A Political Economy Approach
Edited by Jehoon Park, T. J. Pempel and Heungchong Kim
Chapter 5: Multilateralizing East Asian Regionalism
5. Multilateralizing East Asian regionalism Inkyo Cheong1 INTRODUCTION The World Bank (2004: 15) noted that regional trade agreements (RTAs) ‘can create trade and bring other benefits for members . . . but results are not automatic and depend critically on design. Actual contribution to the multilateralism remains unclear. One of the key factors behind this performance is slow and incomplete implementation of the agreements.’ However, optimists concluded that regionalism contributes to the development of a multilateral trade system. Supporters of this view have cited the rapid spread of regionalism and the fact that more than half of the world’s trade volume is being traded under preferential trade agreements. Accordingly, it is desirable that regionalism and multilateralism be developed side by side, and that regionalism be developed in such a manner that it supplements multilateralism. This chapter examines the current conditions and characteristics of East Asian regionalism and explores the ways in which Asian regionalism can contribute to the development of multilateralism. Given that the purpose of a multilateral trade system is to promote the well-being of the populations of the member countries by easing trade barriers and expanding trade, the formation of regionalism that can contribute to trade expansion can also contribute to the development of a multilateral trade system. Thus, free trade area (FTA) member countries should conclude agreements in which the scope of liberalization is wide and comprehensive and should minimize spaghetti bowl losses.2 FTAs that comply with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and World Trade Organization (WTO)...
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