This discussion links to Baldwins concept of the "noodle bowl" effect. Also an excellent paper.
Managing the Noodle Bowl: The Fragility of East Asian Regionalism
The conclusion of the Lawrence paper that "There is also a risk however that the proliferation of FTAs will lead to web of overlapping agreements that could make the trading system unnecessarily complex" fits nicely with the noodle bowl effect.
"China and the Multilateral Trading System"
NBER Working Paper No. W12759
Contact: ROBERT Z. LAWRENCE
Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of
Government, National Bureau of Economic Research
Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=951915
ABSTRACT: This paper reviews China's multilateral and preferential trade policies. It reviews the demanding terms of China's WTO accession, its current tariff and trade regime and its participation in the Doha Round negotiations and the institution`s regular activities. The analysis concludes that China's trade policies are broadly supportive of a rules based multilateral trading order and its behavior at the WTO is that of a status quo power rather than one seeking major systemic changes. The discussion then turns to China's regional trade initiatives. China has been extremely active in negotiating these and their implications remain uncertain. Concerns about an East Asian fortress, though, appear misplaced. Directly, and through their impact in inducing others to respond, these FTAs could provide a powerful impetus to the process of competitive global liberalization. Countries that do implement agreements with China will find it relatively easy to open their markets to other developing countries. There is also a risk however that the proliferation of FTAs will lead to web of overlapping agreements that could make the trading system unnecessarily complex.
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