WTO Market Access Negotiations for Non-Agricultural Products, Doha Round: Implications for East Asia
The East Asian economies continue to have a major interest in the global liberalisation of trade in industrial products. This interest is even more pronounced in the context of the deepening of the supply chain linkages in East Asia, a process that is associated in part with restructuring in Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea and also the emergence of China in the world trading system. A number of formulae for negotiating industrial tariff reductions are now on the table in Geneva (including proposals from Japan, South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei, the United States and the European Union), and a first draft of the ‘modalities’ paper for achieving such cuts under the Doha Round was recently released. This paper reviews the impact of these formulae and comments on their relevance to countries in the East Asian community, including to the important goal of reforming their own tariff regimes. A genuine ‘top-down’ formula approach modelled on the Swiss approach is seen to offer the best economic prospects for multilateral tariff reform. Other risks in the approaches to industrial goods liberalisation, including more widespread application of anti-dumping and other safeguard measures, are also examined. The proliferation of anti-dumping action, including by developing World Trade Organization (WTO) members, as a multilaterally ‘sanctioned’ trade barrier, partly as an alternative to taking safeguards, is seriously threatening to undermine the benefits from global tariff reductions. Anti-dumping reform in the WTO to prevent its misuse as a protectionist trade measure is therefore seen as an essential corollary to further tariff reform. East Asian economies have strong common economic interests in ensuring that the Doha Round delivers meaningful trade liberalisation in industrial goods.
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