South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s mid-January visit to New Delhi marked the steady elevation of her country to the top tier of India’s “look east” policy priorities. India and South Korea are drawing closer because of their complementary technological and industrial strengths, which promise to improve each country’s competitive standing in its emerging regional markets. Indeed, while bringing to the table manufacturing strengths similar to those of Japan and China, South Korea is hamstrung by neither Japan’s nuclear pacifism nor China’s border issues in its engagement with India. In this context, a major irritant in bilateral ties—the long-delayed approval of […]

On Nov. 5, 2010, Ghana Statistical Service, the country’s government statistics office, announced that it was revising its gross domestic product (GDP) estimates upward, and as a result Ghana’s GDP per capita almost doubled. The country was upgraded in an instant from a low- to lower-middle-income country. A sense of bewilderment and confusion arose in the development community. When did Ghana really become a middle-income country? What about comparisons with other countries? Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, struck a dramatic tone in an address to a conference organized by Statistics South Africa, calling the state of […]

Since October, when President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had surgery to remove a blood clot in her head, Argentina has been on tenterhooks as people worried about the president’s future, who might be secretly running the country in her stead and mounting evidence that the country is once again headed toward economic collapse. In the most alarming sign of what the future may hold, police officers in Cordoba province went on strike in December to protest their low pay. With no one walking the beat, impromptu gangs formed. Riots then erupted across the country, including in the outskirts of Buenos […]

This month, South Korea announced a major reduction in its target for nuclear power generation, partly in response to domestic safety concerns. In an email interview, Miles Pomper, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained the role of nuclear energy in South Korea. WPR: How important is nuclear within Korea’s current energy mix? Miles Pomper: Nuclear power plays a major role in South Korea’s electricity generation, meeting about 30 percent of the country’s energy needs in 2012, and South Korea is one of the top five nuclear-power-generating countries. South Korea does not have significant […]

Recent U.K. government engagement with Asia has seen high-level visits to Japan and China, a growing role for London in the internationalization of China’s currency, the renmibi (RMB), and enhanced commercial diplomacy across Asia. This is in the context of a U.K. foreign policy that remains global in outlook. However, London’s continued focus on the Middle East in particular means that Asia’s relative importance in U.K. policy remains uncertain. The best place to start looking at the current U.K. government’s Asia policy is still the April 2012 speech given in Singapore by Foreign Secretary William Hague. The overall message of […]

After years of deadlocked negotiations and apparent inflexibility on the part of the Islamic Republic of Iran to make substantive concessions on its development of nuclear technology, some of which might be used for weapons, Tehran has recently become much more accommodating. The framework agreement reached in November in Geneva, trading cessation of enrichment and dilution of existing stockpiles of enriched uranium for sanctions relief, will go into effect Jan. 20. Is this newfound willingness to negotiate simply a result of personnel changes, beginning with the election of Hassan Rouhani as president? Not entirely. After all, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series will run every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. The series introduction can be found here. Historically a crossroads of commerce and culture linking Persia and Central Asia, the ethnically mixed western region of Afghanistan has more recently been notable for the stability and wealth of its most important province, Herat, and its capital city of the […]

India, like any emerging great power, faces an array of strategic challenges. One that critically threatens both economic development and national security, but which so far has attracted surprisingly little attention, is illicit trade. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has awoken to this challenge. Within the past year, FICCI has published estimates shedding light on the extent of illicit trade for a number of legitimate business sectors. FICCI estimates that a quarter of fast-moving consumer goods, one in five mobile phones, a quarter of computer hardware and a third of auto components are from the […]

As negotiations continue on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, one persistent sticking point has been public health, and in particular patent protections for pharmaceuticals. In an email interview, Frederick M. Abbott, the Edward Ball Eminent Scholar at Florida State University College of Law and an expert on international intellectual property rights, explained the public health concerns involved in trade negotiations. WPR: In what ways have public health issues arisen as points of contention in the current rounds of major multilateral trade talks, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Frederick M. Abbott: Issues relating to public health are perhaps the major […]

Thus far, China’s policy toward Afghanistan has followed Deng Xiaoping’s famous adage regarding how China should conduct itself in the international arena: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” But the planned withdrawal of most, if not all, Western combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year will require Beijing to consider new scenarios and approaches in the country. Chinese analysts recognize that on balance Beijing has benefited from the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan since, unlike many […]

Although 2013 marked a respite for Europe compared to previous years, the relative calm underscored the degree to which strategic relevance remains hampered, economic recovery fragile and normality elusive. The implications, for Europe’s partners but also for its democracies, are significant. This WPR special report examines Europe’s international and domestic challenges. Foreign and Trade Policy Europe’s Struggle for Strategic Competitiveness, Part IBy Richard GowanNov. 25, 2013 Europe’s Struggle for Strategic Competitiveness, Part IIBy Richard GowanDec. 2, 2013 Ending the Pretense: Reinventing the Trans-Atlantic RelationshipBy Judy DempseyJune 25, 2013 U.S.-EU FTA Talks Chart a New Path for Global TradeBy Edward AldenMarch […]

Many commentators have described 2013 as a “lost year” for the Obama administration. The enthusiasm generated by the second inaugural quickly dissipated in continued stalemates with Congress, culminating in the government shutdown in October. No major pieces of legislation were passed, nor did the United States spearhead new international initiatives. Some of this can be attributed to the famed “second-term curse.” As I noted in these pages after the president’s re-election, “Every second-term president over the past 30 years—Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—overestimated the amount of political capital their re-election generated, and each was also distracted by […]

During his campaign for president in 2008, Barack Obama promised that he would restore America’s standing in the world—in part by using his unique multicultural background to better communicate with U.S. friends and foes alike. While Obama has certainly enjoyed some foreign policy successes, there is one region in which he has so far glaringly and disappointingly fallen well short of that promise: Africa. By every conceivable metric, Africa is growing in stature and importance. More than 60 percent of Africans are below the age of 25, and the continent’s population is expected to double by 2050 to more than […]