[These are notes prepared for my launch of this new book by a friend and former colleague, on Thursday 5 July 2018 during the biennial Asian Studies Association of Australia. The second half is posted on 1 August 2018.]
I am honoured and humbled – in three ways – to launch this latest book by my former colleague at USydney’s Japanese Studies Department, Dr Yasuko Claremont, which examines “Civil Society and Postwar Pacific Basin Reconciliation”.
I am humbled as it is the first time to launch a book … which makes me feel a little old!
But I am also humbled because Yasuko puts me to shame for her productivity; since retiring in 2015, she has also produced two other books. This evidence of “life after retirement” makes me feel young again!
I am further humbled because this book makes me realize how much I still need to learn about history and society in Japan (and indeed in Australia – the book’s major comparative reference point, along with Korea and China / Taiwan). Although I research and teach Japanese law “in context”, I tend to delve more into the law than the context. Yet both are deeply intertwined, and law in fact crops up in several chapters throughout this book.
Continue reading ““Civil Society and Postwar Pacific Basin Reconciliation: Wounds, Scars and Healing” (Yasuko Claremont, ed, Routledge 2018) – Book Launch”
A persistent question, with unfortunate (geo-)political overtones, is whether Australia can be conceptualised as part of “Asia”, as opposed to more circumscribed “Australasia”, or the very broad “Asia-Pacific” (including all Pacific / Rim countries, including the Americas).
This has practical importance for my 21-chapter book forthcoming with Brill, co-edited with Julien Chaisse on “International Investment Treaties and Arbitration Across Asia“. We decided to include a chapter on Australia and New Zealand as a potential “collective middle power” that may influence the trajectory of international investment (treaty) law in the region.
The issue had earlier cropped up in the CUP book on “Independent Directors in Asia“, co-edited with Harald Baum and Dan Puchniak (and with enormous input also from Souichirou Kozuka), which is finally now in the type-set page proof stage and so should be published by November 2017. My chapter with Fady Aoun comparing Australian developments, which influenced Hong Kong in key respects with further ramification, ended up being placed after country studies in Asia (in the narrow or traditional sense) in the “Alternative Perspectives and Conclusions” part of the book. Below I reproduce [and lightly update] my memo of January 2015 arguing why it makes sense to consider Australia as part of Asia, especially for projects such as these.
Continue reading “Australia – in Asia?”
Congratulations to Stephen Ke (final-year Sydney Law School student, and former intern at the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law), Kieran Pender, Camilla Pondel and Dan Trevanion (ANU law students), who recently came out ahead of excellent teams from the National University of Singapore, followed by Osaka, Sophia, and Kyoto / Hitotsubashi universities. They had already competed very strongly in the INC moot as part of a larger Team Australia, including students competing also in the parallel Japanese-language division. Practice makes perfect! This year’s students won the Squire Patton Boggs Best English Negotiation Team award. Team Australia also was just short of the highest mark awarded in the English-language division for the Arbitration round, where students apply the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.
Continue reading ““Team Australia” wins the Intercollegiate Negotiation and Arbitration Competition in Tokyo, for the third time!”
As part of our joint ARC-funded research project on investment treaty dispute resolution, also involving Shiro Armstrong (ANU) and Leon Trakman (UNSW), Jurgen Kurtz and I have completed a note on Australia’s recent policy and political debate over investor-state arbitration, which ultimately was not provided for in the Australia-Japan FTA signed last year (as explained here).
The complex and ongoing saga in Australia may also impact on pending negotiations for an expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and (ASEAN+6) Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA, each of which involves Japan as well as Australia.
Our paper will be published in early 2015 in the ICSID Review, with a longer version also at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2561147. Below is an outline.
Continue reading “Investment Treaty Arbitration ‘Down Under’: Policy and Politics in Australia”
This is an un-footnoted manuscript version of my review, forthcoming in the Journal of Contract Law (with the footnoted version available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2557209), of:
Long Term Contracts, Kanaga Dharamananda & Leon Firios (eds)
Federation Press, Sydney, 2013, ISBN 987 186287 915 7, xxxviiii + 419pp, A$225.
The volume, derived from a conference held in Perth in 2012 and edited by a senior counsel with a junior solicitor from Western Australia (WA), adds a useful combination of theoretical and practical papers to the growing literature on long-term contracts (LTCs), especially for Australian and other common law jurists. With a focus on resources and energy contracts, the book is a welcome in-depth addition to more commercially-orientated publications on the subject. It is particularly topical given attempts by buyers in countries such as Japan, which takes 75% of Australia’s exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), to renegotiate its long-term supply contracts with Australian sellers.
Continue reading “Book Review – “Long Term Contracts””
The (federal government’s) Australian Research Council has provided $260,000 to support this project over 2014-6 (DP140102526), in collaboration with Prof Leon Trakman (lead-CI, former Dean of Law at UNSW), A/Prof Jurgen Kurtz (Melbourne Law School) and Dr Shiro Armstrong (ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, co-editor of the East Asia Forum blog). Below are parts of our original project application to the ARC; an updated and edited version is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2362122.
[Abstract] “This project will evaluate the economic and legal risks associated with the Australian Government’s current policy on investor-state dispute settlement through multidisciplinary research, namely econometric modeling, empirical research through stakeholder surveys and interviews, as well as critical analysis of case law, treaties and regulatory approaches. The aim of this project is to identify optimal methods of investor-state dispute prevention, avoidance and resolution that efficiently cater to inbound and outbound investors as well as Australia as a whole. The goal is to promote a positive climate for investment inflows and outflows, while maintaining Australia’s ability to take sovereign decisions on matters of public policy.”
[Aims] Foreign direct investment (FDI) has become essential to global economic development, with FDI flows exceeding US$1.5 trillion in 2012 (UNCTAD 2012). Australia’s treaty making practice, especially its current policy with respect to investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), may be sub-optimal, in that it is not entirely based on sound economic cost-benefit data and supporting econo-legal research. Australia can potentially increase its share of the global FDI pool by adopting a more efficient approach to formulating policy with respect to ISDS.
This project aims to develop a key policy framework and devise salient institutional structures and processes that take account of two competing pursuits: the cost-benefit advantages of promoting Australia as an FDI destination; and the need to ensure that these advantages are considered in light of competing policy objectives that are not explicated exclusively on economic grounds (as explained in the Background section). This project is valuable and innovative because it identifies significant gaps in the current Australian policy framework and uses interdisciplinary research to address them.
The overall purpose is to ensure that Australia attains its optimal share of the global FDI market in the context of competing policy objectives. As such, the project will evaluate the economic and legal risks associated with the Australian Government’s current policy on ISDS through multidisciplinary research, namely econometric modeling, empirical research through stakeholder surveys and interviews, as well as critical analysis of case law, treaties and regulatory approaches. The general aim is to identify optimal methods of investor-state dispute prevention, avoidance and resolution that efficiently cater to inbound and outbound investors as well as Australia as a whole. The specific purposes therefore are: (1) to investigate policies that underpin Australia’s approach to negotiating international investment treaties, with particular emphasis on its policies on avoiding, managing and resolving investment disputes; (2) to identify and analyse links between these policies and the investment practices of both inbound and outbound investors; and (3) to propose recommendations on alternative approaches to investment policy, so that, through a carefully framed cost-benefit analysis, Australia can retain appropriate sovereignty over public policy issues (such as health and the environment) while promoting a positive economic climate for investment inflows and outflows.
Continue reading ““The fundamental importance of foreign direct investment to Australia in the 21st century: Reforming treaty and dispute resolution practice””
As well as semester-length exchange opportunities, such as those described by Ganesh Vaheisvaran (presently at Yonsei University in Korea), Sydney Law School has already started to meet the challenge of ‘Australia in the Asian Century‘ by developing short-term offshore courses in various Asian countries.
Jenny Han, a final-year LLB student with a BA (Hons) in Japanese Studies, first reports below on two experiences in Japan. The Kyoto/Tokyo Seminars in Japanese Law are offered for credit to LLB/JD and Masters students over 10 days every February, to Japanese, Australian and other international students. Participation in the INC negotiation and arbitration competition in Tokyo usually attracts course credit (within the ‘International Moot’ LLB/JD unit), although Sydney Law School is moving towards fielding a team every two years (recommencing in the December 2015 moot). We are very grateful for financial supporters of these opportunities for closer engagement with Japan, especially Mr Akira Kawamura (LLM 1979, former President of the International Bar Association) and Mitsui Matsushima Australia Pty Ltd.
Glenn Kembrey then adds some remarks on his student exchange at Kobe University. He enjoyed it so much that he extended his stay beyond one semester (needed to complete his USydney LLB degree), studying in Kobe for another semester to hone his skills in comparative law.
Continue reading “Sydney Law School students in Asia: (2) Japan”
Guest blog by Paul Davis (Baker & McKenzie, Sydney/Tokyo) – “IMPORT OF US SHALE GAS INTO ASIA: THE EFFECT ON EXISTING LONG-TERM CONTRACTS FOR THE SALE OF LNG”
[A footnoted version of the following note is forthcoming on the Baker & McKenzie website. The firm supports ANJeL’s ‘Team Australia’ law students in the INC negotiation and arbitration moot competition in Tokyo (held over 1-2 December this year), and Mr Davis is a guest lecturer in Sydney Law School’s LLM courses in “Global Energy and Resources Law” and “Law and Investment in Asia”. The law and practice of long-term contracts is not only of immediate practical significance for bilateral and regional trade and investment (including Australia-Japan FTA negotiations), but also more broadly for contract law reform projects now underway in both Australia and Japan.]
Current Top Concern to Asia’s LNG Buyers and Sellers
The main issue exercising the minds of Asia’s LNG sellers and buyers is what will happen to their current LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs), which are priced based upon the Japan Crude Cocktail (JCC), as cheaper (Henry Hub linked) shale gas imports start to flow into the region from North America.
Buyers will be under pressure to “close the gap.” At the same time the sellers are concerned to maintain the prices based on which they made the decision to develop their LNG projects.
SPAs differ, depending upon the LNG SPA model preferred by the seller – in effect the operator of the project. However most SPAs contain two provisions of relevance to the current issue.
Continue reading “Guest Blog – Long-Term LNG Sales to Japan and Beyond”
[A version of the second half of this Comment, on the potential impact of Australia’s new policy against treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration provisions on the pending FTA negotiations with Japan, appears also on the East Asia Forum – cited by Rowan Callick ‘Arbitration Hitch Holds Up FTAs’ The Australian (2 November 2012, p10).]
The remarkably well-attended and interactive 50th Anniversary Australia Japan Joint Business Conference took place in Sydney over 8-9 October. It was hosted by the Australian Committee, established in 1962 and comprising Australia-based firms involved with Japan. But the conference program was developed with its counterpart in Japan, which hosts there a Joint Conference in alternate years. This cooperative arrangement has become unusually close, and provides an inspiration for other bilateral business community centred relationships. (By contrast, for example, the Australia China Business Council hosts its own main events quite independently of those organised by its Chinese counterpart, comprising firms interested in doing business in Australia.) The Australia-Japan Committees’ arrangement is also very longstanding: the first joint conference took place in 1963 at the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, with the second in 1964 at the Australian National University.
As ANU Emeritus Professor Peter Drysdale reminisced in his keynote address at this year’s conference in Sydney, this cooperative arrangement – and indeed the entire bilateral relationship between Australia and Japan – proved to be an unexpected success. After all, both countries were bitter foes during World War II. For several ensuing decades Australia maintained concerns about engaging with Asia, as well as trade liberalisation and inbound foreign investment more broadly, with Japan also habouring mercantilist tendencies.
Continue reading “Australia-Japan Business Cooperation: The Last 50 Years and a New FTA?”
Like so many in Australia and worldwide, we remember sadly today over 19,000 confirmed dead or still missing from Japan’s triple disasters a year ago. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the many more who collectively have lost their lives from natural disasters in other parts of the Asia-Pacific – including the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and other countries facing the Indian Ocean, the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods – just over a year ago, too.
Continue reading “ANJeL Anniversary Conference debrief – commemorating and comparing the 11 March disasters in Japan”