The Daily Brief for Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The DailyBrief

Wednesday September 6, 2017

Anger over killing: The assassination of veteran Kannada journalist and political activist Gauri Lankesh by three gunmen at her Bangalore residence on Tuesday night sparked off a wave of protests across India on Wednesday, Anusha Venkat and E Jaya Kumar write. The 55-year-old editor of the weekly tabloid magazine Gauri Lankesh Patrike was a fierce critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and right-wing Hindu nationalist groups. Conspiracy theories abound but police, who are examining CCTV footage and mobile phone activity in the area around Lankesh’s home, remain muted about possible suspects.

Asean free trade: The regional grouping touts a master plan to become the world’s fourth-largest integrated economy by 2050 with a value of $9.2 trillion, but rising non-tariff measures are keeping markets closed, Alan Boyd writes. Since 2000, the average tariff in Asean has been lowered from 8.9% to about 4.5%. Yet in many cases these have simply been replaced by indirect measures that achieve the same purpose – ranging from export bans to price and quality controls, technical barriers, pre-shipment checks and sanitary/phytosanitary rules. There are currently 5,919 non-tariff measures in place, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development database, and more are added all the time: in 2000, there were only 1,634 measures, but by 2015 the tally had ballooned to 5,975.

Myanmar foreign investment: Laggard market reforms, rising political instability and incipient economic nationalism have all conspired against a democracy-driven boom in the Southeast Asian country, Peter Janssen writes. When Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the election in 2015, heralding a promised new era of political and economic openness after decades of isolated military rule, Myanmar’s entrepreneurs expected an influx of foreign businessmen entering the country’s ballyhooed “last frontier” markets. But they never came. FDI commitments and inflows have so far been disappointing under Suu Kyi’s one-and-a-half year rule, according to Myanmar Investment Commission new project approvals data.

Russia-North Korea link: The weekly ferry service between Vladivostok and the port of Rajin has been suspended for an indefinite period due to a contract dispute between the operator and Russia’s port authorities, Asia Times staff report. The vessel, ManGyongBong, has already missed two sailings because it has no alternative to landing passengers at the Vladivostok Sea Terminal, Mikhail Khmel, deputy general director of InvestStroyTrest LLC, the company that runs the ferry, told Asia Times. Russia voting in favor of United Nations economic sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear and missile tests is not the reason for the dispute, Khmel said. “The reason is financial.”

Times are changing: High-end timepieces were one of the most sought-after luxury items by rich (and corrupt) government officials looking to flaunt their power, Yiling Pan writes. But then the Chinese government launched an anti-corruption campaign in 2014, largely curbing that demand and causing the whole market to decline. The global luxury-watch industry is, however, making a comeback and, according to data published by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, a younger generation of affluent consumers in mainland China and Hong Kong are largely responsible. Since May, the growth of the watch industry’s exports from Switzerland, the country that is virtually the sole seller of luxury timepieces around the world, has once again gone back to positive territory after nearly two years of decline.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.