rapid digital transformation occurring worldwide poses significant challenges for policy makers working within a governance framework that evolved over centuries. Domestic policy space needs to be redefined for the digital age, and the interface with international trade governance recalibrated. In this paper, Dan Ciuriak and Maria Ptashkina organize the issues facing policy makers under the broad pillars of “economic value capture,” “sovereignty” in public choice and “national security,” and outline a conceptual framework with which policy makers can start to think about a coherent integration of the many reform efforts now under way, considering how policies adopted in these areas can be reconciled with commitments under a multilateral framework adapted for the digital age.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Reform, Digital Economy, Multilateralism, Digitization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Akshay Mathur, Purvaja Modak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, there has been a shift in global trade from trade in goods to trade in services. Unlike goods, services are intangible and consumed by the user directly, without intermediate supervision. Thus, the only way to ensure the quality of a service is to enforce standards on the service provider. This is the responsibility of domestic sector-specific regulatory institutions established by the government. This paper examines the current state of services trade in India and Canada, considers India’s services trade with Canada and outlines a number of measures the countries could take to support services trade.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Services, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Canada, India, Asia, North America
  • Author: Don Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Like foreign policy, trade policy is the outward expression of domestic policy — both economic and social — and trade negotiations are to advance the national interest. Both India and Canada have important commercial interests in digital trade and both have counterbalancing social policy concerns, but they have important differences as well. Their equitable participation in digital trade must overcome an imbalanced competitive landscape through measures to facilitate access to technology and infrastructure, financing, and training in digital technology literacy and data-based business models. As yet, there is no international consensus on how trade rules should be adapted to foster digital trade. Consistent with the Track 1.5 Dialogue objectives, this paper calls on Canada and India to partner and lead in advancing the digital trade agenda. It recommends creating a bilateral process to identify common causes and areas for collaboration; convening a business-to-business conversation supported with research and analysis; and focusing on the impact of digital technology, looking at not only electronic commerce but also trade in traditional service sectors.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Digital Economy, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Canada, India, Asia, North America
  • Author: Amit Bhandari
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The energy sectors of India and Canada complement each other: India is a large and growing oil importer, while Canada is a large and growing exporter of oil and gas. However, as they invested in oil fields across the world, Indian oil companies have missed out on the Canada story. Investing in Canada’s oil sector can help India guard against the risk of spikes in oil prices and provide Canada with long-term demand security. In this paper, first presented as a backgrounder at Track 1.5 meetings in Mumbai, India, in November 2019, Gateway House outlines its findings on the feasibility of Indian investment in Canada’s petroleum sector, suggesting a path forward and best prospects for investment.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Gas, Investment
  • Political Geography: Canada, India, Asia, North America