The Philippines, China, the U.S., and ASEAN in 2017

October 19, 2016


The Philippines will serve as ASEAN Chair in 2017, at which time ASEAN will mark its 50th anniversary. Having successfully served as host of APEC in 2015, the country has demonstrated that facilitating massive, significant international events is well within its capability—thus observers’ attention can focus on substance instead of administrative d… Read more

Singapore port 

The Future of ASEAN and the Role of the United States

October 19, 2016


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is now America’s fourth-largest trading partner. Two-way trade in goods and services has tripled since the 1990s and the United States is the largest source of foreign direct investment in ASEAN. More than 560,000 U.S. jobs, accounting for 7 percent of the total U.S. jobs, are supported by goods an… Read more


Laos: Reaping the Benefits of a New Era of International Cooperation

September 21, 2016


This month, the Southeast Asian nation of Laos hosted two of the region’s most important annual gatherings—the ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit—in its capital, Vientiane. President Barack Obama, who led the U.S. delegation, made history by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country. The excitement surrounding the events was… Read more


Brexit Lessons for ASEAN: Exiting Not a Good Option

July 13, 2016


In 2013, I had dinner with six Thai high school teachers who had been my students back when I taught English at a university in Bangkok in the late 1970s. A few of them I had not seen in more than 30 years. Most of our conversation focused on the personal, talking about family and friends, and how our lives had evolved after first meeting 35 years… Read more


Sunnylands Summit Needs More Than Symbolism

February 10, 2016


When President Obama meets with the 10 Southeast Asian leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next week in California, it will be an opportunity to expand and deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations. At the third ASEAN-U.S. Summit held in Kuala Lumpur last November, the U.S. and ASEAN elevated their relationship to a “strategic partnership.”


Is It Time for a Peacekeeping Force for ASEAN?

February 3, 2016


This decade marks a radical shift in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states’ attitudes toward its role in the region. The idea of an ASEAN regional peacekeeping cooperation was first raised in 1994, but never gained traction among member states.

Labourers return home after a days work in Dhaka. 

Asia’s Biggest Issues in 2016? Experts Weigh In

January 6, 2016


In the last year, Asia experienced both highs and lows: historic elections in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, devastating earthquakes in South Asia, booming growth in India and slumping economies in China and Mongolia, anti-government protests in Malaysia, South Korea, and beyond, aging populations juxtaposed with unprecedented youth bulges…


A Code of Conduct for Maritime Security

November 11, 2015


From November 14-22, President Obama will embark on a three-stop overseas trip, beginning in Turkey to attend the G20, followed by a stop in Manila for the APEC summit, and ending in Malaysia where he will meet with Asian leaders for the 10th East Asian Summit (EAS) and U.S.-ASEAN Summit.


Social Entrepreneurship: A Tool for ASEAN Integration?

October 28, 2015


2015 is a year of economic change for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as the region seeks to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by December 31. The AEC will usher in a single economic market for the ASEAN member nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – allowing the free movement of goods, services, skilled labor, and capital. The reorganization of the region’s economy will be a step toward ASEAN’s “Vision 2020,” which calls for a unified partnership that is outward-looking, peaceful, stable, prosperous, and developing in a dynamic way.

Workers at Dae Wu garment factory stacks finished work outfits d 

TPP and RCEP: Boon or Bane for ASEAN?

September 9, 2015


2015 is a critical year for the Asia-Pacific region. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backed by the U.S. Senate’s recent approval of “fast-track” authority, is now entering the final round of negotiations in Hawaii. Another Asian free trade agreement (FTA), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is also due by the end of 2015, with a round of substantive talks in August and another to come in October.


AEC Skilled-Labor Migration: A Gap between Aspiration and Reality?

August 26, 2015


As ASEAN countries have moved up the technology ladder and the demand for skills has grown, a labor gap has emerged that mirrors the gap between more- and less-developed nations. Higher-income countries such as Thailand, with falling birthrates and greying populations, are suffering from growing labor shortages in sectors such as healthcare and IT, while lower-income countries face burgeoning youth populations and high levels of graduate unemployment.


ASEAN Integration: An Economic Community in 2015?

April 9, 2015

Economic integration, embodied in the Economic Community pillar of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of three key pillars that form the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community — in part envisioning a single economic entity by 2015. Difficulties in implementing the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Pillars could, in some instances… Read more


Can Malaysia Bring ASEAN Closer to the People?

February 18, 2015


2015 is a crucial year for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – particularly so for Malaysia which officially assumed its chairmanship last month. Among other goals, December 31 is the target date for the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)…


Southeast Asia in 2015: Maritime Security, Myanmar Elections, TPP Top Agenda

January 7, 2015


Southeast Asia enters 2015 facing a number of critical challenges that will have a bearing on its future: Can economic integration be achieved among all 10 members of ASEAN? How might maritime security disputes unite or splinter ASEAN? Will democracy in Myanmar continue to develop apace? Will democratic development in Thailand be further weakened? Also looming large is the question of whether the U.S. can ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a key economic ingredient in the country’s rebalancing strategy toward Asia. Below are some of my predictions on these issues.


Philippines 2015: Presidential Speculation, Scandals, and Prospects for Peace

January 7, 2015


A year ago, I predicted that one of the main stories of 2014 in the Philippines would be recovery efforts from Typhoon Haiyan, and indeed it took until October (almost the one-year anniversary) for final approval of the massive rehabilitation phase.


As Driver of World Economic Growth, Asia’s Vulnerabilities Emerge

January 7, 2015


2014 will be remembered as the year when China became the world’s biggest economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, overtaking the United States for the first time in history. This move, which did not come as a surprise, is the sign of a superpower transition…


Editor’s Picks: 2014 Must Reads

December 23, 2014


Season’s Greetings! On behalf of In Asia’s editorial board and bloggers, we thank you for your engagement and continued readership throughout the year. We’ll be taking a short break, but will return on January 7. In the meantime, catch up on our must-read pieces and highlights on the most pressing events and issues in Asia throughout 2014.


Trade, Private Sector, Soft and Hard Infrastructure to Top Beijing APEC Agenda

November 5, 2014


Wednesday marked the first day of the week-long Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, hosted this year in Beijing. This year’s summit, themed “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership,” brings together ministerial leaders, CEOs of global corporations, and other leading voices in the private and public sectors to discuss the challenges facing Asian-Pacific economies. The week will culminate with the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 10-11. Heads of states from all 21 member economies, including U.S. President Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping…


Asian Regional Architecture: Steps Towards ASEAN Integration

October 24, 2014

What issues remain for ASEAN as 2015 integration approaches and how will these issues likely be addressed? Is ASEAN economic integration making progress and how will it fit into the global economy? How will Asia’s rising regionalism through various architecture (EAS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN, etc.) and the United States’ forward presence in the region coex… Read more


Global Summits Shine Spotlight on Obama’s Pivot to Asia

October 22, 2014


Less than one week after midterm elections in the United States, President Obama will travel to Asia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum from November 10-11 in Beijing, and the East Asia Summit from November 13-14 in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.


Q&A with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake

October 22, 2014


The Asia Foundation hosted four U.S. ambassadors to Asia at its headquarters in San Francisco on October 9 for “ASEAN Matters,” a panel discussion on why Asia is crucial to the United States’ economic growth. In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down with U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake…


Panelists Discuss ASEAN Integration at Oct. 24 D.C. Panel

October 15, 2014


As the 2015 deadline for an integrated ASEAN Economic Community approaches, on Oct. 24, The Asia Foundation will bring together five leading scholars from the region to Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on Asia’s rising regionalism and issues that remain for achieving regional integration. As part of the Foundation’s “Asian Perspectives Seri… Read more


Briefing – A Conversation with U.S. Ambassadors to Asia

October 8, 2014


On October 9, The Asia Foundation hosted a discussion at its San Francisco headquarters with U.S. Ambassadors to Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore on ASEAN/U.S. trade and recent charged events on the ground in Asia. Follow @Asia_Foundation on Twitter for updates, and stay tuned for more.


Making ASEAN Regional Connectivity Work for Women-Run Businesses

October 1, 2014


By the end of 2015, the long-anticipated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to come into effect, covering 16 countries, 600 million people, with a combined GDP worth of $2.3 trillion. While the AEC is intended to bring about broad-based economic benefits by creating a more competitive economic region…


Engaging Asia’s Private Sector in Disaster Risk Management

September 17, 2014


Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan and India since early September have resulted in some of the worst flooding in decades, requiring immediate relief response, as hundreds of people have already lost their lives and millions more are affected.


WEF Declares Philippines Most Improved Country in Global Competitiveness

September 10, 2014


The Filipino workforce has long been considered to be internationally competitive, exemplified in its impressive performance in the business process outsourcing and overseas labor markets. However, it is only recently that Philippine competitiveness has been recognized on a global scale.


Toward Green Growth in ASEAN

June 4, 2014


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have exhibited high growth rates over the past decades, weathering even the worst of the global financial crisis. This impressive growth and accompanying rise in household income has brought great benefits to the ASEAN population…


New Report Highlights Benefits for Consumers of the ASEAN Economic Community

March 26, 2014


With the December 2015 target date for the economic integration of ASEAN fast approaching, last week ADB economist Jayant Menon echoed increasing skepticism as to whether the targets for integration could be met.


A Conversation with Thailand’s Ambassador to the U.S. Vijavat Isarabhakdi

March 26, 2014


The Asia Foundation’s director of Regional Cooperation Programs, John J. Brandon, speaks with Thailand’s Ambassador to the U.S. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, who served as a Congressional Fellow sponsored by The Asia Foundation.


Draft Media Bill Threatens Press Freedom in Timor-Leste

March 19, 2014


Google “newest democracy” and you are likely to find the young island nation of Timor-Leste among the top hits. Do the same for “media censorship,” however, and the top results are of nations not exactly known for promoting democratic values such as Russia and China. However, right now, Timor-Leste’s national parliament…


New Report Examines Trade Barriers in ASEAN

March 19, 2014


Trade experts gathered in Bangkok this week for the release of The Asia Foundation’s report, “Trade Facilitation and Cost of Non-Cooperation to Consumers in the ASEAN Economic Community.” Based on first-hand interviews, surveys, and economic data analysis, report authors explore the real-world consequences of trade barriers for consumers and offer… Read more


Economic Growth in ASEAN Drives Demand for Low-Cost Air Carriers

February 26, 2014


In mid-February, Singapore hosted Asia’s largest aerospace exhibition. Organizers of the week-long Singapore Air Show were hoping that $25 billion in deals would be signed, but by week’s end, expenditures had already surpassed that, reaching $32 billion in deals inked to help meet the demand for inexpensive, short-range travel. In 2010, sales amounted to what now seems a paltry $10 billion.


Timor-Leste’s Road to ASEAN

February 12, 2014


The Government of Timor-Leste has indicated that it is committed to joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2015, but as the date for the planned accession draws near, questions regarding the benefits of membership, and the young country’s readiness, remain unanswered.


ASEAN Chairmanship Offers Opportunity for Myanmar

January 8, 2014


On January 1, Myanmar assumed the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 1997, when Myanmar joined ASEAN, the country’s membership was met with stiff resistance because of its abhorrent human rights record under an oppressive military dictatorship.


Obama’s Asia Pivot on Shaky Ground

October 9, 2013


Asia-Pacific leaders gather in Brunei this week for the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) and the 23rd ASEAN Summit, on the heels of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali on Monday. While a number of critical issues were set to be discussed, President Obama’s last minute cancellation…


A Conversation with Thai Diplomat & Congressional Fellow Maes Suwantra

August 21, 2013


Last week, Maes Suwantra of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited The Asia Foundation’s headquarters to share his year-long experience as a 2012-13 Congressional Fellow that included an 8-month affiliation with the office of Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill), in Washington, D.C.


Asia Foundation Hosts Singapore’s Ambassador to the U.S.

July 10, 2013


On July 9, The Asia Foundation hosted Singapore’s ambassador to the U.S., Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, for a special dinner at its San Francisco headquarters. Mr. Mirpuri discussed ASEAN and regional integration, the “haze” crisis, what it means to be Singaporean, and Singapore’s strong economy and low unemployment. Stay tuned in the next edition of In Asi… Read more


A Conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear

July 10, 2013


In June, The Asia Foundation hosted U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, David B. Shear, at its headquarters in San Francisco. In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down with him to discuss expanding economic and diplomatic ties, negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, progress in human rights, and Vietnam’s lively but circumscribed social media landscape.


Rapid Pursuit of GDP Growth in Lower Mekong Region Threatens Environment

June 26, 2013


Next week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will join leaders from the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) partner countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – for the sixth LMI Ministerial Meeting in Brunei, Darussalam. The meeting will be held on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting…


A Conversation with First Resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN

May 29, 2013


In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with David Carden, the first resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN based in Jakarta, on a recent visit to The Asia Foundation in San Francisco, to discuss ASEAN connectivity, U.S.-ASEAN relations…


Pacific Council Presents Inaugural Warren Christopher Award to Hillary Clinton

May 15, 2013


Last Wednesday night, in a ballroom packed with a who’s who of west coast movers and shakers at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP) presented its inaugural Warren Christopher Public Service Award to Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Cambodia Must Up its Game in Rice Exports

May 1, 2013


Cambodia announced two major bilateral trade agreements last month, with the Philippines and Thailand, that are expected to further expand the country’s rice export sector. Over the last few years, Cambodia has emerged as a major rice exporter in the region, due in large part to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s recent expansion of its agricultural sector.


Elevating Education for Cambodia’s Growth

April 24, 2013


Yesterday marked the 18th World Book and Copyright Day, first introduced by UNESCO in 1995, in celebration of books, authors, and the joys of reading. It’s also an occasion to reflect on the importance of education, especially as a driver of poverty reduction.


Will Asia Fall Into an Energy Gap?

April 17, 2013


Last week, the Asian Development Bank released its annual “Asian Development Outlook” report for 2013, with Asia’s success story of unprecedented growth in the last decades forecast to grow by 6.6 percent in 2013 and 6.7 percent in 2014.


Two Nations, One Friendship: But is It Still Special?

March 20, 2013


Today, March 20, marks the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, making the U.S. bilateral relationship with Thailand the longest uninterrupted diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and any Asian nation. The Thai-American Chamber of Commerce’s theme for 2013 commemorating 180 years of relations…

The Asia Foundation, Bangkok Thailand, August 2010 

Thailand Adopts Nationwide Minimum Wage Policy Amid Controversy

January 30, 2013


From January 1 of this year, Thailand’s employers must pay all employees at least 300 baht (about $10) a day. If they don’t, they will face six months in jail and/or a 100,000 baht fine for not complying. The 300-baht minimum daily wage policy, the fulfillment of a 2011 election campaign pledge by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, has been piloted in seven provinces since May 1, 2012 (including Bangkok), with much debate and division among employers, labor unions, government ministries, and academics about the actual and perceived impact of the policy on the economy, productivity, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and inequality.


U.S.-ASEAN Relations Mature, but Pitfalls Abound

January 30, 2013


For Southeast Asia, 2012 brought both challenges and opportunities to the region – from Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN and further political opening in Burma (also known as Myanmar) to tensions in the South China Sea and the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights (ADHR).

Bangladesh July 2012 

Regional Integration: Asia’s New Frontier in 2013

January 9, 2013


Over the last several decades, Asia has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world, its rapid development driven largely by exports to the United States and European Union. Yet, as the world’s main economic arteries shift eastward, intra-regional integration within Asia still lags behind.


Asian Nations Must Look to Neighbors as Partners

December 12, 2012


When President Obama made his first post-election international trip last month to Southeast Asia, his message was clear: as Asia becomes the driver of global politics in the coming decades, the U.S. is strategically reorienting its presence in the region. But the U.S. is not the only one that recognizes a need for reorientation – Asia itself does too.

ID-Ted Alcorn 

Progress on Economy at ASEAN Talks, But South China Sea Rocks the Boat

November 28, 2012


This month, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was at the center of a flurry of diplomatic activity as members gathered in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh for the annual summit meeting, as well as a series of high-level “ASEAN plus” meetings…


Women Business Owners Prepare for Unified ASEAN Economic Community

November 28, 2012


While leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Phnom Penh on November 18 for the 21st ASEAN Summit, concerns over the prospect of a unified ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) for 2015 spilled over into smaller discussions among the business…


U.S. Administration’s Rebalance Toward Asia, with Emphasis on Southeast Asia

November 14, 2012


Last week, Barack Obama was re-elected to serve a second term as president of the United States. President Obama’s first trip abroad since his re-election will be to Southeast Asia from November 17-20 to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS), the regional grouping of 18 Asian-Pacific nations, including the United States…


Bloggers Discuss Internet Freedom at 2012 BlogFest in Cambodia

November 14, 2012


A buzz of excitement filled the room, with camera lights flashing and fingers fervently typing on laptops and smartphones. Students, young professionals, and seasoned journalists from around the Asia-Pacific gathered eagerly for the start of BlogFest Asia 2012 in Siem Reap…


The Heart of the New Burma

November 7, 2012


Rangoon shimmers under a blue sky in mid-October, but the gentle breezes announcing the coming end of the year soften the edge of the heat and allow for the day to ease gracefully into the evening. The city is more spread out than one would expect, with tree-lined streets wrapping around lakes and gardens…

Burma, 2012 

Optimism High, But Challenges Remain for Burma’s Future

September 26, 2012


Given the decades-long political stasis in Burma (also known as Myanmar), the changes introduced under President Thein Sein have been nothing short of remarkable. Over the past 18 months, President Thein Sein has released thousands of political prisoners…


ASEAN Must Close Ranks Quickly

August 8, 2012


The Foreign Ministers of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were reluctant history-makers last month. The 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), which took place in July in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh…


ASEAN Regional Forum Deploys First Election Observation Mission to Timor-Leste

July 25, 2012


Nearly 19 years after the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at the 26th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in July 1993, the ARF just embarked on its first concrete elections mission, to observe the July 7 parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste.

Long Bien Bridge. 

A Strategic Pivot in U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations in 2012

January 4, 2012


For much of the past two decades, many Southeast Asians have expressed frustration that U.S. policy treated their region with benign neglect or indifference, and that the United States’ attention was episodic rather than consistent. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. needed to make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy…