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Dealing with the Proliferation of Bilateral Free Trade Agreements

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  • Jayant Menon

Abstract

Abstract Bilateral free trade agreements (BTAs) have been proliferating. The outcome of this proliferation of often overlapping BTAs and plurilateral free trade agreements (PTAs) is described as the spaghetti bowl effect or, in the Asian region, the noodle bowl effect. This is costly, and welfare reducing. How do we remedy the situation? In this paper, we consider the various options proposed in dealing with the spaghetti bowl, and assess their ability to do so. A general limitation of these proposals is their tendency to group all kinds of BTAs together, treating them as a homogeneous group. Thus, the proposals ignore underlying differences in motivation in forming BTAs. To overcome this, we develop a taxonomy for classifying BTAs by motivation before considering the effectiveness of the different remedies proposed. We find that each proposal has its pros and cons, and can cater for different types of BTAs. Thus, a combination of the various proposals may be warranted, even in the event of an expeditious and bona fide conclusion to the Doha Round. Copyright 2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Jayant Menon, 2009. "Dealing with the Proliferation of Bilateral Free Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(10), pages 1381-1407, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:32:y:2009:i:10:p:1381-1407
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard E. Baldwin, 2011. "Multilateralising Regionalism: Spaghetti Bowls as Building Blocks on the Path to Global Free Trade," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Integration, Volume I, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. John Whalley, 2008. "Recent Regional Agreements: Why So Many, Why So Much Variance in Form, Why Coming So Fast, and Where Are They Headed?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 517-532, April.
    3. Richard Pomfret, 2007. "Is Regionalism an Increasing Feature of the World Economy?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(6), pages 923-947, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Gilbert, 2013. "The economic impact of new regional trading developments in the ESCAP region," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 20(1), pages 1-32, June.
    2. Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2013. "Asian Economic Integration Monitor March 2013," ADB Reports RPS135470-3, Asian Development Bank (ADB), revised 05 Nov 2013.
    3. Jayant Menon, 2013. "Can FTAs Support the Growth or Spread of International Production Networks in Asia?," Departmental Working Papers 2013-06, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    4. Harinder Kohli & Ashok Sharma & Anil Sood (ed.), 2011. "Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century," Books, Emerging Markets Forum, edition 1, number asia2050, August.
    5. Hamanaka, Shintaro, 2012. "Evolutionary paths toward a region-wide economic agreement in Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 383-394.
    6. Sung Hee Lee & Kun Soo Park & Yong Won Seo, 2016. "Multinational Firm’s Production Decisions under Overlapping Free Trade Agreements: Rule of Origin Requirements and Environmental Regulation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-16, December.
    7. Capannelli, Giovanni, 2011. "Institutions for Economic and Financial Integration in Asia: Trends and Prospects," ADBI Working Papers 308, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    8. Hayakawa, Kazunobu & Yamashita, Nobuaki, 2011. "The role of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) in facilitating global production networks," IDE Discussion Papers 280, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    9. Sadequl ISLAM, 2011. "The Economic Effects On Nafta Of Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreements," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 11(1).

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