Regionalism and the Geography of Trade Policies in EU-ASEAN Trade

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (monograph) | Defence date: 2004-12-03
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Area Studies Program
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259 s.
Acta Universitatis oeconomicae Helsingiensis. A, 245
This study addresses trade relations between the EU and the ASEAN countries during a period of intensified regionalism from 1990-2003. While earlier research has dealt with regional economic integration in both the EU and ASEAN, studies on trade policies between the two have been limited. The lack of empirical studies on various types of non-quantifiable trade policies appears to be connected also with methodological limitations. In addition, the parallel trends of regionalism and multilateralism have raised contradicting hypotheses on whether global trade is becoming more restricted or more liberal. The theoretical and empirical focus of the study is to assess the impact of regionalism on trade policies between the EU and the ASEAN countries, given the changing patterns of trade flows between the two regions. This is addressed by posing two sub-questions: (1) How have trade policies evolved in the EU and the ASEAN countries during a period of intensified regionalism? (2) What kind of policy stances can be identified based on the competitive structure of industries in EU-ASEAN trade? Elaborating from earlier theorizing on regional economic integration, trade policies and the geography of international trade, a cross-disciplinary framework is built for the empirical study. The framework comprises the geographical levels of trade policy negotiation and decision-making (national, regional and multilateral), the extent of trade preferences, and the incidence of trade policies with regard to trade flows between the EU and the ASEAN countries. Methodologically, the study is designed to apply multiple types of data, both qualitative and quantitative. In a longitudinal and comparative approach, an institutional analysis of the two trade groupings is combined with an investigation into the various types of trade policies towards exports and imports in various sectors in EU-ASEAN trade. As a result, the study elaborates on a new concept, the geography of trade policies. The evolving geography of EU-ASEAN trade policies is built up from three arguments: (a) the geographical scale of negotiation and decision-making is shifting from the national towards the regional and multilateral levels; (b) the hierarchy of regional trade preferences and networks is becoming more extensive and complex in both the EU and ASEAN; and (c) industry requirements are linked with trade policies in a way which combines industrial strategies with sensitivity to changes in global production in both the EU and the ASEAN countries. The findings illustrate the changing EU-ASEAN trade policies in light of regionalism and multilateral liberalization, as well as the changing pattern of trade between the two regions. Answering the two questions, the study concludes that: (1) Trade policies in both the EU and ASEAN have liberalized because of multilateral commitments and despite the alleged restrictive effects of regionalism, but the Asian financial crisis had a somewhat restrictive impact on some ASEAN countries’ trade policies in specific sectors; (2) Four types of policy stances were identified in the EU-ASEAN trade relation that combined liberal vs. restrictive policies with global vs. local industries, where global industries have predominated. Consequently, the overall EU-ASEAN trade has become more liberal because of recent multilateralism, but also because machinery and electronics, the two major sectors that constitute almost 60 % of the total trade, include global industries with trade in intermediate products in global commodity chains, and have been largely liberalized already
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Eronen, Jarmo, professor
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