A Legal Analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Edited by Tania Voon
Chapter 2: Coping with proliferating preferential rules of origin and the TPP's role in their harmonisation
It is fair to say that the most important trade policy development in the world trading system in the last decade is the spread of regional trade agreements (RTAs). The chief factors that spurred this development are the slow progress of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round of trade talks and the economic integration processes in North America and Europe. Governments have increasingly realised that integration must be accelerated in order to improve international competitiveness through the exploitation of scale economies, strengthen their bargaining power, and make their voice heard in global trade issues in the age of economic rivalry between Europe and North America, the two giant blocs. The 1997ñ98 Asian financial crises and the current global economic downturn have underscored the need for national economies to work together in trade and investment; only by addressing common challenges can they sustain growth and stability. The Asia-Pacific is no exception to this awakening process and, indeed, it is now actively pursuing an ëaggressive regionalismí policy. In 2000, there was little RTA activity in the region. One decade later, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged at the forefront of global RTA activity, with 185 RTA initiatives signed, under negotiation, or proposed by the Asia-Pacific economies as of 2012. In the absence of a Doha trade deal, comprehensive well-designed RTAs may be a means of achieving regional liberalisation and structural reforms, which can constitute a building block to multilateral liberalisation.
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