Debate over Corruption Heats Up

Over the last few weeks, in our blog, our studies, in well-respected surveys, at think tanks and other organizations, and the media, the topic of corruption and transparency seems to be everywhere you look. However, there seems no clear consensus on the extent of the problem…

Violence in Southern Thailand Escalates

Violence in Southern Thailand escalated this week when a roadside bomb killed five soldiers, and gunmen stormed a military base, reigniting a decades-old conflict that has plagued the region and left more than 5,000 dead. For context on the conflict, see an Asia...

Will Laos WTO Membership Increase Foreign Investment and Boost Economic Engagement?

On Saturday in Vientiane, Laos announced its full membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations, with the goal of helping producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. The WTO puts it this way: WTO “agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They include individual countries’ commitments to lower customs tariffs and other trade barriers, and to open and keep open services markets.” The process leading to approval for membership in the WTO often takes a country about five years and is a badge of marked economic achievement. For Laos, this effort has taken 15 years.