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The Hong Kong Policy Report

April 17, 2015 Comments off

The Hong Kong Policy Report
Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General

The United States has considerable and longstanding interests in Hong Kong. Cooperation between the United States Government and the Hong Kong Government (HKG) remains broad, highly effective, and mutually beneficial. Our relationship with Hong Kong is based on the framework of “one country, two systems,” enshrined in Hong Hong’s Basic Law, which serves as a virtual (or de facto) constitution. Under this system, Hong Kong exercises autonomy in all areas except foreign policy and defense affairs. Hong Kong participates actively and independently in a range of multilateral organizations and agreements such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), with trade policy objectives that generally align with our own, and is recognized as a separate customs territory by the United States.

There are more than a dozen U.S.-Hong Kong agreements currently in force. Our day-to-day bilateral law enforcement cooperation is on par with many of our closest allies. Hong Kong’s strong traditions of rule of law, low levels of corruption, and high levels of public safety make it a preferred choice for American businesses in the region. The United States enjoys diverse cultural, educational, scientific, and academic exchanges with the people and Government of Hong Kong.

Increased Use of Digital Technologies Could Add $1.36 Trillion to World’s Top 10 Economies in 2020, According to New Study from Accenture

April 13, 2015 Comments off

Increased Use of Digital Technologies Could Add $1.36 Trillion to World’s Top 10 Economies in 2020, According to New Study from Accenture
Source: Accenture

The increased use of digital technologies could boost productivity for the world’s top 10 economies and add US$1.36 trillion to their total economic output in 2020, according to a new study by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The study is based on the Accenture Digital Density Index, a tool that helps companies make better strategic investments based on granular measures of digital performance.

The Accenture Digital Density Index measures the extent to which digital technologies penetrate a country’s businesses and economy. A country’s “digital density” is determined by a scorecard comprising over 50 indicators, such as the volume of transactions conducted online, the use of cloud or other technologies to streamline processes, the pervasiveness of technology skills in a company, or an economy’s acceptance of new digitally driven business models.

At its broadest level, the Index reveals that a ten point improvement in digital density (on a 100-point scale) over five years would lift GDP growth rates in advanced economies by 0.25 percentage points, and by 0.5 percentage point in emerging economies. That would give the U.S. an uplift to GDP of US$365 billion in 2020. Emerging economies, such as Brazil, India and China could see rises of between $97 billion and $418 billion.

Several Reports About Afghanistan From the U.S. Institute of Peace

April 6, 2015 Comments off

Several Reports About Afghanistan From the U.S. Institute of Peace
Source: United States Institute of Peace

Political and Economic Dynamics of Herat
The city of Herat sits in Afghanistan’s most western province, on the border with Iran, and is significant on several counts. A major trading hub and the largest city in the region, it is in some respects an exemplar for the entire country. One the one hand it is a prevailing spirit of enterprise, on the other persistent insecurity and ad hoc urban development. How the new national unity government in Kabul unfolds will have significant implications for how Herat is able to meet the challenges for its social development and economic growth.

Political Parties in Afghanistan
Political parties in Afghanistan are often dismissed by international and Afghan observers as unruly and highly personalized organizations that contribute little to the democratic process. Yet they continue to play a part in shaping the political landscape, albeit in what might be considered unorthodox ways. This report assesses their history, role, and activities over the last decade and how their future might unfold under and contribute to the country’s new unity government.

Islamic Law, Customary Law and Afghan Informal Justice
As Afghanistan’s nascent democracy works to establish the rule of law across the country, it finds itself contending with the ways that Islamic law converges and diverges from the tribal norms that shape the settling of disputes outside Kabul. Based on surveys conducted in Afghanistan, this report examines the points of tension and agreement between Islamic and customary laws, looking into both of their pasts to suggest a way forward for the Afghan state, particularly in granting greater rights and protections to women.

Neutrality in Afghanistan’s Foreign Policy
President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 leaves that country once again wide open for an intensified regional race for strategic influence in the country. The majority of experts—both Afghan and international—agree that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan require internationally backed regional arrangements. A recent forum involving high-profile Afghan politicians, former diplomats, and civil society leaders underscores this consensus and the long-term vision of an “Afghan-led and Afghanistan-specific enduring neutrality.” This report focuses on the historical aspects of neutrality as a first step toward neutrality-based diplomatic solutions for both the immediate Afghan conflict and the country’s long-term positioning.

Supporting Afghan Women in the 2014 Transition
The 2014 elections in Afghanistan saw great promise for advancing the status of women, with unprecedented voter turnout among women and powerful rhetoric from presidential candidates. As the new administration sets its agenda, this report offers guidelines for Afghan leaders to fulfill their campaign promises by strengthening women’s political participation, access to justice, and involvement in the security sector.

Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The number of women migrants in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise, both absolutely and proportionately: in 2013 women comprised nearly half (48 percent) of overall migrants to the region and 44 percent of migrants from the region, in line with global trends. Earlier it was thought that out-migration of women mostly takes place in the context of associational migration, including marriage, but a larger share of female migrant workers are now migrating on their own as a result of a variety of economic and cultural factors in both sending and receiving countries.

The gendered dimensions of migration both within and from the region have implications for migration flows and trends as well as for migrants themselves. The majority of female migrant workers in the region work in low-skilled, women-dominated occupations in the domestic, hospitality, health-care, and garment and entertainment sectors, and many skilled female professionals from the region must take up substandard employment due to skills mismatch and lack of recognition of their qualifications. With the Millennium Development Goals set to expire at the end of 2015, the formulation of the next development agenda offers a window of opportunity for better support of gender equality and women’s empowerment across the developing world.

This Issue Brief, one in a series by MPI and the International Organization for Migration, looks at the trends and patterns in female labor migration in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the key policy challenges relating to female migration that governments in the region face. It also examines the significant financial and social impacts of female migrant workers and recommends best practices for policymakers looking to capitalize on these gains while supporting the rights and welfare of migrant women and their families.

Open Data in the G8

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Open Data in the G8
Source: Center for Data Innovation

In 2013, the leaders of the G8 signed an agreement committing to advance open data in their respective countries. This report assesses the current state of open data efforts in these countries and finds substantial variation in their progress. Moving forward, countries have many opportunities to enhance their open data capabilities, such as by increasing international collaboration, better educating policymakers about the benefits of open data, and working closely with civil society on open data initiatives.

China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-By-Country Analysis

March 23, 2015 Comments off

China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-By-Country Analysis
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC)

This paper assesses China’s relative significance for individual ASEAN economies. It starts with an overview of China’s trade and investment relations with ASEAN as a whole. The paper then provides descriptive statistics on each ASEAN country’s composition of foreign trade by product and top trade partner, as well as foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. It also provides a brief analysis of commercial disputes and bilateral cooperation with China.

ASEAN on the Rise

March 17, 2015 Comments off

ASEAN on the Rise
Source: Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

With 610 million people, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is less than half the size of China’s market, but the region’s quickly growing — and relatively big spending — middle class has become increasingly attractive to multinationals and foreign investors. The ASEAN bloc — which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — is nudging Chinese manufacturers aside as China’s labor force begins to shrink and wages rise. Moreover, the planned launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015 is likely to help sustain rapid economic growth in the medium term, analysts say.

This special report looks at the forces shaping the ASEAN region in 2015, most notably the effect of falling oil prices, along with in-depth views of two countries — Thailand and Indonesia — which are both facing unique challenges on the road to becoming economic powerhouses. Also included is an interview with Kan Trakulhoon, president and CEO of SCG, one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates, on managing a workforce in a volatile economic environment.

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