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Expanding ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific role

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Author: Prapat Thepchatree, Thammasat University

The 34th ASEAN summit in Bangkok last June took place in a global economic environment that is in a state of uncertainty. While the summit identified some key issues of reform and made progress on its Indo-Pacific policy, ASEAN needs to take bolder action to promote regional cooperation and integration.  

ASEAN leaders shake hands on stage during the opening ceremony of the 34th ASEAN Summit at the Athenee Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, 23 June 2019.(Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

ASEAN is concerned about the rising trend of protectionism and anti-globalisation that is threatening the global economy and trading system. ASEAN is determined to protect the global free trade system and support reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is imperative for ASEAN to push for the conclusion of the ASEAN+6 Free Trade Area agreement or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within 2019. RCEP will stimulate trade in the region and promote ASEAN as the centre of regional economic architecture.

The summit highlighted progress in developing ASEAN infrastructure projects and emphasised the importance of promoting the integration of these infrastructure projects with other countries’ projects under the slogan ‘connecting the connectivities’. The summit also drew attention to the importance of preparing ASEAN for the Fourth Industrial Revolution through proposals such as the Digital Integration Framework Action Plan, the Innovation Roadmap and the Declaration on Industrial Transformation to Industry 4.0.

The document ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ was issued to formally announce ASEAN’s position on the Indo-Pacific concept. Due to its geographical location in the middle of the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, ASEAN believes that it should play a leading role in the evolution of regional architecture and in promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. ASEAN mechanisms, such as the East Asia summit (EAS), should be the main forums for discussion on Indo-Pacific cooperation. There are a number of areas of potential cooperation but the two most important areas are maritime security and connectivity.

The summit succeeded in attempting to move ASEAN forward and intensify ASEAN cooperation in all dimensions including political, security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation. But the summit failed to address controversial and sensitive issues, particularly the South China Sea and the Rohingya refugee crisis. ASEAN tends to adopt a gradual and non-confrontational approach. This creates a trade-off between sticking to a principle of non-interference and the cost of inefficiency and human suffering in managing key issues.

On the South China Sea issue, negotiation on the Code of Conduct is progressing very slowly and China might be attempting to delay the process. And on the Rohingya issue, ASEAN tries to avoid criticising the Myanmar government for allowing serious human rights violations to continue. The only action that ASEAN could take at the summit was to offer humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya people.

While the summit drew attention to the problem of global protectionism and also pushed for WTO reform, ASEAN needs to do a lot more to stem the protectionist tide and to respond to the global trade war. ASEAN should come up with a plan of action for deeper economic integration among ASEAN countries. This should promote intra-ASEAN trade and intra-ASEAN investment and make ASEAN less dependent on Western and Chinese markets and capitals.

Although the summit issued the Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, ASEAN needs to further develop its strategy concerning relations with the big powers. The objective of ‘ASEAN centrality’ has been mentioned for a number of years without any concrete measures. ASEAN is not succeeding in controlling the game of ASEAN’s relations with the big powers under the framework of ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3 and the ASEAN+8 or the EAS. ASEAN still struggles to find a common position and could not speak cohesively on several issues concerning ASEAN and the big powers.

The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific is the first step in promoting ‘ASEAN centrality’ but the document lays out general principles with no details on concrete measures for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The next step for ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific strategy should be focussing on regional connectivity.

There are several major infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific. ASEAN has the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC), China has the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), while Japan, India and the United States are also starting to develop their own regional infrastructure projects to compete with China.

It is within this context that ASEAN should propose the formulation of the Master Plan on Indo-Pacific Connectivity (MPIC) — an extension of the MPAC. ASEAN should stress that it is necessary to integrate these different infrastructure projects in order to promote complementarity, synergy and avoidance of overlap and competition in the region.

Prapat Thepchatree is Professor of International Affairs at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, and President of the American Studies Association in Thailand. He was formerly Director of the Center for ASEAN Studies, Thammasat University.



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ASIAN (H)

EP SHANGHAI 2019

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Dates: 
Nov 06, 2019Nov 08, 2019

Opening hours: 
0900am to 0430pm

Venue: 
Shanghai New International Expo Centre

Location address: 
2345 Longyang Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai

Country: 
China

Organizer: 
Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd

Show URL: 
www.epchinashow.com/EP19/idx/eng/home

Major exhibits: 

Power transmission and distribution equipment and technology, smart grid technology, power generation equipment – thermal/hydro/nuclear, alternative sources of energy, construction and engineering of turn-key projects, power dispatching systems, control and testing equipment and instrumentation, building and electrical installation systems (building management and control system, switchgear, lighting system), LV electrical equipment and accessories, power electronics equipment, electric power automation, industrial power equipment (UPS, diesel generators and alternators), energy saving and environmental protection technology, manufacturing equipment, machinery and raw materials for production of power and electrical products

Show banner: 

Established in 1986, EP is organized by the China Electricity Council and State Grid Corporation of China, co-organized by Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd, and fully supported by all major Power Group Corporations and Power Grid Corporations.

Over 30 years successful track record and experience, it has become the largest and the most reputable electric power exhibition endorsed by UFI Approved Event in China and has been widely recognized by global market leaders and international trade associations.

With annual rotation in Beijing and Shanghai in alternate years, EP Shanghai 2019 will be held again at Shanghai New International Expo Center, PR China (Hall N1-N4) from 6-8 November 2019 in Beijing with around 50,000sqm exhibiting area, which expecting for a total of about 1,000 exhibitors/brands all over the world.

Show Contact
Title: 

Project Manager

Name: 
Queenie Fung

Telephone: 

(852) 28118897

Fax number: 

(852) 25165024

E-mail: 

power@adsale.com.hk

Mailing address: 

6/F., 321 Java Road, North Point

City / State / Province: 
Hong Kong

Country: 
China



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ASIAN (H)

Vibe Marketers Fest

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Dates: 
Nov 05, 2019Nov 06, 2019

Venue: 
Dubai

Country: 
United Arab Emirates

Organizer: 
Vibe Projects

Show URL: 
vibeprojects.com

Major exhibits: 

MarTech Solution providers for:
Marketing Automation
Social Media Marketing
Data Analytics
Content Marketing
Mobile Marketing
AI, Machine Learning & Blockchain
Customer Relationship Management
Account-based Marketing
Cloud
Immersive Technology

AdTech solution providers for:
Display & Native Advertising
Programmatic Advertising
Mobile Advertising
Social Media Advertising

Digital Marketing Agencies
Consultants
Video Marketing Solution providers
Voice search marketing providers
Media & Branding agencies

Show banner: 

Emergence of digital technologies and platforms has brought about a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour, compelling marketers to adapt accordingly. The convergence of marketing and technology now presents limitless possibilities.

The 2nd Annual Vibe Marketers Fest Middle East will deep dive into the new age of MarTech, talking about how to build a MarTech stack that fits your organisation, building the tech-driven marketing team of the future, data-driven marketing to acquire, analyse and activate amongst other tech and leadership focused topics.

Show Contact
Title: 

Marketing Manager

Name: 
Manohar Bharwani

Telephone: 

(+91) 8308443939

E-mail: 

manohar@vibeprojects.com

Country: 
United Arab Emirates



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ASIAN (H)

Why Australian aid’s infrastructure fixation won’t be a boon for the Pacific

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Author: Terence Wood, ANU

The need for infrastructure in poorer parts of the Pacific is obvious. Outside of urban areas, once-paved roads are now muddy tracks. On some islands, planes land on grass runways that are frequently closed by rain. In some places, small boats take hours to move cargo from ships moored off coasts deprived of wharves.

Local residents sit outside their damaged homes surrounded by debris on a street after Cyclone Pam hit Port Vila, the capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu 15 March 2015. The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu on Sunday encountered widespread devastation and authorities declared a state of emergency after the "monster" cyclone tore through the vulnerable Pacific island nation. With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic. The count of confirmed deaths was at 10 with 20 people injured. But those numbers were almost certain to rise as rescuers reached the low-lying archipelago's outlying islands. (Photo: Reuters/Kris Paras)

Australia has always devoted aid to the Pacific’s infrastructure needs. In 2013, a recent low point, Australia still spent US$70 million on infrastructure in the region. Other OECD donors haven’t neglected infrastructure either. OECD donor countries, alongside multilateral institutions like the World Bank, spent US$327 million in the Pacific in 2013.

The infrastructure focus of Australian aid to the Pacific is set to ramp up in coming years. This will come through grants — how Australia typically gives aid in the region — and, increasingly, through the provision of loans.

Infrastructure is needed in the less affluent Pacific countries. But Australia’s newfound fixation on infrastructure spending is not guaranteed to be beneficial. There are two reasons why: recipient context and donor motivations.

Aid is never guaranteed to succeed and tailoring aid to the recipient’s context is crucial. It is hard to spend aid successfully on infrastructure in poorly governed countries, such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the two largest Pacific recipients of Australian aid. Unclear property rights and governments too weak to exercise eminent domain make new infrastructure projects difficult.

Such challenges have hampered the development of the Tina River hydroelectricity project in the Solomon Islands, to give one example. It is also hard to get governments in poorly governed states to play the crucial role of maintaining infrastructure. Part of the reason why roads are in such a bad shape in countries like Papua New Guinea is that governments have neglected the task of maintenance for decades.

Some Pacific Island countries are much better governed than the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. But Australia’s infrastructure focus is primarily on these two countries. Combined, on the basis of budget data, it is estimated that they will receive about 70 per cent of Australia’s aid for infrastructure in the Pacific this financial year. This could change in the future, but it is unlikely as both countries are central to Australia’s engagement in the region.

The challenges posed by poor governance don’t mean all infrastructure work is destined to fail. But they do mean that it needs to be carefully planned and only undertaken when it’s likely to work. In terms of donor motivations, aid donors that are truly concerned with helping developing countries are more likely to carefully scope and plan projects to ensure that they are appropriate for the given context.

Unfortunately, not all of Australia’s new found interest in infrastructure in the Pacific can be attributed to a genuine desire to help. Much of it seems to stem from a desire to stave off China’s rising influence. That possibly reflects a reasonable strategic concern on Australia’s behalf, but a preoccupation with China is unlikely to be a useful guide when it comes to aiding the Pacific.

Consider, for example, Australia’s promise made along with other aid donors to bring electricity to 70 per cent of the population of Papua New Guinea within 11 years. Electricity is beneficial, but the promise is unlikely to be met. Electrification rates in Papua New Guinea continue to be very low.

So why was the promise made? A popular rationale has been that the electricity work is a response to China’s increasing influence in the Pacific. This is exactly the type of decision making that undermines the chances of aid succeeding.

Another example is Australia’s spending on an undersea cable to improve internet and related telecommunications in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Once again, the spend came in direct response to China.

As with electrification, improved telecommunications could bring development gains. Yet much of the impact of the cable ultimately depends on how the governments of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands manage internal internet access arrangements and associated local infrastructure. Both governments have had their failures in these areas in the past. The cable may bring benefits, but there were reasons why donors were wary of funding this type of work before China arrived on the scene.

Australia’s eagerness to use loans as well as grants to fund infrastructure in the Pacific complicates matters further. Loans have a role in aid work, but it’s also crucial they succeed. If an aid grant fails, the money is wasted. If an aid project funded with a loan fails, the money is worse than wasted.

Infrastructure is integral to development. Aid spent on infrastructure can help. But like all aid work, infrastructure spending is not guaranteed to succeed. Australia spends very little on foreign aid. The least it could do is maximise its chances of success. Australia’s current lurch towards infrastructure spending is likely to make its aid less effective, not more.

Terence Wood is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, the College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.



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ASIAN (H)

Digital Journalism World Summit 2019

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Dates: 
Oct 07, 2019Oct 08, 2019

Opening hours: 
Time: 9.00 AM – 6.00 PM (both days)

Venue: 
One Farrer Hotel & Spa, Singapore

Location address: 
1 Farrer Park Station Road, Singapore 217762

Country: 
Singapore

Organizer: 
Asher Russell Pte Ltd

Show URL: 
http://digital-journalism.asia/

Major exhibits: 

Digital Journalism World Summit 2019 will focus on innovative strategies for quality journalism, storytelling and digital news content production and distribution. It will host over 300+ news content producers and executives from world class news media outlets. Meet digital journalists, news publishing professionals, video content creators, podcasting and audio digital content producers and immersive news experience producers. Connect with the who’s who from the news publishing arena and leading technology providers and enablers.

Show banner: 

Digital Journalism World Summit 2019 will focus on innovative strategies for quality journalism, storytelling and digital news content production and distribution. It will host over 300+ news content producers and executives from world class news media outlets. Meet digital journalists, news publishing professionals, video content creators, podcasting and audio digital content producers and immersive news experience producers. Connect with the who’s who from the news publishing arena and leading technology providers and enablers.

Digital Journalism World Summit 2019 will expound on the role of technology and tools of change impacting the world of news and journalism. Get the latest updates on AI generated news, augmented news, ways that AR & VR are used in storytelling, UX & new experiences, immersive news experiences, data and collaboration projects, 5G’s impact on mobile journalism, AI for managing fake news, managing misinformation and how to re-build trust with audiences, the latest voice technology assisted news production, diversity in the upgraded newsroom and many more technology driven updates in news & journalism.

2019 SPEAKERS – from leading news media outlets
• Hannah Sarney, Deputy Head of Audience Engagement, Financial Times, UK.
• Kourtney Bitterly, Lead, R&D Group, The New York Times, USA.
• Tammy Gur, Head of UX&D at BBC XR & New Experiences, BBC, UK.
• Mike Raomanachai, Bangkok Editor, Tech360TV, Thailand.
• Sinead Boucher, CEO, Stuff, New Zealand.
• Alyssa McDonald, Head of Digital, Asia, Bloomberg, Australia.
• Brett McKeehan, Director, CNN Digital Asia.
• Adith Charlie, Managing Editor, India, LinkedIn, India.
• Reta Lee, Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Lifestyle, SEA, Verizon Media, Yahoo!
• Robyn Vinter, Editor-in-Chief, The Overtake, UK.
• Janie Octia, Strategic Partner Manager, APAC News, CrowdTangle, Facebook.
• Michael Kearns, VP International Digital and Strategic Partnerships, CNBC.
• Asha Philips, International News Lead, Facebook, Singapore.
• Angie Lau, Co-founder, CEO, Editor, Forkast.News, Hong Kong.
• Byron Perry, Founder & CEO, Coconuts TV, Coconuts Media. Asia.
• Jacque Manabat, Senior Multi-Platform Editor, ABS-CBN, The Philippines.
• Uni Zulfiani Lubis, Editor in Chief, IDN Times Indonesia.
• Specialist Digital Editor, South China Morning Post, South China Morning Post (SCMP) Hong Kong.
• Simon Scarr, Deputy Head of Graphics (Visual Journalism), Thomson Reuters.

Show Contact
Title: 

Director

Name: 
Ida Dachlan

E-mail: 

ida@asher-russell.com

City / State / Province: 
Singapore

Country: 
Singapore



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ASIAN (H)

Upgrading the ASEAN–China Free Trade Agreement

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Authors: Jayant Menon and Anna Cassandra Melendez, ADB

In 2015, ASEAN and China signed an upgraded protocol to improve the original Framework Agreement for the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA). The upgraded protocol entered into force in July 2016 and implementation will start from August 2019.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the ASEAN–China ministerial meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, 31 July 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha).

Since ACFTA was launched, China’s share of ASEAN total merchandise trade increased from 8 per cent in 2004 to 21 per cent in 2018, making it ASEAN’s biggest trading partner with trade amounting to US$591.1 billion. China also rose to become ASEAN’s third largest source of FDI in 2017, with flows amounting to US$11.3 billion.

But how will the upgrading of the agreement likely affect these flows? The key changes relate to: simplifying Rules of Origin (ROOs) and Certificate of Origin procedures; improving services commitments from China covering the engineering, construction, sporting, securities and tourism sectors; strengthening provisions for investment promotion and facilitation; and building e-commerce capabilities — especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The upgraded protocol does not do much to address non-tariff barriers despite evidence that they continue to grow and suppress trade. Even for tariffs, studies point to low utilisation rates for ACFTA tariff concessions. If low utilisation rates are mainly due to difficulties in complying with ROOs then the proposed simplification could see a significant increase in trade flows. But if it is mainly because margins of preference (or the difference between Most-Favoured-Nation and ACFTA preferential tariffs) are low, then the likely impacts are more complex.

Margins of preference are likely to be low — or even zero — for trade in parts and components and other intermediate goods because of various tariff exemption schemes. For instance, for trade in electronic parts and components that dominate supply chains in Southeast and East Asia, the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement provides duty exemption even for countries that are not signatories.

For trade in other types of parts and components, various duty-drawback schemes like bonded warehouses or the location of multinational corporations in duty-exempt export processing zones also make these tariff preferences redundant. Even if this was not the case, it is very difficult to design ROOs for supply chain-driven trade — by its nature it involves limited value-addition or transformation.

This means simplification of ROOs and other related reforms in the upgraded ACFTA are likely to affect trade in final rather than intermediate goods that constitute only about a third of ASEAN’s exports to China, but more than two-thirds in the opposite direction. This would aggravate the trade imbalance.

But improvements to the agreement on trade in services have the potential to significantly strengthen trade relations, since barriers have been high. This is also a rapidly growing area of trade. The trade dispute between China and the United States has already affected supply chains, with investment being diverted away from China and towards some countries of Southeast Asia. Strengthening provisions that promote or facilitate investment between China and ASEAN could increase flows from the former to the latter in an attempt to avoid punitive tariffs, even if the dispute is resolved anytime soon.

The restructuring may continue in an attempt by Chinese firms to diversify risk, recognising that the tensions may live on beyond this dispute and find new forms of expression. This restructuring and shift in regional supply chains could be the true legacy of this dispute, and it has already started to happen.

All of this assumes that the agreements are implemented faithfully. This is no easy task considering that domestic laws may have to be amended to accommodate these new accords. Ever since the ACFTA was first mooted, there has been concern over the potential negative impact on production and employment in sensitive sectors in ASEAN member states. Indonesian producers, for instance, requested a delay in the implementation of the original ACFTA tariff reduction scheme for some 228 items, without success.

Although some of these fears may have since subsided, they have not been eliminated. For example, there have been delays in the enactment of national laws and regulations to implement the upgraded protocol. Domestic industry lobbies continue to push for protection, and some wield significant influence over governments. In this environment, the flexibility that characterises ASEAN cooperation and institutional arrangements — the so-called ‘ASEAN Way’ — could hand members a convenient pretext for non-compliance. How to enforce the accords remains an issue.

If implementation issues can be overcome, these amendments present new opportunities for further increasing trade between ASEAN and China. Hopefully it will also provide further impetus to finally conclude the broader ASEAN+6 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement at the end of 2019. With uncertainty growing on the rules that govern global trade and commerce, it is more important than ever that the upgraded ACFTA succeeds in an increasingly and irrefutably second-best world.

Jayant Menon is a Lead Economist (Trade and Regional Cooperation) in the Office of the Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, and Anna Cassandra Melendez is a consultant at the ADB.

An earlier version of this article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of ASEANFocus, a publication of the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.



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ASIAN (H)

The ‘Samoan Model’ adapts gender quotas to Pacific politics

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Author: Kerryn Baker, ANU

The Pacific Women in Power Forum, held in March 2019 in Fiji, brought together women members of parliament (MPs) from the region to discuss women’s participation in public life. While elections in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam and Solomon Islands have brought in record numbers of women MPs, the Pacific region as a whole is still at the bottom of global league tables on women’s representation.

A woman sits on a staircase at her house located near the ExxonMobil PNG Limited operated Liquefied Natural Gas plant in the village of Papa Lea Lea located at Caution Bay on the outskirts of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 19 November 2018 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

As of April 2019, there are only three countries in the world with no women in their national legislatures, and all of them are in the Pacific: the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

In her keynote speech at the conference, Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa reflected on Samoa’s experience introducing a gender quota — usually called temporary special measures (TSMs) or special measures in the Pacific context. The ‘10 per cent law’ in Samoa, introduced before the 2016 election, set five MPs as the minimum requirement for women’s representation.

If fewer than five women are elected in any general election, the highest-polling unsuccessful female candidates in the election take up additional seats in the 49-seat Parliament so that the threshold is met. For instance, if no woman is elected in a general election, five seats are added to the Parliament, bringing the total number of seats to 54. If one woman is elected, four seats are added and the Parliament has a total of 53 seats.

While TSMs can be a ‘quick fix’ for countries dealing with the severe under-representation of women in politics, introducing such measures occurs rarely without controversy. TSM proposals in the Pacific region, including in Samoa, have faced much opposition.

Critics often claim that such measures are unfair and discriminatory against men. TSM campaigns in the Pacific have also invariably faced claims that they are foreign impositions, driven by outside interests. Increasing women’s participation in politics has been framed as an agenda pushed by multilateral and bilateral development partners that is not necessarily responding to a legitimate local need. These, and other arguments, have derailed many attempts to push for TSMs in the region.

Yet the tide may be turning. As Fiame noted at the Forum, ‘One of the positive things about the Samoa situation is that it has presented a model that can easily be replicated if other countries wish to do so’. The Samoan system is a uniquely Pacific TSM with a design that responds to common criticisms of TSM systems, including that they are ‘unfair’. The system neither establishes reserved seats specifically for women, nor mandates that parties include equal numbers of male and female candidates — both systems that have attracted claims of ‘special treatment’ for women.

Instead, the Samoan model requires all candidates, both men and women, to contest through the same process and for the same seats. The TSM system then acts as a ‘safety net’ for women’s representation, only kicking in if the minimum threshold of five women MPs is not met.

Already a similar system has been introduced at the municipal level in Vanuatu. In Luganville, Vanuatu’s second-largest town, there are five reserved seats for women on the town council, held by the highest-polling unsuccessful women candidates in each ward in the previous municipal election.

Other countries in the region are also looking to emulate the Samoan model. After no women were elected in Papua New Guinea’s 2017 general election, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill mooted introducing four ‘safety net’ seats in the Parliament for women. In the Solomon Islands too, a proposal to introduce TSMs in provincial assemblies is gaining steam, with the Samoan model one potential option.

The Pacific region is notable in global terms for both its low levels of women’s political representation and its lack of uptake of gender quotas or TSMs, which are increasingly common worldwide. But the Samoan experience provides a potential framework that other countries in the region have shown interest in adopting.

It also shows the importance of finding local and regional solutions for issues such as women’s under-representation. While many development partners have highlighted women’s political representation and participation as a key priority, perhaps the most important role they can play is helping to facilitate this regional sharing of stories and solutions.

Kerryn Baker is a Research Fellow in Pacific Politics with the Department of Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University. Her book Pacific Women in Politics: Gender Quota Campaigns in the Pacific Islands was published in April 2019.



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ASIAN (H)

MITEX International Tool Expo

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Dates: 
Nov 05, 2019Nov 08, 2019

Venue: 
Expocentre Fairgrounds

Location address: 
14 Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya, Moskva, Moscow

Country: 
Russia

Organizer: 
Euroexpo Exhibitions and Congress Development GmbH

Show URL: 
www.mitexpo.ru/en/

Major exhibits: 

AEG, Biemmedue, Daewoo, DeWalt, Einhell, Flex Tools, Gedore, Great Star, Greenworks, Hitachi, Interskol, Klingspor, Knipex, KWB, Makita, Master, Metabo, Merit Link, Ruko, Stabila, Stanley Black and Decker, Stihl,Telwin, Weicon etc.

Show banner: 

MITEX Moscow provides an excellent platform for all the leading players from hardware and tools industry to showcase their products with latest innovations under one roof to all the Russia and CIS regional markets. At MITEX you can get an insight into the new professional tools and equipment of domestic and foreign manufactures, and campare their offers to choose the best ones.

Some of the exhibitors in 2018:
AEG, Biemmedue, Daewoo, DeWalt, Einhell, Flex Tools, Gedore, Great Star, Greenworks, Hitachi, Interskol, Klingspor, Knipex, KWB, Makita, Master, Metabo, Merit Link, Ruko, Stabila, Stanley Black and Decker, Stihl,Telwin, Weicon etc.

Show Contact
Title: 

Organiser

Name: 
Michael Haussler

Telephone: 

(+43) 6603020106

E-mail: 

m.haeussler@euroexpo-vienna.com

Country: 
Austria



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ASIAN (H)

Vietnam’s lagging 5G ambitions

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Author: Phan Le, ANU

On 10 May 2019, Vietnam became one of the first countries to successfully establish a 5G-powered phone call. It was a milestone for the country given Hanoi’s ambitious plan to deploy a 5G network for commercial operations by 2020 using domestically-developed technology. But while Vietnam’s 5G rollout is on the right track, fully realising this ambition still requires overcoming myriad challenges in technology, national security and governance.

Viettel's President and CEO Le Dang Dung is seen at his office during an interview in Hanoi, Vietnam 4 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Heralded as a revolution in network speed, latency and coverage, 5G opens up massive business opportunities in a wide range of fields such as virtual reality, intelligent manufacturing, smart cities, immersive education, digital health care and driverless cars. 5G’s huge potential has catapulted a global race to gain first-mover advantage.

While late to 4G deployment, Vietnam has been quick to join the 5G race. The country’s largest carrier, Viettel, has invested US$40 million in 5G since 2015. Viettel has vowed to self-develop 80 per cent of core network infrastructure by 2020, with a further aim to become a global 5G supplier. In 2019, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, Vingroup, announced plans to launch its new 5G smartphone in US and EU markets by 2020. More broadly, the country enjoys a booming tech start-up scene and a rapidly-expanding tech user-base, both eager to take advantage of 5G benefits.

The incumbent government deserves some credit for Vietnam’s 5G progress. Since taking office in 2016, government leaders have prioritised technology as the key engine of economic growth, with 5G serving as the most important foundation for the digital transformation process.

The government has introduced a series of tech-supporting policies. These include Resolution 41 in 2016 on tax incentives for IT development and application and Decree 13 in 2019 which provides corporate income-tax remissions and credit incentives for science and technology enterprises. Government-led initiatives — such as Project 844 which supports the start-up ecosystem — are catalysing the surge of tech start-ups in the country.

On the human-resources side, computer science and other STEM subjects are emphasised right from elementary school, while innovation partnership programs with tech companies are modernising the country’s top engineering and technical vocational institutions. As Asia’s hottest destination for foreign direct investment, the country also benefits from skilled-employee training initiatives by multinationals such as Samsung, LG, Siemens and Jabil.

But while Vietnam is on track to roll out 5G by 2020, maintaining a reliable network and developing local 5G manufacturing capabilities are a different story.

From a technical standpoint, Viettel’s demonstration on 10 May reveals neither the company’s capability to meet its goal of 5G self-reliance, nor its ability to roll out a 5G network which is standards-compliant, robust and feature-complete. Viettel’s biggest goal of self-developing its core network equipment, including multiple state-of-the-art chipsets, likely amounts to a pipe dream. Even leading 5G suppliers — Huawei, ZTE, Nokia and Ericsson — still rely on external chip developers such as Qualcomm or Intel.

Likewise, Viettel’s desire to become a global 5G supplier is hindered by the formidable patent barrier. Paying for multiple patent licenses will drive up the production costs of Viettel devices and reduce their price competitiveness compared with patent-owning suppliers. The pricing issue is especially challenging as the company has shunned 5G cooperation with Huawei — the market leader in cost-saving — due mainly to national security risks.

The desertion of Huawei technology highlights serious national security concerns over the rapid deployment of 5G in Vietnam. The country is no stranger to cyberattacks and cybercrimes, suffering the eighth highest malware infection rates globally in 2016. More than 18,000 websites with the national .vn domain have been hacked since 2010, including almost half the websites of state agencies. The rapid deployment of 5G will expose Vietnam’s already vulnerable networks to even more cyber-threats. Being an early adopter of this evolving technology means that the country will have to find its own solutions to many of these problems.

The key to winning the 5G race, and to limiting its security risks, is ensuring that all stakeholders — from regulatory bodies to individual tech users — are well-prepared for the advent of 5G. While the government has been active in promoting both tech-supporting and cybersecurity policies, the effectiveness of these policies often remains in doubt. Resolution 41 in 2016, for example, promised a 50 per cent reduction in personal income tax for individuals working in hi-tech sections of the IT industry. It also promised a preferential corporate income tax of 10 per cent for IT start-ups. Three years later, not a single firm nor individual benefits from this incentive scheme.

The 2018 Cybersecurity Law has also had questionable effects. It requires all foreign online service providers to store the data of users in Vietnam locally for cybersecurity purposes. The security benefits of this law are unclear given Vietnam’s vulnerable ICT infrastructure, and this mandate will undoubtedly obstruct free data flows and raise the cost of doing business in the ICT sector.

Despite initial achievements, Vietnam’s 5G ambition still faces a mountain to climb. The most important next step is for the government to go beyond promoting policies. It should begin effectively implementing, evaluating and revising policies that reward innovation, strengthen cybersecurity and prioritise the growth of domestic firms. Winning the 5G race is only meaningful if all stakeholders — state, businesses and individuals alike — can reap benefits from the digital transformation process.

Phan Le is a PhD candidate at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.



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ASIAN (H)

How to defend Australia

2017-10-10T115109Z_173467866_RC1F98360640_RTRMADP_3_PHILIPPINES-AUSTRALIA-NAVY-400×256.jpg


Author: Hugh White, ANU

How much should Australia spend on defence? The question is especially urgent as the demands Australia’s forces may face in the decades ahead are much greater than the ones they are designed for. The obvious answer is that it depends on what Australia wants its armed forces to be able to do — but for a long time Australian defence policy has reversed this logic.

Australian Navy officials pose with President Rodrigo Duterte (6th L front row) during a tour on board the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessel, Her Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS) Adelaide III as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Task Group Indo-Pacific Endeavour in Manila, Philippines, 10 October 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco).

Like many other countries since the end of the Cold War, Australia has been fixed on 2 per cent of GDP as the gold standard for defence spending. To spend less than this is condemned as irresponsible, and to spend more is tacitly assumed to be unnecessary. Insufficient attention is paid to what kind of forces the money is spent on, or what those forces are supposed to achieve.

This is of course absurd, in several ways. For a start, defence spending as a proportion of GDP expresses the ratio between two numbers and varies equally with either of them. The defence share of GDP goes up when GDP goes down, and even goes up when defence spending falls, if GDP falls faster.

But more fundamentally, even a more robust measure of how much is spent reveals nothing about how adequate Australia’s armed forces are for the tasks they might face. To understand better how much Australia should spend, we need to re-invert the logic and look again at what its forces need to be able to do.

Since the 1970s, Australia’s defence forces have been planned primarily to defend the continent independently against a local adversary — in effect, Indonesia. More recently, some attention has also been paid to preparing them for stabilisation operations in Australia’s near neighbourhood and for modest contributions to more remote US-led coalitions.

This made good sense as long as two assumptions held true. First, US strategic primacy in Asia would prevent any major Asian power threatening Australia militarily. Second, if such a threat did develop, the United States would defend Australia from it. These assumptions remain the foundation of Australian defence policy today.

But the United States now faces a more powerful and determined strategic rival in Asia than it has ever faced before, and its response so far is feeble and faltering. Looking 30 years into the future — as is required in defence planning — there is now a very real chance that the United States will not remain the primary strategic power in Asia. If so, it will not be able to prevent a major power threatening Australia, nor will it have the same commitment to defending Australia from such a threat.

That means Australia must consider whether it needs forces capable of doing much more — defending Australia independently from a major Asian power. Australia has never really explored this question, because it has always assumed that it was both unaffordable and, thanks to great and powerful friends, unnecessary.

So, how could Australia defend itself most cost-effectively against a major power, and what would the forces required cost?

The answer is an extra AU$30 billion (US$21 billion) per year, over and above the almost AU$40 billion (US$28 billion) spent today — assuming some major hurdles like access to technology can be overcome. This would mean defence spending of around 3.5 per cent of GDP.

This estimate is necessarily very imprecise, but it provides a starting point for a discussion about Australia’s future defences. It presupposes that Australia would abandon some major capability projects that do not deserve priority in a carefully-designed force. It also presupposes that Australia does not decide that it needs nuclear weapons. In the long term, nuclear capability would cost perhaps another 0.5 per cent of GDP, taking the total to 4 per cent.

There is no doubt that Australia could sustain that level of spending if it chose to. Indeed, it has done so before, even in peacetime — it spent an average of 3.4 per cent of GDP on defence in the 1950s.

How could the money be found? The simplest way would be to raise taxes. Raising an extra AU$30 billion a year would increase the government’s tax take by about 6 per cent. A lot, but not unthinkable. It would move Australia from being the eighth-lowest-taxed country in the OECD to the ninth, out of 36.

But would that level of defence spending be justified? That is a harder question to answer. It depends on how Australia estimates the risks that a major power — like China, India, or even a more powerful Indonesia — might use force against it in the decades ahead. The higher it assesses that risk to be, the more sense it makes to increase its defence spending sharply now. Clearly such an attack is very unlikely in the next few years. But how likely is it that the probability will grow as circumstances change over the decades ahead?

Australia must prudently expect that its strategic risks will grow as US power in Asia fades, making it far less unlikely than it has ever been that it may face a major power adversary independently. The task Australia faces in deciding its future levels of defence spending is to balance that risk against the cost of building the armed forces required to deal with it.

Hugh White is Emeritus Professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, The Australian National University.

This article is based on research in Hugh White’s new book, How to Defend Australia.



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