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The PECC Discussion Forum provides op-eds and relevant news in the PECC community. The opinions contained in the Discussion Forum submissions are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PECC or its member committees.

Near-Shoring gains traction as Globalisation stalls

Mark Millar (Author of Global Supply Chain Ecosystems and Visiting Lecturer at Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

During the 1990s and 2000s, international trade experienced a substantial boost from mass globalisation, resulting in a huge increase in the volume of inter-continental freight flows and yielding a bonanza for logistics service providers and freight forwarders around the world.

This globalisation frenzy was fuelled by an unprecedented combination of three key drivers in the pursuit of lowest-cost manufacturing – the out-sourcing of business activities to third parties, the off-shoring of production to low-cost countries and the un-bundling of vertically integrated manufacturing clusters into dispersed specialist activities.

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Going It Alone in the Asia-Pacific: Regional Trade Agreements Without the United States

Peter A. Petri (PIIE), Michael G. Plummer (Johns Hopkins University and East-West Center), Shujiro Urata (Waseda University) and Fan Zhai (Former Managing Director, China Investment Corporation)

The withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in early 2017 led the remaining 11 countries in that trade and investment agreement to explore alternative ways to sustain economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. This Working Paper shows that, without the United States, these 11 countries can achieve significant gains from high-quality, TPP-like agreements among themselves, and from what might have to be a less rigorous but wider agreement in a separate, 16-member Asian trade negotiation, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Either of these multilateral options would yield benefits greater than those that would flow from bilateral agreements between individual countries and the United States alone, and gains from such accords could grow over time. For example, expanding the TPP without the United States to five other Asia-Pacific economies, all of which have expressed interest in the TPP in the past, would yield global income gains that rival those expected from the original TPP that included the United States, and the gains are even larger for some members. The United States, meanwhile, would suffer losses from such arrangements in two ways: first, because it would forego the benefits that would otherwise accrue from the relatively large TPP agreement, and second, because the new Asia-Pacific agreements would reduce US exports to the region as countries shift their trade to competitors of the United States. In the longer run, a new Asia-Pacific agreement or agreements would keep trade liberalization on the global agenda and likely attract further interest from large partners, including Europe. Eventually, the United States might observe that it is losing out and change its mind about joining these larger trade blocs. [Abstract from Peterson Institute for International Economics]

Download full report from PIIE website.

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The Linkage between Services and Manufacturing in the US economy

Sherry M. Stephenson
Senior Fellow
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Services have enabled manufacturing in the U.S. to become more efficient and competitive

Services have enabled manufacturers to take advantage of cutting edge technologies and become more productive. Services have also enabled manufacturers to grow the value of their operations from the initial stage of designing their products to the final stage of getting their products to their customers. Manufacturing has become a complex mix of many types of services, automation, and computer-driven production, with a large and growing share of value derived from the services components.

Consumer and capital goods increasingly embody a greater percentage of services. Manufacturing companies have increased their reliance on services for their inputs, and services constitute a significant portion of their outputs and revenue. Rather than thinking of manufacturing and services as separate economic activities in today’s economy, it is much more realistic and essential to think of them as having become inextricably intertwined. Manufacturing companies are now great users, producers and traders of services. It is in fact efficient services that make U.S. manufacturing more productive and give it a competitive edge in global markets. A new term, “servicification,” has been coined to describe the increasing use of services by manufacturing firms in their purchases and production, as well as their exports, pointing to the integrated role that services play in every step of the process (Swedish National Board of Trade). This is part of an overall global trend as noted in a recent OECD study on services and manufacturing which found that in the digital age, “services are part of a ‘business ecosystem’ where collaboration with customers, partners and contractors is the key to innovation and productivity.” (OECD 2017 study)

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Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance

Peter F. Cowhey (University of California, San Diego), Jonathan D. Aronson (University of Southern California)

Digital technologies are becoming critical to every facet of the world economy. These digital technologies are the “digital DNA” that unleashes dazzling changes in the information, communication, and production capabilities that are transforming how the world works. We call this the information and production disruption. The IPD is rapidly altering the dynamics of firms, how markets perform, and the potential for stronger economic growth and social prosperity. Government policy makers with an eye to the future are searching for policies to leverage the best potential of these disruptions, but have yet to determine how to reconcile seemingly contradictory policy challenges. We offer recommendations for global economic governance that provide a new foundation for problem solving to cope with messy problems that inevitably accompany large-scale change. Despite the current political headwinds we show how trade policy can be the key platform for enabling an extensive complementary set of regulatory and nongovernmental actions to govern the IPD productively.

Scholars, government officials, and corporate executives have acknowledged to us that the disruption is occurring but that it is difficult to grasp because it is so multifaceted. This diffuseness makes it hard to distill the first priorities necessary for governance reform. We respond to this challenge by clarifying the fundamentals on how the IPD is altering national and global patterns of innovation. We choose this leverage point because economists agree that innovation—which we define as the commercialization of new knowledge—is central to global growth and prosperity.

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Growth in a Time of Change

Pamela Mar
Director of Sustainability
Fung Academy/ Fung Group

 

Insights: In Conversation With

Pamela Mar looks at how Asia's manufacturers can survive, and prosper, amidst changing markets and technological disruption.

Writer’s Note:

APEC officials were in Vietnam for the 2nd Senior Officials Meeting in preparation for the APEC Leaders’ summit to be held in Vietnam later this year. Connectivity was high on the agenda, as it is viewed as an essential driver for deepening regional economic integration, which is one of APEC’s four key priorities. APEC has launched a 2025 Connectivity Blueprint and is following this up with mid-term goals for 2020.

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Why Connectivity is a Starting Point for Real Change

Pamela Mar
Director of Sustainability
Fung Academy/ Fung Group

 

Insights: In Conversation With

Pamela Mar outlines the challenges faced by Asia's production centers in a world where connectivity has become more critical.

Writer’s Note:

APEC officials were in Vietnam for the 2nd Senior Officials Meeting in preparation for the APEC Leaders’ summit to be held in Vietnam later this year. Connectivity was high on the agenda, as it is viewed as an essential driver for deepening regional economic integration, which is one of APEC’s four key priorities. APEC has launched a 2025 Connectivity Blueprint and is following this up with mid-term goals for 2020.

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The TPP lives on – and Canada should be part of it

Hugh Stephens, Vice-chair, CANCPEC
Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada /Executive Fellow, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

When U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the plug on U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, it was a bad day for Canadian supporters of the TPP.

But now it seems the TPP may still live under another guise, often referred to as the TPP 11. New studies have shown that even without U.S. participation, a transpacific agreement based on the new rules negotiated in the original TPP will still bring gains to all the partners. More important, moving ahead with the TPP 11 would constitute a global signal that trade liberalization is still vital for economic growth, and that preservation of open markets through multilateral agreements is the way of the future, rather than Mr. Trump’s protectionism or preference for zero-sum bilateral deals.

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After the TPP: What’s Next for Canada in Asia?

Hugh Stephens, Vice-chair, CANCPEC / Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada /Executive Fellow, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

The Trump administration’s arrival has scrambled the cards in the trade policy world. Not only will the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be reopened with uncertain results, but President Donald Trump has scuttled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement. Canada, originally cool toward the TPP, pushed hard to be included in it. The TPP became the centrepiece of Canada’s Asia trade strategy, notwithstanding some public ambivalence on the part of the Trudeau government. With the TPP in its present form now in limbo, Canada still has options in Asia. First, it can keep an open mind with regard to the possible reconstitution of the TPP in another form, such as “TPP Minus One” (i.e., minus the U.S.). It should also push to reopen the bilateral negotiations with Japan that were suspended when that country joined the TPP negotiations. Canada is already exploring the possibility of an economic partnership agreement with China, perhaps on a sectoral basis, and simultaneously, it should actively pursue negotiation of a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. This could in time provide Canada access to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) currently being negotiated among 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and would position Canada well in the eventuality that a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) emerges. In the meantime, uncertainty regarding NAFTA’s future needs to be addressed. This uncertainty makes it more difficult for Canada to attract Asian investment but it also provides further impetus for Canada to diversify its trading relationships and to explore stronger relationships with Asian economies. 

Direct download of PDF (originally published for Canadian Global Affairs Institute)

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Five reasons why trade agreements in Latin America and the Caribbean matter

Joaquim Tres,Principal Specialist of the Integration and Trade Sector, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)

Trade agreements cover 70% of all trade in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Of the 270 free trade agreements (FTAs) currently in effect around the world, more than 70 include LAC countries.

In order to understand the impact of these agreements on the region, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will launch a massive open online course (MOOC) on how they work and what they mean for governments, businesses, and people in LAC.

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Digitizing trade – how changing the process is changing development

Steven Beck, Head of Trade Finance, ADBAlisa DiCaprio, Research Fellow, ADB Institute

Over 31 million consumers in Viet Nam researched or purchased a product online in 2015. Just ten years ago, internet connectivity was only starting to become common. Digitization is changing how people trade. There are even more dramatic changes happening under the hood. The way trade is financed, processed and regulated has entered a period of disruption. We take this opportunity to consider the short and long term implications of digitization of the trade process. They’re not what you’d expect.

Loosening infrastructure constraints

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Can Asia transform international investment law?

Stephan W. SchillUniversity of Amsterdam

European and North American capital exporting countries have shaped international investment law for most of its history. They pushed for the customary international minimum standard of protection, forged the classical model of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and now drive the present recalibration of international investment law. Despite counter-proposals from the ‘South’ over decades, the making of international investment law has been essentially a transatlantic enterprise with the ‘North’ as predominant global rule-maker.

But the past years have witnessed a marked shift in the geography of international investment law. Despite the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, there is little doubt that Asian countries, and particularly the economic powerhouses in the Far East, are becoming focal points in rule-making in international investment law.

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Inclusive trade and regional integration in Asia-Pacific

John WestAUSPECC

Trade and regional integration must become more inclusive in the Asia-Pacific in order to win the support of public opinion, writes John West.

This note is inspired by the excellent press release, "Regional Solutions Needed for Global Challenges", issued by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) following a recent conference in Jakarta which explored the challenges for next phase of regional cooperation and the role of the media in communicating the benefits of trade and regional integration.

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APEC 2016: The Role and Influence of Latin America

Camilo Pérez-Restrepo
Professor in Asia-Pacific Studies / Deputy Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Studies Center at Universidad EAFIT, Colombia

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is back in Latin America for the first time since 2008, when Peru hosted the forum amid the global economic crisis. At that time there were concerns about raising protectionism across the region and increasing demands to reform the global financial system. In 2016, APEC takes place again in Peru, in a new context of economic growth in most of its member economies, but also during a moment when important structural reforms are taking place to secure better quality growth and better conditions for human development.

This article provides Canadian policy makers and businesses with a fresh perspective on APEC, its priorities in 2016, and the role and influence of Latin American economies. After a brief overview of APEC, the article provides context for Latin America-Asia relations, a matter of importance in view of Peru’s chairing of APEC in 2016. Peru’s dual chairing of APEC and the Pacific Alliance will potentially see Peru capitalize on opportunities for convergence between the organizations. The article then explains the APEC 2016 agenda with reference to the Latin American context, and concludes with a discussion of implications for Canada.

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Promoting Inclusiveness of Mega FTAs for Advancing Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Integration

Chien-Fu LinPresident, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research/ Chair, Chinese Taipei committee for PECC

In recent years, free trade agreements (FTAs) have proliferated in the Asia-Pacific region. Most importantly, the mega FTAs consisting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have come into existence and will certainly transform the trading environment, since their gross domestic product (GDP) shares are 38% and 29% of the world, respectively. At the same time, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is developing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which will arise in the form of a mega FTA in the future. According to a study by APEC (APEC 2015), if the FTAAP is in place by 2025, it would bring a 4%-5% increase of GDP in the whole region from 2015 and 2% of world total GDP. In order to continue the dynamism that is taking place in Asia-Pacific regional economic integration (REI), it will be necessary to address the most important challenges, that is, the inclusiveness issue. The main purpose of this article is to examine the issue of inclusiveness in the mega FTAs from two dimensions. The first dimension is about inclusiveness through open membership of the mega FTAs while the second dimension focuses on the importance of assisting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from the mega FTAs.

Linking APEC FTAAP with TPP and RCEPDuring the 2010 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, leaders made a significant point in the Yokohama Declaration that they will seek to realize the FTAAP. Particularly, the FTAAP will serve to enhance the advancement of APEC's regional economic integration. Moreover, the FTAAP will be pursued in the form of a comprehensive FTA through building on ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the TPP (APEC 2010). With this important announcement, APEC has embarked actively on the quest for attaining the FTAAP that includes the linkage with regional mega FTAs.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as a Vehicle for Revitalizing the Japanese Economy and Rebuilding the World Trade Regime

Shujiro UrataFaculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry (RIETI), Japan

After five and a half years of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was reached on October 5, 2015. Yet it is too early to celebrate as the agreement must be ratified by the participating countries including those where anti-TPP protestors have significant political influence. The TPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, which together account for approximately 40% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP). Not only is it extremely ambitious in the level of liberalization in trade in goods, investment, and services, but also comprehensive in its coverage, setting rules for such areas as electronic commerce, government procurement, intellectual property, labor, and the environment. The TPP has high potential to promote economic growth and improve people's living standards by facilitating the free cross-border movement of key factors of economic activity, such as goods, people, money, and information. Failure to bring the TPP into force would be a great loss to not only the TPP countries such as Japan and the United States but also the global economy.

TPP and the revitalization of the Japanese economyFollowing the collapse of its economic bubble, Japan plunged into a prolonged period of stagnation which now has come to be referred to as the "lost two decades." Thanks to the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his second Cabinet formed in December 2012, the Japanese economy was boosted in 2013. But the effect was short-lived and the economy has been sluggish since 2014. The stagnation of the Japanese economy can be partly attributable to external factors such as a slowdown in the global economy. However, internal factors—i.e., a shrinking and aging population, massive government debts, and slow responses to structural problems such as the closed nature of the market—are more serious. In revitalizing the Japanese economy, which is currently in such a dire predicament, the TPP will be playing an important role.

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Trade agreements are in ASEAN’s best interests

Sanchita Basu DasYusof Ishak Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

At the last Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November 2015, the United States and China advanced their own set of interests with respect to trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region. While the United States celebrated the conclusion of its Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in early October 2015, China stressed the potential of a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

In his speech, President Xi Jinping promised to work to ‘finish at an early date negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), while accelerating talks on a China–Japan–South Korea FTA.’

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The TPP Timeline

Jeffrey J. SchottSenior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Trade ministers from the 12 countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations concluded talks on October 5, 2015. Negotiations are done but there is much left to do before this mega-regional trade accord is ratified and implemented.

If Congress and the president work closely, a TPP vote could be taken by Congress by mid-2016. However, differences over the drafting of implementing legislation could delay a vote for an extensive period (as occurred with the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement).

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Addressing the Costs of Data Localization Requirements – Can APEC Lead the Way?

Ed Brzytwa
Information Technology Industry Council

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the Philippines, government officials, industry representatives (including ITI), academics, and other stakeholders have been discussing how to advance regional economic cooperation and break down barriers to trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. During the forum’s three weeks of meetings and sessions, these experts have been communicating with their constituents at home as well as with each other primarily through digital means. Their communications burst through the Internet all over the world at the speed of light in the form of digitized data crossing borders many times over. That amazing connectedness acts as a metaphor for the larger transformations to our world. ITI last week raised awareness of the threat that data localization requirements in the region and around the world pose to that connectedness, economic growth, trade, investment, and job creation.

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TPP Now in Sight


The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be the largest single trade agreement concluded worldwide for more than a decade. It would transform world trade governance in ways that are hard to predict. This column discusses the machinations inside the US Congress that gave US negotiators the green light to wrap up the TPP talks. If all goes well, the deal may happen just prior to the APEC Summit in the Philippines in November 2015.

Gary Clyde HufbauerReginald Jones Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scored a dramatic victory on 23 June 2015, persuading 60 senators to head off a filibuster against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the minimum number needed. TPA will be enacted by the Senate this week, as the bill itself requires just 51 affirmative votes. At the same time, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) will be packaged with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and a mildly protectionist anti-dumping provision, to get another 60-vote filibuster-proof majority before being enacted.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership, India and South Asia

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have multiple impacts on India and South Asia, ranging from a short-term effect, such as the loss of preferential access for exports, to the longer-term impact of having to comply with higher quality-standards. The most significant impact, however, can be the gradual isolation of South Asia from a significant part of global trade governed by new rules.

Amitendu PalitSenior Research Fellow and Research Lead (Trade and Economic Policy), Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore (NUS)

 

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