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Opinion

Asia must brace for new age of protectionism

Putting up trade barriers causes everyone to lose in the long run

| Vietnam
A child washes hands with anti-bacterial soap in Dhaka on Mar. 27: hand soap faces a global average tariff of 17%.   © LightRocket/Getty Images

James Crabtree is an associate professor in practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is author of "The Billionaire Raj."

The World Trade Organization made clear the economic calamity of the coronavirus pandemic this week, predicting that global trade could plunge by as much as a third over the next three years. Yet even this dire scenario may turn out to be optimistic if, as seems likely, a new wave of protectionism follows in the virus's wake, including here in Asia, risking a repeat of the avoidable policy mistakes that led the 1929 Wall Street Crash to slide into the Great Depression.

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