With the process for selecting a new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) starting, Vasuki Shastry, who worked in senior communications and public affairs roles at the organization, argues that Asian countries should overcome their traditional reluctance and geopolitical impediments and differences to support a candidate from the region.
Disruption, diversification...decoupling?: The fracturing of global supply chains is a major concern for Asian economies
Australia faces a range of complex geopolitical and security challenges, which include managing its close strategic and economic ties with the United States and its important trading relationship with China. The unexpected election victory of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s center-right Coalition government means that Canberra is likely to maintain its current foreign and defense policies, writes John Blaxland of Australian National University (ANU).
In a fast-paced high-growth economy – picture any big city in Asia – urban professionals are under pressure to “get back to work” even when they feel ill. The resulting demand for “fast-fix” remedies could lead to over-prescription and societal ills. Opioid abuse that is plaguing the United States and other Western countries could well become a major problem in Asia. Governments and pharmaceutical companies in the region should continue to focus on driving innovation in the development of treatments and resist the temptation to pursue the easy profits of the lifestyle-drug approach, Kathryn Ibata-Arens from DePaul University writes.
The complex nature of global supply chains means that using exploitative labor at any stage, even indirectly, may harm a company's brand and risk legal liability. Consumers do not want to be associated with trafficked workers and will shun goods produced with slave labor. Nations are passing laws to address this problem. Mandatory reporting of anti-slavery actions may provide some protection for both businesses and workers.
Why are mobile phones and bottles of Coca-Cola available in even the most remote parts of Asia, but reliable essential services, such as drinking water, electricity, and clean cooking fuels, are not? More inclusive and effective basic service delivery models are needed to benefit the poor, and the social enterprise sector may hold the key.
Deforestation lets countries develop economically through commodity production, mining, and infrastructure-building, but makes many previously forested areas unsuitable for people and animals. The solution to this isn’t reforestation—it’s natural regeneration. Nature is our best ally and business partner.
Asia is leading the way in digital asset markets, but individual countries are taking markedly different paths toward regulation and management in establishing themselves as cryptocurrency hubs, balancing innovation and regulation. Investors should be vigilant about the risks associated with alternative capital-raising methods.
The Philippines, a major maritime nation, must better protect its resources and exclusive sovereign rights. The South China Sea disputes, where China has exerted increasing dominance over one of the planet’s vital waterways, have been a sorely-needed wakeup call.
Multinational private contractors are taking the place of governmental agencies in assuming guardianship roles over asylum seekers in several countries. This development, amounting to the privatization of border controls, has disturbing consequences.
Many maritime disputes are motivated by material factors like oil, gas, and fishing stocks. Weaker countries tend to insist on sovereignty claims, at the risk of stretching legal definitions, while those with access to resources are inclined to maintain the status quo. The Timor-Leste-Australia dispute shows how sovereign claims risk weakening the international sea regime.
Climate change means that drought is likely to scourge larger parts of the world, and more often, with serious impacts on agriculture and food supply. Drought episodes are generally tackled via ad hoc policy support measures. As the Australian case shows, such responses should be replaced with longer-term policy interventions across good and bad seasonal conditions.
With environmental and societal concerns coming to the forefront of global discussion, adopting green finance is a matter of highest urgency. In Asia, the shift has already begun. Banks, funds, and companies are increasingly building systems for and investing in greener projects.
Australia and New Zealand have long viewed the Pacific Islands as part of their sphere of influence. China’s increasing engagement in the region is now throwing that in doubt. Canberra and Wellington must reconfigure their regional strategies to be more inclusive, and recognize Pacific Island states as sovereign actors in their own right.
There are many who would like to see the concept of the “Indo-Pacific” region evolve from an idea to reality. These supporters are looking to India and Indonesia, two of the most populous countries in the region, to lead the way. This, however, is currently unlikely, owing to misalignment between the two countries’ political-economic goals and actions.
Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.