Asia-Pacific economic cooperation is at a crossroads. From its roots in the mid 1960s it has been underpinned by a drive towards deeper economic integration. That intellectual foundation has been challenged by the failure of the TransPacific Partnership to come into force which has been interpreted as symptomatic of a discontent towards globalization evident in the 2016 US presidential and Brexit campaignl. It remains to be seen whether this is a transition phase or if it is in inﬂection point in the process with economies turning inwards and eschewing the benefits of deeper integration.
The latter would have seismic repercussions on economic policy throughout the world but especially the Asia-Pacific. Some may see recent events fatalistically but there is much the region can do to avoid a slide into tit-for-tat protectionism. Evidence of the ability of governments to keep momentum going was evident in March in Manila with the announcement of an attempt to restart the ASEAN-EU FTA2 negotiations. This initiative should trigger a deeper examination of where various economies stand with respect to how they benefit from the trading system. If successful, the deal would bring together Europe with its technologically advanced companies together with rapidly growing middle-income Southeast Asia. This is not to forget the very significant progress being made in Pacific South America with the Pacific Alliance or moreover, the progress being made with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement that would consolidate ASEAN's Plus One FTAs into a single accord.
1 See https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/withdrawal-from-trans-pacific- partnership-shifts-us-role-in-world-economy/2017/01/23/05720df6-e1a6-11e6-a453- 19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.79c45a5dd97a for example.
2 See: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/philippines/22452/eu-and-asean-gear-possible-re-launch-trade-talks_en