The Asian Perspective
- ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Richard Baldwin, Masahiro Kawai and Ganeshan Wignaraja
Chapter 6: Mapping crisis-era protectionism in the Asia and Pacific region
During the past 30 years many governments in the Asia and Pacific region sought to integrate their national markets into the global economy. One consequence is that cross-border trade in goods is lessening as the principal mode for supplying foreign customers. Cross-border flows of services, investment, intellectual property, and employees have grown in prominence, potentially adding to the gains from international commerce. The dependence of living standards in the Asia and Pacific region on international commerce is widely acknowledged, in particular in discussions about ‘export-led’ development strategies, rebalancing of national economies, or the fallout from economic crises. The Asia and Pacific region has a substantial stake in the proper functioning of an open world economy. In addition to supporting the multilateral trading system, governments in Asia and the Pacific have been active in promoting regional integration, as witnessed by the number of regional trade agreements signed or under negotiation (ADB 2013a, 2013b). Still, sizeable cross-border price differentials remain, suggesting that integration has some way to go (for recent evidence from East Asia see Moon 2013). The commitment of governments to open borders was tested during the global financial crisis (GFC) that began in 2007 and spread quickly throughout the world economy. Although not every country witnessed contractions in GDP, almost all were knocked off their previous growth paths. Many countries in the Asia and Pacific region witnessed sharp falls in their exports (for evidence from four East Asian economies see Hsieh 2011).
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