Edited by M. A.B. Siddique
Chapter 6: Free Trade Areas and Economic Integration in East Asia: The View from China
Christopher Howe INTRODUCTION This chapter is divided into four parts. The ﬁrst discusses major issues thrown up by past experience and analyses of regional economic integration and the light they throw on contemporary enthusiasms to establish Free Trade Areas (FTAs) in Asia. Second, we examine the major trends in China’s external sector and, in the third section, consider how these relate to Chinese approaches to trade policy. Finally we pull these strands together to examine what the FTA drive actually means in the Chinese context and what priorities Chinese trade policy is likely to adopt. Understanding Chinese thinking is by no means easy. These issues are open and debated so that there is no commanding oﬃcial view on the subject and good material in English is rather limited.1 However, the Chinese trade literature is quite rich and combined with an examination of actions as well as words, at least the main outlines of what is happening can be identiﬁed. FREE TRADE AREAS: EXPERIENCE AND POLICY ISSUES Free Trade Areas are one of the simplest arrangements of all systems of regional integration. A brief listing of this hierarchy is shown in Figure 6.1, with the most advanced forms at the bottom of the chart. Before considering this sequence further, it is important to bear in mind that international economic integration requires as prerequisites a reasonable degree of economic institutional sophistication and a successful internal process by which barriers to trade and resource movement have been eliminated. On the basis...
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