The parties reported that trade between ASEAN and Korea increased by more than 178 percent, from more than $56 billion in 2006 to more than $156 billion in 2019. In its speech on behalf of ASEAN, Thailand noted that Korea is ASEAN`s fifth largest trading partner and tenth largest source of foreign direct investment. The potential benefits of removing the remaining trade barriers are considerable. Estimates of the benefits from removing all barriers to merchandise trade range from $250 billion to $680 billion per year. About two-thirds of these profits would go to industrialized countries. However, the amount that goes to developing countries would be even more than double the aid they currently receive. Moreover, developing countries, as a percentage of their GDP, would benefit more from global trade liberalization than industrialized countries, because their economies are better protected and they face higher barriers. Further liberalization – both by developed and developing countries – will be needed to harness trade potential as an engine of economic growth and development. Industrialised countries and the wider international community will do more to remove trade barriers faced by developing countries, especially the poorest countries.
Although the quotas under the so-called multi-fibre agreement are due to expire by 2005, it is particularly important to accelerate the liberalisation of the textile and clothing and agriculture industries. Similarly, the removal of tariff peaks and the escalation of agriculture and manufacturing must be continued. On the other hand, developing countries would strengthen their own economies (and trading partners) if they made sustained efforts to further reduce their own trade barriers. However, progress in integration has been heterogeneous in recent decades. Progress has been very impressive for a number of developing countries in Asia and, to a lesser extent, in Latin America. These countries have succeeded because they have chosen to participate in world trade and have helped them attract the majority of foreign direct investment to developing countries. This is the case for China and India, because they welcomed trade liberalization and other market-based reforms, as well as higher-income countries in Asia – such as Korea and Singapore – which were themselves poor until the 1970s. Peer review of regional trade agreements between developing countries is part of the WTO`s regional trade agreement transparency mechanism. Although these agreements depart from the WTO`s principle of non-discrimination, they are permitted by the 1979 WTO Enabling Clause to help developing countries achieve their development goals and become more integrated into the global economy.
The review is based on a statement of facts prepared by the WTO secretariat, as well as questions and answers between WTO members. The free trade area often benefits the poor most. Developing countries cannot afford the high implicit subsidies, which often go towards the narrow privileged interests that trade defence offers. In addition, growth resulting from free trade tends to increase the incomes of the poor at about the same rate as those of the general population.6 New jobs are being created for the unskilled labour force, which places them in the middle class.