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EU — Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report
Source: European Commission

When balanced with student support, increased tuition fees do not have an overall negative impact on enrolments in higher education, even among students from lower socio-economic groups, unless the magnitude of change is exceptional. However increases in fees can result in falling enrolments among older students, according to an international study released by the European Commission today. The report underlines that grants and/or loans are crucial for offsetting negative consequences of fees or fee rises on university enrolments, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The Commission-funded study, carried out by independent researchers, analysed the impact of changes in student fees in nine countries with different models of funding over the past 15 years (Austria, Canada, UK-England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and South Korea).

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Country Analysis Brief: South Korea

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: South Korea
Source: Energy Information Administration

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that South Korea was the world’s ninth-largest energy consumer in 2011. Korea is one of the top energy importers in the world and relies on fuel imports for about 97% of its primary energy demand because the country lacks domestic energy reserves. In 2013, the country was the second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the fourth-largest importer of coal, and the fifth-largest net importer of total petroleum and other liquids. South Korea has no international oil or natural gas pipelines and relies exclusively on tanker shipments of LNG and crude oil. Despite its lack of domestic energy resources, South Korea is home to some of the largest and most advanced oil refineries in the world. In an effort to improve the nation’s energy security, oil and gas companies are aggressively seeking overseas exploration and production opportunities.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

CRS — U.S. – South Korea Relations

February 25, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – South Korea Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Service)

South Korea is one of the United States’ most important strategic and economic partners in Asia, and for the past five years relations between the two countries (known officially as the Republic of Korea, or ROK) have been arguably at their best state in decades. Members of Congress tend to be interested South Korea-related issues for a number of reasons. First, the United States and South Korea have been allies since the early 1950s. The United States is committed to helping South Korea defend itself, particularly against any aggression from North Korea. The United States maintains about 28,500 troops in the ROK and South Korea is included under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.” Second, Washington and Seoul cooperate over how to deal with the challenges posed by North Korea. Third, South Korea’s emergence as a global player on a number of issues has provided greater opportunities for the two countries’ governments, businesses, and private organizations to interact and cooperate with one another.

Fourth, the two countries’ economies are closely entwined and are joined by the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). South Korea is the United States’ sixth-largest trading partner. The United States is South Korea’s second-largest trading partner. In late 2013 and early 2014, South Korea took the first steps toward possible entry into the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement negotiations.

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013

January 13, 2014 Comments off

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.

This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.

OECD countries covered

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

Non-member economies covered

Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs

September 17, 2013 Comments off

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress

A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.

The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:

  • Australia,
  • Brazil,
  • Canada,
  • China,
  • Germany,
  • Israel,
  • Japan,
  • Mexico,
  • Norway,
  • the Russian Federation,
  • South Korea,
  • Spain,
  • the United Arab Emirates, and
  • the United Kingdom.

It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.

The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update

July 23, 2013 Comments off

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created on January 14, 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851. This voluntary ad hoc international forum brings together over 80 countries, organizations, and industry groups with a shared interest in combating piracy. Chaired in 2013 by the United States, the Contact Group coordinates political, military, and non-governmental efforts to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, ensure that pirates are brought to justice, and support regional states to develop sustainable maritime security capabilities. The European Union will assume the chairmanship in 2014.

Through its five thematic working groups, the Contact Group draws on a wide range of international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach to piracy, working closely with Somali officials from the central government and regional administrations and officials in Indian Ocean States. Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, focuses on operational naval coordination, information sharing, and capacity building; Working Group 2, chaired by Denmark, addresses legal and judicial issues; Working Group 3, chaired by the Republic of Korea, works closely with the shipping industry to enhance awareness and build capabilities among seafarers transiting the region; Working Group 4, chaired by Egypt, aims at raising public awareness of the dangers of piracy; and Working Group 5, chaired by Italy, focuses on disrupting the pirate criminal enterprise ashore, including the illicit financial flows associated with maritime piracy.

This unique international partnership is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. The last successful pirate attack on a merchant vessel in the region occurred on May 10, 2012.

CRS — Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition

July 15, 2013 Comments off

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not reached consensus that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, and there is debate among experts on this question.

Congress has maintained a strong interest in the ballistic missile threat from both North Korea and Iran and in BMD systems to counter those threats. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2013 (P.L. 112-239) notes that East Asian allies have contributed to BMD in various ways, and it calls on the Department of Defense to continue efforts to develop and formalize regional BMD arrangements.

The United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region have responded to the North Korean missile threat by deploying BMD assets and increasing international BMD cooperation. The United States and Japan have deployed Aegis-e quipped destroyers with Standard Missile 3 (SM- 3) interceptors, Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) batteries, early warning sensors, and advanced radars to meet the threat. South Korea and Australia have relatively basic BMD capabilities with plans to improve those in th e near future. Cooperation on BMD follows the hub- and-spokes model of U.S. bilateral alliance relationships in the region; the multilateralism that underpins the European BMD arrangement is largely absent. Working-level coordination is especially close among the United States, Japan, and Australia, but senior U.S. defense officials have called for greater integration of U.S. and allied BMD efforts in East Asia to improve effectiveness.

The stated focus of U.S. BMD policy is to defend against limited missile strikes from rogue states, not to alter the balance of strategic nuclear deterrence with the major nuclear-armed states. Nonetheless, Russia and China have strongly cr iticized U.S. BMD deployments as a threat to their nuclear deterrents, and thus a danger to strategic stability. Chinese officials and scholars make several other criticisms: that BMD is antagonizing North Korea and thus undermining regional stability; that the United States is using BMD to strengthen its alliance relationships, which could be turned against China; and that BMD is undermining China’s conventional missile deterrent against Taiwan, and thus emboldening those on Taiwan who want to formalize the island’s separation from China.

National Assessments on Gender and STI

March 13, 2013 Comments off

National Assessments on Gender and STI

Source: Women in Global Science and Technology

The National Assessments on Gender and STI are based on the Gender Equality – Knowledge Society (GE&KS) indicator framework, which was developed to address the fact that worldwide, women’s capacity to participate in science, technology and innovation is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. Not only do they have less access to information and technology, they are poorly represented in educational, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities. It brings together gender-sensitive data on key areas in the knowledge society (ICT, science, technology and innovation) with gender indicators of health, economic and social status to assess the barriers and opportunities for women.

A pilot assessment of six countries and one region took place during 2012 with funding from the Elsevier Foundation: Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the United States, and the European Union.

Key Findings

The major finding of this study is that the knowledge gender divide continues to exist in all countries, even those which have a highly-developed knowledge society. In all countries in this review – which represent the leading knowledge-based economies in the world – the knowledge society is failing to include women to an equal extent, and in some cases, their inclusion is negligible.

  • Numbers of women in the science, technology and innovation fields are alarmingly low in the world’s leading economies, and are actually on the decline in many, including the United States.
  • Women remain severely under-represented in engineering, physics and computer science — less than 30% in most countries – while the numbers of women working in these fields are also declining.
  • Women have lower levels of access to the productive resources necessary to support active engagement in the knowledge society and related professions – property (land); finance; technology; and education.
  • Female parity in the science, technology and innovation fields is tied to multiple factors, with the most influential being higher economic status, larger roles in government and politics, access to economic, productive and technological resources, and a supportive policy environment. Findings also show that women gain ground in countries that have health and childcare, equal pay, & gender mainstreaming.
  • Access to education is not a solution in and of itself and neither is economic status. It’s only one part of what should be a multi-dimensional policymaking approach. There is no simple solution.

CRS — Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments

April 3, 2012 Comments off

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments
Source: Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam to increase U.S. presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises and disasters, counterterrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia. Since 2006, three joint exercises based at Guam called “Valiant Shield” have boosted U.S. military readiness in the Asian-Pacific region. The defense buildup on Guam has been moderate. China still has concerns about Guam’s buildup, suspecting it to be directed against China. There has been concern that China and North Korea could target Guam with missiles. Still, Guam’s role increased in engaging with China’s military.

In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed on a Realignment Roadmap to strengthen their alliance, including a buildup on Guam to cost $10.3 billion, with Japan contributing 60%. Goals were to start the related construction on Guam by 2010 and to complete relocation of about 8,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. In Tokyo on February 17, 2009, the Secretary of State signed the bilateral “Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning the Implementation of the Relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Personnel and Their Dependents From Okinawa to Guam” that reaffirmed the “Roadmap” of May 1, 2006. The two governments agreed that of the estimated $10.27 billion cost of the facilities and infrastructure development for the relocation, Japan will provide $6.09 billion, including up to $2.8 billion in direct cash contributions (in FY2008 dollars). The United States committed to fund $3.18 billion plus $1 billion for a road for a total of $4.18 billion.

However, completion of the marines’ relocation by 2014 would be unlikely, and the original realignment actually would have involved more than moving 8,000 marines to Guam. In September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) became the ruling party. This political change raised uncertainty as Japan sought to re-negotiate the agreement, even while the United States sought its implementation. The dispute over the location on Okinawa of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to replace the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma raised implications for the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam. Then, North Korea’s attack on South Korea’s naval ship Cheonan in March 2010, and China’s deployment of its Navy near Okinawa and confrontation with Japan’s forces in April, catalyzed Japan to resolve the dispute in favor of stronger deterrence in alliance with the United States. On May 28, the Secretaries of Defense and State and their counterparts in Japan issued a “2+2” Joint Statement, in which they reaffirmed the 2006 Roadmap and the 2009 Agreement. In September 2010, the Navy and Army issued a Record of Decision that deferred some decisions for Guam. Nonetheless, despite the dispute over the FRF, Japan has budgeted for direct contributions and loans for the marines’ relocation to Guam.

By 2011, some Members urged attention to concerns that included Japan’s impasse, expanded costs, and the delay in the realignment even as the U.S military presence and readiness remain critical. On May 11, 2011, Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, and Jim Webb called for a review of plans to restructure military forces in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. Meanwhile, President Obama issued in January 2012 a new strategy of rebalancing priorities more to the Pacific. Finally, on February 8, the United States and Japan agreed to “adjust” the Roadmap and separate the move of marines from the plan for the FRF, in order to make progress separately. According to news reports, of 8,000 marines to transfer from Okinawa, only 4,700 could move to Guam. Legislation includes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2012, P.L. 112-81. Updated as warranted, this CRS Report discusses major developments and policy issues related to the defense buildup.

Country Analysis Brief: South Korea

October 16, 2011 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: South Korea
Source: Energy Information Administration

South Korea was the world’s tenth largest energy consumer in 2008, and with its lack of domestic reserves, Korea is one of the top energy importers in the world. The country is the fifth largest importer of crude oil, the third largest importer of coal, and the second largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). South Korea has no international oil or natural gas pipelines, and relies exclusively on tanker shipments of LNG and crude oil. Despite its lack of domestic energy resources, South Korea is home to some of the largest and most advanced oil refineries in the world. In an effort to improve the nation’s energy security oil, gas, and electricity companies are aggressively seeking overseas exploration and production opportunities. 

Map of South Korea

 

Although oil accounted for the largest portion (45 percent) of South Korea’s primary energy consumption in 2008, its share has been declining since the mid-1990′s, when it reached a peak of 66 percent.
Categories: energy, South Korea

CRS — The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications

September 6, 2011 Comments off

The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

If implemented, the proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), signed on June 30, 2007, would be the second-largest U.S. FTA (next to NAFTA). South Korea is the seventh-largest trading partner of the United States, and the United States is South Korea’s third- largest trading partner. The proposed KORUS FTA covers a wide range of trade and investment issues and, therefore, could have substantial economic implications for both the United States and South Korea. The agreement will not enter into force unless Congress approves implementation legislation.

Implementing legislation for the KORUS FTA is eligible for expedited congressional consideration (no amendments, limited debate) under the trade promotion authority (TPA). Under TPA, the President has the discretion on when to submit the implementing legislation to Congress. President Bush did not submit the legislation because of differences with the Democratic leadership over treatment of autos and beef, among other issues. On December 3, 2010, after a series of arduous negotiations and missed deadlines, President Obama and President Lee announced that they had reached an agreement on addressing the outstanding issues related to the KORUS FTA. As a result, U.S. and South Korean negotiators agreed, in the form of an exchange of letters and agreed minutes, to modifications to the commitments made in the 2007 agreement These modifications include changes in phase-out periods for tariffs on autos, a new safeguard provision on autos, and concessions by South Korea on allowing a larger number of U.S. cars into South Korea under U.S. safety standards than was the case under the original KORUS FTA provisions Though the issue of full U.S. beef access was not resolved because of its political sensitivity in South Korea, the Obama Administration plans to request consultations on this matter as soon as the KORUS FTA goes into effect.

On July 7, 2011, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held simultaneous “mock mark-up” sessions on preliminary draft implementing bills for the KORUS FTA, as well as for the FTAs with Colombia and Panama. The process is preliminary to the President submitting the actual draft implementing bills under the expedited procedures provided for under TPA. They are also advisory in that the President is not obligated to accept any “amendments” that the committees have submitted. In the case of the KORUS FTA, the two committees considered different draft bills. The Senate Finance Committee considered and approved a draft that included renewal of a trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program, while the Ways and Means Committee considered and approved a draft that included only the KORUS FTA. President Obama said he would not formally submit FTA implementing legislation until there was an agreement from Congress to renew TAA.

A broad swath of the U.S. business community supports the KORUS FTA . With the modifications in the commitments reached in December, this group also includes the three Detroit-based auto manufacturers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. It still faces opposition from some labor unions and other groups, including Public Citizen. Many U.S. supporters view passage of the KORUS FTA as important to secure new opportunities in the South Korean market, while opponents claim that the KORUS FTA does not go far enough to break down South Korean trade barriers or that the agreement will encourage U.S. companies to move their production offshore at the expense of U.S. workers. Other observers have suggested the outcome of the KORUS FTA could have implications for the U.S.-South Korean alliance as a whole, as well as on U.S. Asia policy and U.S. trade policy, particularly in light Korea-European FTA that went into effect on July 1, 2011.

Crimes against international students in Australia: 2005–09

August 19, 2011 Comments off

Crimes against international students in Australia: 2005–09
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology

A key part of the Australian Institute of Criminology’s role is to provide a capacity to investigate new and evolving crimes and in the past two years, there has been significant interest in determining the nature and extent to which international students studying in Australia are victims of crime.

Detailed findings are provided from what is the most comprehensive student victimisation study ever conducted in Australia, based on an analysis of Department of Immigration and Citizenship international student visa records for more than 400,000 students matched with police crime victimisation records. In addition, supplementary analysis of the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) database, as well as the Australian component of the 2004 International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), are used to provide additional context to the AIC’s investigation.

Primarily, this research was designed to provide the best available estimation of the extent to which international students have been the victims of crime during their time in Australia and to determine whether international students are more or less likely than an Australian comparison population to have experienced crime.

This report provides the best available estimation of the extent to which international students have been the victims of crime during their time in Australia and has enabled the rate of recorded crimes experienced by international students from the five largest source countries (People’s Republic of China, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the United States) to be compared with the rate for Australian reference populations. While this research has not answered the question of whether attacks against overseas students are racially motivated, the findings from this research do point to other factors such as employment and the use of public transport, that influence the risk or likelihood of overseas students experiencing crime. This provides direction for crime prevention efforts to reduce the risk of crime for this population.

This report represents the culmination of the AIC’s research into crimes against international students.

CRS — Imports from North Korea: Existing Rules, Implications of the KORUS FTA, and the Kaesong Industrial Complex

June 14, 2011 Comments off

Imports from North Korea: Existing Rules, Implications of the KORUS FTA, and the Kaesong Industrial Complex (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In early 2011, many Members of Congress focused their attention on U.S. rules and practices governing the importation of products and components from North Korea. Their interest was stimulated by debate over the proposed South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and the question of whether the agreement could lead to increased imports from North Korea. Some observers, particularly many opposed to the agreement, have argued that the KORUS FTA could increase imports from North Korea if South Korean firms re-export items made in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a seven-year-old industrial park located in North Korea, where more than 100 South Korean manufacturers employ over 45,000 North Korean workers. Two concerns expressed by critics are (1) that South Korean firms could obtain low-cost KIC- made goods or components, incorporate them into finished products and then reship the goods to the United States with “Made in [South] Korea” labels so that they would receive preferential treatment under the KORUS FTA; and (2) that such exports would benefit the North Korean government.

At present, North Korea’s relative economic isolation and an array of U.S. restrictions have resulted in less than $350,000 in U.S. cumulative imports from North Korea since 2000. Thus, the issue of U.S. imports from North Korea is essentially about what might happen in the future.

CRS — Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and Potential Employment Effects: Analysis of Studies

May 10, 2011 Comments off

Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and Potential Employment Effects: Analysis of Studies (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The Obama Administration finalized negotiations with South Korea in early December 2010 on a bilateral free trade agreement. As a result, the administration is expected to submit implementing legislation to the 112th Congress on the proposed agreement, but to date has not indicated a timeline for doing so. The 112th Congress may also be asked to consider implementing legislation for proposed free trade agreements with Columbia and Panama. Congress not only plays a direct role in approving legislation that implements the provisions of free trade agreements, but also authorizes and appropriates funding for programs that are meant to provide special assistance to firms and workers that are dislocated as a result of lower barriers to trade. Since the proposed agreement covers a wide range of trade and investment issues, it could have substantial economic implications for both the United States and South Korea. South Korea is the seventh-largest trading partner of the United States, and the United States is South Korea’s third-largest trading partner.

Similar to other trade agreements, the proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS-FTA) has attracted both supporters and detractors, primarily over the impact the agreement could have on employment in the economy. Supporters argue that the agreement could create as many as 280,000 jobs in the economy. Others, however, argue that the agreement could lead to an overall loss of up to 159,000 jobs in various sectors of the economy. Still others contend that the United States stands to lose exports, employment, and extended economic opportunities if it fails to sign a trade agreement, while the European Union and other nations are lining up to finalize similar agreements with South Korea.

Estimating the economic impact of trade agreements, however, is a daunting task, due to a lack of data and important theoretical and practical matters associated with generating results from economic models. In addition, such estimates provide an incomplete accounting of the total economic effects of trade agreements. This report assesses the results of a number of models that are being used to generate estimates of the effect of the KORUS FTA on employment. These studies were chosen specifically because they estimate (or can be used to estimate) data on employment effects of the trade agreement. All economic models incorporate various assumptions that are necessary in order for the model to generate results. Invariably, these approaches determine, to some extent, the results that are generated and, therefore, limit their representation of the real world economy. Currently, the various models produce widely disparate estimates of the number of jobs affected bay the trade agreement, reflecting the various methods that are used in the models.

From the perspective of a large open economy such as the U.S. economy, international trade is not a major determinate of total employment in the economy, real wages in the economy, or the overall level of production. This is especially true for bilateral trade agreements with individual countries where the impact on the economy as a whole is expected to be small. Nevertheless, some sectors of the economy are likely to be affected more than others. Congress has demonstrated an on-going interest in assessing the economic impact of trade agreements and, at times, has provided assistance to those workers and firms that are disproportionately affected.

CRS — The Kaesong North-South Korean Industrial Complex

May 3, 2011 Comments off

The Kaesong North-South Korean Industrial Complex (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

This purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the role, purposes, and results of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and examine U.S. interests, policy issues, options, and legislation. The KIC is a six-year old industrial park located in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) just across the demilitarized zone from South Korea. As of the end of 2010, over 120 medium-sized South Korean companies were employing over 47,000 North Korean workers to manufacture products in Kaesong. The facility, which in 2010 produced $323 million in output, has the land and infrastructure to house two to three times as many firms and workers. Products vary widely, and include clothing and textiles (71 firms), kitchen utensils (4 firms), auto parts (4 firms), semiconductor parts (2 firms), and toner cartridges (1 firm).

Despite a rise in tensions between North and South Korea since early 2008, the complex has continued to operate and expand. The KIC was not shut down in 2010 despite two violent incidents between the two Koreas that year: the March sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, which was found to be caused by a North Korean torpedo, and North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island in November. Indeed, the complex has become virtually the last vestige of inter-Korean cooperation. After the Cheonan sinking, South Korea announced it would cut off all inter-Korean economic relations except the Kaesong complex. It also has reduced the number of South Korean workers—primarily government officials and business managers—at the complex because of worries about them being taken hostage by North Korea.

The KIC represents a dilemma for U.S. and South Korean policymakers. On the one hand, the project provides an ongoing revenue stream to the Kim Jong-il regime in Pyongyang, by virtue of the share the government takes from the salaries paid to North Korean workers. South Korean and U.S. officials estimate this revenue stream to be around $20 million per year. On the other hand, the KIC arguably helps maintain stability on the Peninsula and provides a possible beachhead for market reforms in the DPRK that could eventually spill over to areas outside the park and expose tens of thousands of North Koreans to outside influences, market-oriented businesses, and incentives.

The United States has limited direct involvement in the KIC, which the United States has officially supported since its conception. At present, no U.S. companies have invested in the Kaesong complex, though a number of South Korean officials have expressed a desire to attract U.S. investment. U.S. government approval is needed for South Korean firms to ship to the KIC certain U.S.-made equipment currently under U.S. export controls. The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), which has yet to be submitted to Congress for approval, provides for a Committee on Outward Processing Zones (OPZ) to be formed and to consider whether zones such as the KIC will receive preferential treatment under the FTA. Although the KORUS FTA says that the Executive branch will seek “legislative approval” for any changes to the agreement, Congress’s precise role in accepting or rejecting these changes is not clear.

Another issue raised by the KIC is whether components made in the complex can enter the United States if they are incorporated into products that are manufactured in South Korea and that qualify as originating in South Korea. This possibility is likely to be determined mainly by the KIC’s evolution; the more that is produced in the complex, the more products are likely to enter South Korea’s supply chain.

OECD — Doing Better for Families

April 30, 2011 Comments off

Doing Better for Families
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
From press release:

Poverty in households with children is rising in nearly all OECD countries. Governments should ensure that family support policies protect the most vulnerable, according to the OECD’s first-ever report on family well-being.

Doing Better for Families says that families with children are more likely to be poor today than in previous decades, when the poorest in society were more likely to be pensioners.

Download the underlying data in Excel

 The share of children living in poor households has risen in many countries over the past decade, to reach 12.7% across the OECD. One in five children in Israel, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Poland live in poverty. (The OECD defines poor as someone living in a household with less than half the median income, adjusted for family size).

+ Chapter 1. Families are changing (PDF)

Individual country reports also freely available. Full report available for purchase.

Beyond Rivalry and Camaraderie: Explaining Varying Asian Responses to China

April 11, 2011 Comments off

Beyond Rivalry and Camaraderie: Explaining Varying Asian Responses to China
Source: RAND Corporation

Asian states often make tradeoffs between economic and military security goals, and shifts in states’ preferences for economic advantage versus military strength explain variation and diversity in their responses to China. Countries that prioritize technological advantage and economic strength respond differently to China than those that do not because they accept a greater degree of security risk to realize economic gains from interactions with China. This dissertation assesses the security and economic policy responses of a representative sample of Asian states to China between 1992 and 2008. The responses of Japan, Korea and Thailand have defied predictions of the dominant international relations paradigm — realism — that states would either balance against or bandwagon with a rising China. However, the three states have not discarded consideration of external security threats. Differences in how Japan, Korea and Thailand have responded to China over time are explained not only by changes in China’s military threat, but perceptions of the threat as weighed against changing economic priorities. Domestic strategic evolution — change in political structure and grand strategy — has had an important impact on the manner in which the three nations have responded to China. The findings of this dissertation bear on both the study and practice of international security policy. Domestic politics and state preferences are important factors to consider when explaining the responses of Asian states to China, responses which would not have been implied by the consideration of external threats alone. Understanding the determinants of Asian nations’ different and evolving preferences for the ratio of economic versus military strength will aid U.S. officials in formulating policies that affirm these states’ strategic interests.

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CRS — The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications

March 30, 2011 Comments off

The Proposed U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On June 30, 2007, U.S. and South Korean trade officials signed the proposed U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) for their respective countries. If approved, the KORUS FTA would be the second-largest FTA that South Korea has signed to date, after the agreement with the European Union (EU). It would be the second-largest (next to North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA) in which the United States participates. South Korea is the seventh largest trading partner of the United States and the United States is South Korea’s third-largest trading partner.

Various studies conclude that the agreement would increase bilateral trade and investment flows. The final text of the proposed KORUS FTA covers a wide range of trade and investment issues and, therefore, could have substantial economic implications for both the United States and South Korea. The agreement will not enter into force unless Congress approves implementation legislation. The negotiations were conducted under the trade promotion authority (TPA), also called fast-track trade authority, that Congress granted the President under the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-210).

Under TPA the President has the discretion on when to submit the implementing legislation to Congress. President Bush did not submit the legislation because of differences with the Democratic leadership over treatment of autos and beef, among other issues. Early in his Administration, President Obama indicated the need to resolve those issues before he would submit the implementing legislation. On December 3, 2010, after a series of arduous negotiations and missed deadlines, President Obama and President Lee announced that their negotiators reached agreement on modifications in the KORUS FTA, and that they were prepared to move ahead to getting the agreement approved by the respective legislatures. The White House is expected to send implementing legislation to the 112th Congress and that it would like to see Congress approve the agreement by July 1 of this year.

The modifications are in the form of changes in phase-out periods for tariffs on autos, a new safeguard provision on autos, and concessions by South Korea on allowing a larger number of U.S. cars into South Korea under U.S. safety standards than was the case under the original KORUS FTA provisions. The issue of full U.S. beef access was not resolved because of the political sensitivity of the issue in South Korea. In 2008, when President Lee reached a separate agreement with the United States to lift South Korea’s ban on U.S. beef imports, massive anti- South Korean government protests forced the two governments to renegotiate its terms. The U.S. beef sector has largely supported the KORUS FTA.

A broad swath of the U.S. business community supports the KORUS FTA . With the modifications in the agreement reached in December, this group also includes the three Detroitbased auto manufacturers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. It still faces opposition from some labor unions and other groups, including Public Citizen. Many U.S. supporters view passage of the KORUS FTA as important to secure new opportunities in the South Korean market, while opponents claim that the KORUS FTA does not go far enough to break down South Korean trade barriers or that the agreement will encourage U.S. companies to move their production offshore at the expense of U.S. workers. Other observers have suggested the outcome of the KORUS FTA could have implications for the U.S.-South Korean alliance as a whole, as well as on U.S. Asia policy and U.S. trade policy, particularly in light of an FTA signed in by South Korea and the EU that is expected to go into effect on July 1, 2011.

Effects of Piracy and Digital Rights Management on the Online Music Market in Korea

February 9, 2011 Comments off

Effects of Piracy and Digital Rights Management on the Online Music Market in Korea (PDF)

Source:  Research Papers in Economics (RePEc)

This study attempted to identify the relationship among user demand for online music, unauthorized file-sharing activities (piracy), and the effect of digital rights management (DRM) in Korea. Empirical analysis showed that piracy and DRM have negative effects on the demand for online music. In addition, DRM augmented piracy during the study period, resulting in a negative overall effect on demand.

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