Formal and Informal Institutions
Edited By Assel Tutumlu and Gaye Güngör
“Multilateralizing Regionalism: the Cases of the EU (+36) and ASEAN (+6)” Suat Öksüz
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Multilateralizing Regionalism: the Cases of the EU (+36) and ASEAN (+6)
Multilateralism and Regionalism: Their Interface
“Regionalism vs. Multilateralism” is a much discussed and controversial topic among trade economists. The literature on regionalism versus multilateralism keeps growing as economists and a few political scientists grapple with the question of whether regional integration arrangements (RIAs) are good or bad for the multilateral system as a whole (Wolf 2003). The question is largely over whether RIAs are the “building blocks or stumbling blocks” in Bhagwati’s (1991) memorable phrase, or the stepping stones towards multilateralism (Winters 1996). Many studies, such as Krugman (1991), Bhagwati (1992, 1996), and Wei and Frankel (1995) provide critical insight for the concern that the current pattern of regionalization/regionalism is likely to be welfare reducing. Many prominent scholars and practitioners point to the rise of regionalism, viewing regional/preferential trading arrangements as detrimental to the world trade system, raising the concern that such practices will undermine the drive for multilateralism under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Regionalism can be broadly defined as a tendency towards some form of preferential trading arrangements, designed to reduce trade barriers, amongst a subset of countries usually belonging to a particular region. The word “preferential” is the key word, implying that countries not belonging to a particular regional arrangement are discriminated against (Winters 1996).
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