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Trade wars, interest rates, stocks and politics top ADB menu

There is no shortage of problems to tackle when bankers, economists and investors gather at the Asian Development Bank meetings in early May.


The Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting is fast approaching. Between May 1 and 5, central bank governors, finance ministers and policy wonks from across Asia will get together in Fiji – and a troupe of bankers will inevitably follow them.

Between the conference panels and cocktail parties, there is plenty to talk about. The possibility of a trade war between China and the US will be the most obvious topic of discussion. The two countries have imposed tariffs on each other’s goods – $250 billion of Chinese goods are affected – leading to fears of escalation. 

But talks between the two countries appear to be bearing fruit: US president Donald Trump has extended a March 1 deadline that would have seen tariffs increase from 10% to 25%.

How bad would a trade war be for Asia? The ADB’s own research presents a mixed picture. A report it published in December found that a full-scale trade war would shave just over 1% off China’s GDP and 0.2% off the US economy over a period of two to three years, ignoring other sources of growth. But it also found that some developing Asian economies could enjoy a positive impact from the trade war. 

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