This article focuses on the approach that should be taken by the Asian developing countries in the next round of WTO negotiations. It analyses the changes in the WTO negotiating environment today compared to earlier rounds of negotiation. While GATT negotiations focused on tariff questions, the WTO has begun to examine issues of domestic legislation – investment policy, competition policy, labour standards and the environment. This comprehensive agenda is perceived as reflecting the EU’s continued pre-occupation with agricultural protection leading the EU to seek trade-offs through these “new issues”. By contrast, the Asian developing countries, supported by the United States, favour an incremental approach to international economic integration and would avoid negotiations on such domestic issues in the forthcoming WTO negotiations. The article highlights the risks to the Asian developing countries, especially the least developed countries and those of limited market interest, of continuing with the strategy of opposing a new round of trade negotiations and focusing only on implementation issues relating to the Uruguay Round Agreements. It concludes that the effect of such a strategy would be to marginalise such states as the developed countries and the major developing countries embark on bilateral and plurilateral preferential trading arrangements (also known as Free Trade Areas or FTAs). Instead, the Asian developing countries should develop a positive agenda for the negotiations focused on seeking a reduction in industrial and agricultural tariffs, the liberalisation of trade in services, embarking on negotiations on electronic commerce and greater discipline in the implementation of anti-dumping measures.
East Asia and Asia Pacific / International Political Economy / Working Papers
Last updated on 01/10/2015