Fisheries has always played a vital role in supporting livelihoods and ensuring food security and sustainable economic and social development in Southeast Asia. Historically, rural and coastal communities across the region have heavily relied on the fish trade as an indispensable source of income and employment. With the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies and large fish traders like China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, there is a threat for smaller countries to lose competitive advantages in the regional market. By studying bilateral trade flows between fifteen RCEP members in 2010–2019 and matching indicative untapped trade potentials (ITP method) with revealed comparative (RCA method), relative trade (RTA method), and competitive (Lafay index) advantages across 210 pairs of countries, the authors found substantial misbalances between potential values of country-to-country trade and actual advantages of RCEP economies. To optimize gains from intraregional trade for both smaller and larger RCEP members, this study identified advantageous and disadvantageous trading destinations and product categories for individual countries. The recommendations were then generalized along the four groups of economies based on their level of income, contribution to overall RCEP trade in fish, and the share of fishery products in the national trade turnover. From a practical side, the study adds to the knowledge about the fish trade in Asia by detailing how countries can better utilize individual combinations of advantages. From a methodological side, the approach can be employed widely outside the RCEP to establish a reliable picture of potential gains or losses of a particular country in trade with its counterparts across varied sets of competitive advantages.
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