Negotiated Trade Liberalization in East Asia:Examining Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
Jenny D. Balboa
Visiting Research Fellow,Asian Research Department
Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) Nikkei Kayabacho Building
2-6-1,Nihombashi Kayabacho Chuo-ku,Tokyo 103-0025, Japan
The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) embodies Japan’s economic diplomacy,aiming to advance both substantive and strategic goals.It aspires to open opportunities for Japan to reassert its position in the East Asian region and also in other parts of the world,while at the same time spur needed domestic economic reforms.It also aims to enhance regional activity and bring in productivity enhancement measures to the partner country.The EPA could be an exemplary North-South FTA that could hasten deeper regional integration.This paper looks into the motivations and structure of Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) strategy,focusing on its role in regional integration and how it impacts to its partner country,taking into account the Philippine experience through the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).It also draws some lessons on the challenges of engaging a partnership between economically diverse countries.
With the march of events in the past decade,a paradigm shift took place in mainstream economic thought.The conventional wisdom of multilateralism has been replaced by regionalism.Several factors were responsible for this paradigm shift.In East Asia in particular,the increasing interdependence of economies as a result of expanding trade networks, the lessons from the Asian Financial Crisis,the rise of China as a global economic player,and the increasing influence of ASEAN in the region had changed East Asia’s economic architecture and subsequently provided the impetus for East Asian countries to explore cooperation and integration.