Learning to Industrialize, re-issued (Dec. 2013)
My book, Learning to Industrialize: From Given Growth to Policy-aided Value Creation, Routledge, 2012 was translated into Japanese and published from Yuhikaku in December 2013. Additionally, the English original will be re-published in a paperback edition, hopefully with a more reasonable price, in mid 2014.
This book points to the lack of pragmatic knowledge in policy formulation and implementation as the central problem in latecomer country governments (not WHAT should be done but HOW they should be done). To national leaders and policy makers, the book recommends hands-on policy learning based on international comparison of best policy practices. Concrete successes and failures are reported from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. Our policy dialogues with the governments of Vietnam and Ethiopia are examples of such policy learning guided by Japanese officials and experts.
Thailand Plus One (Sep.. 2013)
The GRIPS Development Forum team visited official agencies and private firms and organizations in Bangkok and its vicinity. Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese manufacturing SMEs. The mission found that (i) Thailand is already a high wage country and shortage is very acute in all types of labor; (ii) the government is revising industrial policy from an open and free environment to more selective promotion and incentives; (ii) Japanese FDI is welcome only if it brings "missing links" in Thai industrial structure; (iv) simple labor-intensive manufacturing is encouraged to move out to neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia while Thailand wishes to foster high-value sectors (Thailand-plus-one strategy). The key question for Thailand then is whether it can create or attract high-value industries to replace simple manufacturing.
Ethiopians in Malaysia (Jun.-Jul. 2013)
In June-July 2013, an Ethiopian government team of 11, headed by State Minister of Industry HE Mr. Sisay Gemuchu Edo and sub-headed by Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Agency Mr. Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan, was in Malaysia for two weeks to study practical ways to implement industrial policy, especially investment attraction. This mission was co-organized by JICA and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).
This South-South cooperation was a customized component of the Ethiopia-Japan policy dialogue conducted by GRIPS & JICA since 2008. We chose Malaysia as a teacher country because it offers a good model for latecomers, its government is highly capable, and Malaysian officials are very good at English and presentation. Three members of GRIPS Development Forum accompanied the Ethiopian team as observers.
In addition to meeting with the Malaysian Industry Minister and leaders of MIDA, the team had a series of intensive sessions on how MIDA operated and visits to related agencies and industrial sites. Effective instruction on the Malaysian side and eager learning on the Ethiopian side were both impressive.
The 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) (Jun. 2013)
TICAD is a meeting organized by the Japanese government every five years where many African heads of state are invited and new Japanese commitments are made. TICAD V was held in Yokohama on June 1-3, 2013 with many side events and seminars.
GRIPS Development Forum members chaired the METI-JETRO African Symposium (official side event) and presented at the JETRO-assisted Ethiopian Business & Investment Seminar. It is clear that Japanese firms' interest in Africa has risen considerably compared with TICAD IV five years ago.
At the request of HE Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn (chairman of the African Union & PM of Ethiopia), Izumi & Kenichi Ohno, together with JICA, met with him for 1.5 hours in Yokohama to discuss how Ethiopia should draft the next five-year plan and other issues. GRIPS and JICA will continue to support Ethiopia in policy planning as well as scaling up kaizen.
Eastern and Western Ideas for African Growth (Apr. 2013)
This book, with the subtitle "Diversity & Complementarity in Development Aid," edited by K. & I. Ohno and published as Vol. 3 of Routledge-GDF Studies series, is a revised commercial reissue of a research report initially published in 2008 at the time of TICAD IV. It is a collection of works by Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, British, Ugandan and Bangladesh scholars and officials who discuss various aspects of the "Eastern way" of development as applied to Africa.
For us, the book marked a memorable milestone that defined our subsequent policy support and dialogue in Africa. The original report was presented to late PM Meles of Ethiopia in 2008 who immediately requested JICA support in kaizen (ch.8 of this book) and policy dialogue with the GRIPS Development Forum.
Vietnam wants to promote auto industry (Mar. 2013)
Vietnam-Japan Industrialization Strategy initiative (since 2011, see below) has agreed to promote electronics, food processing, agricultural machinery, shipbuilding, and environment & energy saving industries in Vietnam through bilateral cooperation. Action plans will be completed by Sep. 2013 and implementation will follow. Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai (photo), the head of the high level committee for this initiative, has requested to add auto industry to the priority list. The Japanese side, together with METI and auto makers, is assessing this request and has proposed several conditions for inclusion, to which Mr. Hai basically consented.
Vietnam's car market is still tiny compared with Thailand and Indonesia, and demand is actually shrinking in recent years due to high taxes and charges. Japan is concerned with small demand as well as unstable policy environment. Vietnam must cut tariffs to zero by 2018 for cars produced in ASEAN. At the same time, with steady growth and population soon reaching 100 million, Vietnam will surely be a large car market in the 2020s. If short-term policy deadlock can be turned into long-term vision and strategy, I believe there is a chance for Vietnamese auto production to rise substantially.