Opinions < 2004 < February

Everybody is Doing It

The Economist
26th February 2004

With everyone but Mongolia and North Korea doing it, even South Korea's protectionists could not resist any longer. After three failed attempts, the National Assembly finally ratified the country's first-ever free-trade agreement (FTA) last week. Since such agreements are becoming commonplace, and since South Korea chose a modest and distant trading partner, Chile, for its first foray into tariff-free trade, it would be easy to dismiss the treaty's importance to the rest of Asia. Yet it may signal the start of a more aggressive phase in the region's trade policy.  

Click here to read the full Article : http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id




Reserves could Hasten Asian Integration

Pradumna B. Rana, Asia Recovery Information Centre, ADB 
February 24,  2004

Aside from a few indicators such as poverty levels that remain above precrisis levels (though they are coming down), East Asia's rebound from the Asian crisis of 1997-1998 is more or less complete. The capital-account crisis -- which was both a currency and banking crisis -- and Asia's increasing integration into the global financial market, with its inevitable surges and reversals of private capital, has led the region to initiate actions at national and regional levels to prevent a recurrence. At the national level, structural reforms in the financial and corporate sectors have enhanced resilience, although much more remains to be done. At the regional level, there has been progress in initiating policy dialogue, sharing resources and developing bond markets.

One example is the ASEAN-plus-Three Economic Review and Policy Dialogue, under which staff of finance ministries and central banks of the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan and South Korea, meet twice a year to review policies.  

Click here to read the full Article : http://aric.adb.org/docs/asianintegration.asp

In Search of an Asian IT Agenda

Subimal Bhattacharjee, Financial Express
February 23,  2004

Hyderabad was host to the second summit of IT ministers of Asia in the second week of January this year. The event brought together ministers and representatives of 32 countries, the quest being to devise a common agenda so that the region could provide a common stand to all issues concerning the industry. While the first summit in Seoul in mid-2002 had finalised a Programme of Action (POA) and also set the Seoul Declaration which provided the basic guidelines for cooperation, including the agenda for future summits, much of the action was left to the organisers here to set the tone for a comprehensive action plan. The summit was conducted in two separate formats industry forum, which had the participation of business leaders from the region sharing their experiences and best practices, and the thematic agenda of the meet. The ministerial meet later deliberated on the outcomes of the Industry Forum and provided the directions for future course of action  

(Click here to read the full Article : http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=53289

Once Again, The East is Rising

David Howell, The Japan Times
February 21,  2004

The other day a British businessmen, recently having visited Japan, recounted the words of a leading Japanese ship-owner. "Our ships" said this individual with a sigh, "are going fully loaded to Europe and America but these days coming back empty." Of course, this oversimplifies, but the message is clear -- and for the Europeans especially chilling. The Asian world -- including notably a reviving Japan, and to a rapidly increasing extent, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia -- is supplying more and more of Europe's and America's needs, but the West is not reciprocating. The old and cozy image of trade being a two-way beneficial flow between East and West is fading fast. There used to be a sort of superior view that the West, and Europe in particular, would do all the thinking, innovating and designing, and the East with its cheap labor would churn out the more basic items. In due course, the cheap labor would become more expensive as incomes rose and everything would be evened out again smoothly in the world trade balance.

Most of that theory was shattered long ago as it became apparent that Japan had begun to dominate world manufacturing and that the rest of Asia was following on behind. By the end of the 20th century it had become obvious that there was almost nothing the Europeans could do that rising Asia could not do better -- from building motorcars and skyscrapers to the most advanced developments in biotechnology, nanotechnology and the frontiers of industrial and scientific innovation.  

(Click here to read the full Article : http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?eo20040221dh.htm

McWorld Gathers Steam in East Asia

Jim Lobe, Asia Times
February 2004  

..Besides Europe and North America, the world's most integrated region was East Asia, led by Singapore and Malaysia, which were followed by Japan (29), South Korea (32), the Philippines (33), Thailand (48) and China (57). Taiwan ranked 36, but its score would have been considerably higher had the political-engagement variables not applied. Taiwan ranked 62 in membership in international organizations, United Nations peacekeeping and treaty ratifications because China, which regards the island as a renegade province, strongly opposes international recognition of Taiwan as an independent nation.

(Click here to read the full Article : http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/FB26Dj02.html


India, China and Energy Security

Nandakumar J, Asia Times
February 7,  2004

India and China have been witnessing a steady increase in their energy consumption for many years. Increasing economic growth characterized by high industrial activity has been the main reason behind it. Though consumption of coal accounts for a major share of the total energy use, imported petroleum takes an irreplaceable position in the energy mix of both India and China.
Until 1993, China was the world's fifth-largest oil producer and was a net exporter. Driven by a surge in economic growth, however, China's growth in oil consumption is now running close to 8 percent a year and, as a result, that country is now a major importer. Meanwhile, India, the world's second-most-populous country, is also experiencing year-over-year consumption growth in excess of 8 percent, and has recently replaced France as the sixth-largest oil-consuming nation in the world.
The key energy-related issues for these two countries are increasing energy dependency on imported oil, growing environmental concerns due to the dependency on coal, transportation and supply problems, and regional geopolitics.

(Click here to read the full Article : http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/FB07Ad05.html