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Consolidation and Harmonization of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs): A Path Toward Global Free Trade

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Author Info

  • Park, Innwon
  • Park, Soonchan

Abstract

Some economists worry about the ‘spaghetti bowl phenomenon’ expected from proliferating regional trade agreements (RTAs). 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 (RoO) and trade diversion or suppression effects. This explains why almost half of the RTAs notified to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently inactive. This research attempts to provide best practices for RTAs to enhance global free trade by mitigating these negative effects. More specifically, we quantitatively estimate the trade creation and diversion effects of harmonized and cumulated RoO (bilateral, diagonal, and full cumulation) for RTAs established under GATT Article XXIV and under the Enabling Clause by adopting a Gravity regression analysis. We find that (i) RTAs in general create trade among members and divert trade from nonmembers; (ii) RTAs should be established under the comprehensive GATT Article XXIV, rather than the piecemeal Enabling Clause; and (iii) full cumulation is the most optimal provision in terms of creating the most intra-bloc trade and diverting the least extra-bloc trade. Overall, we strongly recommend that RTAs should employ full cumulation of RoO under GATT Article XXIV. This strategy will enable regionalism to be compatible with multilateralism, to be sustainable in the long run, and finally to lead us to global free trade.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 14217.

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Date of creation: 14 Jan 2009
Date of revision: 23 Mar 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14217

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Keywords: regional trade agreements; rules of origin; cumulation; gravity; GATT Article XXIV; Enabling Clause;

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References

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  1. Innwon Park & Soonchan Park, 2009. "Free Trade Agreements versus Customs Unions: An Examination of East Asia," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 8(2), pages 119-139, June.
  2. Rajapatirana, Sarath, 1994. "The evolution of trade treaties and trade creation : lessons for Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1371, The World Bank.
  3. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
  4. Rupa Duttagupta & Arvind Panagariya, 2007. "Free Trade Areas And Rules Of Origin: Economics And Politics," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 169-190, 07.
  5. Krueger, Anne O., 1997. "Free trade agreements versus customs unions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 169-187, October.
  6. Ali El-Agraa, 2002. "The UTR versus CU Formation Analysis and Article XXIV," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(9), pages 621-624.
  7. Medalla, Erlinda M., 2008. "Rules of Origin: Regimes in East Asia and Recommendations for Best Practice," Discussion Papers DP 2008-19, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
  8. Patricia Augier & Michael Gasiorek & Charles Lai-Tong, 2007. "Multilateralising Regionalism: Relaxing the Rules of Origin Or Can Those Pecs Be Flexed?," CARIS Working Papers 03, Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration at Sussex, University of Sussex.
  9. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  10. Michael G. Plummer, 2007. "'Best Practices' in Regional Trading Agreements: An Application to Asia," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(12), pages 1771-1796, December.
  11. Baldwin, Richard, 2006. "Multilateralising Regionalism: Spaghetti Bowls as Building Blocs on the Path to Global Free Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 5775, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Wonnacott, Paul & Wonnacott, Ronald, 1981. "Is Unilateral Tariff Reduction Preferable to a Customs Union? The Curious Case of the Missing Foreign Tariffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 704-14, September.
  13. Ghosh, Sucharita & Yamarik, Steven, 2004. "Does trade creation measure up? A reexamination of the effects of regional trading arrangements," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 213-219, February.
  14. Antoni Estevadeordal & Kati Suominen & Jeremy Harris & José Ernesto López-Córdova, . "Gatekeepers of Global Commerce: Rules of Origin and International Economic Integration," IDB Publications 16558, Inter-American Development Bank.
  15. Hadi Soesastro, 2003. "Challenges to APEC Trade Policy: The Doha Development Agenda and RTAs/FTAs," CSIS Economics Working Paper Series WPE069, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia.
  16. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M Stern, 2001. "Impacts on NAFTA Members of Multilateral and Regional Trading Arrangements and Initiatives and Harmonization of NAFTA's External Tariffs," Working Papers 471, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  17. Erlinda M. Medalla, 2008. "Rules of Origin : Regimes in East Asia and Recommendations for Best Practice," Trade Working Papers 22665, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Hamanaka, Shintaro, 2012. "Evolutionary paths toward a region-wide economic agreement in Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 383-394.
  2. Hayakawa, Kazunobu & Kimura, Fukunari, 2014. "How do free trade agreements reduce tariff rates and non-tariff barriers?," IDE Discussion Papers 446, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  3. Park, Innwon & Park, Soonchan & Kim, Sangkyom, 2010. "A Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP): Is It Desirable?," MPRA Paper 26680, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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