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Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

Keeping the South China Sea in Perspective

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Keeping the South China Sea in Perspective
Source: Brookings Institution

The United States seeks to promote Asia-Pacific economic interdependence and dynamism and to mitigate security tensions in the region. Unfortunately, maritime territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea increasingly threaten these dual objectives of U.S.-Asia policy. This policy brief focuses on the South China Sea set of issues.

Complex Rivalries and Claims in the South China Sea

U.S. Principles and Interests

Recommendations for a Diplomatic Strategy

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Preliminary report Crash involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17 Hrabove, Ukraine – 17 July 2014

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Preliminary report Crash involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17 Hrabove, Ukraine – 17 July 2014 (PDF)
Source: Dutch Safety Board
From press release:

Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside. This is mentioned in the preliminary report on the investigation into the crash of MH17 that has been published today by the Dutch Safety Board. There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.

The cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control all suggest that flight MH17 proceeded as normal until 13:20:03 (UTC), after which it ended abruptly. A full listening of the communications among the crew members in the cockpit recorded on the cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation. Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems. The flight data recorder registered no aircraft system warnings, and aircraft engine parameters were consistent with normal operation during the flight. The radio communications with Ukrainian air traffic control confirm that no emergency call was made by the cockpit crew. The final calls by Ukrainian air traffic control made between 13.20:00 and 13.22:02 (UTC) remained unanswered.

The pattern of wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight (an in-flight break up). Based on the available maintenance history the airplane was airworthy when it took off from Amsterdam and there were no known technical problems. The aircraft was manned by a qualified and experienced crew.

CRS — Malaysia: Background and U.S. Relations

April 29, 2014 Comments off

Malaysia: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

\Malaysia, a majority Muslim nation in Southeast Asia, has long been a partner in U.S. security and economic initiatives in the region, although political sensitivities in Malaysia have constrained both sides from forging deeper ties or even acknowledging how close the relationship is. Bilateral relations have improved over the past decade, especially under Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has made relations with the United States a priority. The Obama Administration has emphasized deeper engagement with Malaysia and other “emerging partners” in Southeast Asia as part of the strategic “rebalancing” of U.S. resources and attention to the Asia-Pacific region. Congress has expressed interest in a variety of issues in U.S.-Malaysia relations over the years, especially regarding trade, security cooperation, human rights, and Malaysia’s diplomacy.

The two nations are major trade and investment partners. In 2013, Malaysia was the 25th largest market for U.S. exports and the 18th largest supplier of U.S. imports. The United States was Malaysia’s 4th largest export market (after Singapore, China, and Japan) and the 4th largest supplier of imports (after China, Singapore, and Japan). Both countries are parties to the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which aim to create a high-standards free trade agreement among 12 countries comprising nearly 40% of the global economy. The United States’ main trade-related concerns are Malaysia’s government procurement policies, protection of intellectual property rights, and market access for key goods and services.

Asia Pacific Economic Outlook — April 2014

April 29, 2014 Comments off

Asia Pacific Economic Outlook — April 2014
Source: Deloitte

This edition gives a near-term outlook for China, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Concerns about the level of debt in China continue, while India’s growth outlook will primarily hinge on the upcoming election’s outcome. Malaysia’s economy faces concerns of high household debt and a potential housing bubble. Investors consider Vietnam’s consumer price index improvement its biggest achievement of 2013.

CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (updated)

February 19, 2014 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

Country Analysis Brief: Malaysia

September 5, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Malaysia
Source: Energy Information Administration

Malaysia’s energy industry is a critical sector of growth for the entire economy and makes up about 20 percent of the total gross domestic product. New tax and investment incentives, starting in 2010, aim to promote oil and natural gas exploration and development. These incentives are part of the country’s economic transformation program to leverage its resources and location to be one of Asia’s top energy players by 2020. Another key pillar in Malaysia’s energy strategy is to become a regional oil storage, trading, and development hub that will attract technical expertise and downstream services able to compete within Asia.

CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress

April 1, 2013 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. On March 15, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would seek to participate in the TPP negotiations. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

The 16th round of negotiations concluded in Singapore on March 14, 2013, and the 17th round is scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in May 2013. The current goal is to reach an agreement in time for the October 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia. For this deadline to be achieved, outstanding negotiating positions may need to be tabled soon in order for political decisions to be made. The negotiating dynamic itself is complex: decisions on key market access issues such as dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may be dependent on the outcome of controversial rules negotiations such as intellectual property rights or state-owned enterprises.

Twenty-nine chapters in the agreement are under discussion. The United States is negotiating market access for goods, services, and agriculture with countries with which it does not currently have FTAs: Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Negotiations are also being conducted on disciplines to intellectual property rights, trade in services, government procurement, investment, rules of origin, competition, labor, and environmental standards and other issues. In many cases, the rules being negotiated are intended to be more rigorous than comparable rules found in the WTO. Some topics, such as state-owned enterprises, regulatory coherence, and supply chain competitiveness, break new ground in FTA negotiations. As the countries that make up the TPP negotiating partners include advanced industrialized, middle income, and developing economies, the TPP, if implemented, may involve substantial restructuring of the economies of some participants.

The TPP serves several strategic goals in U.S. trade policy. First, it is the leading trade policy initiative of the Obama Administration, and is a manifestation of the Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. If concluded, it may serve to shape the economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region by harmonizing existing agreements with U.S. FTA partners, attracting new participants, and establishing regional rules on new policy issues facing the global economy—possibly providing impetus to future multilateral liberalization under the WTO.

As the negotiations proceed, a number of issues important to Congress are emerging. One is whether the United States can balance its vision of creating a “comprehensive and high standard” agreement with a large and expanding group of countries, while not insisting on terms that other countries will reject. Another issue is how Congress will consider the TPP, if concluded. The present negotiations are not being conducted under the auspices of formal trade promotion authority (TPA)—the latest TPA expired on July 1, 2007—although the Administration informally

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