Monday 20 Sep 2021 | 05:18 | SYDNEY
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The right climate for Indonesia-United States cooperation

Indonesia is feeling a little ignored. The recent visit by US Vice President Kamal Harris to Vietnam and Singapore led to speculation that Indonesia was not a priority for the Biden administration. “Snubbed again, Joe?” read one local headline. A few weeks beforehand, US Defence Secretary Lloyd

Candour, at last, on China – but then what?

The most important foreign policy speech by a cabinet minister so far this year was delivered last Monday. That Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was the speaker was a little surprising. A little less surprising was that he identified an ascendant, muscular China as a first order threat to the country’s

Economic diplomacy: After Kabul, Australia looks to India

Suitcase intelligence Bob Carr recalls in his Diary of a Foreign Minister how a senior Australian intelligence official told him bluntly in 2013 that the war against the Taliban was failing. “We spent a billion dollars in Uruzgan province … We could have achieved the same result if I had been

Australia and India: A time to refocus on trade talks

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has just completed a packed visit to India from 2–6 August as Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s special trade envoy. Abbott should have reason to be encouraged by his interactions and his meetings with a cross section of decision-makers in India,

When the chips are down: Biden’s semiconductor war

Export control policy in the semiconductor sector – an industry that supplies the world’s computer, smartphone, appliances and medical equipment industry with electronic chips – was at the forefront of Donald Trump’s tech war against China. The addition of China’s top chipmakers, such as

Australia sweeps the table in the UK trade deal

Australian trade negotiators often enter talks with difficult demands and a comparatively weak hand. Agriculture, where they seek concessions from the other side, is politically sensitive meaning they are asking their counterparts to do what is hard. In exchange, they have little to offer because

Economic diplomacy: Trade deals for a fast-growing family

Worker vs worker vs student Almost five million Kiwis have always been at least cousins. And Scott Morrison’s distinctive contribution to regional security has been his embrace of about 10 million other islanders as “our Pacific family”. But in a week of rhetoric about international

Australia keeps calm while China carries on

Now that the Morrison government has cancelled Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement with China, Australia is bracing for retaliation from Beijing, probably by way of further trade sanctions. When that retaliation arrives, what should Australia do about it? There’s an old saying that “living

Taiwan: Renewing a southbound vision

For all the talk of cross-Strait military tensions – which are real – in the economic realm, Taiwan’s fortunes have been bound to those of China. Recognising the need to diversify, when Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, she initiated what was dubbed a “New Southbound Policy”, with the

The big bark but small bite of China’s trade coercion

Beginning last May, China has hit Australia with a barrage of trade sanctions in a fairly overt attempt at economic coercion. It’s still early days, but it’s worth taking stock of what the economic impact has been so far. The fact that China’s trade sanctions have taken place

Why Aussie exporters won’t be toasting China or the US

Lock the doors When the China trade numbers were released on Tuesday, you could hardly blame Australia’s 2500 winemakers if they locked themselves in the cellar with a nice bottle of red. They certainly have plenty to drink. Only three months ago, Chinese customers drank 50% of Australian red

What RCEP can tell us about geopolitics in Asia

Much of the economic gains from the newly signed mega trade deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will come from mitigating what is called the Asian “noodle bowl effect”. The deal will harmonise what have to date been separate rules of origin across the region into

RCEP revives the art of the deal

News that 15 governments had signed the text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement did not force either Covid-19 or the presidential transition in Washington off the front pages. It probably attracted the attention it did because it was a virtual signing ceremony – a

Global trade policy at a lull, but for how long?

Like a sailing ship caught in the doldrums, the international trade policy world seems stagnant and listless. Is there any fresh wind to be detected? Can we create some movement? In this coronavirus–dominated environment, nothing much is happening. The trend in global trade itself is not easy to

China sours on Australia’s wine

On Monday this week, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced it has commenced an investigation into whether Australia has been subsidising winemakers. This follows a parallel investigation launched two weeks ago to examine allegations that Australian winemakers have also been “dumping” their

A post-pandemic trade revival

Albert Einstein once said that “in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity”. For an open trading nation like Australia, the pandemic is an unparalleled crisis. The nation is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression, along with recessions in key trading partners, severe

The world can still prosper from free trade

Did anyone notice that the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), the revised NAFTA, entered into force on 1 July? If not, do not be too concerned, as the Covid-19 crisis has probably affected that as well. Still, this deal is (without getting too much into the weeds of whether it is

Costly cargo: The plight of seafarers in a pandemic

Amid the many consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of seafarers around the world are now locked onboard their ships with expired contracts and unable to get home. In a normal month, approximately 100,000 seafarers leave their ships and are replaced by others, but travel

Indonesia: Still caught between trade and protectionism

The entry into force of an ambitious Indonesia-Australia trade deal on Sunday is a boost to the bilateral relationship, coming after nearly a decade of difficult negotiations. No two neighbouring G20 economies trade as little as Australia and Indonesia, and the investment relationship is similarly

Economic diplomacy: Mood shift afoot

Retail therapyWhen even the normally unflappable Trade Minister Simon Birmingham bluntly tells business to reduce ties with the country that has underpinned the Australian economy for two decades, a mood shift is afoot. It took some prodding, but Birmingham finally broke cover at the end of his ABC&

New Zealand: Running the marathon

Earlier this week, New Zealand moved out of total lockdown into a phase of continuing control on social movement, but with an opening of widespread economic activity. Schools reopened partially. It is estimated that about half a million people returned to work after a stand down of five weeks.

US-China trade deal, phase one done: Now what?

It may go awry between now and the promised finalisation in January, but both the US and China now agree that phase one of the most difficult bilateral economic negotiation in recent decades is over. Unusually for this negotiation, the two sides also seem to agree on what they have agreed – at

Trade war: From a phase one deal to perpetual peace

After a roller-coaster ride spanning 18 months, the trade war between the United States and China is finally showing signs of abatement, with the two sides confirming that they are close to the conclusion of a phase-one deal. While the signing of the deal, which was originally scheduled to take

India’s RCEP exit a setback, but not a disaster

India’s decision to withdraw from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has been framed as a catastrophe. Coming at a time of growing rivalries among the major global powers, most analysts have argued it augurs poorly for political cooperation and economic integration in

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