Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements in Asia: A Sceptic's View

EAST ASIAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: LAW, TRADE AND FINANCE, Ross Buckley, Richard Hu and Douglas Arner, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011

21 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2010 Last revised: 24 Oct 2015

See all articles by Bryan Christopher Mercurio

Bryan Christopher Mercurio

Chinese University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law; University of New South Wales - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 15, 2010

Abstract

While some commentators credit bilateral and regional free trade agreements (RTAs) for increasing regional trade and per capita GDP in Asia, this chapter contends that the role of RTAs in expanding regional trade in Asia has been overstated and exaggerated. Put simply, this chapter demonstrates that while it is true that the growth of RTAs occurred in the same time period as increased regional trade and per capita GDP growth, there is no significant causal relationship between the events. Taken further, this chapter asserts that intra-regional trade and per capita GDP in Asia would be far higher with the broadening of scope and coverage in Asian RTAs. Such a conclusion is reached through the evaluation of a comprehensive selection of intra-Asian RTAs - with specific reference to the utilization rates of the RTAs - which reveals the biggest drawbacks to such agreements are the connected issues of focusing almost exclusively on the liberalization of goods while at the same time providing for only modest liberalization in the sector. In this regard, liberalization efforts are severely hampered and potential gains from the RTA curtailed.

Keywords: Asia, free trade agreements, Article XXIV of the GATT, services, government procurement, intellectual property

JEL Classification: K33, F15

Suggested Citation

Mercurio, Bryan Christopher, Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements in Asia: A Sceptic's View (September 15, 2010). EAST ASIAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: LAW, TRADE AND FINANCE, Ross Buckley, Richard Hu and Douglas Arner, eds., Edward Elgar, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1677331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1677331

Bryan Christopher Mercurio (Contact Author)

Chinese University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

6/F Western Teaching Complex
Shatin, New Territories
Hong Kong
(852) 2696 1139 (Phone)

University of New South Wales - Faculty of Law

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

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