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East Asia Institutionalises: China, Japan and the Vogue for Free Trade

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In the past decade East Asia has taken steps to increase regional integration. This paper examines the vogue for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) currently raging in China and Japan. After mapping the regional links that knit East Asia together during the 1990s and 2000s, the focus then shifts to the specific trade agreements that China and Japan have signed. Both countries exhibit a particular FTA “style;” Japan has adopted a more orthodox and comprehensive approach to its treaties, while China has shown greater flexibility and gradualism when dealing with FTA partners. It is still unclear whether these efforts will lead to a region-wide FTA, or a continued crisscrossing of bilateral arrangements. In either case, China's eagerness to adapt to partner country expectations likely gives it an edge in becoming the regional hub of East Asia.

Affiliations: 1: Fellow, China Law Center, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, USA


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