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Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013

Turning the Tide - Towards Inclusive Trade and Investment

image of Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013
The main message of the Report is that the region's dominant export-led growth model should not be abandoned but does need some adjustment. While regional economies have largely succeeded in achieving sustained economic growth, additional policies are required to spread the benefits of that growth more fairly: to reduce poverty, limit rises in inequality, widen access to productive opportunities and bring excluded groups in from the margins. It is not enough simply to hope that rising wealth will eventually work for the benefit of all. The era of trade and invest now, distribute gains later has thus come to its end; we need to promote inclusive trade and investment.

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Preferential trade policies and agreements

The proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs), which began in the early 1990s, continues today with ever more countries getting engaged in the process. The main drivers for this are a combination of (a) contracting demand resulting from the economic crisis and the need to find new markets and (b) a lack of progress in securing lower trade barriers through multilateral trade negotiations. Over the years, the content of PTAs as well as their membership composition have also been changing. For example, recent PTAs increasingly include several areas that continue to be outside multilateral obligations, such as competition, government procurement and investment. Also, geographical proximity has declined as a factor in PTA membership, as many agreements are interregional or even intercontinental in nature. Globally there are 375 “physical” trade agreements in force, and 150 involving Asia-Pacific economies.

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