Huge uncertainties and challenges confront the global economy and trading system. The slow recovery from the global financial crisis of 2007–08 has led to protectionist forces and a backlash against globalisation in Europe and the United States that threatens the openness that many countries rely on for development, peace and stability.
US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Brexit in Europe signal a retreat of American and European leadership in global trade and investment liberalisation. And this is not an ideal time for such a vacuum to have opened up. Trade growth has stalled since the global financial crisis. Asia was an engine of global trade and economic growth in the decade and a half after China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, but that rapid growth in trade from global value chains appears to have reached a plateau.
In this environment, economic reforms and liberalisation are politically more difficult to undertake. Countries are in search of a new development and opening up strategy. For Asia, whose nations have strong ambitions of development, with much potential yet to be realised, there is a central interest in how to navigate these issues.
This volume reviews the current state of Asian economic integration and asks where that might go given these new uncertainties and issues around international economic exchange in the twenty-first century.