April 10, 2014
Typically, countries pursue free trade agreements (FTA) with each other because they share common negotiating objectives and subscribe to broadly similar economic principles.
And based on those commonalities, they see benefit in deepening their trade and investment relationship by taking on a higher degree of mutual commitments within the context of an FTA or regional trade agreement (RTA).
Today, however, more and more countries in Southeast Asia appear to be pursuing or considering FTAs based on an entirely different set of considerations. Trade policy has become increasingly driven not so much by a full-hearted embrace of common principles or the objectives of the trade initiative at hand, but rather by a desire not to be left out or left behind as other ASEAN neighbours move forward with bilateral or regional FTAs.
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