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Working Paper 05-12

Prospects for Regional Free Trade in Asia

by Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics
and Yee Wong, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

October 2005


Gary Clyde HufbauerFrustrated with lackluster momentum in the Doha Round and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and mindful of free trade agreement (FTA) networks centered on the United States and Europe, Asian countries have joined the FTA blitz. By 2005 Asian countries (excluding China) had ratified 14 bilateral and regional FTAs and had negotiated but not implemented another seven. Asian nations are also actively negotiating 23 bilateral and regional FTAs, many with non-Asian partners, including Australia, Canada, Chile, the European Union, India, and Qatar. China has been particularly active since 2000. It has completed three bilateral FTAs-Thailand in 2003 and Hong Kong and Macao in 2004-and is initiating another 17 bilateral and regional FTAs. However, a regional Asian economic bloc led by China seems distant, even though China accounts for about 30 percent of regional GDP.

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RELATED LINKS

Paper: Submission to the USTR in Support of a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement January 25, 2010

Speech: The Future of APEC and Its Core Agenda December 9, 2009

Policy Brief 09-16: Pacific Asia and the Asia Pacific: The Choices for APEC July 2009

Policy Brief 08-5: World Trade at Risk May 2008

Policy Brief 07-2: Toward a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific February 2007

Book: NAFTA Revisited: Achievements and Challenges October 2005

Working Paper 97-3: Open Regionalism

Article: Challenges to the Free Trade Area of the Americas October 2002

Working Paper 03-7: Labor Standards and the Free Trade Area of the Americas August 2003