Seminar: China’s “New Assertiveness” and the Decline in East Asian Regionalism: Implications for ASEAN



About the Seminar

The Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 awakened a decade of vibrant scholarly and political debate touting East Asian regionalism as “inevitable and necessary”. Today, however, the prospect of regionalism seems to have lost its luster in favour of a darker regional narrative. Has the heyday of East Asian regionalism and ASEAN’s vision of an emerging Asian community now come to pass? This presentation explores the declining policy and scholarly narrative of Asian regionalism since 2011 within the broader context of Asian security trends. Until recently, discussion of East Asia’s future vacillated between two different narratives: one marked by robust economic growth, increased interdependence, and the growth of Asian regionalism, and the other characterized by increased tensions, rising military budgets, and slower economic growth with conflict looming on the horizon. Since 2011, however, the discourse has shifted in favour of the latter narrative, casting a pall over the future of Asian regionalism. In particular, perceptions of China’s increasing assertiveness have resulted in a turn to more pragmatic interpretations of Asian regionalism defined by power balancing and institutional complexity. Thus, if ASEAN remains the driver of East Asian regionalism, China holds the key to further integration.

About the Speaker

Andrew I. Yeo is Associate Professor of Politics and Director of Asian Studies at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of Activists, Alliances, and Anti-U.S. Base Protests (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Dr Yeo is currently completing two book projects: the first explores the evolution of East Asia’s institutional architecture from 1945 to the present. The second is a co-edited volume titled Living in an Age of Mistrust (forthcoming with Routledge Press). His other research has appeared in International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, Perspectives on Politics, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Comparative Politics, and Journal of East Asian Studies among others. He is the principal investigator of a two-year Korea Foundation sponsored project on North Korean human rights discourse and transnational advocacy. Dr Yeo is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, and was a Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus Fellow in 2013-2014. He received his Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University in 2008 and a BA magna cum laude in Psychology and International Studies from Northwestern University.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 12 June 2017.


Seminar: De-Globalisation Sentiments and Risks for ASEAN Economies



About the Seminar

The risk of de-globalisation is on the rise due to a combination of economic and political risks. Global trade has slowed down since the 2008-09 crisis as a result of the slowing down of trade liberalization and rising protectionism. New barriers in form of bailouts, trade defence measures, import tariff increases and localisation requirements have increased sharply. The US, India, Indonesia are some of the more prominent examples of countries turning to trade barriers to protect their national economies. It is unsurprising that the politicization of trade has come to the forefront in advanced economies as voters make their frustrations known through the ballot boxes, expressing their angst against stagnant wages and rising income inequality, which were attributed to unfair foreign competition. All this is unlikely to bode well for ASEAN economies. While the region has limited direct exposure to the US, its indirect linkage through China is a matter of concern. The region is cautious about a future economic downturn or a similar political backlash in their own economies.

The Seminar will discuss the implication of global developments on ASEAN economies from research, policy-making and private sector perspectives.


8:30 – 9:00 Registration
9:00 – 10:00 Session I: Understanding De-globalisation and Its Impact on ASEAN Economies
Mr Marcus Bartley Johns, Senior Trade Specialist, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice World Bank, Singapore
Dr Deborah Elms,  Founder and Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre, Singapore
10:00 – 10:30 Q&A
10:30 – 10:45 Coffee
10:45 – 11:45 Session II: De-globalisation Sentiments: Views from the Public and Private Sectors
Ms Mary Elizabeth Chelliah, Principle Trade Specialist, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore
Ms Priyanka Kishore, Lead Asia Economist, Oxford Economics, Singapore
11:45 – 12:15 Q&A

Click here for more details about the programme and speakers.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 27 April 2017.


ASEAN Lecture Series: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): Progress, Challenges and Outlook




About the Lecture 

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has gained significant attention as a pathway for pan-Asian economic integration, especially in light of the uncertainties facing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). RCEP was initiated by ASEAN in late 2011 to bring together ASEAN member states and six of their Dialogue Partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – in a collaborative framework towards a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that is both WTO-consistent and transparent. RCEP also aspires to improve on the existing ASEAN+1 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) while covering regular trade issues of goods, services, investment, intellectual property, competition policy, technical cooperation and dispute settlement mechanisms. The guiding principles of RCEP, as endorsed in 2012, take into consideration the different levels of development among the members, which raises concerns over the quality of the agreement when completed. Although negotiations were launched in May 2013, little of the discussions has found its way into the public domain. This lecture will discuss the progress and challenges in RCEP negotiations thus far, as well as providing some insights on the depth and expanse of the agreement and the anticipated date of concluding the negotiations.

About the Speaker

Mr. Iman Pambagyo is Director-General for International Trade Negotiations at the Ministry of Trade, Republic of Indonesia. He has been Chairman of the Trade Negotiating Committee of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) since 2012 and Chief Negotiator for the Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement since 2016. Prior to his appointment as Director-General, Mr Pambagyo was Special Staff to Minister on Priority Global Trade Policy, and served as Indonesian Ambassador to WTO from 2014 to 2015. Having worked on trade diplomacy and negotiations area, Mr Pambagyo was the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) Leader for Indonesia from 2007 to 2014 and Indonesia’s Chief Negotiator and Trade Representative at various bilateral and multilateral negotiations. Mr Pambagyo studied International Relations at University of Gadjah Mada, Jogjakarta and earned his Masters degree in International Politics from McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.

To register, please complete the attached registration form and e-mail it to by 21 March 2017.


Lecture: ASEAN at 50: Reflections on Its Past, Present and Future



About the Lecture

As ASEAN marks its 50th year, this lecture will review its achievements, challenges and prospects. During the last fifty years, ASEAN has gained a regional and global prominence that its founders would not have anticipated. But ASEAN is also in the danger of being a victim of its past success. A combination of regional and external circumstances in the 1990s tempted ASEAN to take on tasks and roles that it was not created or suited to undertake. ASEAN’s membership, purpose and role have expanded considerably. But the regional environment today is considerably different, especially with the emergence of a more powerful, assertive China and the geopolitical uncertainties caused by the US Presidential election. While ASEAN has undertaken an ambitious program of community-building, its institutions and resources, both material and normative, remain inadequate to meet its new obligations and burdens. The lecture will conclude by offering some suggestions as to how ASEAN can move forward in an increasingly complex global and regional environment.

About the Speaker

Amitav Acharya is the Boeing Company Chair in International Relations at the Schwarzman Scholars Program, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and Distinguished Professor of International Relations and the UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance at the School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC. Among his major works on Southeast Asia are The Quest for Identity: International Relations of Southeast Asia (Oxford 2000); Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problems of Regional Order, 3rd edition (Routledge 2014), Whose Ideas Matter: Agency and Power in Asian Regionalism (Cornell and ISEAS, 2009); The Making of Southeast Asia (Cornell and ISEAS, 2013); and East of India, South of China: Sino-Indian Encounters in Southeast Asia (Oxford 2017). He was elected to the Christensen Fellowship at Oxford University and held the Nelson Mandela Visiting Professorship in International Relations at Rhodes University, South Africa. He is the first non-Western scholar to be elected as the President of the International Studies Association, the most respected and influential global network of scholars in International Relations. Acharya started his academic career as a Fellow of ISEAS (1987-89).

For registration, please fill in this form and email it to by 31 January 2017.


ASEAN Lecture Series: The Philippines’ Priorities for the 2017 ASEAN Chairmanship




About the Lecture 

The Philippines will officially assume the ASEAN Chairmanship on 1 January 2017. In that year, ASEAN will also celebrate its 50th anniversary – a milestone event reflecting its successes and achievements in the past five decades as well as to prepare itself for the new challenges ahead in the region. While the Philippines is fully committed to realizing a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN community, it intends to introduce important initiatives that will significantly advance ASEAN community-building, promote inclusive and innovation-led growth; highlight ASEAN’s resilience; advance maritime security and cooperation; contribute to regional peace, security and stability; and showcase ASEAN as a model of regionalism and a global player.

About the Speaker

His Excellency Enrique A. Manalo is Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines. In this capacity, he will be the Philippines’ ASEAN SOM Leader as the country chairs ASEAN in 2017. Mr. Manalo is a distinguished career diplomat, having served in the Philippines’ missions in Geneva, New York, Brussels, and London. Prior to his appointment as Undersecretary, Mr. Manalo was the ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2011 to 2016. He was the Philippines’ Sherpa for the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, and co-led negotiations with the EU for the Philippines-EU Partnership Cooperation Agreement. This will be the second time Mr. Manalo serves as the Philippines’ ASEAN SOM Leader, having previously done so the last time the Philippines chaired ASEAN in 2007. Mr. Manalo earned his BA and MA degrees in Economics from the University of the Philippines.

To register, please complete the attached registration form and e-mail



Conference: Services Liberalization in ASEAN: Foreign Direct Investment in Logistics Sector



About the Conference

The services sector has gained growing attention in recent years. It has accounted for an increasing share in the Gross Domestic Product of a number of economies while its global trade growth has surpassed the growth in merchandise trade. Further, the ten Southeast Asian countries aspire to deepen their services sector integration for building a stronger ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2025. However, services liberalization has progressed much more slowly than goods liberalization. Diverse regulations across countries have been identified as one of the key barriers to liberalization efforts. Within the services sector, efficient logistics is a pre-requisite for a smooth movement of goods within and across countries. It is also an important component for enhanced connectivity in ASEAN. But, the goal of integrating logistics in ASEAN has yet to be achieved. Despite the initiatives made to liberalize and integrate this sector, there are still many challenges ahead for improving logistics integration in order to reduce trade costs in ASEAN.
This Conference brings together prominent economists and logistics experts to assess the extent to which ASEAN’s services liberalization policies are able to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the logistics sector. It further examines the challenges encountered in each of the 10 ASEAN member countries in this issue, with the aim of finding solutions for meeting the goals of logistics integration.

Attendance to the Conference is free of charge but registration is required by 11 November 2016.  As seats are limited, please register early.  Admission to the Conference can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS.

Please click here to see the conference programme.

To register, please complete the attached registration form and e-mail to


Lecture: Achieving a Connected and Integrated ASEAN through the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025


About the Lecture
In recognition of the importance of connectivity toward regional integration, ASEAN member states have thus adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity in 2010, covering the three dimensions of physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity. ASEAN seeks to build on the achievements and progress made under the 2010 framework with the adoption of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 at the 28th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane on 6 September 2016. This lecture is one of the earliest public preview and discussions on the new blueprint which focuses on five strategic areas, namely sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence, and people mobility. The lecture will highlight the priority areas of the new blueprint, as well as provide an analysis of the state of connectivity of the preceding blueprint.

About the Speaker

Lim Chze Cheen is the Head of the ASEAN Connectivity Division under the Office of the Secretary-General at the ASEAN Secretariat. He coordinated the development of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and its preceding document. Prior to assuming this position, he was the Assistant Director of the Strategic Planning and Coordination Division. He was earlier the Assistant Director for ASEAN Economic Community coordination and the Senior Officer handling Trade in Services. Before joining the ASEAN Secretariat in 2005, Mr. Lim was a Senior Research Officer at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), specialising in macroeconomics and industrial studies. Mr. Lim holds a BSc (Economics) from the University of London and Master in Economics from the University of Malaya.

To register, please fill in this form and email to by 14 September 2016.


ASEAN Roundtable 2016 : The ASEAN Economic Community – Towards 2025




About the Roundtable

After inaugurating the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015, the ten Southeast Asian nations are working towards the next phase of deeper regional economic cooperation to create a business friendly environment and to bring development and prosperity to the people. The elimination of tariffs for intra-regional trade is one among the many successes of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). However, work remains to be done for liberalising the services sector, simplifying customs procedures, addressing the non-tariff barriers and bringing more of the region’s small-and-medium scale enterprises (SMEs) into the fold of the AEC.  As ASEAN begins its work to implement the new ASEAN 2025 blueprint, its member countries, either collectively or individually, are participating in wider regional and inter-regional initiatives. These are the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), One Belt One Road (OBOR) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  These initiatives, while offering new opportunities, currently face several challenges. In addition, the surprise incident of Brexit is lending an air of uncertainty across regionalism projects. All these have implications for ASEAN.

The 31st ASEAN Roundtable on ‘The ASEAN Economic Community – Towards 2025,’ which features eminent policy-makers, economists and private sector speakers will (a) review the state of key ASEAN economic cooperation measures and (b) provide an update on latest developments on RCEP, as well as discussion on TPP and OBOR.


Key Speakers include:     

HE LE Luong Minh

Secretary-General, Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Fatima STA MARIA

Former Secretary-General, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia

Mr Arin JIRA

Chairman, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Thailand

Professor Shujiro URATA

Waseda University, Japan

Professor Edward K Y CHEN

Chairman of the Board, HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, Hong Kong

Dr Fraser Keir THOMPSON

Director, AlphaBeta, Singapore


The ASEAN Roundtable 2016 Programme is attached here for your information.

To register, please complete this form and email it to by 26 August 2016.


Realising the ASEAN Economic Community: Views from Business and Non-Governmental Sectors



AEC Panel Discussion


The ASEAN Community was inaugurated on 31 December 2015, marking a major milestone in the regional organisation’s history. Understandably so, it was the economic component of the Community that garnered the most attention.  In fact, expectations were high in the run-up to the historic proclamation.  The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) still have a long way to go toward achieving its goals of “free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital.” While tariffs have been lowered, and in a range of products, removed entirely, AEC continues to grapple with issues such as simplifying customs procedure, harmonising standards, poor connectivity and narrowing the development gap. ASEAN has also been criticised with its top-down approach and limited consultation with the private sector and stakeholders.  This seminar will examine existing ASEAN mechanisms for government-private engagement and consultation. It will also discuss the experiences of European multinationals in doing business in the region and analyse their engagement strategies with the public sector.


Chris Humphrey is the Executive Director of the EU-ASEAN Business Council. A business development and government relations professional with more than a decade of experience running business units throughout Asia, Chris began his varied professional career as a UK Civil Servant where he was Private Secretary to a Minister and an Air Services Trade Negotiator covering the Asia Pacific Region. Chris then moved to the private sector, working initially in the government and external relations teams at two British airlines before moving to Shanghai, China with Virgin Atlantic, where he headed up the airline’s China operation and oversaw the rapid expansion of their business in China. After a short spell in Hong Kong with Virgin, Chris then joined a UK-based security and defence group where he led their Asia-Pacific team for over five years and was instrumental in them getting contracts with the Japanese and Singapore Governments and also with SOEs in China.

Alexander C. Chandra is an Associate Fellow at the Habibie Centre, Jakarta (ASEAN Studies Program). Prior to joining the Habibie Centre, Alex was the Executive Director of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (A-BAC), an official private sector body of ASEAN. Chandra has obtained his PhD in Southeast Asian Studies, with a specialisation in political economy of ASEAN integration, from the University of Hull, UK, in 2004. His key interests are the political economy of Southeast and East Asian regionalism, international trade, democratic governance and the role of civil-society in policy-making.

Sanchita Basu Das is ISEAS Fellow and Lead Researcher (Economics) at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS). She also serves as the Coordinator for the Singapore APEC Study Centre and Co-Editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian Economies. Prior to joining ISEAS in 2005, she was an economist in the private sector involved in infrastructure consulting, manufacturing and banking. Sanchita holds an MBA from the National University of Singapore, and an MA from the Delhi School of Economics, India. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in International Political Economy at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She has authored and edited numerous books and book chapters, policy papers and opinion articles. Her research interests include – economic regionalism in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Region; international trade; and economic development issues like connectivity.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 16 May 2016.


Lecture: The Importance of Asia in the EU’s Global Strategy



The role and relevance of the European Union (EU) in the Asia-Pacific region is influenced by a rising China and its relations with the US, ASEAN’s efforts to assert its centrality in the region, and Japan’s eagerness to regain the stronger role it once held. As the largest economy in the world on aggregate, the EU collectively is expected to play a commensurate role in international politics and master the serious challenges faced.

Based on the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has developed a policy framework for Asia which is constantly updated and further developed. Featuring a ‘comprehensive’ approach, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission has strived to integrate foreign, trade and development policies, engage in crisis management, and resolve the ever-evolving area of non-traditional security threats. The lecture will outline EU’s objectives in Asia in the bilateral (free trade and political framework agreements) and multilateral contexts (ASEAN, ARF, ASEM), and emphasis the interdependence of Asia and Europe as important stakeholders in each other’s security.


Professor Michael Reiterer is the Principal Advisor at the Asia-Pacific   Department of the European External Action Service (EEAS), former EU ambassador to Switzerland, Minister/Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Japan, ASEM Counsellor. His previous assignments include Austrian Deputy Trade Commissioner to Japan (Tokyo) 1985-1989 and to Western Africa (Abidjan, Côte d’ Ivoire) 1982-1985; research assistant at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Geneva (1981).

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 25 February 2016.