International Trade and Sectoral Income Equality in East Asia: Role Theoretical Comparative Analysis of Regional, Interregional and Global Trade Pattern

Start date: January 2021

Principal Investigator: Daniel Köllner


The research project aims to reveal income disparities in international trade by using newly developed indices and exploring different role conceptions. It investigates how interactions between different actors influence socio-economic factors using constructivist and deconstructivist approaches. The research work applies both quantitative and qualitative methods embedded in international political economy, international trade theory, and role theory. The focus is on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the People’s Republic of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and their significant others, aiming to provide explanations for socio-economic disparities in foreign trade and peculiarities in relation to East Asia, (inter)regional integration and globalization.

Understanding income disparities in international trade is particularly important for East Asia, where all the actors discussed are closely linked to an export-oriented growth model. While Japan traditionally enacts a technological pioneering role, the Republic of Korea has created a role model for other economies with its export-oriented model. China’s rapid economic growth challenges the roles of Korea and Japan, as well as the global distribution of roles. Regional and interregional cooperation can strengthen the role of economies vis-à-vis others and jointly tackle global challenges. This research project focuses on the socio-economic aspects of the sustainability triad.