The advent of mega-free trade agreements (mega-FTAs) including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a defining feature of global trade governance in the 21st century. What are the costs and benefits of mega-FTAs? What is the political and strategic calculus behind mega-FTAs? Is there a “domino effect” triggering off the mega-FTA troika in a chain of reactions? Does mega-regionalism reinforce or undermine multilateralism? Since commonly used econometrics models cannot shed light on non-economic issues, this paper examines mega-regionalism by conducting a perception survey. This survey received responses from 648 opinion leaders located in 31 Asian countries. Respondents felt that mega-FTAs are good trade policy instruments that are “building blocks” to multilateralism. Linked by a “domino effect”, the mega-FTAs have important political and strategic dimensions. The United States wants to socialise China by writing high-standard “rules of the road” through the TPP. China then pivoted to RCEP to counter the TPP. Brussels through TTIP wanted to join the mega-FTA bandwagon to stay relevant. Additionally, remaining questions on decentralising global economic architecture highlight the need for regional and global institutions to complement each other.
About the Authors
Xianbai Ji is a PhD Candidate at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is the first Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholar at the school since 2008. His main research interests include international trade in Asia Pacific, European economy and regional integration, global economic governance and international development. His articles feature regularly in the region’s newspapers and magazines such as The Diplomat, Global Times, BRINK Asia, Bangkok Post, Global Trade and Sina World Weekly. He is an Associate Fellow at the European Union Centre in Singapore and is awarded the Europa Visiting Fellowship at The Australian National University to continue his doctoral research in Canberra in 2017.
Dr Pradumna B. Rana is an Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He is also the Coordinator of the Master of Science in International Political Economy programme and the Coordinator of the Economic Multilateralism and Regionalism Studies at RSIS’ Centre for Multilateralism Studies. Prior to this, he worked for 25 years at the Asian Development Bank. His last appointment at the ADB was Senior Director of the Office of Regional Economic Integration which spearheads ADB’s support for Asian economic integration. He obtained his PhD from Vanderbilt University where he was a Fulbright Scholar and a Masters in Economics from Michigan State University and Tribhuvan University. He has authored/edited 15 books, and published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed international academic journals.
Dr Wai-Mun Chia obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of London with First Class Honours in 1996. She was then awarded the Datuk Paduka Hajjah Saleha Ali Academic Outstanding Award for her exceptional academic performance at international level in 1997. In 1998, with the support of the London School of Economics (LSE) Scholarship, she pursued her Master’s degree at LSE. In 2006, she graduated with a PhD degree from NTU. She is currently associate professor at the Division of Economics, NTU. Prior to joining NTU, she was an industry analyst at the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers. Her current research interests are international macroeconomics, economic integration in East Asia and cost-benefit analysis. She is an associate editor to the Singapore Economic Review and a research consultant to the ASEAN Secretariat. She has published widely in internationally reputable journals such as Economic Record and Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control.
Changtai Li is a PhD student in Division of Economics of Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Prior to enrolling at NTU, he worked for one year as Research Associate in Division of Economics and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the same university. He holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from NTU and a Bachelor of Art from China University of Petroleum. He is interested in fields like international trade, econometrics and financial economics.
Americas / Country and Region Studies / East Asia and Asia Pacific / Europe / Global / International Political Economy / International Politics and Security / South Asia / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Working Papers
Last updated on 09/12/2016