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What we are reading

Week of September 21

Published 21 September 2021

In What We are Reading this week, we share with you the latest developments in sustainable trade and investment, technology, and geopolitics.

Geopolitics and trade

One of the biggest trade stories this week is China’s application to join the CPTPP, placing the trading bloc front and center of a geopolitical contest. In the Wall Street Journal, an article examines the challenges facing current CPTPP members as they consider China’s bid.

The challenges facing other would-be members are outlined elsewhere. The Financial Times suggests Taiwan’s chances of joining the agreement may be fading. Wendy Cutler in Foreign Affairs advocates for the United States to join the trade bloc.

The impact of the CPTPP itself – two years since its launch – continue to be studied in a series of papers by Kati Suominen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China’s bid to join CPTPP reminds us again that the Biden administration has yet to come out with a clear China strategy. Think-tanks are chiming in. Read a new paper by the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations and the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy 21st Century China Center to learn their suggestions for a new China policy

Meanwhile, Lingling Wei of the Wall Street Journal reports that a new Section 301 investigation of China’s use of subsidies may be under consideration.

With the WTO’s Ministerial conference approaching later this year, Stuart Harbison in AsiaGlobal Online considers the key issues to be discussed and how the WTO can get back on track.

The pandemic and supply chains

We continue to follow the important story of the impact of the pandemic shock on supply chains. In the Financial Times, Valentina Romei offers helpful input on how manufacturers are meeting demand. Some sectors are more affected than others. The Wire China provides an interesting illustration of how pandemic and tariff shocks may be shifting supply chains for processed fish.

Technology is critical

Technology remains at the center of the latest developments in trade. The EU Commission President recently announced a plan to make the EU more self-sufficient in semiconductor production. John Lee and Jan-Peter Kleinhans’ report for the Mercator Institute for China Studies and Stiftung Neue Verantwortun offers a useful framework for evaluating China’s role in semiconductor value chains and whether the EU’s efforts to onshore manufacturing are worthwhile.

Efforts continue in South Korea to onshore a domestic supply chain for critical inputs, Nikkei Asia reports, to ensure that Samsung maintains its role as a leading manufacturer.

Lastly, a survey conducted by Nikkei Asia reports that the largest share of 6G patent applications to date are held by Chinese companies. That race – to shape 6G technologies – promises to further complicate global geopolitics.

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