View of the Singapore skyline, April 18, 2013 (Flickr photo by user henryleong, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the potential impact on members’ economies. Since the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the biggest multilateral trade deal in recent years, was agreed to last month, the response to the pact in Singapore has been muted. In an email interview, Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, discussed the TPP and its expected impact on Singapore’s economy. WPR: What economic benefits is Singapore expected to see from its participation in the TPP? Deborah Elms: Because Singapore’s economy is already quite open and the government […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at the Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore, Nov. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Much ink has been spilled on the meeting earlier this month between Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, and the leader of China, Xi Jinping. The fact that the two got together for a handshake and a grin is no doubt a big deal. But, at least in terms of marking a major milestone along the road to better relations, nothing happened to warrant all this attention. For the most part, despite the pageantry, the meeting changed little. On the other hand, because the gulf between China and Taiwan is as wide as ever, that should have everyone, but especially Chinese policymakers, […]

Indian paramilitary soldiers in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Nov. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Mukhtar Khan).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir earlier this month brought steel barricades, razor wire, a curfew and other tight security measures to the contested territory on India and Pakistan’s border as Pakistan-backed separatists took to the streets in protest. It was just the latest sign of how Kashmir has re-emerged as the most critical issue in India-Pakistan relations. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington last month offered further proof. With an agenda otherwise dominated by U.S. security concerns vis-a-vis Afghanistan, Sharif ensured that the long-running Kashmir conflict remained a priority. In a meeting with senior U.S. […]

Leaders of the BRICS at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 15, 2015 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

The ascent of Narendra Modi to India’s premiership last year was thought to have provided New Delhi with a leader who could propel its rise to great power status. But after nearly a year and a half in power, those expectations have proved to be overly optimistic. Modi has yet to graduate into a statesman and demonstrate an ability to calibrate the use of soft and hard power to realize India’s potential. Both domestically and in foreign policy, Modi has too often favored confrontation and heavy-handed tactics over magnanimity and diplomacy. When Modi has succeeded, it has been when he […]

Mullah Mohammed Rasool, the newly-elected leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban, speaks during a gathering, Farah province, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2015 (AP photo).

Often counterinsurgency is less about a government forcefully imposing its will on insurgents than it is about seizing fleeting opportunities. Timing matters greatly: Doing the right thing at the wrong time usually has little effect; the same action taken when circumstances are more favorable can pay off. The first phase of the Iraq insurgency is a perfect example. What is called the American “surge” only worked because it coincided with several other developments that opened a window of opportunity for success. These included the fact that many Sunni Arabs had become disillusioned with the insurgency; that Iran and its Iraqi […]

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy, at party headquarters, Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Mark Baker).

This past Sunday, Myanmar’s people voted in their first true national elections in 25 years. The last national elections, in 1990, were essentially annulled by the junta that ruled Myanmar from 1962 until launching a transition to civilian rule in 2011. Unlike in 1990, this time many of Myanmar’s people believed that the election results would be upheld, leading to the country’s first democratically elected government in five decades. On election day, the mood in many towns and cities was exuberant, and voters came to the polls in huge numbers—according to one estimate by election officials, some 80 percent of […]

Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn hosts a ceremony at Ratchapakdi Park in Hua Hin, south of Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Mark Baker).

Nearly a year and a half since a bloodless coup brought a military junta to power in Thailand for the 12th time in its history, the Southeast Asian country remains mired in uncertainty, with its political outlook hanging in the balance and its economy deeply troubled. Politically, the transition back to an elected government that the generals had promised is nowhere in sight. In May 2014, just a week after the coup, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared in his first public address that the ruling junta would move toward elections in a year and three months. But that deadline has […]

Ethnic Madhesi protesters opposed to Nepal's new constitution throw stones and bricks at Nepalese policemen in Birgunj, near the Indian border, Nepal, Nov. 2, 2015 (AP photo by Jiyalal Sah).

Rather than resolve its ongoing political crisis, Nepal’s new constitution has produced a polarized internal landscape and complicated relations with its most important neighbor, India. The product of a peace process that brought insurgent Maoist rebels into mainstream politics, the new constitution was promulgated on Sept. 20, institutionalizing a federal, democratic and secular republic. But it failed in its core task of bringing the country’s various ethnicities—there are over 100—and social groups together. Many social groups, especially the Madhesis and Tharus of southern Nepal, are deeply unhappy with its provisions on inclusion, political representation, federalism and citizenship, and have been […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, talks with Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, March 30, 2015 (AP photo by Feng Li).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Zambia’s economy, which relies heavily on copper and its derivate products, is coming under strain as commodity prices drop and foreign investments wane. Worse, China’s economic slowdown has also weakened Zambia’s growth, as the two countries are close trading partners. In an email interview, Irmgard Erasmus, a fixed-income economist at NKC African Economics, discussed the risks for its economy. WPR: How important are commodities for the Zambian economy, and what effect have falling commodity prices had on […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, Oct. 29, 2015 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Last week, I was in New Delhi to attend the Asian Forum on Global Governance, at the same time that 40 African leaders were gathering in the city to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India-Africa Forum Summit. The scheduling was a coincidence, but the official summit added some real-world insight to the nongovernmental deliberations at the Asian Forum. Relations among the countries of the Global South have become an important feature of the debate about how to reform the institutions of global governance. However, in contrast to the predictable Cold War-era positions of the Non-Aligned Movement […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after signing an agreement to create the Eurasian Economic Union, Astana, Kazakhstan, May 29, 2014 (AP photo by Mikhail Klimentyev).

The war in Afghanistan has been both a boon and curse for neighboring Central Asia. The conflict placed this sparsely populated region, long disconnected from the globalization taking place around its borders, on the front lines of the international community’s 15-year effort to stabilize Afghanistan. Central Asia became a staging point for coalition military forces, a transit corridor, a donor as well as a recipient of aid and at times a pawn in a larger strategic competition playing out between the United States and Russia. The region also found itself on the receiving end of Afghanistan’s noxious exports: extremism, drugs […]

Workers inspect the rubble of a food storage warehouse destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 26, 2015 (AP photo by Hani Mohammed).

Is it riskier to be an austere politician or a humane one? Since the global financial crisis broke in 2008, economic austerity has been the single biggest source of contention in global politics. Some leaders, like British Prime Minister David Cameron, have persuaded voters to accept big cuts to state spending. Others, such as outgoing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have lost power to rivals that offered less painful fiscal alternatives. Yet if politicians talk up “austerity” at their own peril, they may find that the “humane” label is becoming equally costly. In Europe in particular, governments are struggling with […]