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Jakarta Post

Finalizing FTAs will be a boost for Southeast Asian economy

  • Stuart Tait

    Hong Kong

Hong Kong   /   Mon, September 21 2020   /  06:48 am
Illustration of free trade.(Shutterstock.com/Lightspring)

When a recession hits, economies tend to become more protective by putting up trade barriers. But that isn’t an advisable option for trade-dependent Southeast Asia. If anything, now is the time for ASEAN members to open up further by joining multilateral trade deals such as CPTPP and RCEP. As Southeast Asia cautiously emerges from lockdown, the policy focus is shifting from triage to kick-starting their economies. In its June forecast, the IMF estimated that Southeast Asia’s five biggest economies will shrink by 2 per cent in 2020, which is better than the global average of -5 percent, but it will still be a severe shock for a region that has experienced growth every year since the 1960s. Rebuilding Southeast Asia’s growth engine will be a challenge. The region’s Big Three trade sectors – commodities, electronics and textiles – all face econom...