nep-sea New Economics Papers
on South East Asia
Issue of 2018‒02‒12
fourteen papers chosen by
Kavita Iyengar
Asian Development Bank

  1. The integration of Vietnamese refugees in London and the UK: Fragmentation, complexity, and ‘in/visibility’ By Tamsin Barber
  2. Effects of health insurance on labour supply: Evidence from the health care fund for the poor in Viet Nam By Le, Nga T.Q.; Groot, Wim; Tomini, Sonila; Tomini, Florian
  3. Labour migration in Indonesia and the health of children left behind By James Ng
  4. Metropolitan city finances in Asia and the Pacific region: issues, problems and reform options By Roy Bahl
  5. A new perspective on the third country effect: The case of Malaysia-US industry level trade By BAHMANI-OSKOOEE, Mohsen; Aftab, Muhammad
  6. Does Intra-Regional Trade Matter in Regional Stock Markets?: New Evidence from Asia-Pacific Region By Sei-Wan Kim; Moon Jung Choi
  7. Modelling and Forecasting Tourist Arrivals to Cambodia: An Application of ARIMA-GARCH Approach By Chhorn, Theara; Chaiboonsri, Chukiat
  8. Informal Institutions and Comparative Advantage of South-Based MNEs: Theory and Evidence By Chang, Pao-Li
  9. Prospects for progressive tax reform in Asia and the Pacific By Zheng Jian; Daniel Jeongdae
  10. Tax incentives and tax base protection in developing countries By Joosung Jun
  11. Energy savings through foreign acquisitions? Evidence from Indonesian manufacturing plants By Arlan Brucal, Inessa Love, Beata Javorcik
  12. Driving forces behind the international expansion strategies of Chinese MNEs By Agnes Szunomar
  13. Recent Development of Russia – Japan Economic Relations and Implications for Korea By Park, Joungho; Kang, Boogyun; Min, Jiyoung
  14. Development of Corporate Vulnerability Index and a Connection with Corporate Insolvency (in Korean) By Young Jun Choi

  1. By: Tamsin Barber
    Abstract: The Vietnamese refugee experience in the UK has been characteristically different from the broader international flows of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ to the West. With no pre-existing Vietnamese community in the UK, largely composed of the rural poor from northern Vietnam, this numerically small community has remained largely invisible in British society. London houses over half of the UK Vietnamese population and the London Vietnamese communities are notoriously heterogeneous, fragmented, and divided according to political ideology, refugee wave, social class, ethnicity, geographical location, and social origins. These factors have translated into differential access to/proximity to local ethnic and co-ethnic labour markets and services, opportunities for self-employment, ethnic and transnational networks, political representation, community organization, public service provision, and belonging. This article explores how these various layers have worked together to produce divergent outcomes for these population fragments across London. Attention is paid to variation across areas of higher population concentration in East London (Lewisham and Hackney) and the more dispersed North and West London populations. In addition to exploring socioeconomic features of integration, this article also reflects upon how the broader social status of Vietnamese refugees in British society has offered both opportunities and constraints for their success.
    Date: 2018
  2. By: Le, Nga T.Q. (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University); Groot, Wim (TIER and CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University,); Tomini, Sonila (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University); Tomini, Florian (TIER, Maastricht University, and Amsterdam School of Economics, University of Amsterdam,)
    Abstract: The expansion of health insurance in emerging countries raises concerns about unintended negative effects of health insurance on labour supply. This paper examines the labour supply effects of the Health Care Fund for the Poor (HCFP) in Vietnam in terms of the monthly number of work hours and the probability of employment. Employing Difference-in- Differences Matching methods on the Vietnam Household Living Standard Survey 2002-2006, we show that HCFP, which aims to provide poor people and disadvantaged minority groups with free health insurance, has a positive labour supply effect in the short run. However, in the longer run, the net effect becomes negative due to the income effect. This is manifested in both average work hours per month and the probability of employment albeit the effect on the latter is statistically insignificant. Interestingly, the finding of the income effect is mainly driven by the non-poor recipients living in rural areas. This raises the question of targeting strategy of the programme to avoid unintended labour supply distortion.
    Keywords: health insurance, human resources, labour supply, health care funding, welfare, Vietnam
    JEL: I13 J22 O15
    Date: 2017–12–04
  3. By: James Ng
    Abstract: Economic research on labour migration in the developing world has traditionally focused on the role played by the remittances of overseas migrant labour in the sending country’s economy. Recently, due in no small part to the availability of rich microdata, more attention has been paid to the effects of migration on the lives of family members left behind. This paper examines how the temporary migration of parents for the sole purpose of work affects the health outcomes of children left behind using longitudinal data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS). The anthropomorphic measure of child health used, height-for-age, serves as a proxy for stunting. The evidence suggests that whether parental migration is beneficial or deleterious to child health depends on which parent moved. In particular, migration of the mother has an adverse effect on child height-for-age, reducing height-for-age Z-score by 0.5 standard deviations. This effect is not seen for father’s migration.
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Roy Bahl (Former Regents Professor and Founding Dean of the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University, United States)
    Abstract: Asia and the Pacific is witnessing the world’s fastest urbanization in history. In the period 2000-2025, 1.1 billion people are projected to migrate into Asian cities and the region is now home to more than half of the megacities worldwide. Providing quality jobs, housing, urban infrastructure and public services for these new urban migrants and supporting sustainable development of the region’s large metropolitan areas would be a significant fiscal challenge for many governments. The current approach of revenue mobilization for cities and municipal fiscal reform efforts are unlikely to meet the substantial financing needs. Instead, there is a need for a metropolitan public financing strategy that is integrated into national urban development plans and matches national development objectives. The governance arrangements in metropolitan areas would be critical for such strategies to succeed. Compared to fragmented governance structures, the area-wide metropolitan governance model, which allows for effective coordination of service provision and revenue mobilization in the broad metropolitan areas, offer the most promising prospects. When the jurisdiction boundary is large enough, public service delivery can have better coverage and be more efficient, more revenue productive tax bases would become available, debt repayment capacity can be enhanced, and fiscal disparities can be reduced. While these changes may come at a cost of diminished local government control in some countries, reforms towards area-wide metropolitan governments would be a step in the right direction. Financing Asia-Pacific’s big cities also requires a broad mix of revenue tools for metropolitan governments, including property and land taxes, transport or fuel taxes, user charges, and broad-based local business, sales and consumption taxes, or surcharges on national taxes. In many cases, the availability and efficiency of these revenue tools depend on the extent of local fiscal autonomy. Accordingly, the intergovernmental transfer schemes should be rationalized in such context. Three central elements for a successful metropolitan public finance strategy can be highlighted. First, there is no universal solution, and policy choices should be aligned with local policy objectives. Second, where local fiscal autonomy is deemed important, local governments should be provided with adequate space for revenue mobilization. However, at the same time, they should be constrained from accessing intergovernmental transfer and special subsidy regimes. Third, higher level governments might consider establishing a commission to study the feasibility of a special regime for metropolitan area finances.
    Keywords: Taxation, local government revenue, local government budget
    JEL: H20 H71 H72
  5. By: BAHMANI-OSKOOEE, Mohsen; Aftab, Muhammad
    Abstract: Cushman (1986) suggested that impact of exchange rate volatility declines after the inclusion of third country effect. Like Cushman, when we use a linear analysis, we confirm his results. However, when we engage in asymmetric effects of exchange rate volatility which requires including nonlinear adjustment of volatility measures, the findings show more support to both exchange rate volatility influence and the third country effect. Therefore, we propose that in examining exchange rate volatility effect on trade, consideration must be given to not just asymmetric effects of exchange rate volatility but also asymmetric effects of the third country effect. We demonstrate these findings using monthly data from 54 Malaysian industries that export to the U.S. and 63 Malaysian industries that import from the U.S.
    Keywords: Malaysia-US trade, Exchange Rate Volatility, Third-Country Effect, Nonlinear ARDL, Industry Data.
    JEL: F1 F3
    Date: 2017–01–14
  6. By: Sei-Wan Kim (Department of Economics, Ewha Woman's University); Moon Jung Choi (Economic Research Institute, The Bank of Korea)
    Abstract: We provide new evidence on the relationship between bilateral trade and stock market performance over Asia-Pacific region. Using three regional blocs in Asia-Pacific region – the Far Eastern bloc, the Chinese bloc, and the Australian bloc, we examine two main questions: whether trade linkages between countries affect stock returns of trading partners and whether stock markets of trading partners are interdependent. By incorporating two distinct dynamic properties of regime shifting and cointegration in intra-regional trade and stock market index, we employ a newly suggested multi-variable smooth transition autoregressive vector error correction model (STAR-VECM). A series of STAR-based tests reveals the evidence that bilateral trade significantly Granger-causes stock returns in Asia-Pacific region with the effect varying over regime changes. Among three blocs, Far Eastern bloc displays the most pronounced complementary relationship between trade growth and stock returns compared to other blocs. We also find evidence of stock market synchronization within each region.
    Keywords: Stock market synchronization, Regional trade, Regime change, Smooth transition autoregressive model
    JEL: F15 G14 C40 C51
    Date: 2016–07–27
  7. By: Chhorn, Theara; Chaiboonsri, Chukiat
    Abstract: The paper aims at estimating and forecasting international tourist arrivals to Cambodia during the time interval of 2000m1 to 2017m7, covering 209 of monthly observations. To find out factors affecting tourist arrivals, simple OLS and 2SLS with instrument variable regression are applied, on the one hand. On the other hand, several time series models of ARIMA (p, d, q), GARCH (s, r) and the hybrid of ARIMA(p, d, q)-GARCH(s, r) are employed to forecast tourist arrivals in line with AIC and BIC in selecting the best modified models. The empirical results primarily reveal that tourist arrivals are affected by exogenous factor, say exchange rate, dummy factors such as the AEC, global finical crisis, national election and Cambodia’s e-Visa. With regard to forecasting stage, the result indicates that tourist arrivals are shocked by time trend in the past period, say time (t-1). The trend is furthermore reduced due to the time lags, say time (t-2, t-3) as shown in the parameter coefficients of AR. GARCH (1, 1) model suggests that the short run persistence of shocks lies in the gap of 0.04 whereas the long run persistence lies in the gap of 0.94. Additionally, AIC and BIC propose that ARIMA(3, 1, 4) and the hybrid of ARIMA(3, 1, 4)-GARCH (1, 1) are the best model to predict the future value of tourist arrivals. The RMSE and U index obtained from measurement predictive accuracy reveal that long run 1-step ahead forecasting of 2013m12 to 2017m7 is produced the smallest predictive error amongst the others. Thus, it has more predictive power to apply long term ex-ante forecasting.
    Keywords: Point Forecasting Interval, out of Sample Forecasting, ARIMA (p, d, q)- GARCH (s, r) Model, Exchange rate and Dummy Factors, Tourist Arrivals, Cambodia
    JEL: C22 C53
    Date: 2017–12–13
  8. By: Chang, Pao-Li (School of Economics, Singapore Management University)
    Abstract: This paper builds a theory to characterize the comparative advantage of South-based MNEs rooted in `informal institutions'. MNEs hea dquartered in countries of poorer state institutions are theorized to invest more in firm-specific institutional capital to compensate for the lack of state institutions, and as an optimal response, undertake FDI in countries of weaker institutions, relative to another MNE of the same characteristics except their country of origin. At the aggregate, MNEs generate more net profits in countries of weaker institutions, the poorer the institutional environment at home. This assortative matching in the institutional qualities of FDI origins and destinations are tested extensively using bilateral FDI stocks (and flows) for 219 economies in years 2001-2010. The results indicate a statistically significant (and robust) institutional complementary effect in bilateral FDI activities.
    Keywords: Informal Institution; Foreign Direct Investment; Gravity Equation
    JEL: D02 D21 F21 F23
    Date: 2018–01–10
  9. By: Zheng Jian (Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division, ESCAP); Daniel Jeongdae (Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division, ESCAP)
    Abstract: Progressive tax policies are important measures to narrow the inequality gaps and maintain a balanced distribution of income and wealth in a society. However, the potentials of such policies have yet to be fully realized in Asia-Pacific developing countries, where direct taxes remain a smaller component in the overall tax mix and redistributive tax tools such as the personal income tax and wealth taxes are under-utilized. As Asia-Pacific developing countries become middle-income and higher-middle income economies, they are experiencing the negative impacts of rapidly rising income and wealth inequalities that have come with fast economic growth. Therefore, a transition towards a more balanced strategy that emphasizes inclusive development needs to happen and progressive tax policies would have an important role in facilitating such a transition. However, implementing progressive tax reforms in developing countries is a challenging task, where the local institutional, historical, and social-economic contexts could be deciding factors for success or failure. This paper advocates for a differentiated, pragmatic and prudent approach for progressive tax reforms in Asia-Pacific. First, countries at different stages of development should follow different strategies. Second, countries need to anchor their policy making on the actual outcomes rather than on theoretical assumptions, and should always be prepared to adjust their policies according to local context and realities. Last but not least, policy makers and to some extent also the general public need to understand that there is a learning curve of policy design and implementation when it comes to progressive taxation, and therefore should allow the policies to improve and mature over time.
    Keywords: Fiscal policy, public expenditure, revenues, taxation
    JEL: E62 H20 H50
  10. By: Joosung Jun (Professor of economics, Ewha Womans University, Republic of Korea)
    Abstract: This paper considers the implications of using tax incentives for improving the tax base in developing countries, especially in the context of enforcement difficulties and international capital mobility. Noting that the tax structure in developing countries reflects pressures stemming from the large size of the informal sector and the prevalence of tax evasion in the formal sector, it suggests alternative channels through which the use of tax incentives can help protect the tax base, at least in the interim period. Governments can support the tax-paying local firms operating in the formal sector by providing tax incentives that appear to be more generous than warranted by their perceived effects on marginal investment, along with nontax benefits such as easier access to bank loans. In the process, foreign firms that are prone to tax evasion via profit shifting might be discriminated against, explicitly or implicitly, through a variety of regulations. In addition, the paper argues that the efficacy of investment incentives in attracting foreign investment is understated and the prospect of base erosion due to tax competition is overstated in the literature. The conventional prediction that the incentive effects increase with stronger investment climates may be technically correct, but seems to be too simplistic as a policy prescription. Smaller effects of investment incentives imply lower revenue costs unless these incentives are redundant. At the margin, therefore, tax incentives can possibly be wasted in countries with stronger investment climates, while they can be effective in countries with weak investment climates but strong rent potential such as natural resources or other locational advantages. Even countries with weak investment climates and low rent potential can still use such incentives as a signaling tool for prospective investors at a low revenue cost. The case study of Hong Kong, China; Singapore and Republic of Korea confirms that effective use of tax incentives critically hinges on country-specific factors and priorities, defying ‘one-size-fits-all’ best practices. In Hong Kong China, market-friendly investment environments, including a simple tax system with low and uniform rates, were a dominating factor to attract foreign investors. Singapore has been very proactive in providing foreign investors with generous tax incentives as part of investment-friendly environments, but has adjusted the extent of these incentives with their declining efficacy at the margin. In contrast, Republic of Korea provides a case in which countries with relatively weak investment climates can still make good use of tax incentives. The potential role of its tax incentives has sometimes been stretched beyond their purported goals, effectively serving as an incentive for firms not to shift their operations into the informal sector or abroad. This paper discusses various proposals that can reduce informal activity and tax evasion, which can also lead to a reduction in corruption. It also suggests that countries set statutory corporate tax rates in conformity with the neighboring countries with similar economic attributes in the face of increased profiting shifting by multinationals. Then, existing investment incentives can be adjusted in a most cost-effective way, taking into account country-specific characteristics such as general investment climates, the nature of local rents and the size of the informal sector as well as policy environments such as administrative capacity and the efficacy of the overall tax system.
    Keywords: Fiscal policy, public expenditure, revenues, taxation
    JEL: E62 H20 H50
  11. By: Arlan Brucal, Inessa Love, Beata Javorcik
    Abstract: The link between foreign ownership and environmental performance remains a controversial issue. This paper contributes to our understanding of this subject by analyzing the impact of for- eign acquisitions on plant-level energy intensity. The analysis applies a difference-in-differences approach combined with propensity score matching to the data from the Indonesian Manufac- turing Census for the period 1983-2001. It covers 210 acquisition cases where an acquired plant is observed two years before and at least three years after an ownership change and for which a carefully selected control plant exists. The results suggest that while foreign ownership increases the overall energy usage due to expansion of output, it decreases the plant's energy intensity. Specifically, compared to plants that remained domestic, acquired plants reduce energy inten- sity by about 30% two years after acquisition. In contrast, foreign divestments tend to increase energy intensity. At the aggregate level, we find that entry of foreign-owned plants is associated with industry-wide reduction in energy intensity.
    Date: 2018–01
  12. By: Agnes Szunomar (Institute of World Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
    Abstract: The rise of multinational enterprises (MNEs) from emerging markets is topical, important and poses a number questions and challenges that require considerable attention in the future from academia as well as business management. This rise is driven by the Asian economy, mainly China, as Chinese MNEs have become important players in several regions around the globe, ranging from the least developed countries to the developed markets, including East Central Europe. Although several components of the strategy and attitude of Chinese MNEs are in line with what can be observed for MNEs from developed countries, but some components – with regard to motivations, operational practice and challenges – are different. Therefore, this paper will focus on these specificities of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) in order to better understand the rise of Chinese MNEs.
    Keywords: FDI, internationalisation, Chinese MNEs
    JEL: F21 F23 O53 P33
    Date: 2017–12
  13. By: Park, Joungho (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy); Kang, Boogyun (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy); Min, Jiyoung (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy)
    Abstract: This paper provides the following policy implications for Korea. First, Korea needs to take a new approach toward Russia. Currently Seoul is facing numerous internal and external challenges under the rapidly-changing environment in Northeast Asia. Russia is an important partner in both political and economic terms when resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula.Therefore, an open and future-oriented thinking should be incorporated into the new Russia policy. Second, new mechanisms should be established to implement the new Russia policy. Holding summits on a regular basis will be the most effective way. At the same time, a control tower which directs and manages economic cooperation with Russia should be formed under the government. This will remarkably raise the efficiency of Korea – Russia cooperation. Third, measures must be prepared for more active participation in Far East development. The Korean government needs to understand the strategic importance of the Far East. The current stagnant economic growth can be overcome through the creation of a "northern growth space." Eventually such efforts will contribute to bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula. Most importantly, Korea needs to formulate its own original Russia strategy, keeping what is mentioned above in mind.
    Keywords: Russia; Economic cooperation
    Date: 2018–01–29
  14. By: Young Jun Choi (Economic Research Institute, The Bank of Korea)
    Abstract: It has been usually taken into account that higher debts of a company tend to increase the risk of insolvency. In the case of Korea, the debt to equity ratio seems to have been stable after the Asian financial crisis thanks to the regulatory effort of reducing companies' debt to equity ratio below 200%. By the way, unlike the debt to equity ratio, corporate default theories implicate that many Korean companies are highly likely to face default conditions, and the number of companies undergoing restructuring is growing much fast lately. Based on such motivation, this paper develops a new corporate vulnerability index including several debt-related ratios and helping to capture corporate risks, and analyzes the effect of the vulnerability index on corporate insolvency. The index is calculated for the whole, marginal, chronic marginal, and default-risk companies by applying both principal component analysis and dynamic factor analysis with indicators from IMF's CVU(Corporate Vulnerability Utility). The result shows that the vulnerability index for chronic marginal companies corresponds to the bankruptcy rate on promissory notes which represents the level of coporate insolvency, and recently the index is in a rising trend. According to the estimation of the effect of chronic marginal companies' vulnerability index on corporate insolvency of regular companies through the panel logit model, the probability of turing into marginal or default-risk companies from regular companies increases as the vulnerability index increases. The implications of the results are as follows. First, swift and steady restructuring needs to be executed for stable real economy. Next, the development of comprehensive indicators by which to detect risk signs, like the corporate vulnerability index in this paper, is required to use them as sub-indicators to assess financial stability.
    Keywords: Corporate vulnerability, Debt ratio, Corporate restructuring
    JEL: G30 G34
    Date: 2016–12–26

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