Regional trade agreements in the Indo-Pacific: does the EU risk losing sight of their importance?


By Michael Reiterer

This policy brief looks at the approach the European Union has recently taken on trade (and related issues like standard setting) in the Asia- and Indo-Pacific as reflected in the three main policy papers, the 2018 Connectivity Strategy for Asia, the 2021 Indo-Pacific Strategy, and the 2021 Global Gateway.

Against the background of two regional trade agreements, RCEP and CPTPP, this stance is important in carving out a role for the EU in the region in terms of geo-economics but also geopolitics. Intensifying the EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific economic powerhouse would reinforce the role of the EU, as this is an area where Europe can play to its strength and contribute to stability, prosperity, and security. Considering joining one or both agreements is an option; setting priorities while taking into account the planned bi-regional agreement with ASEAN is a must.