Seminar: The Impact of TPP on Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam




About the Seminar

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was signed by twelve countries in February 2016.  Despite the extensive media coverage of the TPP, relatively few detailed country-level studies have emerged on the impact of TPP.  The objective of the seminar is to discuss and examine in greater detail the impact of the TPP on three Southeast Asian countries.  In the seminar, three distinguished country economists from the region will examine the potential short-run and long-run economic impact of the TPP on three Southeast Asian countries that are participating in the TPP, namely, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

To register, please please fill in this form and email to by 28 July 2016.



09:30 -10:00 am Registration
10:00 -10:30 am Reassessing Malaysia’s Export Opportunities in the TPP

  • Dr THAM Siew Yean, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
  • Dr Andrew KAM Jia Yi, IKMAS, UKM
10:30 -11:00 am Are There Real Economic Gains of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Small-Open Economy? Case of Singapore

  • Dr Shandre THANGAVELU, University of Adelaide
11:00 -11:30 am Vietnam: Not Yet Ready for Reaping the Benefits of the TPP?

  • Dr VU THANH Tu Anh, Fulbright Economics Teaching Program
11:30 -12:30 pm Discussions

Programme Details

Reassessing Malaysia’s Export Opportunities in the TPP

Tham Siew Yean
Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

Andrew Kam Jia Yi
Fellow, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

The main economic motivation for forging bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements for Malaysia is to enhance the export opportunities for its firms as it is relatively dependent on trade for supporting growth. There is an extensive literature on the Trans-Pacific Partnership since negotiations were started five years ago and this literature continues to grow after the agreement was signed in February 2016. The literature identifies some overall gains for Malaysia and some sectoral gains, including in textiles and apparel. The objective of this paper is to re-assess these export opportunities, using a comparative country perspective since the TPP has 12 founding members. It uses three main trade indicators, namely differences in exports shares, extensive and intensive margins to compare Malaysia with Vietnam, Malaysia’s main competitor for the US market as Vietnam, like Malaysia, also does not have an existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US. All three indicators show that Malaysia is rapidly losing grounds against Vietnam in textile and apparel but maintains an advantage in the information, technology and communication (ICT) sectors. The paper also discusses the implications of these findings on the export opportunities for Malaysia’s firms under tariff liberalization in the TPP and closes with some policy suggestions.

Tham Siew Yean is a Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. She was formerly Director and Professor at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. As an economist, she has served as a consultant to several national agencies in Malaysia and international agencies, including among others, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Development Bank Institute. She has published extensively on foreign direct investment, international trade and trade policies, industrial development, and trade in services in Malaysia and ASEAN. She has a PhD in economics from University of Rochester, US.

Andrew Kam Jia Yi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He graduated First Class in Bsc. Economics specializing in Econometrics at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Msc. Economics from Warwick University, United Kingdom and PhD from the Australian National University (ANU). His research interests include international trade, industrialization and economic growth. He was the recipient of the Chevening Scholarship in 2005, Australian Endeavour Postgraduate in 2008 and the 2014-2015 Malaysian Fulbright Scholar Program.

Are There Real Economic Gains of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Small-Open Economy? Case of Singapore

Shandre Thangavelu
Regional Director (Southeast Asia), Centre for International Economic Studies
Institute of International Trade, University of Adelaide

Singapore is one of the 12 Asia-Pacific countries that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in February 2016. The key to TPP is the importance of market access and trade with U.S. and Japan, as these two countries form the “glue” and create the key returns in the TPP agreement. Given Singapore is a small-open economy and already have completed the key FTAs with US, Japan and the respective countries in the TPP, there might be little for Singapore to gain from TPP agreement. The presentation discusses the real and potential gains for small-open economies in TPP and the challenges it faces to benefit from the gains from trade and investment from TPP.

Shandre Thangavelu is currently the Regional Director (Southeast Asia) and Associate Professor at the Centre for International Economic Studies, Institute of International Trade, University of Adelaide, Australia. He is also the Director of Asia Growth Research Centre at University of Adelaide. Shandre Thangavelu is also a Research Fellow at Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalization and Economic Policy (GEP), University of Nottingham. Dr Thangavelu is also appointed into the Governing Board for the Work, Safety, Health Institute (WSHI) of Singapore. He is also the member of the Competition Commission Appeal Board in Singapore. Dr Thangavelu was also appointed as the Managing Editor for Asian Economic Journal (AEJ) in 2009.  He is an active researcher on human capital development, technology transfer, foreign direct investment, trade, government infrastructure investment, productivity and economic growth. He has written extensively in ASEAN integration, FDI, human capital development, technology transfer and economic growth and has published his research in major international journals. He has written several books on trade, investment, integration and outsourcing in Asia. He has also worked on several international projects commissioned by UNDP, World Bank, ASEAN Secretariat, APEC, and Asian Productivity Organization (APO).  He obtained his graduate degrees from Queen’s University, Canada.

Vietnam: Not Yet Ready for Reaping the Benefits of the TPP?

Vu Thanh Tu Anh
Director of Research, Fulbright Economics Teaching Program

Vietnam has been predicted to be the largest beneficiary of the TPP in relative GDP gains and export growth. Among all the industrial sectors in Vietnam, textile and garment are expected to reap the biggest benefits. This presentation will provide an overview of the initial assessment of the impact of TPP in Vietnam, then go deeper into the analysis of the TPP impacts for the textile and garment industry. The presentation will point out that the quantitative analysis so far seems to overestimate the benefits of this industry, while not addressing distributional impacts of TPP, especially between the domestic and foreign enterprises. The ability of Vietnam’s textile and garment industry to take advantage of TPP depends on its ability to develop upstream industries and upgrade the supply chain as well as its capability to overcome the technical barriers of important markets such as the US, Japan and Canada.

Vu Thanh Tu Anh is the director of research at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in Ho Chi Minh City, and a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr Tu Anh’s primary research interests include political economy, public finance, economic development, and industrial policy. As the Fulbright School’s research director, Dr Tu Anh leads the Fulbright School’s policy research and analysis efforts, coordinating research teams that often include faculty from both the Fulbright School and Harvard Kennedy School as well as Vietnamese policy analysts from inside and outside government. He teaches regularly in the Fulbright School’s executive education and policy dialogue initiatives with the Vietnamese government.  Dr Tu Anh has served as a member of the Board of Experts of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee and the Board of Experts of the National Finance Supervision Council. He is also a member of the Scientific Committee at Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. Dr Tu Anh frequently comments on economic policy issues in the Vietnamese media. He is an op-ed columnist for the Saigon Economic Times, a leading economic and business journal in Vietnam. Dr Tu Anh received his PhD degree in economics from Boston College.


Seminar: Economic & Geo-Political Dimensions of TPP




About the Seminar

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were successfully concluded on 5 October 2015. The free trade agreement has potentially far-reaching economic and geo-political consequences for member and non-member countries. Two distinguished scholars will examine these consequences in the seminar.

Presentation 1

TPP: Origin, Special Features, and Economic Implications
Shujiro URATA, Waseda University

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed by 12 Asia-Pacific countries in February 2016 after five and a half years of negotiations. The goal of the TPP was to establish a “platinum” standard agreement with high level of liberalization and comprehensive coverage to deal with 21st century issues. In the midst of stalled Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, the TPP is expected to lead the way to establish a free, open, transparent, and fair business environment in Asia-Pacific, which would contribute to economic growth of the region. This presentation will provide an overview of the TPP by discussing its origin, special features and economic implications. One of the issues taken up in the discussions of economic implications is the differing impacts of the TPP on participating and nonparticipating ASEAN Member States.

Presentation 2

Flagging Trade: The Geo-Politics of the TPP
Malcolm COOK, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

By definition, inter-state trade deals are politically as well as commercially motivated. States, not firms, negotiate them. The nature of the global inter-state system helps determines which states negotiate these deals amongst themselves when and how their political leaders justify the deals back home. The inter-state system today is an increasingly contested one and the contest is centred in the Asia-Pacific and between China and the United States. This presentation will first look at how the present contested regional inter-state order has influenced the TPP from when the U.S. decided to join, and how the TPP is being interpreted politically and in the media. With this geo-political “framing” of the TPP as background, the presentation will then look at what the geopolitical benefits would be for the U.S. in particular as well as other signatories if the TPP is passed and what the geo-political detriments would be if the TPP fails to be realised.

About the Speakers

Shujiro URATA is Professor of Economics at Graduate School Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Faculty Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Research Fellow at the Japanese Centre for Economic Research (JCER), Senior Research Advisor, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). Professor Urata received his Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. He specializes in international economics and has published a number of books and articles on international economic issues.

Malcolm COOK is a Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. From 2003 to 2010, he was the inaugural East Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute in Sydney and then the inaugural Dean of the School of International Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide. Before that, he was a lecturer at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Malcolm has worked in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and Singapore.

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 7 July 2016.


Seminar: Asia Pacific Regional Economic Outlook




About the Seminar

Asia remains the most dynamic part of the global economy but is facing severe headwinds from a still weak global recovery, slowing global trade, and the short-term impact of China’s growth transition. Still, the region is well positioned to meet the challenges ahead, provided it strengthens its reform efforts. To strengthen its resilience to global risks and remain a source of dynamism, policymakers in the region should push ahead with structural reforms to raise productivity and create fiscal space while supporting demand as needed.

The potential spillovers from China’s rebalancing on regional economies and financial markets are also assessed. Overall, the region has become more sensitive to the Chinese economy. While China’s rebalancing will have medium-term growth benefits, there are likely to be adverse short-term effects, though the impact will be relatively more positive for economies more exposed to China’s consumption demand. Financial spillovers from China to regional markets—in particular equity and foreign exchange markets—have risen since the global financial crisis and are stronger for those economies with stronger trade linkages.

About the Speakers

Topic:  Building on Asia’s Strengths during Turbulent Times

Ranil Salgado is a currently the chief of the Regional Studies Division in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department (APD). The division is responsible for regional surveillance, including production of the Fund’s Asia and Pacific Regional Outlook and Update, and helping develop and implement the department’s strategic priorities. He has been in the IMF for almost 20 years. In earlier years, he was the IMF mission chief to Marshall Islands and Myanmar; was the IMF Resident Representative in Singapore; and worked as part of the country teams on Australia, Canada, Dominica, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United States. He also served in the Research Department on multilateral surveillance and the World Economic Outlook; and in the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department leading or helping lead work on trade and capital flow issues; conditionality in IMF-supported programs; and IMF policies on jobs, growth, and inclusion; along with, for a period, approving country staff papers on 20-30 IMF member countries, including several with IMF programs. Prior to joining the IMF, he worked in a strategy management consulting firm and as teaching and research assistants at the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Topic:  Navigating the Transition:  Trade and Financial Spillovers from China

Tidiane Kinda is currently economist in the Regional Studies Division of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department (APD) and also serves as Assistant to the Director of the department. He joined the IMF in 2009 and was in the African Department and the Fiscal Affairs Department before moving to APD. He worked on advanced, emerging, and low-income countries in the context of surveillance, IMF-supported programs, and technical assistance, including the Euro Area, Canada, Croatia, Peru, Moldova, Chad, and Mali. He contributed to the IMF’s key documents and publications such as the Fiscal Monitor, the Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook, the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook, and the Vulnerability Exercise for Advanced Economies. Prior to the IMF, Tidiane worked in the World Bank’s Research Department and the Research Division of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). He (co)authored 3 books and more than 15 articles in refereed economic journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from CERDI-Université de Clermont in France, where he taught macroeconomics and applied econometrics.

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 5 May 2016.


Seminar: Connecting Asia: Infrastructure for Integrating South Asia and Southeast Asia




About the Seminar

As the global and Asian economy adjusts to the “new normal” of a slowing Peoples Republic of China, regional cooperation and integration involving South Asia and Southeast Asia can play an influential role in fostering Asia’s development. In late 2015 ASEAN announced the launch of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN’s Vision beyond 2015 creating a potential market of more than 600 million people. Myanmar has recently opened up through political reforms. South Asia and Southeast Asia contain some of the world’s fastest growing economies. in 2014-2015 Prime Minister Modi’s government unleashed new economic reforms and an Act East Policy. A Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – involving India and East Asian economies – is under negotiation. These two critical Asian sub-regions are on the right pathway but many challenges remain towards greater regional cooperation and integration. Trade and investment integration between the two sub-regions is relatively limited and is hampered by problems in infrastructure, infrastructure finance, residual barriers to trade and FDI and institutions. Many strategic and political barriers and risks also prevail in South Asia as well as Southeast Asia.

This seminar explores the potential for South Asia-Southeast Asia regional integration in the new economic environment with a focus on regional connectivity, associated policies and institutions and political economy issues. It presents the findings of a 2016 book Connecting Asia: Infrastructure for Integrating South Asia and Southeast Asiaedited by Michael Plummer, Peter Morgan and Ganeshan Wignaraja. The book contains an important contribution on implementation challenges and coordination arrangements by Moe Thuzar and Francis Hutchinson and their co-authors.

About the Speakers

Ganeshan Wignaraja, Advisor, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank

Mike Plummer (via videolink), Director SAIS Europe and Eni Professor of International Economics, SAIS Johns Hopkins University

Moe Thuzar,  Lead Researcher, Socio Cultural Affairs, Lead Researcher, Economic Affairs, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 6 May 2016.


Conference: The Malaysian Economy towards 2020: Issues and Challenges




Malaysia’s ambition to become a developed nation by the year 2020 was first articulated in 1991.  The “Vision 2020” goal has explicitly and implicitly influenced medium and long-term development planning in Malaysia for the past 25 years.  As the year 2020 approaches, the Malaysian economy has grown at a pace below the annual growth target of six percent set in the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015).  This has been partly due to the adverse global economic conditions in recent years.  Thus, the goal of achieving robust economic sufficient to achieve developed nation status will remain a significant challenge for Malaysian policymakers.


Please click here.

This conference brings together prominent economists working on various aspects of the Malaysian economy with the goal of examining and assessing the extent to which the  government’s current economic policies are able to address the challenges of achieving a developed country status by the year 2020.

Attendance to the conference is free of charge but registration is required by 18 March 2016. To register, please fill up this form as linked. As seats are limited, please register early.  Admission to the conference can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS. For any queries, please feel free to e-mail <>.


Launch of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Economic Update


Jointly organized with the World Bank




The East Asia and Pacific Economic Update is the World Bank’s comprehensive review of the region’s economies. It is published twice yearly and the latest Update will be released on Monday, October 5, in Singapore.

This report outlines the region’s growth prospects and policy challenges, both in the short and medium term, against the possibility of the U.S. raising interest rates and economic rebalancing in China. Looking across East Asia as a whole, the report highlights key issues for the region that may impact its growth prospects. With regard to Southeast Asia, these include tax incentives and food policy. World Bank East Asia and Pacific Chief Economist Sudhir Shetty will discuss these and other trends, based on the latest data and analysis, at a seminar hosted by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.



Sudhir Shetty is currently Chief Economist of the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank. Until June 2014, he was the Director of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) in the East Asia and Pacific Region. Prior to that, he was Co-Director of the team that prepared the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. Mr. Shetty previously headed the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management department in the Africa Region of the World Bank, and managed the Bank’s central Poverty Reduction group.

Dr Shetty has a Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.



For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 2 October 2015.


Seminar: ASEAN Economic Community and Need for Managing Domestic Consensus Beyond 2015






In another three months, the ten Southeast Asian economies are going to announce the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The AEC aims to be an integrated market and production base with free movement of goods, services, freer flow of capital, and skilled labour. However, member economies are still a long way from achieving an integrated production space as they have not yet fulfilled all the stipulated targets stated in the AEC Blueprint. A possible explanation for the current state of economic integration is the presence of conflicting domestic economic interests in member countries. There are different dynamics in the ten domestic economies. This seminar, using illustrations from six selected ASEAN economies, describes the type and nature of conflicts in domestic economies. The seminar will provide policy recommendations for AEC beyond 2015.



Tham Siew Yean is a Professor in International Trade and Deputy Director at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her research and publications focus on trade, ASEAN, foreign direct investment, manufacturing and services developments. She is also a consultant for international agencies, such as World Bank, World Bank Institute, Asian Development Bank, Asian Development Bank Institute and Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). Her most recent publication includes co-editing with Sanchita Basu, a special issue of Journal of Southeast Asian Economies (JSEAS), on “Managing Domestic Consensus For ASEAN Economic Community Beyond 2015”, August, 2015.

Sanchita Basu Das is a Fellow and Lead Researcher (Economics) at the ASEAN Studies Centre and the Coordinator of the Singapore APEC Study Centre, both based in the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. She is also a co-editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian Economies. Prior to joining the Institute in 2005, she has worked in the private sector as an economist in India and Singapore. Sanchita is the author/editor of several books, special editor of three journal issues and author of numerous book chapters and policy papers. Sanchita’s research interests include – Economic Integration in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Region; Regionalism and Economic Development; Macro-economic Issues in Southeast Asia.




Ponciano Intal, Jr. is a Senior Economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dr Intal has been the lead coordinator of a number of ASEAN projects in ERIA, including ASEAN RISING: ASEAN and AEC beyond 2015; the Mid-Term Review of the Implementation of the AEC Blueprint; and the AEC Scorecard monitoring project. Prior to joining ERIA in July 2009, Dr Intal was a Full Professor at the Economics Department and a University Fellow of De La Salle University- Manila. Concurrently, he served as the Executive Director of the DLSU-Angelo King Institute for Economic and Business Studies (AKI).   He also served as President of Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) from 1991 to 1998 and as Deputy Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippine government from 1988 to 1991. Dr Intal’s research interest includes Philippine and international economic issues of trade, environment, development cooperation, and regional integration.


To register, please complete this reply form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email: by 23 September 2015.



Seminar: Recent Trends in Chile’s Trade Policy: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Pacific Alliance





Chile has an open and externally-oriented economy. It has long advocated regionalism in the Asia-Pacific and its diplomatic relations with Asia date back to the 18th century. Chile joined the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council in 1991 and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in 1994. Along with Singapore, Chile was one of the P-4 – the original core of countries promoting an Asia-Pacific free trade agreement. This initiative has since evolved into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ambitious and high-quality free trade initiative. In 2011, along with Mexico, Peru, and Colombia, Chile founded the Pacific Alliance – which has the goals of promoting regional integration among member countries and strengthening ties with the Asia-Pacific. Today, the Alliance has 34 observer countries, including Singapore.

This talk will first analyze the history of the TPP and the Pacific Alliance from a Chilean perspective. From there, it will address the challenges these two initiatives face in promoting regionalism and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.




Manfred Wilhelmy, born in Germany in 1945, is a citizen of Chile. He graduated in Law from Catholic University of Valparaiso (1968) and was admitted to the bar in 1969. In 1971 and 1973 he was awarded M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Politics (Princeton University), where he specialized in the field of international relations.

He is a faculty member of the Institute of International Studies, University of Chile.  He has also taught at Princeton University and at SAIS, the Johns Hopkins University.  Since 2007 to 2014 he was director of the Journal Estudios Internacionales. Since 1990 he has worked on East Asian international relations. In 1994 he was appointed Executive Director of the Chile Pacific Foundation, a private organization established to promote Chile’s links with the Pacific Basin economies. He chairs the Chilean Committee on Pacific Economic Cooperation (CHILPEC), and from 2004 through 2006 he was Alternate Member of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

His major publications are in the areas of Chilean foreign policy and international relations in the Latin America region and Asia-Pacific. He is a member of Chile Transparente (Chilean chapter of Transparency International).



To register, please complete the reply form and email to