Dynamic Effects of the “New Age” Free Trade Agreement between Japan and Singapore
As manufacturing tariffs have fallen worldwide, the focus of free trade agreements has shifted towards other issues, including: rules governing foreign investment, e-commerce regulations, trade in services, harmonization of technical standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary regulations, and the streamlining of customs procedures. Japan and Singapore are undertaking negotiations over this kind of “new-age” FTA. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the impact of the FTA on production, consumption, trade, international investment flows, GDP and welfare. We use a modified version of the dynamic GTAP model, which is well-suited to capturing the impact of this new-age FTA over both the short run and the longer run. In addition to the proposed bilateral tariff cuts, our analysis takes account of the potential gains from implementing uniform standards for e-commerce in Japan and Singapore. The consequences of liberalizing rules governing direct trade in services are also considered. Finally, we seek to quantify the impact of automating customs procedures in Japan, making them compatible with the computer-based standards established by Singapore. This is projected to reduce the administrative costs and lag time in Japan’s exports to, and imports from, all destinations, thereby permitting products to be delivered in a more timely fashion. We find that the impacts of this new-age FTA on bilateral trade and investment flows are significant – with customs automization playing the most important role in driving increases in merchandise trade. The FTA also boosts rates of return in the two economies, thereby increasing both foreign and domestic investment as well as GDP. This causes the trade balance in both Japan and Singapore to deteriorate relative to baseline over the medium run, although it improves in the long run due to higher foreign income payments. The estimated global gains from this FTA are in excess of $US 9 billion annually, with the bulk of these gains accruing to Japan – which undertakes most of the reforms. Unlike preferential tariff cuts, the “new age” components of this FTA promote imports from all sources, thereby eliminating the problem of trade diversion.
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