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Economic Connectivity and Competition in a Multipolar Asia: Institute for Peace & Diplomacy

November 18, 2021

Samantha Custer, AidData Director of Policy Analysis, took part in an online conversation hosted by the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy on the Belt and Road Initiative, Build Back Better, and the future of economic competition, cooperation, and connectivity in Asia.


Economic integration in Asia is accelerating with the culmination of the RCEP agreement and Beijing’s latest bid to join the CPTPP. Investment and development initiatives are multiplying as Chinese BRI has influenced the creation of rival efforts by the G7. Simultaneously, the geopolitics of supply chains and technological competition have increasing ramifications for infrastructure deployment in emerging markets and how regional policymakers optimize economic cooperation between Beijing and Washington.

As the multi-trillion dollar demand for infrastructure provision in Asia remains, this discussion will assess how regional governments calibrate economic integration with political imperatives. Speakers will also examine how neighborhood capitals are sensitive or agnostic to the competing opportunities made available by a multipolar economy and the reformation of regional economic institutions that reflect new equations of power.


  • Hugh Stephens: Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation; former Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Communications, DFAIT
  • David Dollar: Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; former Country Director for China, World Bank
  • Shihoko Goto: Deputy Director for Geoeconomics, Wilson Center
  • Samantha Custer: Director of Policy Analysis, AidData, William & Mary’s Global Research Institute


  • David Carment: Senior Fellow, IPD; Professor of International Affairs at Carleton University

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