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The Status of East Asian Free Trade Agreements


  • Yunling Zhang

    (Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI))

  • Minghui Shen


Free trade agreements (FTAs) have become a prominent feature of the multilateral trading system and an important instrument of trade policy for members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The proliferation of FTAs is the result of a number of factors, from the economic to the political. East Asia is with no exception involved in the process and witnessing the establishment of multilayered FTAs. Pioneered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1992 when it initiated the ASEAN FTA (AFTA), and encouraged by ASEAN+1 (ASEAN plus one country) FTAs, more and more economies in east Asia are involved in FTAs, although the characteristics of these FTAs differ according to their background and circumstances. When the proliferation of FTAs in east Asia benefits the regional trade and economic growth, questions have been raised about “Asian noodle bowl†effect, pointing out multi-layered FTAs in east Asia have created new trade barriers and raised the cost of business in the region. To this end, east Asia needs to progress from the proliferation of multilayered FTAs to a region-wide FTA with wider participation and broader coverage.

Suggested Citation

  • Yunling Zhang & Minghui Shen, 2011. "The Status of East Asian Free Trade Agreements," Trade Working Papers 23254, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:tradew:23254

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Masahiro Kawai & Ganeshan Wignaraja, 2014. "Policy challenges posed by Asian free trade agreements: a review of the evidence," Chapters,in: A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century, chapter 8, pages 182-238 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Hamanaka, Shintaro, 2012. "Evolutionary paths toward a region-wide economic agreement in Asia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 383-394.

    More about this item


    free trade agreements; FTA; East Asia; Asian noodle bowl; Regional Integration;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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