Why do Countries Enter into Preferential Agreements on Trade in Services? Assessing the Potential for Negotiated Regulatory Convergence in Asian Services Markets
More than a third of the World Trade Organization (WTO)-notified services trade agreements (STAs) in effect over January 2008 - August 2015 have involved at least one (South or Southeast) Asian trading partner. Drawing on Baier and Bergstrand's (2004) determinants of preferential trade agreements and using the World Bank's database on the restrictiveness of domestic services regimes (Borchert et.al. 2012), we examine the potential for negotiated regulatory convergence in Asian services markets. Our results suggest that countries within Asia with high levels of pre-existing bilateral merchandise trade and wide differences in services regulatory frameworks are more likely candidates for STA formation. Such results lend support to the hypothesis that the heightened servicification of production generates a demand for the lowered service input costs resulting from negotiated market opening.