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What we are reading

Week of September 7

Published 07 September 2021

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

Pandemic-era trade

A year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, familiar questions persist. How is the pandemic impacting on trade flows? A Bloomberg article asks: will changes to trade patterns caused by the pandemic outlast the pandemic itself?

The Asian Development Bank’s new report 2021 Key Indicators explores similar issues. Do global value chains buffer economies from pandemic shocks, or do they make them worse?

Lucian Cernat, Chief Trade Economist for the European Commission, urges least developed countries to increase participation in global value chains – to boost export potential.

Some economies have fared well. The Economist looks at Vietnam’s supply chain participation and its contribution to economic development, and the extent to which such development can continue.

Geopolitics and digital trade

Geopolitical tensions continue to pervade through global trade.

So many questions pertain to China. Will Beijing force companies to hand over control of customer data to third parties in order to list on US stock exchanges?  Reuters covers the latest on China’s regulation of data-intensive companies.

Should the US government do more to help its firms counter China’s growing power in cloud computing? Jonathan E. Hillman in Politico lays out the challenges for US companies.

Are US export controls curbing Huawei’s competitiveness? Reuters explains the US Department of Commerce’s decision to license the sale of some semiconductors to Huawei. Nikkei Asia breaks down Huawei’s latest smartphone, finding more Chinese-made components in the phone, but also a significant share of US-made components.

Other countries are posing challenges. New South Korean legislation would force Google and Apple app stores to allow use of multiple payment systems. The New York Times explains the Biden Administration’s quandary: defend American companies abroad or pursue greater antitrust measures at home?

Indeed, if China is pursuing predominance in key sectors of the global economy, how should governments respond? The Wire China examines the EU’s efforts to contend with growing competition from China over wind turbines.

WTO and FTAs

Tensions in other fora are not much better. To stave off tensions arising from carbon emission tariffs, Gary C. Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics urges the WTO to establish a common method for calculating carbon restrictions.

There is talk of Taiwan joining the CPTPP. How would Beijing respond? Reuters reports that members of Japan’s ruling party are throwing support behind Taiwan’s participation.

Lastly, check out Vincent Ni’s analysis in The Guardian of what US Vice President Harris accomplished – and not accomplished – on her recent visit to Southeast Asia.

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