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05 May 22

At the heart of contemporary trade in East Asia lies a tangled web of interdependence engendered by global value chains (GVCs), which connect the region tightly with itself and with the rest of the world. According to a leading theory in international relations, such economic interdependence both lubricates interstate cooperation and spills over into other issue-areas, as it does in the EU. Etel Solingen argues that this theory is especially applicable to complex GVCs, since they bind states in ways that transcend older modalities of trade interdependence. But she notes that mounting protectionism, trade wars, economic statecraft, and geopolitical tensions have increased the risks to GVCs and could disrupt some of the benefits they have yielded in the past. Such a “natural experiment”–the unfolding reality–allows observers to gauge the role of GVC interdependence in contemporary Asia-Pacific relations.

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