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 […]

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series runs 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. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here and Part II here. Regional Command East encompasses Afghanistan’s most populous region. The territory extends from Afghanistan’s mountainous eastern border with Pakistan to the central provinces surrounding Kabul, an area characterized by wide variation in terrain, ethnic groups, political […]

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 […]

U.S. development aid has long been characterized by public sector funding of socio-economic, political and security projects in the developing and underdeveloped world. Over the past few years, however, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun a number of programs that are being financed by private capital. Among them, in 2011, USAID launched the Private Capital Group for Africa, aiming to generate more than $500 million in private investments to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa, and the African Agricultural Capital Fund to invest $25 million specifically in agricultural SMEs in East Africa. Last […]

Editor’s note: This is the third 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. You can find the Series Introduction here and Part I here. Northern Afghanistan, particularly the regional capital Mazar-i-Sharif in the province of Balkh, represents something of a success story. The region by and large benefited from the international intervention without experiencing the same level of economic distortion as […]

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finished a three-country tour of Africa with an aim to create new opportunities for Japanese companies on the continent, a promise of dramatically increased loans and a pledge to bolster Tokyo’s role in the maintenance of peace and security there. Abe’s visit, which took him to Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Ethiopia, was the first trip to sub-Saharan Africa by a Japanese leader since former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi toured the continent in 2006. Abe’s renewed focus on Africa is driven by a range of factors but can be loosely characterized as an attempt […]

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 […]

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Aviation Market (SAM), dubbed the open skies policy, seeks to liberalize air services under a single and unified air transport market in ASEAN by 2015. Air travel is part of a larger discussion among the proposed ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), whose objective is to increase economic integration among members through the harmonization of trade and investment policies under a single market and production base. The AEC, also slated for 2015, will rapidly transform the region into a fiercely competitive, unified player in the world’s economy, boosting intraregional trade and investment flows […]

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 […]

Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made his third visit to India in 2013 and his 14th since first taking office in 2001. This time, the two governments announced they would deepen their defense and security ties, with several initiatives designed to increase the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as most if not all NATO combat forces prepare to leave the country in 2014. Although Indian officials declined to fill Karzai’s entire shopping list, Afghan-Indian military cooperation will likely increase still further now that the United States, which has generally discouraged New Delhi from assuming a major […]

China’s Antarctic program has captured international attention in recent weeks amid the dramatic rescue of the trapped Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy. China’s successful participation in the rescue, in which a Chinese icebreaker played a key role before itself getting trapped in Antarctic ice, made global headlines and brought a windfall of positive public relations for a country whose growing polar interests tend to arouse anxiety among traditional players in the Arctic and Antarctic. Meanwhile, on Jan. 10, China quietly released the draft environmental assessment report of its planned fifth Antarctic research station to the other consultative states in the […]

China’s new leaders are striving to consolidate their country’s return to prominence on the world stage. They confront Promethean challenges: restructuring a dynamic economy; responding to the demands of an increasingly prosperous and sophisticated society; controlling horrendous environmental pollution; liberating the cultural, civic, academic and intellectual potential of their talented people; reducing the endemic corruption that is undermining their success; adapting the Communist political system to promote these prodigious changes while balancing the needs of public order and human rights; and improving cooperation with other countries by enhancing foreign respect for China’s accomplishments. Courts, or some effective functional substitute, are […]

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 […]

Since the conflict in South Sudan escalated in December, well-meaning governments and United Nations officials have repeatedly argued that only a political solution can end the fighting. “There is no military solution,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told CNN on Christmas Eve. But the South Sudanese government does not seem entirely convinced. Over the past week it has ratcheted up its offensives against rebel-held areas, recapturing the economically important town of Bentiu. Bor, another major center in rebel hands, has also been under attack. The government is still in peace talks with rebel envoys, but it is evidently […]

Since China embarked on a credit-fueled stimulus package in 2009 designed to stave off the impact of the global financial crisis, the rapid buildup in the country’s aggregate debt has become a source of concern. Although successful at the time, the stimulus has increasingly become viewed as ill-judged by government officials. As a result, the new leadership is making a concerted effort to quantify the leverage situation and control associated risks. Measures to increase capital discipline in the economy are gaining traction, but Beijing increasingly finds itself striking a balance between managing debt risks and maintaining adequate economic growth. China’s […]

Depressing headlines from the Middle East have thrown cold water on any lingering optimism that U.S. policy objectives in the region were on track. In Iraq, Fallujah and Ramadi have been lost, at least for now, to al-Qaida-linked insurgents. The Syrian conflict has apparently transformed into a multi-sided war, increasing the likelihood that Bashar al-Assad’s regime will survive. And progress remains elusive in Afghanistan as the countdown to withdrawal continues. Not long ago there was reason for hope in all these countries. The surges in Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to have worked, and the Arab Spring, it was hoped, […]

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 […]

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