Do WTO Commitments in Services Trade Agreements Reflect a Quest for Optimal Regulatory Convergence? Evidence from Asia
28 Pages Posted: 10 May 2018
Date Written: May 2018
Literature examining WTO+ commitments in services trade agreements (STAs) has not considered the role of services regulation. We bridge this gap using a sample of 15 South/South‐East Asian countries, given the burgeoning trend of Asian economies towards services preferentialism and the largely WTO+ nature of their preferential services commitments. Our empirical findings suggest that Asian trading dyads with regulatory frameworks that are more similar and more trade restrictive tend to undertake higher levels of WTO+ commitments in their STAs. There is also evidence in our results, including by modes of supply, for WTO+ commitments in Asian STAs being driven by goods trade complementarities, alluding to supply chain dynamics in the region. Such results support the hypothesis that the heightened “servicification” of production generates a demand to lower services input costs arising from regulatory incidence and heterogeneity.
Keywords: Asia, optimal regulatory convergence, preference margins, regional value chains, services agreements, services trade restrictiveness index
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