Regionalism in Services: A Study of ASEAN

24 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017

See all articles by Batshur Gootiiz

Batshur Gootiiz

World Bank

Aaditya Mattoo

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2017


Can regionalism do what multilateralism has so far failed to do – promote greater openness of services markets? While previous research has pointed to the wider and deeper legal commitments under regional agreements as proof that it can, no previous study has assessed the impact of such agreements on applied policies. This paper focuses on the ASEAN region, where regional integration of services markets has been linked to the thriving regional supply chains. Drawing upon surveys in 2008 and 2012 of applied policies in the key services sectors of ASEAN countries, we assess the impact of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and the ambitious ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, which envisages integrated services markets by 2015. We find that ASEAN is not integrating faster internally than vis‐à‐vis the rest of the world: policies applied to trade with other ASEAN countries are virtually the same as those applied to trade with rest of the world. Moreover, the recent commitments scheduled under AFAS have not produced significant liberalisation and, in a few instances, services trade policy has actually become more restrictive. The two exceptions are in areas that are not on the multilateral negotiating agenda: steps have been taken towards creating regional open skies in air transport, and a few mutual recognition agreements have been negotiated in professional services. These findings suggest that regional negotiations add most value when focused on areas that are not being addressed multilaterally.

Suggested Citation

Gootiiz, Batshur and Mattoo, Aaditya, Regionalism in Services: A Study of ASEAN (March 2017). The World Economy, Vol. 40, Issue 3, pp. 574-597, 2017. Available at SSRN: or

Batshur Gootiiz (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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Washington, DC 20433
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Aaditya Mattoo

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

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Room MC 3-327
Washington, DC 20433
United States
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