The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Is the recent proliferation of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) in Asia a healthy development, or runs the risk of turning into an unmanageable "noodle bowl" in the future? The goal of this paper is to shed some light on this question. The results show that membership in the Asian RTAs considered in this study have not, to date, occurred at the expense of trade with nonmembers, as most Asian countries' integration with the global economy preceded regional integration. However, looking forward, given their discriminatory nature, a proliferation of RTAs, which is not accompanied by continuing unilateral and multilateral liberalization, could run the risk of leading to costly trade diversion.