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Southeast Asia in the WTO

Razeen Sally

Publication Year: 2004

In this large-scale ISEAS study, Razeen Sally looks at Southeast Asia in the World Trade Organization, against the background of national trade policy trends post-Asian crisis, sluggish ASEAN economic integration, and the recent high-speed proliferation of bilateral and regional trade negotiations. ASEAN co-operation in the WTO has broken down, with little prospect of revival. Nevertheless, Sally argues forcefully that Southeast Asia needs a liberal, rules-based multilateral trading system; and that the WTO needs active Southeast Asian participation. ASEAN countries should forge multiple coalitions, revolving around the United States and China, to restore workability and purpose to a lame, crisis-ravaged WTO. This would provide headwind for what matters most: unilateral (national) trade-and-investment liberalization and pro-competitive regulatory reforms to revive and enhance policy competitiveness in the region.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright Page

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About the Author

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pp. vi

Razeen Sally is Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he has taught since 1993, and was head of its International Trade Policy Unit. He is Visiting Professor at the Institut D’Etudes...

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1. Background

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pp. 1-14

Trade policy is back on the radar screen in Southeast Asia, having been overshadowed by monetary and financial matters since the Asian crisis. This is due primarily to the New Regionalism, the proliferation of initiatives to form free trade agreements (FTAs) in...

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2. Singapore and WTO

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pp. 15-27

Singapore, after Hong Kong, has the world’s most liberal trade policies. It is a free port, with zero tariffs on 99.9 per cent of imports (tariffs being applied only on alcohol) and hardly any non-tariff barriers on trade in goods (Table I). There are no restrictions on...

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3. Malaysia and WTO

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pp. 29-41

Malaysia has long had relatively liberal trade policies by developing country standards, indeed more markedly so since further trade and investment liberalization from the mid-1980s. It is one of the twenty most globalized economies in the world: trade accounts for...

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4. Thailand and WTO

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pp. 43-53

Thailand retains relatively high protection by the standards of other ASEAN-5 countries, despite trade and investment liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s. Its average applied tariff is approximately 16 per cent — almost twice as high as that for...

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5. Indonesia and WTO

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pp. 55-65

Indonesia has had a rolling programme of trade and investment liberalization since the late 1980s. By developing country standards, its trade policies have swung from high protection to openness in a comparatively short period. Its average unweighted...

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6. The Philippines and WTO

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pp. 67-75

The Philippines is a late liberalizer by Southeast and East Asian standards. Protection persisted under the Marcos regime; and attempts at liberalization by the Aquino administration in the 1980s were half-hearted and piecemeal. Only with the Ramos...

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7. Other ASEAN Countries and WTO

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pp. 77-79

Myanmar, a founding member of the GATT and the WTO, is almost totally inactive. Its small mission in Geneva seems to concentrate on other international organizations in town while neglecting the WTO. There has been no Trade Policy Review...

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8. Southeast Asia’s Future in the WTO

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pp. 81-91

The ASEAN-5 are bowling alone with different degrees of effectiveness in the WTO. Participation in the WTO is more effective than it is for the bulk of developing countries, but with big differences among the ASEAN-5. Chief among the factors...


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pp. 93-95

Selected References

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pp. 97-98

E-ISBN-13: 9789812307019
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812302687

Page Count: 98
Publication Year: 2004

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Southeast Asia -- Foreign economic relations.
  • Southeast Asia -- Commercial policy.
  • Free trade -- Southeast Asia.
  • World Trade Organization.
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