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The Making Of Asia's First Bilateral FTA: Origins And Regional Implications Of The Japan - Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement

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Executive Summary

This paper aims to examine how and why Japan and Singapore decided to pursue FTAs, what interests both perceived in their pursuit of FTAs, what elements contributed to both countries being linked in this trade policy arrangement, and what implications the JSEPA has had for the FTA movement in East Asia. It argues that the JSEPA was made possible mainly through Singapore's initial offer to exclude agricultural products from tariff elimination. But Japan faced problems in seeking FTAs with other ASEAN countries which were less developed than Singapore and had a higher proportion of agricultural exports, as the exclusion of specific agricultural products, such as rice and sugar, would contradict Japan's claim that its FTAs would bolster the WTO-based multilateral system.

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