The external economic environment looks favourable, but domestic policy risks abound.
Four of the ten ASEAN member states go to the polls this year, with general elections in Malaysia, Cambodia and, perhaps, Thailand; and regional polls in Indonesia that will be watched closely for pointers to next year's general election. All this at a time when the bloc seeks to deepen economic integration both internally and internationally. Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei have signed up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership; transport, energy and infrastructure are among the sectors in need of large-scale investment. ASEAN states also face concerns over terrorism. They are looking for support from external partners such as Beijing and Washington, but this raises thorny issues regarding sovereignty and dependence.
• What kind of boost can the region’s economies expect from tariff reductions envisaged under the revised Trans Pacific Partnership?
• What risks do rising US interest rates pose for regional infrastructure investment needs?
• Could Islamic State resettle in South-east Asia?
• How much do South-east Asian states have to fear from disputes in the South China Sea?
Senior Teaching Fellow, Southeast Asian PoliticsSOAS
Senior Lecturer in Comparative PoliticsUniversity of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Professor EmeritaGeorgetown University