The Japanese economy is finally recovering from the long recession that began in the early 1990s. However, it is not yet back on a sustained growth trajectory, as it is faced with short-term challenges such as a shortage of demand as well as medium- to long-term challenges such as a declining and ageing population. To deal effectively with these challenges so as to be back on the growth path, Japan needs to open its market and to implement domestic structural reforms. One effective way to achieve these objectives is to participate in regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, which is projected to grow faster than other regions in the world. In the midst of virtual stalemate in the multilateral trade liberalization negotiation (Doha Round) held under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, the free trade agreement (FTA), which removes trade barriers such as tariffs on trade between and among FTA members, is a useful trade policy to establish a free and open trade environment. Recognizing the advantages of FTAs, many countries have negotiated and enacted such agreements. In Asia-Pacific, two mega-FTAs – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) – are under negotiation. Japan and Singapore are two major countries engaged in both these frameworks. The successful conclusion of these two mega-FTAs would not only revitalize the Japanese economy but also contribute to economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region.
About the Speaker:
Shujiro Urata is Professor of Economics at Graduate School Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University. He is also Specially Appointed Fellow at the Japanese Centre for Economic Research (JCER), Faculty Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade & Industry (RIETI), and Senior Research Adviser for the Executive Director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) in Jakarta. Professor Urata received his B.A. in Economics from Keio University in 1973 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford University in 1976 and 1978. He is a former Research Associate at the Brookings Institution, an Economist at the World Bank. He specializes in International Economics and Economics of Development. He has held a number of research and advisory positions including senior advisor to the Government of Indonesia, consultant to the World Bank, OECD, the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Japan. He published and edited a number of books on international economic issues and is an author and co-author of numerous articles in professional journals. His book publications in English include Multinationals and Economic Growth in East Asia, co-editor, Routledge, 2006, Free Trade Agreements in the Asia-Pacific, co-editor, World Scientific, 2010, Economic Consequences of Globalization: Evidence from East Asia, co-editor, Routledge,2012, and others.