Published by The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan Journal, April 2015 issue.
Credit: Deloitte Southeast Asia
By Tom Benner
The unveiling of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an economic community will take place on December 31. When the 10 countries that make up ASEAN join forces as a common market—the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)—there will be inevitable comparisons to the European Union.
As an integrated regional economy, the member states of the AEC—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—will comprise the world’s seventh-largest economy. Continue reading …
Posted in Singapore
Tagged ASEAN, ASEAN Economic Community, Asian Development Bank, Brunei, Cambodia, Deloitte, European Union, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, McKinsey, myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
Op-ed published in Today, Nov. 21, 2012
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar on Monday. REUTERS
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
By Tom Benner
Critics in the United States and around the world offered plenty of reasons why President Barack Obama shouldn’t have gone to Myanmar on Monday.
Some called the visit premature, saying the country’s military junta has yet to atone for decades of human rights atrocities. Others worried it will be counterproductive, leaving the relatively new, nominally civilian government feeling complacent as political prisoners remain locked up. Ethnic and religious violence continues to make headlines and worry the global community.
Instead of listening to the naysayers, Mr Obama seized a historic opportunity in Myanmar and history may bear him out. Continue reading…
Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Singapore on Saturday, telling her audience at Singapore Management University that with the war in Iraq over for the U.S. military and the war in Afghanistan winding down, US foreign policy in the second Obama term will emphasize economic solutions to strategic challenges over military might. The US secretary of state cited Singapore as an example of an emerging power that is prospering because of its GDP, not the size if its army.
“Today the non-stop flow of people, goods, and capital through this small nation is proof that a country does not need to be big to be mighty, to be respected, to be a real leader,” reads the text of Clinton’s prepared remarks. “Every country wants to do business in Singapore, so every country has a stake in cultivating good relationships with Singapore.
“With only 1/60 of the population of the United States, Singapore is our 15th largest trading partner. More than 2,000 American companies base their regional headquarters here. Two-way trade exceeded $50 billion for the first time last year. And U.S. direct investment surpassed $116 billion over the last decade. That makes Singapore’s security and stability a vital interest for the United States. This connection between economic power and global influence explains why the United States is placing economics at the heart of our own foreign policy. I call it economic statecraft.” Continue reading →