A REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENT FOR CENTRAL ASIA?
A REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENT FOR CENTRAL ASIA?Richard POMFRET
Regionalism in Central Asia has attracted much attention but little action. This paper argues that, as the countries accept WTO trade law as the baseline, the time is ripe for agreeing on trade rules that go beyond the WTO, with a focus on areas especially relevant to Central Asia. A modern trade agreement should not follow 20th century patterns of aiming for a customs union or free trade area; with low tariffs such preferential tariff arrangements are of little value. More important is to agree on areas where WTO rules are inadequate or non-existent, such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures and digitalization. For the framework for such an agreement, Central Asian countries can benefit from existing best practice, agreements with a chapter structure that permits focus on the most relevant areas while leaving more contentious areas for future negotiations.
DOI : [PDF]
KEYWORDS: Central Asia, Trade agreements, Digitalization, SPS.