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  • News & article

    Thai geopolitical balancing compromised

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 06/07/2018

    » Thailand is demonstrably famous for its foreign policy balancing. From the era of imperialism and two World Wars through the Cold War, Thailand's gifted geography and diplomatic finesse and skill shepherded the country's sovereignty and independence through the thick and thin of geopolitical headwinds. Whatever happens out there, the Thais (and their Siamese forebears) had a way to diplomatically navigate and geopolitically balance their national interests to stay out of harm's way.

  • News & article

    Global disarray as institutions falter

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 17/08/2015

    » The international system as we know it is unravelling. Rules and institutions that were set up seven decades ago no longer hold the same weight and authority as they used to. As we grapple with an exacerbating global disorder, established powers and players and old rules and institutions need to be revamped and reinvented to accommodate new realities. Otherwise global tensions will mount, most probably accompanied by confrontation and conflict.

  • News & article

    Developing by managing demographics

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 27/09/2019

    » Once upon a time, it was feared that the earth would become overcrowded and its inhabitants unable to find enough to eat. This fear has not only proved unfounded but it has gone in the opposite direction. What almost every nation fears now is a decline in inhabitants as the birth rate cannot keep up with the longevity of the aged and elderly, imposing unsustainable burdens on working-age segments of the population. Every region is afflicted with this demographic predicament, especially in affluent societies where the birth rate decline is acute, such as Japan.

  • News & article

    Politics of regional trade liberalisation

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 20/09/2019

    » As multilateral trade negotiations have become unworkable, regional and bilateral alternatives are on the rise. In Thailand's neighbourhood, the most consequential of these trade vehicles is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). As it missed the boat on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Thailand as Asean chair this year should finalise the RCEP expeditiously and find a way to accede to the CPTPP in the near future. Although the Thai political situation remains murky and contentious, there is enough domestic policy consensus on low-hanging fruits, such as regional and bilateral trade liberalisation, that should be reaped without further delay.

  • News & article

    Central bank autonomy must be upheld

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/08/2019

    » When elected governments make noises about economic growth in countries where macroeconomic management is sound and prudent, central bankers tend to quietly bristle and brush off such interference and infringement of monetary space at their own risk. In so doing, central bankers tend to enjoy the support of domestic and international market participants who value central bank independence more than politicians' vested interests, even if it sometimes undercuts their bottom lines. Accordingly, when central bankers go along with the preferences of elected politicians, the conduct of monetary policy comes into question.

  • News & article

    Is the Indo-Pacific eclipsing Asia-Pacific?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 02/08/2019

    » Thailand and the smaller states in its neighbourhood will miss the Asia-Pacific era. It is not as if the Asia-Pacific has gone away or disappeared in any sense. But its role as a cradle of prosperity linking larger and small economies around the Pacific Rim may have passed its peak. In its place is the Indo-Pacific, which thus far lacks a trade-liberalisation and economic growth component so integral to the Asia-Pacific.

  • News & article

    Seeing Asean straight as Thailand chairs

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 21/06/2019

    » When Asean organises big meetings, the tendency for the host is to talk up a brouhaha. So it goes with the 34th Asean summit under Thailand's rotating chairmanship this year. By year's end, several hundred Asean-related meetings will have taken place, highlighted by the final annual summitry in October-November that will include top leaders from China, India, Japan, Russia, the United States, among others.

  • News & article

    China's Belt & Road needs to listen more

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/11/2018

    » In the aftermath of a tense Asean-led summit season, it is clear now that the United States and China are engaged in a great-power competition not seen since the Cold War. The US-China trade war, irrespective of negotiated talks in Buenos Aires between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, is set to deteriorate over the next two years and probably longer. The two superpowers may have fundamental and structural differences that cannot be resolved without a sweeping deal that realigns their geopolitical status and geoeconomic interests in a way that is acceptable to both, an unlikely prospect. So the confrontation will likely intensify.

  • News & article

    Asean summit season ends with more risks

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 23/11/2018

    » The prominence and utility of Asean as a regional platform for peace and prosperity is demonstrated most vividly in a series of top-level meetings among its leaders and counterparts from other major powers, particularly the United States, China and Japan, among others. That Asean's summit season this year has ended with a whimper and acrimony bodes ill for what lies ahead. As the Asean Chair in 2019, Thailand should feel more pressed and incentivised to get its house in order with an elected government that can function effectively before major Asean meetings get under way next year.

  • News & article

    Asean chairmanship has many limitations

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/11/2018

    » Just as all politics is ultimately local, all regionalism is mostly domestic. Such is the case with Asean. Whichever of the 10 member states chairs Asean, its role and performance tends to be domestically rooted. To envision and drive Asean forward requires deft leadership, bold ideas and smart diplomacy that must extend beyond and transcend parochial domestic concerns. No Asean member has shown this sort of farsighted regionalist ambition in recent years. Thailand appears on course to be no different when it chairs Asia's most durable organisation next year.

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