The world trade system faces threats from many directions, economists say. Photo: AFP

Emerging Asia’s imports grew by 10% year-on-year as of August, compared to 12% in July, according to data on world trade volume compiled by the Netherlands Central Planning Bureau.

The United States came in a distant second with 7% year-on-year growth. Europe and Japan were roughly flat.

Both cyclical and structural factors appear to be at work. China has increased imports in recent years from Southeast Asian nations due to the shift of supply chains from China to lower-cost producers. Robust retail sales growth in China, moreover, probably contributes to growing import demand.

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