Asia beyond free trade agreements

The multitude of bilateral FTAs signed in the Asia-Pacific haven't brought significant commercial or domestic reform to the region. Much more can be done to realise the potential of Asia's economic integration.

The launch of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (in APEC’s backyard led by the United States) and, later, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (under the umbrella of ASEAN) is dominating thinking about regional integration. These agreements are designed in part to leverage value out of the plethora of bilateral free trade agreements negotiated over the past 15 years. Yet trans-regional FTAs, like the proposed TPP, are only a small step, incidental to realising the potential of Asian economic integration.

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