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Fighting Irrelevance: The Role of Regional Trade Agreements in International Production Networks in Asia

fighting irrelevance

Numerous academic and policy papers as well as seminar and conference materials have been dedicated to either regional trade agreements or international production networks, yet only a few studies have addressed the linkages between these two important areas of economic integration. This study, “Fighting Irrelevance: Regional Trade Agreements and International Production Networks in Asia”, provides new evidence from selected sectors of some of the Asian economies that contributes towards closing this gap. The research project was initiated as part of the Phase II research programme of the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT) under the Multilateral Trade Liberalization and Regional Integration theme.

The objective of the project was to explore the linkages between existing regional trade agreements and international production networks in the region. Given the resource and time constraints, the project focused on only three sectors in five Asian countries – automotive, textiles and clothing, and electronics – which have proven to be fruitful areas for the establishment of international production networks in a number of countries in Asia during the past several decades.

What distinguishes this study from similar studies is its reliance on primary data and information collected through interviews and focus group discussions. The main targets of the interviews were companies in the three selected sectors. The analysis by the study thus takes into account both primary data and statistical data from secondary sources.

(ST/ESCAP/2597)

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