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Title: Multilateralism, regionalism, bilateral and crossregional free trade arrangements: All paved with good intentions for ASEAN?
Authors: Low, L. 
Keywords: Free trade agreements
New economy
Issue Date: 2003
Citation: Low, L. (2003). Multilateralism, regionalism, bilateral and crossregional free trade arrangements: All paved with good intentions for ASEAN?. Asian Economic Journal 17 (1) : 65-86. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Current initiatives in Asia and Asia Pacific regionalism are responses to regionalism happening elsewhere in the context of globalization, information communication technology and knowledge-based economy. The conclusion is that many economies are 'having it both ways' in multilateralism under World Trade Organization (WTO) and new regionalism. The argument is that the 'first best' theory of free trade under multilateralism and WTO have fallen short. A 'second best' theory of new regionalism has been acknowledged by the Doha ministerial declaration to complement and supplement WTO. Both Asia challenged Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are challenged by ASEAN Plus Three (APT), which originated from the Asian crisis in the failed Asian Monetary Fund (AMF). Singapore has responded to these challenges in bilateral trading agreements, driven by its idiosyncratic features of a small, city-state economy and frustrated by laggard ASEAN. Increasingly, there is a divergence in macroeconomic policy between Singapore and ASEAN in terms of openness and competition. The dilemma in Singapore's strategy of bilateral trading agreements and foreign economic trade policy is precisely this divergence in macroeconomic philosophy and policy. The pressure on ASEAN is no less from APT, China and regionalism elsewhere than from Singapore. However, the present paper concedes that bilateral and crossregional trading arrangements are still second best, and that broader regionalism and multilateralism are still superior. With so many regional trading arrangements and emerging competition policy there may be rules of origin or 'spaghetti bowl' effects for Singapore. In 'realpolitiks' and real political economy, the balancing of gains and benefits is not easy.
Source Title: Asian Economic Journal
ISSN: 13513958
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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