A World Trade Organization for the 21st Century: The Asian Perspective

Publication | December 2014

This book critically examines key changes occurring in the world trading system and explores policy implications for Asia, offering lessons for other regions.

The world trading system, led by the World Trade Organization (WTO), is under pressure to evolve and address 21st-century trade issues. Meanwhile, economically salient Asia has built deep supply chains over decades, whilst experimenting with mega-regional trade agreements and economic policies to sustain growth amid a fragile economy. The Asian-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the United States-led Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) are competing to set standards for Asia's trade and supply chains. Lessons from the Asian experience offer new approaches and economic policies to sustain growth, presenting the WTO as a forum for action to improve global and regional trade governance in the 21st century.

Policy makers will benefit from the expert knowledge and policy lessons presented in this book, and development economists and researchers will profit from its critical examination of the world trading system. Undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in development, development economics, international development, and related fields will find this essential supplementary reading.

'This unique compilation of essays addresses a core political economy question: how do market forces and trade regulation interact? Its fresh Asian perspective offers a much-needed contribution to our understanding of how treaty-based regional and bilateral economic integration is driven by the Factory Asia phenomenon. The authors also compellingly show where the World Trade Organization could fit in. An informative read for scholars and experts, alike.' - Manfred Elsig, University of Bern, Switzerland

"Asia has been a successful model of development through trade, which has inspired many others around the world. There is no doubt that the region will continue to inspire the trade community in the next decades to come." From the foreword by Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

Co-published with Edward Elgar.


  • Introduction and overview
  • WTO 2.0: governance of global supply-chain trade
  • Trade in value added: concept, development, and an East Asian perspective
  • Joining the supply chain: a firm-level perspective
  • Effective industrial policies and global value chains
  • Mapping crisis-era protectionism in the Asia and Pacific region
  • Exchange rate policy and regional trade agreements: a case of conflicted interests?
  • Policy challenges posed by Asian free trade agreements: a review of the evidence
  • Constructing and multilateralizing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: an Asian perspective
  • The ASEAN Economic Community: progress, challenges, and prospects
  • The future of the World Trade Organization
  • Plurilateral agreements: a viable alternative to the World Trade Organization?
  • The role of foreign direct investment flows and a possible multilateral agreement

Additional Details

  • Industry and trade
  • 978-1-78347-927-6

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