The sharp decline in trade volume and value during the current economic crisis has contributed to lower transportation costs and reduced waiting times at border crossings, reducing the urgency of progress on trade facilitation. Meanwhile, greater trade is expected to play a key role in recovery, and in sustaining growth afterwards. The crisis offers an excellent opportunity to make progress on facilitating intra-Asian trade and boosting the region’s contribution to global economic recovery.
This paper examines the status of, and challenges to, trade facilitation among the Asian Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation members, and the roles of hard and soft infrastructure (including logistics) in improving that performance. Analysis with a computable general equilibrium framework indicates that even a relatively modest reduction in trade costs can yield significant gains. Gross domestic product in the region expands and countries move into a more diversified trading pattern. Of particular relevance for policy considerations is that the results vary considerably across bilateral trade routes and commodity categories.