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Free Trade Agreements versus Customs Unions: An Examination of East Asia

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  • Innwon Park

    (Division of International Studies at Korea University, 5-1 Anam-Dong, Sungbuk-Gu, Seoul 136-701, Korea.)

  • Soonchan Park

    (Department of Economics and International Trade, Kongju National University, Kongju, Korea.)

Abstract

The spaghetti bowl phenomenon expected from the proliferating East Asian regional trade agreements (RTAs) is worrisome. In particular, the complicated web of hub-and-spoke type of overlapping free trade agreements (FTAs) can result in high costs for verifying rules of origin. As an alternative policy option to avoid the negative effect of trade deflection, customs unions (CUs) should be examined. Most of the theoretical analyses on the formation of CUs highlight stronger positive welfare effects compared to FTAs. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support the second-best theory of customs unions. This paper is an attempt to fill this gap by applying two methodologies: an ex ante simulation approach and an ex-post econometric approach. We quantitatively estimate the trade effect of CUs and FTAs by adopting a Gravity regression analysis. In general, we find that a CU is a superior type of RTA to an FTA in terms of creating more intra-bloc trade. In addition to analyzing the trade effects of RTAs according to type, we quantitatively evaluate the welfare and output effects of CUs for East Asia (an ASEAN+3 CU and a China-Japan-Korea CU) compared to FTAs by applying a computable general equilibrium model analysis. The East Asian CUs adopt a system of common external tariffs (CET) based on simple-averaged, import-weighted, consumption-weighted, and minimum rates. Overall, we find that the ASEAN+3 CU with the minimum CET are the most desirable type of RTA for both East Asian member countries and the world economy as a whole. (c) 2009 The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Asian Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 8 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 119-139

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:asiaec:v:8:y:2009:i:2:p:119-139

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Innwon Park & Soonchan Park, 2011. "Best practices for regional trade agreements," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 147(2), pages 249-268, June.
  2. Boldea, O. & Engwerda, J.C. & Michalak, T. & Plasmans, J.E.J. & Salmah, S., 2011. "A Simulation Study of an ASEAN Monetary Union (Replaces CentER DP 2010-100)," Discussion Paper 2011-098, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Park, Innwon & Park, Soonchan, 2009. "Consolidation and Harmonization of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs): A Path Toward Global Free Trade," MPRA Paper 14217, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Mar 2009.
  4. Engwerda, J. & Boldea, O. & Michalak, T. & Plasmans, J. & Salmah,, 2012. "A simulation study of an ASEAN monetary union," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 1870-1890.
  5. Roberto Miranda, 2012. "Central American Economic Integration - The Impact of a Customs Union with Guatemala on El Salvador’s Economy," Competence Centre on Money, Trade, Finance and Development 1208, Hochschule fuer Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin.

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