Vinod K. Aggarwal
Bilateral Trade Arrangements in the Asia-Pacific, 2006
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region increasingly fear that multilateral trade forums such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) cannot always effectively hammer out the terms of global trade liberalization. In 1999, WTO participants in Seattle unsuccessfully attempted to launch a new trade round. The success of the November 2001 Doha meeting of the WTO in setting a timetable for negotiations was followed by the dramatic collapse of the Cancun negotiations in September 2003. The success of the Geneva July 2004 WTO meeting, however, raised hopes that the multilateral approach was once again gaining traction. Yet the uncertainty of when a new round might be concluded and what issues might eventually be resolved in the WTO forum has created great unease about the global approach to trade negotiations. In this environment, given the likelihood of prolonged talks before an agreement is reached, many countries have been searching for other options to liberalize trade.