El paper revisa detalladamente la política de negociaciones comerciales de los países asiáticos. Es casi un manual de instrucciones para un país que quisiera encarar la apertura de estos mercados. Me encantaría tener un grupo de freaks en nuestra Cancillería, encerrados en un cuartito con un gran mapamundi, y diciendo "¿qué mercado vamos a abrir hoy?".
Los párrafos finales son desalentadores para la marcha del libre comercio, ya que spaghetti bowl el global se reproduce en su versión asian noodles:
The heart of the matter is that within and across south, southeast and northeast Asia, cross-border commerce is throttled by the protectionist barriers that developing countries erect against each other. The type of FTAs that are being negotiated do not presage a return to 1930s-style warring trade blocs. But they are highly unlikely to make a big dent in existing barriers and thereby spur regional economic integration. They might complicate east-Asian intra-regional production networks (the Factory Asia phenomenon), and distract attention from further unilateral liberalisation and domestic reforms. These FTAs have the hallmarks of trade-light agreements. Some might even come close to being “trade-free” agreements...
More fundamentally, trade policy matters more than trade negotiations. Governments in the region, however, are acting as if it were the other way round. They are relying too much on trade negotiations – particularly FTAs – while neglecting sensible trade-policy reforms at home. This is a reversal of pre-Asian crisis reliance on (non-discriminatory) unilateral liberal- isation. What might change this picture is the mind-concentrating effect of faster unilateral reforms in China and India – China in particular. The Chinese engine of unilateral freer trade might just induce a fresh spurt of liberalisation and structural reform elsewhere – but perhaps largely outside trade negotiations. Only with such market-based reforms at home do FTAs make sense – not least to minimise the effects of trade diversion.