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The Foreign Economic Policy of the EU and Japan: Establishing a New Role Model or Setting Up Path Dependencies?

Christoph Spieker
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Ulli Jamitzky
Christoph Spieker
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Open Panel

Abstract

The growing number of bilateral economic partnership agreements (EPAs) in recent years is changing the nature of the existing multilateral global trade regime. The European Union and Japan, two of the most influential economic and trade powers, are accelerating this process through their new foreign economic strategies. This paper focuses on the impacts of their new bilateral trade agenda on the global trading regime. Furthermore, the influence on each other will be assessed: To what extent is the EU influencing Japan’s trade policy and vice versa? What are the cornerstones of their respective trade agendas? Which role does the WTO still play? Is there a system behind the new EPA boom? Is even a new role model of global trade policy emerging and how will it look like? To answer these questions, we will take a look at both parties’ main areas of action in a geographical as well as in a qualitative sense. Are there specific regions becoming apparent as distinct spheres of influence? Do the EU and Japan focus on creating investment possibilities instead of concentrating on the ‘classical’ abolition of trade barriers? We will show that, in a pretty similar manner, both the EU and Japan promote a paradoxical development in trade negotiations between the triad and non-triad economies. But nevertheless, their political economic structure is still different. Thus, they have different motivational interests. Our thesis is that both the EU and Japan are still in the process of orientation. But they will not be able to fulfill their multilateral ambitions because their policy is dominated by economic and political factors respectively. Thus, they apply their two-track-approach very pragmatically. Nevertheless, one can observe that the EU is influencing the Japanese policy indirectly.