- Mar 03 2016
Amidst tension in South China Sea, Japan Deputy Foreign Minister says seas should be governed by global rules and law
New Delhi, March 3: Amidst the rising tension in the South China Sea following its militarisation by China, Japan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasumasa Nagamine has reiterated that the use of seas should be governed by international rules and law.
Mr Nagamine was delivering the keynote address on the second day of the three-day Raisina Dialogue, India’s first geo-politics and geo-economics global conclave, organised by Observer Research Foundation in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, in New Delhi.
More than 100 speakers from 35 countries, including US, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan and China, are taking part in the Dialogue.
Saying that the India-Japan partnershop should be recognised in regional peace and stability, Mr Nagamine said the Raisina Dialogue met the need of the time to shape the future of the Indo-Pacific.
He said the military exercise between like minded countries like Japan, India, Australia, US reflected the current situations in the region, especially in the oceans.
Japanese scholars feel that there will be highly qualitative integrated market in the Indo-Pacific once TPP regime comes into effect.
Speaking at the session on “Globalisations: Managing Economic and Trade Regime in Asia”, Naoki Tanaka, President, Centre for International Public Policy Study, Japan said “we are going to have a highly qualitative integrated market in Indio-Pacific through TPP regime”.
Giving an insight into development in Japan, he added that Japanese businesses are preparing for access to six times GDP size and eight times population size in this context. However, he also cautioned about the Japanese financial market which are presently in a contaminated state and suggested that the financial institution in Japan will have to change their business model in order to enhance its accessibility in TPP.
Giving a Malaysian perspective on being part of TPP and RCEP, Juita Mohamad, Senior analyst at Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia said that “It is in our national interest to Join TPP and RCEP. We believe that more trade we do the better it is for us”.
As Malaysia is poised to take part in Mega Trade bloc TPP as early as 2018, the ratification process is underway and the government has identified 26 laws which need to be amended. According to her, RCEP is an upgrade to an existing ASEAN free trade agreement of now and covers provision for Goods, services, investments, competition, dispute settlement, economic and technical cooperation and IPR. However as RCEP will be TPP Minus, the commitments won’t be at par with that of TPP.
Jakob von Weizsäcker, Member of the European Parliament, Germany, said that the political economy perspective of these Mega FTAs needs careful analysis because “cost of getting side-track in regional trade agreement is a waste of political resources”.
Rohan Samarajiva, Founding Chair – LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka, cautioned that we need to be careful; as we go deeper into trade agreements.
Speaking on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Seigfried Wolf, Senior Researcher Heidelberg University, Germany expressed that “CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan’s economy and regional cooperation” and is also beneficial for China. Pakistan is in urged need for major investment and looks for the diversification of its foreign aid and investment for economic uplift. On the other hand, the implementation of CPEC will allow China another access route to Indian Ocean and allow China to bypass Malacca strait which get blocked at time of tensions. According to him CPEC will reduce imbalances in eastern and underdeveloped western part of China.
However, successful implementation of CPEC will require Pakistan to solve several problems and overcome challenges. There is lack of national consensus and harmony among the provinces and regional and federal government. Communication gap results in lack of transparency and creates confusion.
Discussing on India’s concerns on CPEC, Seigfried Wolf said that India could benefit much from conclusion of CPEC as it will give boost to Indian trade and development. However, India needs debate on its position regarding CPEC which until now has not happened.
Highlighting the governance issues in trade and investment, Ben Shenglin, Professor of Banking & Finance, School of Management, Zhejiang University, China said that India and China need to do better in joining global trade regime.
Sharing and benefiting from water
Participating in a session on “Waters of Asia” at the Dialogue, a distinguished panel of experts on water submitted that the leadership in Asian countries will have to negotiate harder to find a solution to sharing and benefiting from water.
In the sub-continent, they pointed out, the natural resource has immense significance for the population living near river basins, in terms of livelihood, food security, energy, transportation and navigation.
In this respect, Ms. Genevieve Connors, Program Leader of Water and Sustainability, India Country Program of the World Bank, mentioned that with about 685 million people living in the Ganga basin, it is the world’s most densely populated region. However, due to inadequate sharing of international river waters, many communities, especially the poor, suffer. She called for urgent steps to promote regional cooperation on water.
Mr. Dwarika Nath Dhungel of the Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation in Nepal said that south Asian nations have signed only bilateral treaties on water sharing which have resulted in inadequate benefits. In his view, more countries should join hands for deriving maximum benefits. The lessons learned from the on-going Ganga – Mekong Dialogue on water sharing benefits could provide useful inputs for taking the idea of regional cooperation forward, according to Mr. Dhungel.
An acute shortage of data on key water parameters is a basic problem hindering progress, said Ms. Rathana Peou, Southeast Asia Regional Scenarios Coordinator, Cambodia. She expressed concern over insufficient data and information availability with government agencies and lack of transparency in sharing these data. It was further mentioned that if sufficient attention is not paid to managing and sharing international waters, the peoples’ future would be jeopardised.
Mr. Sonam Jatso, General Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party of Bhutan mentioned that their country has progressed in the area of hydropower development because their leadership successfully developed healthy relations with their neighbours in the past. In his view, agreements between countries should be mutually beneficial.
Mr. Karim from Bangladesh drew the attention of participants to the BBIN (Bangladesh – Bhutan – India – Nepal) configuration that would play a key role in improving connectivity and linkages, including those related to water. In his opinion, while it is not easy to construct roads or highways in difficult terrains, this is not the case insofar as water linking is concerned. He said that advantages of water navigation include reduced cost of transport and carbon emission reductions up to 65 per cent/
Mr. Karim further informed that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is giving priority to restoring rivers that have remained unused due to various reasons. He said that if rivers are not used for extended periods of time, it results in their deterioration due to silting.