Tensions Could Hinder Efforts For Greater Intra-Asian Trade

To Secure Its Future, Asia Should Strengthen Regional Ties
As Europe and the US struggle to regain their financial footing the key to Asia’s future may lie in increasing trade within the region.

In an article in The Diplomat, Véronique Salze-Lozac’h, Nina Merchant-Vega, Katherine Loh, and Sarah Alexander note that intra-regional trade already is quite active as “Southeast Asia has taken significant strides in formalizing its region as a single market and production base through ASEAN.”

However, they add, the lackluster US economy underscores the need for “Asian countries need to diversify their export markets and take advantage of the efficiencies and growing demand that regional trade offers.”

Diplomatic Tensions Complicate Regional Relations
A longstanding dispute between China and Japan over a group of islets threatens not only bilateral relations, but could have troubling consequences for the region.

The argument over control of those islands – which Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyus – has heated up in recent months as a consequence of steps and missteps taken by both sides. The deterioration of relations is of increasing concern in the US, which would be bound by existing agreements to come to the defense of Japan if China were to take action.

“This week senior American officials rushed to Tokyo to urge caution on Shinzo Abe’s hawkish new government. America is obliged to come to Japan’s aid if it is attacked, and being sucked into a conflict with China is almost too unbearable to contemplate,” notes The Economist.

How The Algerian Hostage Crisis Complicates US Strategy
With the situation in Mali worsening, the US began to lobby more aggressively for neighboring Algeria to take action to push back the advance of Jihadists. The failed attempt to rescue hostages taken at a natural gas plant has created rifts between the US and Algeria increasing “doubts about whether Algeria can be relied upon to work regionally to dismantle al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa,” reports The Washington Post.

Geoff D. Porter, an independent North African security analyst, tells tells the Post that “the Algerians will likely double down on their recalcitrance to get involved. They’ve already put themselves in a fortress-like state.”

Unforeseen Events Pose Potential Problem For Obama
Foreign Policy columnist Martin Indyk discusses five potential – albeit unlikely – events that could pose problems for President Obama in his second term. From a confrontation with North Korea to a possible worsening of domestic stability in China are among the crises that may emerge in the coming year.


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