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Bilateralism and Multilateralism: Taiwan's Trade Liberalization Trajectory

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Whether or not bilateralism and regionalism have threatened multilateralism has been debated in the literature. In recent years, the United States has argued that the increasing numbers of regional and bilateral trading arrangements made under the Bush administration are 'complementary' to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Accordingly, the case of Taiwan's bilateral trade negotiations with the United States and its accession to the WTO provide a useful case study for examining the relations between bilateralism and multilateralism. This article not only aims to study the role of bilateralism and multilateralism in Taiwan's liberalization process, it also seeks to compare the two types of trade diplomacy in terms of power relations, decision-making and negotiation, and the influence of negotiation on economic liberalization.

The article is divided into three sections: the first section focuses on US–Taiwan bilateral trade negotiations during the 1970s and 1980s; the second section mainly discusses the process of Taiwan's WTO accession; and the final section examines Taiwan's bilateral and multilateral trade diplomacy after its accession.

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, United Kingdom;, Email:


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