Economic Implications of Asian Integration

Global Economy Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 3, 2008

48 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2008

See all articles by Joseph F. Francois

Joseph F. Francois

University of Bern - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies (WIIW); University of Adelaide - School of Economics

Ganeshan Wignaraja

Asian Development Bank

Date Written: September 30, 2008

Abstract

The Asian countries are once again focused on options for large, comprehensive regional integration schemes. In this paper we explore the implications of such broad-based regional trade initiatives in Asia highlighting the bridging of the East and South Asian economies. We place emphasis on the alternative prospects for insider and outsider countries. We work with a global general equilibrium model of the world economy, benchmarked to a projected 2017 sets of trade and production patterns. We also work with gravity-model based estimates of trade costs linked to infrastructure, and of barriers to trade in services. Taking these estimates, along with tariffs, into our CGE model, we examine regionally narrow and broad agreements, all centered on extending the reach of ASEAN to include free trade agreements with combinations of the northeast Asian economies (PRC, Japan, Korea) and also the South Asian economies. We focus on a stylized FTA that includes goods, services, and some aspects of trade cost reduction through trade facilitation and related infrastructure improvements. What matters most for East Asia is that China, Japan, and Korea be brought into any scheme for deeper regional integration. This matter alone drives most of the income and trade effects in the East Asia region across all our scenarios. The inclusion of the South Asian economies in a broader regional agreement sees gains for the East Asian and South Asian economies. Most of the East Asian gains follow directly from Indian participation. The other South Asian players thus stand to benefit if India looks East and they are a part of the program, and to lose if they are not. Interestingly, we find that with the widest of agreements, the insiders benefit substantively in terms of trade and income while the aggregate impact on outside countries is negligible. Broadly speaking, a pan-Asian regional agreement would appear to cover enough countries, with a great diversity in production and incomes, to actually allow for regional gains without substantive third-country losses. However, realizing such potential requires overcoming a proven regional tendency to circumscribe trade concessions with rules of origin, NTBs, and exclusion lists. The more likely outcome, a spider web of bilateral agreements, carries with it the prospect of significant outsider costs (i.e. losses) both within and outside the region.

Keywords: regionalism, Asian FTAs, ASEAN, preferential trade, gravity model of services trade, trade costs and infrastructure

JEL Classification: F1, O24

Suggested Citation

Francois, Joseph F and Wignaraja, Ganeshan, Economic Implications of Asian Integration (September 30, 2008). Global Economy Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 3, 2008 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1275688

Joseph F Francois

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Schanzeneckstrasse 1
Bern, CH-3001
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies (WIIW) ( email )

Oppolzergasse 6
A-1010 Vienna
Austria

University of Adelaide - School of Economics ( email )

Adelaide SA, 5005
Australia
+61 8 8303 5540 (Phone)
+61 8 8223 1460 (Fax)

Ganeshan Wignaraja (Contact Author)

Asian Development Bank ( email )

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550
Metro Manila
Philippines

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