What's happening in Intra Asia





Once Covid-19 lockdowns are done, intra-Asia trade prospects look bright given socio-economic conditions

Because Asia, being poorer, has less to lose financially, there are fewer convulsions in the intra-Asia trade lanes, and what global convulsions do occur, have less impact than on other east-west trades.

Thus, the breakdown of the transpacific trade or the Asia-Europe trade, occasioned by the covid-19 epidemic, and more importantly to the hyperactive global response to it, has shattered projections of shipping outcomes this year and next.

Yet the intra-Asia trade, only partially immunised, has not been untouched. Its box volume makes it the biggest of the big three world trades, though not be value. But because of the covid-19 outbreak has had such an large impact on the bigger players, they have invaded intra-Asia turf to stem their losses elsewhere.

India's Covid crisis rivived an import substitution policy that can be seen as prepartion for re-entry in the global game

Before the covid-19 pandemic, one tended to see the reformist government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi as the new business-friendly face of the subcontinent that many hoped would have smiliar impact as the efforts Deng Xiaoping who opened up China in the 1990s.

But the Wuhan flu changed all that. Instead of an India that ready to compete in the world in global trade as most everyone expected, having the heft to rival, China, instead it retreated into its traditional shell of protectionist import substitution, which went by the popular name of "Swadeshi", an expression of defiant self-reliance.

To be fair many countries did the same as they quarantined themselves into various degrees of lockdown. India for domestic political reasons found it convenient to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak as did the US. It joined the world clamour against the Middle Kingdom, which conveniently was acting badly in other diplomatic ways, making itself vulnerable to worldwide criticism on many levels.

China's reputation for coercion is likely to have a positive impact on intra-Asia trade balance in 2021

It's a commonplace to say that without China the intra-Asia trade would be insignificant in terms of container and dollar volumes.

By its own account, at least, China seems to have emerged in better shape than most in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak from which we are now emerging.

Said Bloomberg: "One market showing signs of recovery is China, where the virus’s earliest outbreak has been contained and factories are getting back to work. Reports show both Japanese and South Korean exports to China falling far less than shipments to other key markets, but there’s a risk that collapsing global demand could squash China’s rebound."

Arguments pro and con for an increasingly integrated Asia morphing its way to full nation statehood

It has been argued in the Asia Times by David Goldman that a byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic is the beginning of an "Asian Century", and by implication a golden age for the intra-Asia trade.

Mr Goldman goes so far as to suggest that Asia will be transformed into as an economic zone as closely integrated as the European Union. That would imply, a structure that would be fast approaching the status of a nation state, such as imagined by the masters of the EU. Of course, that is precisely what a simple majority in the UK voters voted against by voting Brexit.

But such developments hold no terrors for Mr Goldman: "Economic historians may date the start of the Asian Century to May 2020, when most Asian economies bounced back to full employment while the West languished in coronavirus lockdown." he writes.


Intra Asia Trade Specialists

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