Bangkok (ESCAP news) – Asia-Pacific economies may see positive trade growth in 2020 but are still facing downside risks from the adverse impacts of the United States – China trade tensions, two new trade briefs by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) released today have revealed.
Trade in the Asia-Pacific region contracted during 2019
For the first time since the 2009 global economic crisis, the value and volume of trade in the region is declining. Total export volume fell by 2.5 per cent, while import volume decreased by 3.5 per cent.
Oil exporting economies such as Islamic Republic of Iran and Indonesia, as well as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, China registered some of the largest declines in export volume.
Merchandise trade in the region also faced strong headwinds in 2018-2019 caused by the worldwide economic growth slowdown and heightened trade tensions.
These have had an adverse effect on trade, particularly in the case of economies closely integrated with China through Global Value Chains (GVCs). Integration of smaller traders into the global and regional economy through GVCs is becoming more difficult. New import barriers increase the cost of production and reduce the competitiveness of companies participating in regional production networks.
Tariff war-related toll could reach $117 billion in the Asia-Pacific region
ESCAP earlier estimated the tariff war-related toll on gross domestic product (GDP) could reach as much as $400 billion worldwide and $117 billion in the Asia-Pacific region. These projections are materializing and could increase unless current efforts to reduce trade tensions are successful.
“For the Asia-Pacific region, the challenge is to increase trade and deepen economic integration to support sustainable development. Looking ahead to 2020, the agreement reached between China and the United States is welcome and should reduce policy uncertainty,”
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.
She further underscored the importance of the multilateral trading system to underpin future trade growth.
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