Networking the region? The emergence and impact of Asia-Pacific bilateral free trade agreement projects

Christopher M. Dent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyses the emergence and rapid expansion of Asia-Pacific bilateral free trade agreement (APBFTA) projects from the late 1990s onwards: by mid-2002, thirteen Asia-Pacific states had initiated or completed thirty-three APBFTA projects in total. It examines the reasons why new APBFTA projects first came about, primarily attributing this to the confluent trade institution failures of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) to push ahead their respective trade liberalization agendas after the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis. How APBFTAs must subsequently coexist alongside APEC and WTO trade regimes is thereafter debated, with particular reference to contrasting reciprocity choice. In profiling key APBFTA perpetrating states, various domestic-international interface problems are discussed, as well as the different 'strategic purposes' now underlying many projects. The APBFTA trend's impact upon the Asia-Pacific's regional political economy is then considered in more detail, especially with regard to APBFTAs' potential to forge new micro-networking and macro-networking linkages. Finally, it is noted how a bilateral-to-plurilateral evolutionary progression of the APBFTA phenomenon could possibly lead to a new 'lattice regionalist' form of economic integrational development in the Asia-Pacific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalPacific Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2003


  • APEC
  • Asia-Pacific
  • Free trade agreement
  • Lattice regionalism
  • Networks
  • Trade diplomacy


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