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The Changing Anatomy of Regional Trade Agreements in East Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2016

Abstract

The recent proliferation of regional trade agreements in the East Asian region can be seen as the most notable development in the region's trading panorama in recent years. Yet, very little is as yet understood about the anatomy of these agreements and, consequently, their full implications to the regional economy. This article strives to fill this gap by analyzing the structure of four dozen RTAs by their various key component parts, including tariff liberalization schedules, rules of origin, and competition policy, customs, investment, and services provisions. The results reveal that intra-Asian RTAs are generally quite rapidly liberalizing, with the exception of agriculture, but they are also quite thin in trade-related disciplines when compared with the more legalistic US trans-Pacific RTAs and those of Mexico and Chile. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific would inherently be a construct of the political economy interests of these various constituent RTAs.

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Copyright © East Asia Institute 

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