Automotive Industrialisation: Industrial Policy and Development in Southeast Asia.

AuthorYean, Tham Siew

Automotive Industrialisation: Industrial Policy and Development in Southeast Asia, by Kaoru Natsuda and John Thoburn. Abingdon: Routledge-GRIPS Development Forum Series, 2021. Pp. 290.

The rapid transformation of Southeast Asia from being a producer and exporter of primary products to becoming a major manufacturing base is frequently used to showcase the role of industrial policies in manufacturing development and structural transformation. The transition from labour-intensive to skill-and technology-intensive manufacturing, which has been crucial for countries in the region aspiring to elevate their positions in global value chains (GVCs), has attracted considerable attention from academics and policymakers. This book by Kaoru Natsuda and John Thoburn is a timely addition to the discourse as it explores the role of industrial policies in the development of the automotive sector. Natsuda, a Professor at Japan's Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, and Thoburn, Emeritus Reader and Senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia, are research partners who have consolidated their numerous years of collaborative research on automotive development in Southeast Asia to write this book.

The book is made up of ten chapters, with the initial chapters setting the backdrop for five in-depth country case studies--Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The first four chapters focus on global trends, industrial policies and their role in GVCs, the state of automotive development in Southeast Asia, and the rise of Japanese automotive multinationals in the region, providing the much-needed context for understanding the country case studies. It is important to note that policymaking does not take place in vacuum; it is affected by multiple factors at the global, national and local levels. For example, the removal of local content requirements under the Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) agreement, launched under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO), led to the use of alternative policies to support the development of local content in the automotive sector. Citing this and many other developments, the authors provide an excellent background in these four chapters.

The country studies, on the other hand, explain the different industrial policies employed in each country and the impact on the respective country's automotive development. Specifically, the book argues that, while restrictions on industrial policy...

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