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What does RCEP mean for insiders and outsiders? The Experience of India and Sri Lanka

This paper explores the economic implications of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – Asia’s largest trade agreement - on India and Sri Lanka. The findings from existing model-based studies suggest that India, as an insider economy, will potentially gain from the RCEP while outsider economy Sri Lanka will likely loose. India faces challenges in the RCEP negotiations in liberalizing goods and services trade and adopting new intellectual property rules. Building business competitiveness and policy reforms can mitigate these challenges.


Trade liberalisation and poverty: Evidence from Thailand

This paper replicates the study of Topalova (2010), performs a robustness check, and extends the findings by applying the estimation technique to the economy of Thailand. Topalova (2010) found that trade liberalization in India has heterogenous effects on poverty and household consumption. More specifically, districts in which production sectors are more exposed to trade openness, experienced less poverty reduction and slower consumption growth. The effects of trade reform on poverty have been extended to a squared poverty gap, and the results are robust to other poverty measures.


Corruption and the business environment in Viet Nam: An exploratory survey

This paper examines the effect of corruption on the business environment in Viet Nam. Our survey of firms operating in Viet Nam suggests that corruption is perceived as the most severe business constraint for their operation. Also, corruption has a significant negative association with the overall satisfaction of the business environment in Viet Nam. Such results support the hypothesis that corruption has a “sand the wheel” effect on firms’ business activities. While this paper sheds light on the importance of corruption, it would be useful to conduct follow-up studies to examine corruption and its impact in more detail. Such studies could be conducted in those segments that most severely suffer from corruption according to our survey, i.e., medium-sized enterprises, hotel/restaurant and construction sectors, Hanoi based, and Vietnamese owned firms.

WTO+ Commitments on Services in Asian PTAs: The Role of Regulatory Homogeneity and Goods Trade Complementarity

This paper looks at the role of applied services regulations in accounting for WTO+ commitments on trade in services in preferential trade agreements (PTAs) among Asian economies. The empirical findings suggest that Asian trading dyads with regulatory frameworks that are more similar and more trade-restrictive tend to undertake higher levels of WTO+ commitments on services in their PTAs. There is also evidence in the results for such WTO+ commitments being driven by goods trade complementarities, alluding to the importance of supply chain dynamics in the region. Such results support the hypothesis that the heightened “servicification” of production generates a greater demand for lower services input costs and for certainty against possible new and disruptive services barriers.

South-South cooperation in the era of Global Value Chains: What can China offer?

China is a success story of inclusive trade growth as a result of its participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs). It is in transition from a processing and assembly hub towards an innovation centre, and is becoming a regional supplier of research and development (R&D) intensive parts and components. The infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a quasi-regional trade arrangement, are helping to improve regional connectivity and production linkage, but Chinese manufacturing also bring shocks to local production and employment.

Is world trade becoming more regionalised?

The proliferation of RTAs is a central feature of the world trade policy environment in the last 20 years. This paper provides an empirical study of the extent to which the formation of RTAs has changed the distribution of world goods trade among trading partners. To do this, it constructs a new measure, an index which measures the extent of bilateral trade between pairs of countries in each year. On average for the world economy this measure does not increase over the sample period 1981 to 2016.


Export restrictions and policy space for sustainable development: Lessons from trends in the regulation of export restrictions (2012-2016)

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994) generally prohibits the World Trade Organization (WTO) members from using export quotas and other quantitative restrictions with certain exceptions. By contrast, export duties are not regulated under the GATT 1994 though a few WTO members such as China commit to restricting the use of export duties in their WTO accession protocols. Given the plethora of regional trade agreements (RTAs) and the slow progress of the WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, the incorporation of WTO-plus provisions into RTAs that regulate export restrictions in a more effective manner could contribute to a transparent and predictable trade regime.

Impact of implementation of digital trade facilitation on trade costs

This study estimates the effect of trade facilitation measures implementation on trade costs in Asia and the Pacific using data from the United Nations Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation. Impact of different sets of measures are considered, from a basic set of measures to ensure compliance with the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) commitments, to a full set of digital trade facilitation measures.


Sustainable development impact of trade and investment liberalization in Asia and the Pacific

Trade and investment can be effective means of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. However, stand-alone trade and investment liberalization policies aimed at enhancing economic development may have negative side-effects on non-economic facets of sustainable development. As such, they are best to be accompanied by trade facilitation measures, as well as environmental, social and other complementary policies.


Trade and trade facilitation along the Belt and Road Initiative corridors

The Belt Road Initiative (BRI) suggested by China’s President Xi Jinping provides an ambitious vision encouraging a new level of cooperation among countries along several economic corridors spanning most of the Asian economies member of ESCAP. This paper reviews the trade and trade facilitation situation of economies along each of the corridors and analyzes the potential impact on trade from improvements in hard (physical connectivity via good quality transportation networks) and soft (efficient trade facilitation via an effective border administration and use of ICT) infrastructures.