Thursday, November 07, 2002

Multilateral trade negotiations via the World Trade Organisation's Doha Development Round have gotten off to a weak start. As countries battle the hefty task of overcoming myriad differences in a plethora of trade issues they are also turning to bilateral trade deals. The reasoning behind this move is, at least for America, is to create an impetus for greater gain in multilateral talks by making headway in bilateral negotiations. Others argue that bilateral talks only make for more red tape and hard work for bureaucrats.

Asia too has been the scene of much two-way talking. Korea too has recently signed its first bilateral trade deal with Chile albiet with little done toward freeing agricultural trade. What is most striking here though is that Korea, and Japan too for that matter, have allowed China to step in and make a very important trade deal with ASEAN. While in the early days this may not mean much, it does however have the potential to be a defining moment in determining which future geopolitical dominance. And India too seems to have realised the importance of aligning with ASEAN. This bloc, which may not be much now, could well be the basis upon which Asia develops a trading and economic to challenge the size and might of EU and NAFTA (or AFTA). Korea could well be leaving itself vulnerable to isolation and at a disadvantage in future trade negotiations if it fails to mobilise now and make concessions (particularly in agriculture) to ensure that it too becomes a central player in future regional trade units.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui