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Sustainable trade

Hinrich Foundation sponsored issue: East Asia Forum Quarterly Vol 13 No. 2


Published 20 April 2021

East Asia’s economies are emerging from the Covid-19 crisis bruised but not defeated, according to the latest edition of the East Asia Forum Quarterly (EAFQ). Sponsored and co-edited by the Hinrich Foundation and Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, this issue is a timely summary of the state of global trade – and Asia’s central role in its growth trajectory.

This issue was originally published on the East Asia Forum website.

In the Asia Pacific region, trade has been a vital growth engine for decades. As average tariffs fell from 17 per cent in 1989 to 5.3 per cent in 2018, regional trade has multiplied — faster than the rest of the world — along with jobs and incomes. In recent years, escalation of geopolitical tensions has unsettled trade. As rivalries heightened and criticism of globalisation grew, the multilateral trading system that shepherded Asia’s prosperity and security has been challenged.

These issues are the focus of ‘Reinventing Global Trade’, the latest edition of the renowned East Asia Forum Quarterly (EAFQ) of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. Co-edited by the Hinrich Foundation and Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, the edition is a timely summary of the state of global trade – and Asia’s central role in its growth trajectory.

The contributors are distinguished experts in their field, from Homi Kharas and Meghan Dooley of the Brookings Institution to Fukunari Kimura of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and Inu Manak of the Cato Institute. Their takeaways are optimistic. Supply chains proved surprisingly resilient. Lockdowns have accelerated digital transformation for the benefit of small and medium-sized businesses. Some countries such as Singapore, New Zealand and Chile have finalised partnerships aimed at expanding the digital economy. Even mega agreements such as RCEP came to fruition, highlighting the promise of regional groupings such as ASEAN.

But uncertainty remains ahead. Asia’s eyes are on two key players whose roles are not yet clear: India and the United States. As the EAFQ illustrates, the direction they take in coming months will reverberate far beyond trade and Asia.

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