While the direct impact of this week’s French election results on trade in Asia are minimal, the long-term implications may be far-reaching, if it proves to be a vote of confidence in the European Union.

The perceived political risk in the EU and the euro has fallen sharply after the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron topped the poll. He will now enter into a run-off against the far-right and anti-globalist candidate Marine Le Pen.

The supporters of many of the other 11 first round candidates are likely to fall in behind Macron in a bid to keep Le Pen – an inflammatory figure who has promised retrenchment from the global trading system and exit from the EU – out of office.

Macron, on the other hand, is the most pro-European and globalisation candidate. A maintenance of the union is good news for Asia, as markets showed when they rallied upon Macron’s first round victory.

Indeed, it’s this idea of “retrenchment” which some analysts were fingering as the major risk to regions which rely strongly on trade. Few trade more fervently than Asia, particularly the Southeast Asian manufacturing hubs and the trade facilitation and distribution hubs such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

“If you look at trade, it’s more about how a shock in France can have a shock in the EU, then this can have a shock on Asia Pacific – that is the derivative impact on trade,” Mahamoud Islam, an economist for Euler Hermes in Hong Kong, tells GTR. “But then you can have a financial impact and this one can be more immediate. If you have a shortage of confidence you can have an immediate impact on all the financial variables: currency and also stock markets.”

The gist is: a stable EU is good for Asia. France doesn’t have particularly enhanced ties with Asia – not in the sense of Germany and China’s strong trading relationship, or the UK’s historical relationship with India.

“Politically, China supports an integrated Europe and considers the EU an important global player. But in reality, China has to deal with a weakened EU,” Cui Hongjian, a professor at the China Institute of International Studies, told local Chinese media. “Regardless, it is time for China to comprehensively assess the EU’s future, since there’s no doubt the bloc will undergo reforms and adjustments.”

But no economy in this part of the world wishes to see further tumult to a global trading system which is starting to rebound.

Yesterday’s World Trade Monitor from the Netherlands CPB Bureau showed that global trade actually fell by 0.6% in February, having grown by 1% in January. The significance of this data has been downplayed by analysts, however. Some expect it to be revised up. Furthermore, there has been a cumulative rise of 4.4% since November.

Simon MacAdam, assistant economist at Capital Economist, notes that the CPB data is at odds with other respected measures, such as the three-month IATA air freight volumes index and the RWI container traffic metric, which track air and sea freight cargo volumes respectively. Both place physical trade volumes on an upward trajectory.

MacAdam adds: “There are also signs that trade volumes have gathered pace since then. Data released by early-reporting East Asian countries often paint a fairly accurate picture of world trade. The average rate of export growth in these economies, which include Japan and South Korea, is consistent with year-on-year growth of global trade volumes of around 5%.

“South Korea, often considered a bellwether of world trade, publishes even more timely trade figures. On the basis of past form, its latest data suggest that growth in the dollar value of world trade has edged up in April.”