Think Tank (2/2022)
GRIPS - RSIS Workshop on "Regional Economic Integration in the Post-Pandemic Era".
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Strengthening Regional Economic Integration in a Post-Pandemic World
16 Feb 2022
Oliver Fu

In light of the current trends, opportunities and challenges facing regional economies, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Japan and RSIS co-organised a virtual workshop on “Regional Economic Integration in the Post-Pandemic Era” on 16 February 2022.

Participants assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the US-China rivalry on the regional economic order, including the obstacles posed by these challenges to regional economic cooperation and multilateralism. The strategies of actors such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, and the United States were also discussed.

It was noted that the US efforts to retain its leading role in the region span the security, strategic and technological sectors, while China is expanding its supply chain network to strengthen its regional influence. Meanwhile, ASEAN is working with both Beijing and Washington to recover from the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.

The roles and future trends of regional free trade agreements were also discussed, particularly in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). While the three arrangements have different emphasis and priorities, they could also be complementary. In this regard, some participants speculated that these economic arrangements may become more comprehensive and inclusive in the future.

Participants also discussed ways to strengthen the resilience of supply chains, in light of the China-US decoupling and consequent instability. Specifically, it would be important to ensure that security tensions do not spill over into the economic sector. Regional countries should also continue their efforts to diversify supply chains.

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