The Political Economy of Asian PTAs

This project focuses on a region (Asia) where much PTA activity has been observed in recent years. We focus in particular on how production networks affect the design of trade agreements providing micro evidence. In addition, we will use a comparative approach to study political-economic strategies and competition among the major economies.

The project asks whether the increasing importance of value chains in global trade has led to changes in the (bureaucratic) political dynamics behind - and design of - PTAs in Asia. Research questions include: Have issues related to the operation of production networks become a more important political driver for Asian PTAs than traditional issues like (fending off) protectionism and tariff discrimination? Do Asian firms involved in production network trade actively lobby for the inclusion of behind-the-border measures during PTA negotiations? Finally, in how far are these issues reflected in provisions included in the PTAs?


Further, the project compares PTA strategies of the most important economies in Asia. The focus is on the following questions. In what ways are the political dynamics behind the PTA strategies of China, India, Japan and South Korea different or similar? Do the countries in question respond to each other in terms of their PTA strategies, for instance in order to avoid being left out or being discriminated upon? Can we speak of a Chinese, Indian, Japanese, or South Korean (or maybe even Asian) PTA political model, which is distinct from “models” in other parts of the world?