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East Asia in World Trade: The Decoupling Fallacy, Crisis, and Policy Challenges

  • Prema-chandra Athukorala
  • Archanun Kohpaiboon

This paper examines the export experience of China and other East Asian economies in the aftermaths of the global financial crisis against the backdrop of pre-crisis trade patterns. The analysis is motivated by the ‘decoupling’ thesis, which was a popular theme in the Asian policy circles in the lead-up to the onset of the recent financial crisis, and aims to probe three key issues: Was the East Asian trade integration story that underpinned the decoupling thesis simply a statistical artifact or the massive export contraction caused by an overreaction of traders to the global economic crisis and/or by the drying up of trade credit, which overpowered the cushion provided by intra-regional trade? What are the new policy challenges faced by the East Asian economies? Is there room for an integrated policy response that marks a clear departure from the pre-crisis policy stance favoring export-oriented growth? The findings caution against a possible policy backlash against openness to foreign trade arising from the new-found enthusiasm for rebalancing growth, and make a strong case for a long-term commitment to non-discriminatory multilateral and unilateral trade liberalization.

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Paper provided by FIW in its series FIW Working Paper series with number 052.

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Length: 33
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wsr:wpaper:y:2010:i:052
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  1. Prema-chandra Athukorala, 2005. "Product Fragmentation and Trade Patterns in East Asia," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 4(3), pages 1-27, October.
  2. Yung Chul Park & Kwanho Shin, 2009. "Economic Integration and Changes in the Business Cycle in East Asia: Is the Region Decoupling from the Rest of the World?-super-," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 107-140, January.
  3. Miguel Almunia & Agustín Bénétrix & Barry Eichengreen & Kevin H. O'Rourke & Gisela Rua, 2010. "From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: similarities, differences and lessons," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 219-265, 04.
  4. TAKAHASHI Katsuhide & URATA Shujiro, 2008. "On the Use of FTAs by Japanese Firms," Discussion papers 08002, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  5. Prema-chandra Athukorala, 2009. "Production Networks and Trade Patterns:East Asia in a Global Context," Departmental Working Papers 2009-15, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
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