Archive for the ‘international relations’ Category

New From the GAO

September 28, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Warfighter Support: DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services. GAO-12-707, September 28.
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2. VA and DOD Health Care: Department-Level Actions Needed to Assess Collaboration Performance, Address Barriers, and Identify Opportunities. GAO-12-992, September 28.
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3. Government Contracting: Federal Efforts to Assist Small Minority Owned Businesses. GAO-12-873. September 28.
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4. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Changes to the Workers Program Benefited Participants, but Little Is Known about Outcomes. GAO-12-953, September 28
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5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Labor Awarded Community College Grants in Accordance with Requirements, but Needs to Improve Its Process. GAO-12-954, September 28.
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6. Department of Homeland Security: Efforts to Assess Realignment of Its Field Office Structure. GAO-12-185R, September 28.

Regional Analysis Brief: South China Sea

September 26, 2012 Comments off

Regional Analysis Brief: South China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration

The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the South, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the East and the Chinese mainland to the West. Evidence pointing to potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits has made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.

The sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Xihu/Okinawa (Chinese name/Japanese name) trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between the two countries. The disputed eight Daioyu/Senkaku (Chinese/Japanese name) islands lie to the northeast of Taiwan, with the largest of them two miles long and less than a mile wide. Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as ownership can be used to bolster claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. To date, China and Japan have not resolved their ownership dispute, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of East China Sea hydrocarbons.

Feinstein, Grassley Release Report on Strategies to Prevent a Security Crisis in the Caribbean

September 25, 2012 Comments off

Feinstein, Grassley Release Report on Strategies to Prevent a Security Crisis in the Caribbean

Source: United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a bipartisan report entitled Preventing a Security Crisis in the Caribbean that provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration to enhance current security efforts in the Caribbean.

The report recommends:

  • An assessment by the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of where Sensitive Investigative Units are most needed in the Caribbean. Jamaica, with the fourth highest murder rate in the world, should be considered a top candidate for one of these units.
  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should send a full criminal history of all deportees to authorities in the Caribbean so they are aware of the return of any criminals or drug traffickers. Caribbean countries’ authorities do not currently receive a full criminal rap sheet from ICE on deportees returning home.
  • United States technical assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to support the drafting of asset forfeiture laws and laws controlling precursor chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
  • The integration of Puerto Rico into working level meetings held between the State Department and countries in the Caribbean on security and narcotics issues.
  • Strong support of Haitian counternarcotic efforts.
  • Strengthening of U.S. anti-money laundering laws.
  • Continued extradition of drug kingpins from the Caribbean to the United States.
  • The return of DEA helicopters used in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos to the Exumas Islands in The Bahamas.

Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China’s Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa’s Potential Underappreciated

September 25, 2012 Comments off

Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China’s Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa’s Potential Underappreciated

Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

The explosive growth of China’s economic interests in Africa—bilateral trade rocketed from $1 billion in 1990 to $150 billion in 2011—may be the most important trend in the continent’s foreign relations since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trading partner; its quest to build a strategic partnership with Africa on own its terms through tied aid, trade, and development finance is also part of Beijing’s broader aspirations to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Africa and other emerging economies have become attractive partners for China not only for natural resources, but as growing markets. Africa’s rapid growth since 2000 has not just occurred because of higher commodity prices, but more importantly due to other factors including improved governance, economic reforms, and an expanding labor force. China’s rapid and successful expansion in Africa is due to multiple factors, including economic diplomacy that is clearly superior to that of the United States. China’s “no strings attached” approach to development, however, risks undoing decades of Western efforts to promote good governance. Consequently, this monograph examines China’s oil diplomacy, equity investments in strategic minerals, and food policy toward Africa. The official U.S. rhetoric is that China’s rise in Africa should not be seen as a zero-sum game, but areas where real U.S.-China cooperation can help Africa remain elusive, mainly because of Beijing’s hyper-mistrust of Washington. The United States could help itself, and Africa, by improving its own economic diplomacy and adequately funding its own soft-power efforts.

New From the GAO

September 24, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Report

Source: Government Accountability Office

International Food Assistance: Improved Targeting Would Help Enable USAID to Reach Vulnerable Groups. GAO-12-862, September 24.
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Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report

September 18, 2012 Comments off

Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report

Source: Fraser Institute

The index published in Economic Freedom of the World 2012 measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property. Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas: (1) size of government; (2) legal system and property tights; (3) sound money; (4) freedom to trade internationally; and (5) regulation.

U.S. Overseas Military Presence: What Are the Strategic Choices?

September 17, 2012 Comments off

U.S. Overseas Military Presence: What Are the Strategic Choices?

Source: RAND Corporation

Since World War II, the United States has relied on a global network of military bases and forces to protect its interests and those of its allies. But the international environment has changed greatly over the decades, and economic concerns have risen, leading some to debate just what America’s role should now be in the world. This monograph addresses one aspect of this debate by introducing a new analytical approach to defining future U.S. military presence overseas. It does so by first considering U.S. global security interests, then focusing on specific threats to them in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. With that, the researchers designed a menu of global postures based on different strategic perspectives. They evaluated the global postures in terms of their operational performance and then compared them in terms of their associated U.S. Air Force bases, combat forces, active-duty personnel, and base operating costs. These analyses offer insights on the critical strategic choices that policymakers need to address and that the public needs to debate as they consider future overseas U.S. military presence. Among these choices are for the United States to depend more on its allies, rely more on U.S. based military forces, focus its presence more on East Asia or on the Middle East, or retain its current overseas presence in the face of expanding threats. Those involved in debates on the future global U.S. posture will need to make explicit their implicit underlying perspectives on what role overseas military presence can play in achieving U.S. global security interests.

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

September 14, 2012 Comments off

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

Source: Fraser Institute

Key findings

+ After ten years of post-9/11 border innovations, the costs associated with border crossing have not significantly decreased while government spending on border security has markedly increased. In order to develop performance-based and cost-effective border management policies, an outline of costs associated with the border is required.

+ After adding up the lowest values from the estimated ranges for all three types of costs (trade, tourism/travel, and government programs), we find an annual cost of C$19.1 billion in 2010 or nearly 1.5% of Canada’s GDP.

+ Canadian and American governments should provide detailed descriptions of costs and expenditures for specific border programs and new security measures. Furthermore, these costs/expenditures must be linked to expected outcomes and timelines. "Costs and Results" based evaluations should be undertaken on a year-to-year basis, and subsequently made public.

+ In December 2011, the governments of Canada and the United States issued a joint declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. While the vision provides specific benchmarks and timelines for measuring progress, it does not tie these guidelines to government expenditures, or reductions in border crossing costs. Either we will continue with incremental and uncoordinated programs, creating some improvements but not lowering the overall cost of the border, or we will begin to create a new border regime.

New From the GAO

September 13, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies

Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1. Biosurveillance: DHS Should Reevaluate Mission Need and Alternatives before Proceeding with BioWatch Generation-3 Acquisition. GAO-12-810, September 10.
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2. Securities Investor Protection Corporation: Customer Outcomes in the Madoff Liquidation Proceeding. GAO-12-991, September 13.
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3. Public Financial Management: Improvements Needed in USAID’s and Treasury’s Monitoring and Evaluation Efforts. GAO-12-920, September 13.
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4. Slot-Controlled Airports: FAA’s Rules Could Be Improved to Enhance Competition and Use of Available Capacity. GAO-12-902, September 13.
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5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Commerce Program Has Helped Manufacturing and Services Firms, but Measures, Data, and Funding Formula Could Improve. GAO-12-930, September 13.
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Related Product

Trade Adjustment Assistance: Results of GAO’s Survey of Participant Firms in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program (GAO-12-935SP, September 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-930. GAO-12-935SP, September 13.

6. World Food Program: Stronger Controls Needed in High-Risk Areas. GAO-12-790, September 13.
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7. Industrial Base: U.S. Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Manufacturers Face Period of Uncertainty as DOD Purchases Decline and Foreign Sales Potential Remains Unknown. GAO-12-859, September 13.
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8. Community Banks and Credit Unions: Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act Depends Largely on Future Rule Makings. GAO-12-881, September 13.
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9. Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996: Status of Treasury’s Centralized Efforts to Collect Delinquent Federal Nontax Debt. GAO-12-870R, September 13.

10. Financial Stability: New Council and Research Office Should Strengthen the Accountability and Transparency of Their Decisions. GAO-12-886, September 11.
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+ Testimonies

1. Spectrum Management: Federal Government’s Use of Spectrum and Preliminary Information on Spectrum Sharing, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-1018T, September 13.
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2. Biosurveillance: Observations on BioWatch Generation-3 and Other Federal Efforts, by William O. Jenkins, Jr., director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittees on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Homeland Security Committee. GAO-12-994T, September 13.
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New From the GAO

September 13, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies

Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1. Airport Noise Grants: FAA Needs to Better Ensure Project Eligibility and Improve Strategic Goal and Performance Measures. GAO-12-890, September 12.
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2. Asset Forfeiture Programs: Justice and Treasury Should Determine Costs and Benefits of Potential Consolidation. GAO-12-972, September 12.
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3. Aviation Safety: Additional FAA Efforts Could Enhance Safety Risk Management. GAO-12-898, September 12.
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4. Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure. GAO-12-743, September 12.
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5. Critical Infrastructure: DHS Needs to Refocus Its Efforts to Lead the Government Facilities Sector. GAO-12-852, August 20.
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6. Department of Homeland Security: Oversight and Coordination of Research and Development Should Be Strengthened. GAO-12-837, September 12.
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7. Federal Disaster Assistance: Improved Criteria Needed to Assess a Jurisdiction’s Capability to Respond and Recover on Its Own. GAO-12-838, September 12.
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8. Iraq and Afghanistan: Agencies Are Taking Steps to Improve Data on Contracting but Need to Standardize Reporting. GAO-12-977R, September 12.

9. Military Training: DOD Met Annual Reporting Requirements and Improved Its Sustainable Ranges Report. GAO-12-879R, September 12.

10. Millennium Challenge Corporation: Results of Transportation Infrastructure Projects in Seven Countries. GAO-12-631, September 12.
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11. Nonproliferation: Agencies Could Improve Information Sharing and End-Use Monitoring on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Exports. GAO-12-536, July 30.
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+ Testimonies

1. Modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise: Observations on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Oversight of Safety, Security, and Project Management, by Mark Gaffigan, managing director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-912T, September 12.
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2. Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Faces Implementation Challenges, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-12-1011T, September 12.
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3. Operational Contract Support: Sustained DOD Leadership Needed to Better Prepare for Future Contingencies, by Timothy J. DiNapoli, acting director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-12-1026T, September 12.
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Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to Capitalize on Their Economic Potential

September 11, 2012 Comments off

Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to Capitalize on Their Economic Potential

Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Latino immigrant entrepreneurs are making important yet largely overlooked contributions to the U.S. economy. With expanding Latino markets at home and abroad, their economic impact is set to grow. But roadblocks stand in the way. Policy changes–including visa reform, improving access to credit, and a more ambitious trade agenda with Latin American countries–would help the United States unlock the full potential of its Latino immigrant entrepreneurs.

What Is the Relationship of Medical Humanitarian Organisations with Mining and Other Extractive Industries?

September 10, 2012 Comments off

What Is the Relationship of Medical Humanitarian Organisations with Mining and Other Extractive Industries?
Source: PLoS Medicine

Summary Points

  • In developing countries, extractive industries (including ore mineral mining and oil extraction) have far reaching consequences on health through environmental pollution, some communicable diseases, violence, destitution, and compromised food security.
  • The rapid expansion of extractive industries and the increasing frequency of environmental disasters are bound to engage medical humanitarian organisations in developing novel types of expertise.
  • While humanitarian organisations might be called to intervene in areas occupied by the extractive sector, in this Essay I argue that oil and mineral exploitation reveals a fundamental clash of values between humanitarianism, the for-profit sector, and privatised global philanthropy.
    Specific medical humanitarian organisations can respond to these challenges in different ways, based on their position between pragmatic or principled approaches, and their willingness to develop new technical capacities.

International Collaborations of Scientists and Engineers in the United States

September 5, 2012 Comments off

International Collaborations of Scientists and Engineers in the United States
Source: National Science Foundation

International collaboration is a key aspect of the globalization of science and engineering (S&E). In 2006, according to the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT), one in six scientists and engineers in the United States reported working with individuals in other countries (table 1).[2] International collaboration was more likely to occur among persons working in the for-profit sector, men, and those with higher levels of educational attainment. Individuals who earned postsecondary degrees both in the United States and abroad reported the highest levels of international collaboration.

World Oil Transit Chokepoints

August 23, 2012 Comments off

World Oil Transit Chokepoints
Source: Energy Information Administration

Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes, some so narrow that restrictions are placed on the size of the vessel that can navigate through them. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straits.

In 2011, total world oil production amounted to approximately 87 million barrels per day (bbl/d), and over one-half was moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes. By volume of oil transit, the Strait of Hormuz, leading out of the Persian Gulf, and the Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, are two of the world’s most strategic chokepoints.

The international energy market is dependent upon reliable transport. The blockage of a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs. In addition, chokepoints leave oil tankers vulnerable to theft from pirates, terrorist attacks, and political unrest in the form of wars or hostilities as well as shipping accidents that can lead to disastrous oil spills. The seven straits highlighted in this brief serve as major trade routes for global oil transportation, and disruptions to shipments would affect oil prices and add thousands of miles of transit in an alternative direction, if even available.

Disjointed Ways, Disunified Means: Learning from America’s Struggle to Build an Afghan Nation

August 20, 2012 Comments off

Disjointed Ways, Disunified Means: Learning from America’s Struggle to Build an Afghan Nation

Source:  Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

Remarkably ambitious in its audacity and scope, NATO’s irregular warfare and nation-building mission in Afghanistan has struggled to meet its nonmilitary objectives by most tangible measures. Put directly, the Alliance and its partners have fallen short of achieving the results needed to create a stable, secure, democratic, and self-sustaining Afghan nation, a particularly daunting proposition given Afghanistan’s history and culture, the region’s contemporary circumstances, and the fact that no such country has existed there before. Furthermore, given the central nature of U.S. contributions to this NATO mission, these shortfalls also serve as an indicator of a serious American problem as well. Specifically, inconsistencies and a lack of coherence in the U.S. Government’s strategic planning processes and products, as well as fundamental flaws in the U.S. Government’s structures and systems for coordinating and integrating the efforts of its various agencies, are largely responsible for this adverse and dangerous situation. This book explores these strategic and interagency shortfalls, while proposing potential reforms that would enable the United States to achieve the strategic coherence and genuine unity of effort that will be needed in an era of constrained resources and emerging new threats.

Research project on the impact of anti-dumping investigations on UK business: final report

August 17, 2012 Comments off

Research project on the impact of anti-dumping investigations on UK business: final report (PDF)

Source:  Department for Business Innovation & Skills

Report for BIS that analyses the impact of anti-dumping investigations and procedures on UK business. Based on a survey of UK companies. See also URN 12/1021AN for a graphical representations of the data collected in the report.

New From the GAO

August 15, 2012 Comments off

New and Reissued GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Report

1. International Taxation: Information on Foreign-Owned but Essentially U.S.-Based Corporate Groups Is Limited. GAO-12-794, July 16.

+ Reissued

1. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy. GAO-12-822, July 26.
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Japan’s Defense Policy: The View From Washington, DC

August 13, 2012 Comments off

Japan’s Defense Policy: The View From Washington, DC

Source: Brookings Institution

When it comes to Japan’s defense, the Japanese political system and the Japan Self-Defense Force independently decide the national policies as they are ultimately responsible for the country’s safety and security. However, due to the crucial nature of the U.S.-Japan alliance to Japan’s overall security, it is impractical not to take into account American thinking. As a result, it is important to better understand where and how American thinking on Japanese security is influenced.

The scope of this research goes beyond the official statements of the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. The author sought to explore the role that experts and think tanks play in American discourse and opinion of Japanese security. This included extensive research of American media reports on Japanese security issues as well as interviews of key American experts and opinion leaders on Japan, mostly located in and around Washington, DC.

This project is therefore unique and novel in its approach to this key topic in Japan and the U.S. A number of Japanese reports have been published in the past about American experts’ views towards Japan, yet few incorporate both a survey of media and interviews with key current figures or focus exclusively on Japanese defense. Moreover, such viewpoints and thoughts are always changing; therefore, it is meaningful to spot the current status at such a crucial time of change, both in the U.S. and Japan, not to mention the wider Asia-Pacific region.

India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan: Implications for the United States and the Region

August 10, 2012 Comments off

India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan: Implications for the United States and the Region
Source: RAND Corporation

India and Pakistan have very different visions for Afghanistan, and they seek to advance highly disparate interests through their respective engagements in the country. Pakistan views Afghanistan primarily as an environment in which to pursue its rivalry with India. India pursues domestic priorities (such as reining in anti-Indian terrorism, accessing Central Asian energy resources, and increasing trade) that require Afghanistan to experience stability and economic growth. Thus, whereas Pakistan seeks to fashion an Afghan state that would detract from regional security, India would enhance Afghanistan’s stability, security, economic growth, and regional integration. Afghanistan would welcome greater involvement from India, though it will need to accommodate the interests of multiple other external powers as well. India has a range of options for engaging Afghanistan, from continuing current activities to increasing economic and commercial ties, deploying forces to protect Indian facilities, continuing or expanding training for Afghan forces, or deploying combat troops for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency missions. To avoid antagonizing Pakistan, India is likely to increase economic and commercial engagement while maintaining, or perhaps augmenting, military training, though it will continue to conduct such training inside India. Increased Indian engagement in Afghanistan, particularly enhanced Indian assistance to Afghan security forces, will advance long-term U.S. objectives in central and south Asia. As the United States prepares to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014, it should therefore encourage India to fill the potential vacuum by adopting an increasingly assertive political, economic, and security strategy that includes increased security assistance.

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region

August 10, 2012 Comments off

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region
Source: Fraser Institute

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the outlook for Alberta crude oil and bitumen production and an assessment of the economic attractiveness and feasibility of exporting oil to countries in the Asia-Pacific region instead of solely to markets in the United States. It also describes the extent of the new oil pipeline infrastructure that would be needed to allow oil exports to Asia-Pacific region under two scenarios: 1. no increase in oil sands bitumen production capacity from a base-case forecast; and 2. bitumen production capacity increased from that in the base case to supply Asian markets after 2026. The likely gross employment and overall economic (GDP) benefits from construction and operation of the required facilities are also discussed.

The report also examines unnecessary regulatory and other barriers that are inhibiting the development of the pipelines and port facilities required to ship crude oil, raw bitumen and synthetic crude oil (i.e., upgraded bitumen) to the west coast and on to oil refineries in Japan, Korea, China, India and other countries in Asia that are increasingly becoming dependent on oil imports.


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