Op-ed Commentary: Nicholas Clement
Jul. 18 – In the aftermath of the recent ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that was held in Cambodia last week, it cannot be helped but to feel a sense of disappointment about the outcome. The summit, which was attended by 27 foreign ministers, was intended to end with a decision regarding the simmering tension in the South China Sea (SCS), including the conflicting claims that China has with many ASEAN states. For the first time in 45 years, however, there was no final communiqué at the conclusion of the summit. Furthermore, even though ASEAN foreign ministers announced that they intended to agree on a code of conduct in the SCS, no such code was produced.
The summit was a prime example of a great power influencing the conduct of a regional organization for its own benefit. The chair of the summit, Cambodia, refused to allow the Philippines to include language in the final communiqué which referred to its recent naval standoff with China over the Scarborough Shoal. As decisions made within ASEAN are based on consensus, a final communiqué was not produced due to Cambodia’s decision. Cambodia insisted that such disputes should be managed bilaterally, which is also China’s policy. Continue reading
By Aryaman Bhatnagar
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan speaks with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Kabul, March 15 (Photo: U.S. Navy/Chad J. McNeeley)
Jul. 17 – The recently-concluded summits on Afghanistan held in New Delhi and Tokyo aimed at attracting foreign investment to Afghanistan in the hope that economic growth will simultaneously instill a sense of security and political stability. Although the Afghan government has managed to achieve its target amount – the participating countries pledged US$16 billion for the next four years – any investment in the country is likely to face obstacles.
Security is the most obvious impediment for any development task undertaken in Afghanistan.
For instance, Chinese activity at the Mes Aynak copper deposits in Logar Province, an area where the Taliban are still active, has still not started as it is constantly under the threat of insurgent attacks. The Wall Street Journal has reported speculation that the Chinese may be deliberately delaying the project until they can properly assess the security situation post 2014 when American and NATO forces are due to leave the country. Continue reading
Jul. 16 – The latest issue of DPRK Business Monthly is now available as a complimentary PDF download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore. The regular magazine looks at current international, domestic, and peninsular affairs concerning North Korea while also offering commentary and tourism information on the country.
In recent international news, the Russian Ministry of Finance in June announced that the Russian-North Korean negotiations for the repayment of North Korean debts had resulted in the signing of a joint protocol in Pyongyang (to be approved by the government), which will finalize negotiations that have continued for many years. This is a major milestone for bilateral relations, but not for any possible breakthrough in economic reforms or political settlement. Continue reading
By Ian Bhullar
Jul. 12 – Hong Kong ranks number one in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU’s) most recent “Best Cities” ranking, issued this week, while other Asian cities retain middling positions.
The EIU frequently issues city reports that measure livability according to a five-part schema of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. However the new ranking, a product of a competition organized by EIU and Buzzdata, is praised for incorporating measures of cultural and spatial assets. Continue reading
Jul. 11 – Asia Briefing, in cooperation with its parent firm Dezan Shira & Associates, has just released a new 28-page report introducing the current business environment in Myanmar. This guide, titled “An Introduction to Doing Business in Myanmar,” is immediately available as a complimentary PDF download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore.
Myanmar is finally opening its doors to the rest of the world with the military-led government only a few months ago pushing forward political and economic reforms, attracting the attention of potential investors worldwide.
What will happen in the future is unclear, but the current president, Thein Sein (who could step down in 2015), is an advocate of opening and reforming the economy, so it seems there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Continue reading
Philippines taking over call-centers, but India looks to retain lead in overall BPO industry
By Ian Bhullar
Jul. 10 – India is traditionally seen as the choice destination for companies looking to outsource English-language call centers. However, the growth of the Philippines’ business process outsourcing (BPO) industry over the past decade is challenging this position, with businesses paying increasing attention to the advantages of Philippines-based call centers.
The island nation’s call center business has seen explosive growth of 25-30 percent per year, compared to India’s 10-15 percent, according to Salil Dani, research director at the Everest Group. Furthermore, the sector employs 400,000 people in the country, outstripping India’s 350,000. Continue reading
Jul. 9 – According to the 2012 World Investment Report released by the United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), of 179 major global companies surveyed, India is considered to be the third most-preferred investment destination after China and the United States.
Foreign direct investment flows into India, after slowing down for two years in a row, grew by approximately 30 percent in 2011 to nearly US$32 billion. Furthermore, FDI flows could increase by more than 20 percent both this year and the next. Continue reading