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What has changed, not surprisingly, given the announcements of tariffs by the United States and retaliations by other economies, is the level of concern over increased protectionism and trade wars. Figure 1.


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The chart shows 3 different aspects to this — the percentage of respondents who chose these issues as risks horizontal axis ; the seriousness that those who selected it as a risk vertical axis ; and the overall weighted risk — taking into account both the frequency and magnitude of the risk size of bubble. While most risks tend to cluster — protectionism stood out in terms of the frequency and impact that respondents thought it would have on the prospects for the growth of their economies.

Over the past 7 years, the percentage of respondents selecting protectionism as a risk to growth has been steadily rising. This year the percentage increased to 62 percent. The announcements of increases in tariffs is now having an impact on forecasts for trade. A similar story occurs on the import side, with import growth slowing from 6.

Importantly no immediate bounceback is expected within the forecast period. As shown in Figure 1. While there is some debate on whether recent events can be described as a trade war — as shown below, the issues go well beyond tariffs. While it is clear that trade restricting measures have been on the rise, at the same time economies have also been undertaking liberalizing measures either unilaterally or in trade deals. The entry into force of the CPTPP and the conclusion of the RCEP would provide a critical amount of policy certainty that would encourage businesses to invest in these markets.

To date,Mexico, Japan and Singapore have already ratified the agreement, leaving just 3 more until it enters into force.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Perhaps of greater significance is that several others have signaled their desire to join including Indonesia, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Thailand. Even though President Trump withdrew the United States from the original TPP, he has also indicated a willingness to join an improved agreement.

IMF regional director gives Asia Pacific economic outlook

If achieved, the importance of the RCEP would grow over time as its members become increasingly middle-class and consumption increases. Indeed, that forward momentum is an additional contributing factor in the continued robustness in trade growth in spite of ongoing trade disputes.

Continued Robust Growth Seen For Asia

While the baseline forecasts for trade growth remain positive, the trade conflict adds another variable to an extremely complex but still positive macroeconomic and financial backdrop. While new trade deals continue to be negotiated, older trade deals are also being changed. While forecasts for trade growth remain positive albeit at a slower pace, capital markets have demonstrated increasing volatility and bearishness.


  1. Joint Press Statement of the 19th ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Bangkok, 23 May 2006.
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Since August , regional currencies have lost, on average, around 2. However, emerging market currencies have depreciated considerably more than advanced economies. On average, Asia- Pacific emerging economies currencies have lost 3. The flipside of this is the strengthening of the US dollar, reflecting rising US interest rates, and its impact on its export competitiveness. Given the current environment this trend may further exacerbate trade tensions. The averages belie more significant movements for individual currencies, some of whom have lost as much as 10 percent in value against the US dollar.

Part of this may be due to more general worsening sentiments towards emerging markets due to situations elsewhere — particularly debt crises in Argentina and Turkey. The Morgan Stanley Emerging Market Fund, for example, has lost around 9 percent of value in spite of the strong macroeconomic performance in most emerging markets. The weakening of regional currencies against the US dollar has precipitated actions by central banks. This reflects the fact that each crisis is unique and that the impact of crises vary greatly, resulting from withdrawal of foreign capital, while others involve the loss of export income, or capital flight by domestic residents.

Part of the complexity and potential for swift reversal is the massive injections of liquidity into the financial system. This has supported very high debt levels. Of this, 75 percent was household, nonfinancial corporate and general government debt and 25 percent in the financial sector. There are, however, considerable differences within the region. In regional emerging economies this has dropped by 3. Even fewer, 14 percent of respondents, selected a sharp fall in asset prices as a risk to growth. While that result may indicate that these are not immediate concerns, they might also show complacency or an inability to price risk.

Finally, these real and financial risks could amplify each other, creating a perfect storm and exacting an even higher price. This represents a remarkable turnaround of views regarding attitudes toward the WTO and the multilateral trading system. As the survey results demonstrate, over time the Asia-Pacific policy community had become much more focused on regional trade deals and the growth strategy.

However, recent events have clearly had an impact on views. Moreover, it is more than likely that stakeholders, at least those surveyed by PECC, equated the value of the WTO with its negotiating function and took for granted the existence of the rules, disciplines, and dispute resolution mechanisms associated with the institution. The future of the WTO and the multilateral trading system is discussed in more detail below. A critical part of the regional narrative in recent years has been how to best address the emergence of anti-globalization and anti-trade sentiments.

Joint Press Statement of the 19th ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Bangkok, 23 May 2006

A core element of this had been efforts to promote growth that is more equitable or inclusive. This is in spite of an overall negative assessment of the political environment for freer trade in the Asia-Pacific. This underscores the importance of seeing the FTAAP as a long-term goal that will require substantial activities, preferably led by APEC, to ensure that all regional economies can effectively participate in and benefit from deeper regional economic integration. Indeed, many argue that the idea of the Bogor Goals and the FTAAP is not that they are ends in themselves but simply the best, most effective means to the broader aim of a more prosperous and equitable region.

While stakeholders may now be sufficiently concerned to put the WTO as a priority, the critical question is what role can regional institutions play? Whether they are within the WTO rules or not is immaterial to the broader economic argument that trade restrictions are bad for growth. Some subsidies in one economy, for example generate others tariffs, quotas, or countervailing duties in others.

Our trading system needs to reflect that reality. While the WTO has begun some substantial work through its work program on ecommerce, much more needs to be done. Given the enormous technological changes that are changing business models, trade rules are badly out of synch with commercial reality.

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This could be addressed through more flexible approaches to rule making. One way forward could be to make better use of dialogues that promote greater understanding of the rules developed outside of the WTO framework. While there are tentative signs of progress on a limited set of issues, a more urgent and pressing concern is what will happen to the dispute settlement mechanism.

Since , over disputes have been brought to the WTO, initiated by 50 members, in relation to 20 WTO agreements. Some of them have been resolved by mutual agreement by the parties involved, others required formal rulings. This indicates a widespread appreciation of the ability of the system to deal with disputes. Panel members are usually selected in consultation with the parties to the dispute and if they cannot agree, the WTO director-general appoints them. The process of a dispute settlement at the WTO takes around 1.

At the initiative of former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, former Deputy Director-General Alejandro Jara initiated in a process of informal consultations to find ways to make the process more efficient in line with existing rules.


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  • In recent years there has been an impasse on agreement to new members, there are currently only 3 members of the Appellate Body and agreement on new appointments has been blocked by the United States. This is the very minimum for any decisions to be made as the Appellate Body establishes small group of 3 members to hear an appeal.

    By the end of the terms of 2 of the 3 remaining Appellate Body members will have completed their terms. This leaves the system vulnerable to collapse especially as more and more panel decisions are being appealed. Some suggestions for reform include:. There are other larger systemic concerns that have been expressed on judicial over-reach and infringements of domestic jurisdiction that cannot be simply resolved with changes such as those suggested above,13 but the avoidance of a total collapse of the dispute settlement system should be considered an imperative for any economy engaged in trade.

    So far participation in discussions has been limited to those who understand the intricacies of the WTO process, and it is critical for a dialogue on the importance of the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism to engage stakeholders from business, labor and beyond. As far as the Asia-Pacific is concerned, support for the multilateral trading system has been a core objective for APEC since its foundation.

    We will work to ensure the effective and timely enforcement of the WTO rules. Critical to any forward momentum and successful outcome will be the active engagement of the stakeholders who ultimately are impacted by any decisions emanating from the WTO. In January , the US government announced that it would apply a 30 percent tariff on solar panels. In turn several economies announced retaliatory measures in response, for example, April 2, China increased by per cent its tariffs on import products from the US, including fruit, wine, pork products and stainless steel.

    The baseline forecast also assumes limited spillovers to market sentiment, even if escalating trade tensions are an important downside risk. That scenario assumes a ratcheting up of tariffs from the US and symmetrical responses from trading partners as well as a shock to global confidence. Other estimates range from a 0.

    Work by the Bank of England estimates a loss to baseline GDP of 1 percent through the trade channel alone and an additional loss through tighter financial conditions and increased uncertainty. All of these estimates use different modeling techniques but they all tend to reach the same conclusion — that an escalating trade war would have a negative overall impact on the global economy, with some economies significantly more exposed than others.

    That those growth levels would barely lift global per capita incomes is bad enough, but it is the distributive impact of such a slowdown in growth that is of central concern. The more detailed breakdowns of the distributive impacts of a trade war make for an even more somber reading. At the sectoral level, analysis suggests that the anticipated impact of tariff increases also vary by sector. They would decrease trade in machinery and equipment including motor vehicles and parts by about 3.

    In his opening remarks, the Honorable Christopher R. Hill, U. Enhanced Partnership. Commemorative Summit similar to that convened with Japan and China. Enhanced Partnership called for in the Joint Vision Statement. The Meeting emphasized the importance of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia TAC as a code of conduct governing relations in the region for the promotion of regional peace and stability. The U. The Meeting underscored the importance of a peaceful, comprehensive solution to the issue of the Korean Peninsula to peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region.

    The Meeting exchanged views on the latest developments in the Middle East. The Meeting agreed that peace and stability in the region lies on a comprehensive, durable and just resolution to the conflict.

    PECC - Chapter 1 - Asia-Pacific economic outlook

    It expressed support for the Road Map and relevant UN resolutions. The Meeting also supported the establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state existing side-by-side with Israel within secure and recognized borders. The Meeting was briefed by the U. The Meeting condemned the continued acts of violence that have affected innocent civilians, religious leaders and Iraqi authorities.

    The Meeting expressed hope for increased efforts to restore peace and stability in Iraq and also expressed hope for all parties to complete the successful political reconstruction of Iraq. Trade Representative. The Meeting recognized the importance of strong inter-regional economic linkages and committed to increase the volume of trade and investment between ASEAN and the U. It welcomed the nomination of the new U. The Meeting discussed the progress of World Trade Organization WTO negotiations and emphasized the importance of a successful and ambitious outcome of the Doha Round of negotiations, including its development agenda.