The emerging geoeconomic world order is characterised by an increased convergence of economics fields and security risks. Accelerated by intensifying US-China rivalry, the world is witnessing a greater focus on relative economic gains and heightened concerns about the security risks posed by economic and digital interdependence. This geoeconomic competition is also evolving into a struggle for technological leadership, creating the growing prospect of bifurcated technology ecosystems. These shifts are leading to a significant restructuring of the institutions that govern international trade and investment, as well as posing new and challenging dilemmas for policymakers seeking to balance economic and security priorities.
Professor Anthea Roberts leads RegNet’s research program on the emerging geoeconomic order. As well evaluating the risks at the nexus of economics, security and technology, this research program explores strategies for building resilience and developing integrated policymaking responses. Given the cross-cutting nature of this field, the work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from economics, political science, international law, international relations, technological innovation, security studies, and cyber policies. This RegNet research program involves extensive and ongoing collaboration with centres of geoeconomic expertise across the ANU, including with the National Security College, the Australian Centre for China in the World and the Crawford School of Public Policy.
Geoeconomics Working Group
Professor Roberts also chairs the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s Geoeconomics Working Group. The Working Group is an interdisciplinary and collaborative ANU-wide effort to analyse and debate emerging geoeconomic issues. Further information on the related ANU CIW geoeconomics strategic research spoke can be found here. The Geoeconomics Working Group meets regularly for lunch-time seminars covering a range of topics. Past and prospective seminars include:
• Audrye Wong, “The strategies and effectiveness of economic statecraft,” 25 March 2021
• Dan Ciuriak, “The role of big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence in motivating strategic behaviour in international economic relations,” 4 March 2021
• Henrique Moraes: “The Emergence of Strategic Capitalism,” 26 November 2020
• Dirk van der Kley, “Fragmented grand strategy: The organisational process and internal power structure of PRC geoeconomics,” 29 October 2020
• Amy King, “China and international economic order: new research directions”, 29 July 2020.
• Jason McDonald, “Economics of national security: targeted mitigations”, 24 June 2020.
• Greg Raymond, “Geoeconomics of Mainland Southeast Asia and Southern China Integration”, 28 May 2020.
• Supply chain statecraft, COVID-19 and geoeconomics, 29 April 2020.
• Matthew Sussex, “Belts, Roads and Strategic Choices in Eurasia”, 2 October 2019.
• Douglas Guilfoyle, “The South China Sea dispute: resource jurisdiction, strategy and lawfare”, 21 August 2019.
• Darren Lim and Victor Ferguson, “Geoeconomics on the ground: insights from South Korea and Sri Lanka”, 10 July 2019.
• Brendan Taylor and Richard Rigby, “A Chinese sphere of influence?”, 5 June 2019.
• Anthea Roberts, “Unscrambling the Rubik’s Cube: Who wins and loses in an age of economic globalisation?”, 1 May 2019.
• Wesley Widmaier, “The General Theory of Geoeconomics? Keynes, Money and the Sources of Conflictual or Common Interests”, 12 April 2019.
• Shiro Armstrong, “Economics and Politics in East Asia”, 6 March 2019.
• Andy Kennedy, “China’s rise in innovation: techno-nationalism and techno-backlash”, 6 February 2019.
If you are interested in joining the Working Group or presenting to it, please contact Professor Anthea Roberts.
Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp, Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why it Matters (Harvard University Press, forthcoming, October 2021)
Journal articles and book chapters
Anthea Roberts, Henrique Choer Moraes, and Victor Ferguson, ‘Toward a Geoeconomic Order’, (2019) 22 Journal of International Economic Law 4.
Ferguson, V and Lim, D. ’Economic Power and Vulnerability in Sino-Australian Relations’, China Story Yearbook: Crisis, edited by Linda Jaivin, Jane Golley, and Sharon Strange. Canberra: ANU Press, Forthcoming.
Golley, J., Barry, A., Harris, P. and Lim, D. “Geoeconomics and the Australian university sector: A ‘geoeducation’ analysis”, Security Challenges 16(4) 24-40.
Lim, D. and Ferguson, V., “Decoupling and the technology security dilemma”, in China Story Yearbook: China Dreams, ANU Press (2020).
Lim, D., Ferguson, V. and Bishop, R., “Chinese Outbound Tourism as an Instrument of Economic Statecraft”, Journal of Contemporary China (2020).
van der Kley, D., “Chinese Companies’ Localization in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,” Problems of Post Communism (2020): 241-250.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H., and Ferguson, V., “Towards a geoeconomic order”, Journal of International Economic Law (2019): 655-676.
Lim, D. and Mukherjee, R., “Hedging in South Asia: Balancing economic and security interests amid Sino-India rivalry”, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol 19(3) (2019): 493-522.
Lim, D. and Mukherjee, R., “What money can’t buy: The security externalities of Chinese economic statecraft in Post-War Sri Lanka”, Asian Security 15(2) (2019): 73-92.
Kennedy, A. and Lim, D., “The innovation imperative: Technology and U.S.-China rivalry in the 21st Century”, International Affairs 94(3) (2018): 553-572.
Short articles and opinion pieces
van der Kley, D. and Herscovitch, B., “Trade war forces universities to go global”, The Australian Financial Review, 28 February 2021.
Herscovitch, B., “Australia’s silence on Chagos dispute doesn’t help”, Lowy Interpreter, 25 February 2021.
Herscovitch, B., “How Should the Biden Administration Handle China’s Economic Pressure Campaign against Australia?”, The ASAN Forum, 15 February 2021.
van der Kley, D. “China gradually opens its markets to Central Asia,” EurasiaNet, 25 January 2021.
van der Kley, D. “China is fighting for the minds of Asia, not Australia,” The Australian Financial Review, 2 December 2020.
van der Kley, D. “China diversifies in Central Asia,” EurasiaNet, 23 November 2020.
van der Kley, D. “COVID and the new debt dynamics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,” EurasiaNet, 2 October 2020.
Ferguson, V. ’China sours on Australia’s wine’, Lowy Interpreter, 1 September 2020.
Lim, D. and Ferguson, V., “In beef over barley, Chinese economic coercion cuts against the grain”, Lowy Interpreter, 13 May 2020.
Lim, D., “Mask diplomacy: a novel form of statecraft?”, The China Story Blog, 1 May 2020.
Lim, D. and Ferguson, V., “China’s ‘boycott diplomacy’ over calls for coronavirus inquiry could harm Australian exporters”, ABC News, 28 April 2020.
Lim, D. and Ferguson, V., “Chinese economic coercion during the THAAD dispute”, The ASAN Forum 7(6), 28 December 2019.
Lim, D., “Economic statecraft and the revenge of the state”, East Asia Forum, 4 December 2019.
Lim, D. and Ferguson, V., “Huawei and the decoupling dilemma”, Lowy Interpreter, 28 May 2019.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H., and Ferguson, V., “The US-China trade war is a competition for technological leadership”, Lawfare Blog, 21 May 2019.
Lim, D., “The US, China and ‘Technology War”. Global Asia 14(1), March 2019.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H. and Ferguson, V., “Geoeconomics: The US strategy of technological protection and economic security”, Lawfare Blog, 11 December 2018.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H. and Ferguson, V., “Geoeconomics: The Chinese strategy of technological advancement and cybersecurity”, Lawfare Blog, 3 December 2018.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H. and Ferguson, V., “Geoeconomics: The variable relationship between economics and security”, Lawfare Blog, 27 November 2018.
Roberts, A., Choer Moraes, H. and Ferguson, V., “The Geoeconomic World Order”, Lawfare Blog, 19 November 2018.
Ikenberry, G. and Lim, D., “China’s Emerging Institutional Statecraft: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Prospects for Counter-Hegemony”. Brookings Institution: Project on International Order and Strategy, April 2017.
Podcasts and recorded public seminars
Lim, D. and Gyngell, A., ‘US turmoil; India CSP; G-7; WHO lessons; HK; Australian geoeconomics’, Australia in the World, June 2020.
Lim, D. and Gyngell, A., ‘Heather Smith on fixing the G20, industrial policy, tech competition, and what economists get wrong’, Australia in the World, May 2020.
Lim, D. and Gyngell, A., ‘The WHO; “mask diplomacy”; DFAT & Covid-19’, Australia in the World, April 2020.
Lim, D. and Gyngell, A., ‘Coronavirus; Huawei in the UK; the WTO, and UK / EU trade deals’, Australia in the World, February 2020.
Lim, D., Gyngell, A. and de Brouwer, G., ‘Economics vs security, climate change, and effective policymaking‘,_ Australia in the World_, January 2020.
Lim, D. and Gyngell, A., ‘Geoeconomics; Australia’s consular operations’, Australia in the World, April 2019.
Education is Australia’s only remaining export to China, valued over $10 billion annually, and it is both reliant on China and which Beijing can target without significant self-harm, according to a
The real world impact of the RegNet Geoeconomics group is illustrated in the following research grants and activities:
Under a grant funded by National Foundation for Australia China Relations, members of the geoeconomics working group are holding executive workshops for Australian business leaders on issues related to geoeconomics and economic issues in China. The workshops will focus on issues of immediate concern such as economic coercion and mitigation strategies, as well as longer-term trends such as the impact of new technology, technology governance and standards, and rapidly changing trade and investment regulatory regimes. These activities are designed to help businesses build resilience, and to identify and manage risks associated with their direct and indirect economic interests in relation to China. The workshops are designed to deliver findings from the group’s cutting-edge research to Australian businesses that are trying to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the changing geoeconomic landscape.
The global and regional strategic environment is fundamentally changing. Whereas economics and security used to operate as largely separate fields, the two are converging in new ways. States are increasingly conscious of the vulnerabilities associated with economic interdependence and digital connectivity. Responding to this challenge, this multi-year project leverages the ANU Geoeconomics Working Group—a unique interdisciplinary group with expertise in security, economics, cyber issues, political science and law—to provide frameworks for understanding how economic relationships and policy instruments can be sources of leverage, and for evaluating cross-cutting risks and opportunities at the nexus of economics, security and technology. This project is funded by the Australian Defence Department and will culminate in a public report about navigating the emerging geoeconomic order.
Courses and Teaching
The members of the Geoeconomics group are engaged in teaching the following course in Australia and the United States that relate to geoeconomics and evolving notions of national security:
Geoeconomics: Trade, Investment and Security (Course taught by Prof. Anthea Roberts at Harvard Law School)
In the post-Cold War period, economics and national security were relatively separate realms, both in policymaking and scholarship. But recent years have seen a marked convergence in the economic and security dimensions of policy and regulatory challenges facing many governments including Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the study of geoeconomics, which sits at the intersection of geopolitics, economics, security, law, and technology policy. It explores the way in which major power rivalry is reshaping international trade and investment and their associated legal regimes across domains as diverse as supply chains, export controls, trade tariffs, investment screening, and student visas. It examines changing ideas about the opportunities and vulnerabilities associated with economic interdependence, particularly with respect to critical infrastructure and technology. It uses topical case studies, including economic coercion campaigns and the regulation of 5G networks, to examine the policy trade-offs and governance challenges involved in integrating economic and security considerations.
Geoeconomics and National Security (Course taught by Dr. Darren Lim at the National Security College, ANU)
National security and economics are often treated as separate realms, both in policymaking and scholarship. But the early 21st century is marked by a convergence of security and economic factors in the national security challenges facing governments. This course introduces students to the intersection of economics and security, captured in the concept of ‘geoeconomics’. It focuses on the uses – and limitations – of economic relations as an instrument of state power. Students are introduced to the longstanding connection between economics and national security; basic principles of economic theory; the mechanisms/instruments of geoeconomic statecraft (such as trade, finance and institutions); contemporary geoeconomic challenges, such as economic coercion, critical infrastructure and critical technologies; and the policy challenges involved in developing national responses that integrate security and economic considerations. The course will take a global perspective, but with case studies focused on China, the Indo-Pacific and Australia.
Leadership, Risk and National Security Crisis Management (Course taught by Prof. Anthea Roberts, Dr. Dirk van der Kley and Mark Crosweller at the National Security College, ANU)
Crises are endemic to national security policymaking. The modern era is punctuated by crises emanating from the natural and social worlds that threaten local, national and international security. This course considers this backdrop of threats alongside changing notions of ‘threat’, ‘risk’ and ‘crisis’ and challenges participants to determine how leadership and policymaking can reconcile the competing imperatives of national security and the public interest in the midst of crisis. This course introduces students to this important and challenging field through: (1) exploration of definitions and theories of national security and approaches to leadership, risk assessment/mitigation and crisis management; and (2) the application of this conceptual material to empirical cases of domestic, international and transnational crises. Conceptual approaches are complemented by insights from policy practitioners with extensive experience of crisis response.
China, America and National Security (Course taught by Dr. Dirk van der Kley at the National Security College, ANU)
This course examines the relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which will likely shape international security – and heavily influence Australia’s interests - for the foreseeable future. It is organised around three core questions: (i) how do the United States and China respectively understand national security?; (ii) how have changing power dynamics between the two affected their geopolitical, geoecominc and institutional preferences?; (iii) how might this impact their handling of potential flashpoints in their relationship?; and iv) what are the implications for the security interests of third countries, notably Australia?
News and Events
Prof. Anthea Roberts helps to launch a new report from the at the ANU National Security College on Adapting Australia to an era of geoeconomic competition; 11 February 2021
China’s terrifying master plan for Australia, ANU warns, February 28, 2021