Regionalism: a Singaporean Perspective
Multilateralism versus regionalism: the question is whether to adhere to the arrangements of an all encompassing international organization or to enter bilateral and regional agreements which could potentially upset the multilateral trade apple cart. The heated debate that rages over the merits of either system is dividing the various schools of thought on trade policy. Despite the WTO's increased importance and prominence in the last 50 years, the world has seen a great increase in regional trade agreements (RTAs) which seem to be contradictory to the spirit of trade liberalization. In this article, Lim Chin Beng, former ambassador to Japan and Singaporean chief negotiator for the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA)currently under negotiation, discusses these issues and provides an account of Singapore's efforts to harness RTAs to further the multilateral trade agenda. He concludes that regionalism and multilateralism are not mutually exclusive.