Asia Pathways

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Asia Pathways
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Asia Pathways is a blog of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI). ADBI welcomes contributions to Asia Pathways. Information on how to contribute to the blog is available at our guidelines for authors.

Located in Tokyo, Japan, ADBI is the think tank of the Asian Development Bank. Its mission is to identify effective development strategies and improve development management in ADB's developing members countries. ADBI has an extensive network of partners in the Asia and Pacific region and beyond. ADBI's activities are guided by its three strategic priority themes of inclusive and sustainable growth, regional cooperation and integration, and governance for policies and institutions.

The Elasticity of Economies to Oil Price Fluctuations

Date: 7 July 2015

In recent years, the sharp increase in oil prices that began in 2001 and the two sharp declines that followed in 2008, due to the subprime mortgage crisis, and at the end of 2014–early 2015 have renewed interest in the effects of oil prices on the macro economy. Most recently, the price of oil has more than halved in a period of less than 5 months since September 2014. After nearly 5 years of stability, the price of a barrel of Brent crude oil in Europe fell from over $100 per barrel in September 2014, to below $46 per barrel in January 2015.

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The 2015 Asian Clean Energy Forum's New Context

Date: 23 June 2015

As we gather this week for the 2015 Asian Clean Energy Forum, the context for our meeting has changed greatly from that of last year. We have seen a dramatic drop in the price of oil, which has sent shockwaves through the entire energy sector. Volatility is the new normal, and, for a sector known for its conservative outlook, this drives those at the forefront of the energy challenge to re-evaluate traditional norms. However, we see that more than price shocks keep energy leaders awake at night.  Extreme weather and large-scale accidents/disruptions top the list of issues facing energy leaders in Asia.

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Bridging the 'Academic-Practitioner' Divide in International Affairs

Date: 15 June 2015

Any attempt to bridge the divide between scholars and policy-makers in international affairs is so welcome that I could not help but applaud this book, “Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs: Finding Common Cause”. The sad truth, however, is that after reading it I am even more convinced that the divide is a chasm.

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Integrating South Asia with Southeast Asia

Date: 26 May 2015

The time is ripe for enhancing economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia. The new “normal” era of slow growth in advanced industrial economies following the global financial crisis suggests that Asian economies will need to rely more on domestic and regional demand to secure inclusive growth. The recent slowdown in growth in the People’s Republic of China suggests further grounds for tapping growth opportunities between South Asia and Southeast Asia. The move toward an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 and beyond will provide for a large and more integrated market with notable purchasing power and scale economies. This will facilitate the deepening of foreign direct investment-driven production networks and strengthen the role of ASEAN as a conductor of Asian regional integration.

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Asia's 'Demographic Dividend' and Higher Education

Date: 19 May 2015

In most higher education discourse today it is not unusual to hear the claim that the world’s center of gravity is shifting toward the East. Indeed, no region has undergone as profound a transformation as Asia during the past half-century, from the 1970s to the present. Unprecedented economic growth has driven major social and demographic change and institutional reform and, in most countries, has brought about greater stability. The advent of a large middle class, coupled with openness and market reforms driven by economic imperatives, has contributed to greater interconnectedness among Asian states and between them and the rest of the world.

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The Credit Risk Database in Japan is a Model for the Rest of Asia

Date: 13 May 2015

Considering the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for employment and GDP and the number of such firms in Asian countries, there needs to be further efforts to offer SMEs access to finance. Asian economy characteristics are having bank-dominated financial systems and underdeveloped capital markets, and as a result, banks are the main source of financing for SMEs. However, the financial health of SMEs is difficult to evaluate since many do not have solid accounting systems and many SMEs in Asia resort to borrowing money from moneylenders at high interest rates.

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The Future of Public-Private Partnerships in ASEAN Countries

Date: 1 May 2015

Discussions I’ve had around public-private partnerships (PPPs) in Asia have typically focused on India and the PRC because of their strong deal volumes. Having listened to and interacted with agencies in several ASEAN countries, I believe ASEAN is at an inflection point that could soon make it the bustling PPP market ADB has long been working toward. Here are three reasons why I’m excited about ASEAN.

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Are You Living, or Stuck, in a Middle-Income Economy?

Date: 23 April 2015

The notion of a middle-income trap has generated much interest and discussion, but little consensus. There is no agreement on what the trap is or how long a country needs to be at the middle-income stage to be considered trapped. Much of the current discussion is about growth slowdowns, but is a slowdown the same as a trap? It is also possible that the trap does exist but we do not know what causes it.

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What about Latin America and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement?

Date: 13 April 2015

Chile, Mexico, and Peru are the three Latin American countries participating in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Although these countries have cultural and geographical proximity, they exhibit different export structures and consequently different objectives toward the ongoing TPP negotiations. Even more intriguing is to understand the particular interests of each country in light of the key issues negotiated and discussed, such as agriculture, intellectual property rights, and trade in services.

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The Implications of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement in the TPP and TTIP

Date: 1 April 2015

Sometimes in politics, it is not the text that counts, but rather the context. Policies that are benign or even ignored by the electorate in one political constellation can suddenly fuel intense debate when there is a shift in the alignment of external forces. Think of Chancellor Merkel’s sudden decision to abandon nuclear power in Germany after the Fukushima reactor meltdown caused by the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. Nothing had changed about the safety of the German reactors themselves, but everything had changed about the broader context.

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Reports Show Education in South Asia is in Crisis

Date: 1 April 2015

South Asia is home to a growing youth population and widely considered to benefit from the “demographic dividend” in the coming decades. The United Nations Population Fund’s State of World Population 2014 report The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future therefore call for increased investment in youths and adolescents.

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Achieving Middle-Income Growth in China's Slowing Economy

Date: 20 March 2015

The Chinese economy grew by 7.4% in 2014 and expects to grow by 7.0% this year. These are impressive growth rates for any country but lower than past years’ achievements. For three solid decades, since the beginning of market reforms in the late 1970s, the economy expanded by an annual average of almost 10%.

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How to Serve Millions of Potential Banking Customers in Asia

Date: 16 March 2015

Every time I stop and withdraw cash from an ATM or use my credit card to buy something online, I wonder how many people in Asia have access to such services. In fact, these simple transactions are beyond the reach of 45% of adults in East Asia and the Pacific alone. The formal financial system excludes them and it will remain so until they open a bank account.

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The Extraordinary Economic Potential of Asia's Sub-Regions

Date: 5 March 2015

South Asian and Southeast Asian economies have all embraced an outward-oriented development strategy, albeit to different degrees. The result has been an impressive increase in international trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, and significant productivity improvements, which in turn have contributed to important socio-economic gains. Indeed, some of these economies have delivered among the most striking economic performances in the world. 

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The Swiss Franc may not be the only Indefensible Currency Peg

Date: 27 February 2015

Already driving a housing bubble in all major Asian cities from Seoul to Jakarta, significant hot money inflows are what Hong Kong, China and Singapore seek to avoid. However, Greece’s exit from the Eurozone coupled with subsequent quantitative easing by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to jump-start flagging growth could quickly exacerbate this Asian dynamic. 

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Checking in on ASEAN and the AEC

Date: 17 February 2015

A pressing policy question facing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders at their summit in April 2015 and beyond is whether the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) can be sustained without more effective institutions. This article explores the link between achieving the AEC agenda and institutional effectiveness. 

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Liberalizing Trade Through Plurilateral Agreements Seems to be Working

Date: 12 February 2015

After over a gloomy decade of inconclusive talks, a small but important step was taken in early December 2014 to finish the Doha Round negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2015 and beyond, actions to arrive at a Doha Round Agreement should be accompanied by embracing new plurilateral trade agreements within the WTO. This move can benefit growth and development in Asia. 

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Will the Financial Sector Help or Hinder the Green Transformation?

Date: 5 February 2015

Many Asian countries have set ambitious targets for climate change mitigation. Governments all over the region are devising green growth strategies, aiming to reconcile economic growth with low carbon emissions as well as trying to limit other forms of environmental degradation such as soil, water, and air pollution. 

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