Trade Policies in Central Asia after EU Enlargement and before Russian WTO Accession: Regionalism and Integration into the World Economy
This paper analyses the choices between regionalism and multilateralism, and the impact of WTO membership on the five Central Asian countries. The two main sections analyse (1) why the large number of regional trade agreements which the Central Asian countries have signed have had little economic impact, and (2) the consequences for the Central Asian countries of Chinese and Russian WTO membership and the consequences of the current Central Asian applicants’ (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) own WTO accession. During the1990s, many regional trade agreements were signed - arrangements both among the Central Asian countries, and between Central Asian countries and their neighbours (Russia to the north, China to the east, and Iran and Turkey to the south) – but not implemented and, although the Kyrgyz Republic became a WTO member in 1998, the Central Asian countries vacillated between pursuing regional and multilateral trade policy avenues. The Central Asian countries’ relationship to the WTO became a more pressing issue after China’s long-running WTO accession negotiations were successfully concluded in December 200 and as Russian negotiations are move forward. At the same time the push towards regionalism is also affected by external events such as the European Union’s deeper integration, symbolized by the appearance of euro banknotes in 2002, and the eastward expansion of the EU in 2004.
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