A proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) has been witnessed across the world but also in the Asia-Pacific region, which has contributed to its trade-driven growth. Indeed, over the last three decades, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced export-oriented development, with economic growth closely linked to a reduction in poverty levels. This has increasingly occurred through improved integration into regional and global value and supply chains, which has been central to Asian growth. Specifically, manufacturing outsourcing, mainly in the technology and labour-intensive manufacturing sectors, made the region a prime example of the potential positive force that trade can have on the economy and society. Nevertheless, trade-driven economic growth can also be unbalanced. Trade liberalisation in particular can cause a rise of inequality within and between countries, such that adaptation and adjustment measures are required and must be accounted for to ensure that the parties to an RTA can take advantage of the potential that trade presents. Whilst the poverty headcount dropped across the region, in many countries in Asia and the Pacific, for example those in South-East Asia, inequality remains high, particularly between urban and rural populations, and issues persist in terms of access to healthcare, education, ICT, energy, transport, etc. Moreover, some countries continue to struggle to enter global value chains (GVCs), due to high trade barriers and/or high costs to trade, or an over-reliance on exports concentrated in commodities and natural resources. Trade can also have a negative impact on the environment. A significant portion of the academic literature seems to indicate that increases in trade liberalisation might lead to higher levels of CO2 emissions. The ability of international trade to provide greater societal and environmental benefits for sustainable development very much depends on the quality of the RTAs, and the public and private sector policies enacted to support it in this direction. Example of such policies include taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, rejecting the use plastic bags, amongst many others, or the establishment of a Labour Cooperation Mechanism between countries to improve labour standards, such as the provided created between the Chile and the Unites States through the Chile-US FTA in 2004.
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The rise of China, emergence of India and expansion of other economies in Asia are dramatically changing the Indo-Pacific maritime space. Technological advancements are making our accessibility to resources in, and access to oceans for political, economic and strategic purposes much easier than before. Amidst rising political and other uncertainties and the apparent threats to the ecology of the world’s oceans, there is growing attention among policymakers and researchers towards the management and governance of the oceans. Maritime Governance in South Asia is a timely book. This volume is an outcome of a conference organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies, an autonomous think tank at the National University of Singapore and an institutional member of ARTNeT.
This paper explores the economic implications of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – Asia’s largest trade agreement - on India and Sri Lanka. The findings from existing model-based studies suggest that India, as an insider economy, will potentially gain from the RCEP while outsider economy Sri Lanka will likely loose. India faces challenges in the RCEP negotiations in liberalizing goods and services trade and adopting new intellectual property rules. Building business competitiveness and policy reforms can mitigate these challenges. Sri Lanka is banking on its recent FTA with Singapore as a stepping stone to the RCEP. But both Singapore and Sri Lanka need to do more to ensure that the benefits flow to Sri Lanka. Key issues include Singaporean support for Sri Lanka to join the RCEP, increasing ASEAN FDI to Sri Lanka, addressing the bilateral trade deficit and improving stakeholder consultations on FTAs in Sri Lanka.
Access to finance is always a top concern for enterprises because just as a car cannot run without oil, a business cannot develop and grow without financing. Sufficient funds allow companies to upgrade their machineries, adopt new technologies and hire top talents, which in turn increase productivity and profitability. In agriculture in particular, the need for financing is even more dire because of the inherent seasonality of its cash flows, and compounded if farmers have small landholdings and financial systems are primitive. Availability of finance and a robust financial system are important for the food value chain and, in general, for all businesses.
This paper replicates the study of Topalova (2010), performs a robustness check, and extends the
In India, most of the investments in the service sector are made in the form of private equity (PE), with the e-commerce segment being the largest receiver. Altough this has allowed the sector to grow, it does not favour the interests of young start-ups, as PE investors merely seek for short-term profit opportunities. After acquiring stakes in newly established companies, PE firms re-sell them after short time with premium rates. Despite being harmful, this remains the easiest option available for start-ups to access funds: receiving loans from banks is difficult, especially due to their lack of collaterals. In this situation, the Indian Government is taking steps forward to protect and encourage entrepreneurship by providing funds to allow the growth of start-ups. Yet, there is still room for new policies to allow the sustainable growth of newly-established companies without the need of turning to private equity financing.
In Contemporary South Korean Economy, Chiang provides a critical analysis of the Republic of Korea’s economic development in the two most recent decades. Chiang highlights that most of the literature on the Republic of Korea’s economy focuses on the country’s substantial economic growth periods between the 1960s and 1980s; yet, there is little literature that discusses Republic of Korea’s post-industrialization period. Examining the recent economic performance of the country is important because policymakers can observe whether the Republic of Korea’s export-oriented policies were sustainable in the long-run. This book aims to investigate the core economic structures of the country and issues after attaining its post-war industrialization. Contemporary South Korean Economy is a necessary addition to literature on the country’s miraculous growth.
This paper examines the effect of corruption on the business environment in Viet Nam. Our survey of firms operating in Viet Nam suggests that corruption is perceived as the most severe business constraint for their operation. Also, corruption has a significant negative association with the overall satisfaction of the business environment in Viet Nam. Such results support the hypothesis that corruption has a “sand the wheel” effect on firms’ business activities. While this paper sheds light on the importance of corruption, it would be useful to conduct follow-up studies to examine corruption and its impact in more detail. Such studies could be conducted in those segments that most severely suffer from corruption according to our survey, i.e., medium-sized enterprises, hotel/restaurant and construction sectors, Hanoi based, and Vietnamese owned firms.
Globalization created wealth and improved standards of living and promoted convergence of incomes across economies. Yet, globalization’s benefits have been seen as heavily tilted towards multinational corporations (MNCs). It is perceived that this was enabled by the rules of global trade which are stacked against small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Today’s global agenda on greater inclusion is meant to remedy the disadvantages faced by small firms.
WTO+ Commitments on Services in Asian PTAs: The Role of Regulatory Homogeneity and Goods Trade Complementarity
This paper looks at the role of applied services regulations in accounting for WTO+ commitments on trade in services in preferential trade agreements (PTAs) among Asian economies. The empirical findings suggest that Asian trading dyads with regulatory frameworks that are more similar and more trade-restrictive tend to undertake higher levels of WTO+ commitments on services in their PTAs. There is also evidence in the results for such WTO+ commitments being driven by goods trade complementarities, alluding to the importance of supply chain dynamics in the region. Such results support the hypothesis that the heightened “servicification” of production generates a greater demand for lower services input costs and for certainty against possible new and disruptive services barriers.