Regional Approaches to Services Trade and Investment Liberalisation
This paper addresses the question of whether the difficult issues associated with services trade and investment liberalisation are more likely to be tackled effectively in the bilateral or the multilateral context. It provides a first examination of the services trade and investment outcomes in some bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) in the Asia Pacific region, especially those centred around Singapore. The author draws the preliminary conclusion that bilateral FTAs which attempt to explore territory beyond the World Trade Organization (WTO) may well prove to be ‘WTO minus’ in terms of their impact on nascent WTO rule-making in these new areas and to have potentially negative impacts on the WTO architecture itself. The paper calls for vigilance and objective evaluation to ensure that bilateral efforts contribute in a positive way to a successful and rapid outcome to the currently troubled Doha Round of multilateral negotiations.
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