With the presidential election in Iran scheduled for 19 May, another candidate has pulled out of the race today, leaving the incumbent Hassan Rouhani with four challengers. Tehran’s mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf gave up his candidacy to support Ebrahim Raisi, a senior cleric and former state prosecutor, according to Reuters, and most likely the main... View Article

There was some frustration at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN last week as discussion continued on the opportunity of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) but lack of movement on the agreement. ‘Enthusiastic but pessimistic’ was the general rhetoric coming out of the discussion. The AEC was launched in 2015 and was seen as a... View Article

Doubt was cast over ASEAN’s cohesion, particularly in the light of the Brexit vote, by a panel of speakers at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, which discussed the role of the bloc in today’s world. ASEAN was set up for regional security and over the past 50 years has maintained peace in the region.... View Article

US President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed their first trade deal, signaling a softening of the protectionist stance of the administration on China trade, reports the FT. China will open internal markets to US credit cards and credit rating agencies in a move that would allow MasterCard and Visa to apply for... View Article

A free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Japan could be agreed by July when leaders meet at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, reports the Japan Times. EU and Japanese chief negotiators will meet later this month, with an aim to hold the 19th round of negotiations in June, according to reports in Politico. The... View Article

At yesterday’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Cambodia, AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes emphasised the need for ASEAN to become more inclusive in order to see better economic growth in the region. This same message has been repeated in the majority of my conversations with delegates at the Forum, both from the region and outside: ASEAN must... View Article

Investment in China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) has slowed this year according figures from Chinese Ministry of Commerce, reports the FT. Official figures show a foreign direct investment (FDI) decline of 18 per cent so far in 2017 to BRI countries, despite a 40 per cent increase in China outbound FDI globally. In total,... View Article

The election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France has been interpreted in China as a major setback to rising populist forces in Europe. After the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, China has sought allies for its pro-globalisation and pro-free trade campaign, highlighted in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at Davos.... View Article

South Korea’s newly-elected, President Moon Jae-in, may shake up the US-South Korea alliance which was established after World War II. While the US has urged South Korea to step up pressure on the regime in North Korea under Kim Jong-un, Moon, who is the son of North Korean refugees, said he would focus on dialogue.... View Article

Driving through Phnom Penh from the airport for the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, the amount of ongoing construction suggests a city on a rapid growth trajectory. My taxi driver confirmed this as he talked about his house which, at 10km away, used to be in the suburbs yet is now part of the bustling... View Article