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 closely watched 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. Transport, energy and infrastructure are among the sectors in need of large-scale investment. ASEAN states also face concerns over terrorism, and in some cases the very stability of their political systems. They are looking for support from external partners such as Beijing and Washington, but this raises thorny issues regarding sovereignty and dependence.
- Can South-east Asia’s states assuage concerns over their democratic performance?
- What risks do rising US interest rates pose for regional infrastructure investment needs?
- Could Islamic State resettle in South-east Asia?
- Will disputes in the South China Sea intensify?