The CSS Blog Network

The Geo-Economic Potential of the China–Japan Relationship

Japanese and Chinese Flags. Image: futureatlas.com/Flickr

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 28 September, 2015.

China and Japan already together account for more than a fifth of global output, bigger than the share held by the United States or that of Europe. Over three-quarters of that, of course, is generated in mainland China but, contrary to widely held perceptions, the China–Japan economic partnership is one of the biggest in the world.

The bilateral trade relationship is the third-largest in the world, with a US$340 billion trade relationship in 2014. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, accounting for one-fifth of its trade, and Japan is China’s second-largest. Japan is the largest investor in China, with a stock of direct investment at more than US$100 billion in 2014 or US$30 billion more than the next largest source, the United States. But even those massive trade and investment figures understate just how intertwined are these two Asian giants. » More

Cuba: The Embargo Continues

A ship leaving the port of Havana, Cuba. Image: Travel Aficionado/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 3 April, 2015.

Since the Obama administration announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, it’s common to hear people talk about what will happen “now that the embargo has ended.”  The new measures are significant for the tone that they set, and there are some concrete changes that will result.  It will be easier for certain limited categories of US citizens to travel to Cuba, and the tension between the two governments is somewhat reduced.  But the embargo is still very much in place. » More

Indonesia’s Seaward Shift: A Break from the Past

Pinisi ships dock at the Sunda Kelapa Harbor, Jakarta. Image: Phinisi#11/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by CIMSEC on 4 December, 2014.

In his inaugural speech as the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo communicated a vision of prosperity for his country based on a tradition of maritime trade. Indonesia, he said, is to become a sea-going trading power once again. With a new Ministry of Maritime Affairs and a US $6 billion investment in maritime infrastructure, he’s putting his proverbial money where his mouth is. While this seems like an obvious path for archipelagic Indonesia to take, there are very important reasons why this signals a profound shift in the strategic thinking of the country from an internal threat perception to an external one. Although some analysts believe Jokowi’s pronouncement is code for abandonment of Indonesia’s non-alignment policy, it is likely his words had nothing to do with external actors and everything to do with growing confidence in Indonesia’s democracy to effectively address its historically troubled internal security. » More

Is North Korea Opening for Business?

Photo: Whitecat SG/flickr.

SEOUL – North Korea’s system is failing. The country is facing severe energy constraints, and its economy has been stagnating since 1990, with annual per capita income, estimated at $1,800, amounting to slightly more than 5% of South Korea’s. Meanwhile, a food shortage has left 24 million North Koreans suffering from starvation, and more than 25 of every 1,000 infants die each year, compared to four in South Korea. In order to survive, the world’s most centralized and closed economy will have to open up.

A more dynamic and prosperous North Korea – together with peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula – would serve the interests not only of North Korea itself, but also of neighboring countries and the broader international community. After all, North Korea’s sudden collapse or a military conflict on the peninsula would undermine regional security, while burdening neighboring countries with millions of refugees and hundreds of billions of dollars in reconstruction costs. » More

The Stakes are Higher for the US in the Transatlantic Trade Deal

Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn

Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn. Photo: Barry Yanowitz/Flickr.

The launching of the EU-US trade and investment agreement negotiations could be the best news coming out of the West for a very long time. If there is something for which the EU leaders will wait anxiously in President Obama‘s State of the Union address in early February, it is a green light for the process to begin. Given the depth of the eurozone crisis, the widespread understanding has been that it is the US who will be giving Europe a much-needed boost of confidence and morale. In reality, however, President Obama has higher political and economic stakes in getting the round started. It is not without a reason that his economic policy advisor speaks of sealing the deal on „one tank of gas“.

An important reason is that the US trade policy is in tatters and urgently needs to be revived in the current presidential term. The domestic political consensus has moved anti-trade almost to the point of no-return. The Democrats are ready to crucify anybody who says trade is good for the country. The Republicans are more open but in their perception there are free riders such as China who are abusing the system and need to be punished. Hence the threat of naming China a currency manipulator which was key part of Mitt Romney’s armoury in the presidentials.

» More

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