A Comprehensive Introduction to Regional Issues
Edited by Masahisa Fujita, Ikuo Kuroiwa and Satoru Kumagai
Chapter 7: Agricultural Issues Related to East Asia’s Economic Integration
7. Agricultural issues related to East Asia’s economic integration Masayoshi Honma 7.1 INTRODUCTION Agriculture is often considered a stumbling block that hinders economic integration. Indeed, in forming free trade areas through FTAs (free trade agreements) or EPAs (economic partnership agreements), the treatment of the agricultural sector is one of the most central issues in the negotiations, and sensitive products are excluded, or at least treated differently from other sectors in the list of tariff eliminations. Agricultural policy is associated with a country’s stage of economic development, and over the course of economic growth in a country, the agricultural policy tends to shift from exploitation to protection of agriculture (Honma and Hayami 1986, Honma 1994). In the East Asian region, which is defined here as Japan, Korea, China and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the stage of economic development differs by country, and thus so does agricultural policy. It is not an easy task to harmonize agricultural policies in a region where there are both countries that export and countries that import agricultural products. As observed in the WTO (World Trade Organization) agricultural negotiations, interests among East Asian countries do not necessarily coincide with each other but are often rather sharply conflicted by agricultural issues. Despite the difficulties, the agricultural sector should be reoriented and adjusted towards East Asian economic integration, because, if agriculture is excluded from the integration, the benefits of integration will be halved for the countries in which agriculture is an important economic sector. Also, unless...
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