The Asian Perspective
ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation
Edited by Masahiro Kawai, Peter J. Morgan and Pradumna B. Rana
Chapter 8: The emerging “post-Doha” agenda and the new regionalism
As of 31 January 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) reports that, counting goods and services separately, it has received 583 notifications of regional trading arrangements (RTAs, defined by the WTO to be a reciprocal trading agreement between two or more countries), with 377 in force. This number is up from 300 at the end of 2005 and 130 at the beginning of 1995 (Plummer 2007). Asia has been a major participant in this rapid increase in RTAs; in fact, apart from the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1992, no Asian country had a significant RTA in place prior to 2000, whereas at the end of 2013 there were 113 Asia-related RTAs signed and in effect, and another 261 at various stages of negotiation. Many of these arrangements are intra-regional; Appendix Table 8A.1 gives an inventory of these arrangements for the East Asian summit (ASEAN+8) economies. Clearly, Asia has embraced regionalism in a big way. At the multilateral level, however, the situation is mixed. On the one hand, the WTO system itself is functioning well, with the rule-based system being respected, a much-improved dispute settlement mechanism (over the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT) in place, and rising membership (with the Russian Federation joining in 2012). The WTO continues to be the pre-eminent institution of global governance of trade.
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