CSIS Working Paper Series, WPE 094
The 1990s saw East Asia becoming more integrated as trade barriers fell, trade intensity and intra-industry trade increased, and production networks formed. This greater integration has resulted in changing patterns of trade specialization in the region, as different economies adjust. Some economies (especially resource-rich economies) maintain their top trade-specialty products, while others move towards higher-productivity manufacturing goods. Nonetheless, we observe in all East Asian countries in our study a trend towards specializing in products with higher sophistication and technological intensity. Meanwhile, our examination of the product specialization mobility and our empirical analysis suggest no indication of East Asian countries being in a "low-productivity specialization trap" which would disable them from shifting their specialization towards higher-productivity and higher-value goods.