Trade in Trouble: How the Asia Pacific Can Step Up and Lead Reforms

Wendy Cutler, Peter Grey, Kim Jong-Hoon, Mari Pangestu, Yoichi Sozuki, Tu Xinquan
Content Type
Working Paper
Asia Society Policy Institute
The U.S.-China trade dispute has dominated headlines over the past year, disrupting trade and investment flows and increasing uncertainty at a time when the global economy is already facing headwinds. The conflict has left many countries in the Asia Pacific feeling caught in the crossfire seeking to navigate the tensions without alienating either country. While the World Trade Organization (WTO) would ideally help reduce the frictions, it has not been up to the task. The paralysis at the WTO points to a deeper problem: it’s inability to keep up with the pace of change or address the challenges of new developments in advanced technologies and the digital economy. Simply put, the trade regime is in trouble and in need of reform. At this dynamic and uncertain time in trade, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened a group of leading trade experts and former trade officials from across the Asia Pacific, led by ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler. In this issue paper, the authors examine the major developments in the international trading system, including the U.S.-China trade dispute, FTA activity in the Asia Pacific, and efforts to reform the WTO. In this challenging environment, the authors find that the Asia Pacific is uniquely well-positioned to lead reforms to get the system back on track. This paper is the latest product of the ASPI initiative, “Building a High Standard and Inclusive Asia-Pacific Trade Architecture.” It builds on the work of two previous reports published in March 2017 and January 2018.
Economy, Trade Wars, Trade, WTO
Political Geography
China, Asia, North America, United States of America