General Issues and Regional Groups
Edited by Miroslav N. Jovanović
Chapter 2: Multilateralising Regionalism: Spaghetti Bowls as Building Blocks on the Path to Global Free Trade
1 Richard E. Baldwin2 1 PREFACE TO THE 2009 VERSION Since I wrote the first draft of this chapter in 2006, I have organised two conferences on the topic of ‘multilateralising regionalism’. The first was hosted by WTO DirectorGeneral Pascal Lamy in September 2007.3 That brought together trade scholars and trade diplomats to discuss practical ways for multilateralising regionalism. The output was a short, policy-oriented book (Baldwin and Thornton, 2008), and a conference volume that collected together the dozen or so scientific papers that were presented at the conference (Baldwin and Low, 2009). In his closing remarks at the conference, Lamy said: The drive towards regionalism, bilateral agreements, preferential agreements is there to stay. . . . I think, during these discussions, we’ve moved the direction the initiators of the discussions wanted to move, which is from a discussion of the pros and cons of regional trade agreements to a discussion on how do we cope with that and how do we multilateralise these agreements to gain both in coherence and in economic efficiency, taming the tangle, as we said. And this means, rolling up our sleeves and looking into many ‘nitty gritty’ issues as we have to do it in the World Trade Organization. The second conference was organised with the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo and focused on multilateralising Asian regionalism. The papers are available on the web, but the conference proceedings are not yet out.4 Some trade scholars, such as Jagdish Bhagwati, have written that multilateralisation is too difficult...
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