Davidson, Christopher. the Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence

By Garcia, Zenel | Journal of Third World Studies, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

Davidson, Christopher. the Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence


Garcia, Zenel, Journal of Third World Studies


Davidson, Christopher. The Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Christopher Davidson has written a concise historical and contemporary overview of the growing interdependence between the Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia regions. The book focuses on the budding relations between the six monarchies in the Pacific Gulf--Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman--and three of the most advanced economies of Pacific Asia--Japan, China, and South Korea. Davidson successfully demonstrates how the rapidly growing economies in the Pacific Asia region have been incentivized to seek greater cooperation with Persian Gulf states in order to secure the growing quantities of energy that are necessary to continue economic development. Likewise, as standards of living rise in the Persian Gulf there has been an increasing demand for technology, investment, and consumer goods from Pacific Asia.

Japan is shown to be an early pioneer in the establishment of relations between the two regions in the 1950s, as well as a source of generous Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the 1960s to the 1980s. China and South Korea followed suit by establishing trade relations in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. The hydrocarbon trade has been at the center of the relations between these two regions. Davidson estimates that hydrocarbon trade between the two regions could be worth as much as $192.2 billion annually (p. 21). Key to this relation is the fact that unlike Western countries, which are actively seeking energy diversification away from the Persian Gulf, the Pacific Asian states are deepening their energy dependency on the region. As a result, Persian Gulf states have come to see the Pacific Asia region as a more lucrative market.

Despite the centrality of the hydrocarbon trade, Davidson reveals that there is an increasing volume of trade in non-hydrocarbon sectors between the two regions. The monarchies in the Persian Gulf have attempted to diversify their exports through the production of plastics and petrochemicals. Pacific Asian states have effectively found a new market to export their cars, heavy machinery, textiles, and electronics. Japan in particular has been the most important exporter to the Persian Gulf after overtaking the United States and Germany. Nevertheless, it is expected that China will eventually supersede Japan as the main exporter in the region. The non-hydrocarbon trade between the two regions is estimated to be worth around $63 billion annually (p. 33).

The deepening of interdependence between the two regions has also led to increases of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Much FDI between the two regions continues to be dominated by hydrocarbon interests although signs of diversification are beginning to show. More specifically, Japan has sought to promote water-related investments in Saudi Arabia by financing a number of projects in the country. …

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