Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement: Challenges and Opportunities for Bilateral Trade Policy and Closer Economic Relations
The signing of the long-awaited Australia-Thailand free trade agreement (ATFTA) on 19 October 2003 at the APEC Meeting in Bangkok, the emergence of new Asian regionalisms such as ASEAN+1 (China) and ASEAN+3 (China, Korea and Japan), and other bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral FTAs world-wide in recent years pose challenges and, at the same time, offer opportunities for member countries. These FTAs require not only ministerial or senior official dialogues or casual heuristic causation on their acceptability and viability but also serious analytical and historical data-based research into these important developments including their underlying fundamental trade-growth and growth-of-trade causation and impact on trade and closer economic relations. Existing methodologies (eg, CGE/GTAP and gravity theory) for this kind of study have their serious coverage and data restrictions. The paper focuses on the empirics of the ATFTA above by using a novel empirical approach that avoids the CGE/GTAP pitfalls and to provide (if any) supporting evidence, emerging challenges and promising opportunities for Australia and Thailand. Implications of the findings for economic integration, trade policy and prospects for trade and welfare improvement for Australia and Thailand in the medium and long terms will also be discussed.
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