SINGAPORE (Nov 4): Today, one in five manufactured goods globally comes from China — a great leap from its 3% contribution in 1996. The rapid rise of China’s export engine, especially in manufacturing, and its ambition to produce the highly prized “high-tech goods” set out in its “China Manufacturing 2025” strategy, appears to be the key motivation behind the US-led trade war against China.

The question today is whether other economies in Asia can really benefit from such a trade war, and the answer very much depends on the time frame analysed.

In the short run, trade-war gains for Southeast Asian economies are not obvious, as China’s manufacturing capacity and global market share of exports is simply too hard to compete with. In a few years, however, the situation could be significantly different, as several Southeast Asian countries are well positioned to profit — though not to the extent of becoming the next China.

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