Handbook of the International Political Economy of Trade
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Trade

Edited by David Deese

David A. Deese brings together leading researchers and writers from different countries and disciplines in a coherent framework to highlight the most important and promising research and policy questions regarding international trade. The content includes fundamental theory about trade as international communication and its effects on growth and inequality; the domestic politics of trade and trends in government trade policies; the implications of bilateral and regional trade (and investment) agreements; key issues of how trade is governed globally; and how trade continues to define and advance globalization from immigration to the internet.
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Chapter 11: Governing trade: regional leadership in the Asia Pacific

Deborah Elms


There are many ways to organize the governance of international trade. It can be handled multilaterally, though organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). It can be handled unilaterally, as individual countries make decisions based on their own best interests. For example, a country might choose to lower barriers to trade in a particular sector or product entirely on its own to give producers and consumers cheaper access to that sector or product. Countries also create trade agreements at the bilateral level to lower barriers and streamline trade with one another. Finally, countries can elect to handle trade in a regional manner, coming together in groups larger than two, to lower trade barriers and draw up new rules to govern trade relations between the partners. In Asia, countries have frequently chosen the path of governance at the regional level. What makes the Asia Pacific region so interesting for study from an international political economy perspective, however, is that the constellation of countries involved in trade governance vary from agreement to agreement.

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