Over the past two decades, international economic activities of Asia Pacific countries have been significantly regionalised. To support these activities, states in the region have been keen to conclude preferential trade agreements (PTAs) with their economic partners. By now, with some exceptions, most of practical bilateral PTAs are already in place and the region is moving on to the stage where very wide, multilateral PTAs such as TPP and RCEP are being signed or negotiated.
Although the primary objective of PTAs is to improve economic welfare of contracted parties by promoting economic activities between them, most PTAs in practice involve political/security considerations as well. In the process of moving from a web of bilateral PTAs to the establishment of wide, multilateral PTAs, strategies and political intentions of major actors (China, Japan and the United States) become more important and influential than before, because the latter is not just the competition for numbers. It is also the competition among major actors for preferred regional economic order and rules; the competition between the maintenance of existing orders/rules and changes.
In this seminar, Dr Okamoto will focus on Japan’s PTA policy since late 1990s and discuss how its strategic considerations have been gradually incorporated into policy in the rapidly changing regional political/economic environment. He will discuss the relations between Japan’s PTA strategy and its unique position as a member of all major multilateral PTAs in the region (TPP, RCEP and China-Japan-South Korea FTA).
Dr Jiro Okamoto is a Visiting Fellow at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. He was Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO, in Japan until 2009. More recently, he was a Researcher/Advisor at the Embassy of Japan in Australia (2012-2014).