The free trade architecture in East Asia is under threat

The trade architecture in East Asia — the most dynamic region in the global economy — is up for grabs. The very system on which regional arrangements are built is under threat. US President Donald Trump’s withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), his ‘America First’ agenda and his declaration last week of the first shots in a global trade war undermine the WTO and the global economic system that it underpins. Asia and the global community, including the United States, have relied upon and benefited from that system for over 70 years. Can East Asia put aside its differences and define a set of arrangements that protect its own economic security interests absent the United States? US leadership put this system in place and drove its expansion throughout the post-war years. Now the United States is generating the headwinds that threaten to unravel it. Just last week...


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