Cover image for The U.S.-Singapore free trade agreement : an American perspective on power, trade, and security in the Asia Pacific
The U.S.-Singapore free trade agreement : an American perspective on power, trade, and security in the Asia Pacific
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Singapore : Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011
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xx, 305 p. ; 23 cm.
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PSZ JB 30000010302220 HF1456.5.S55 P36 2011 Open Access Book Book

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Free trade has become the mantra of development strategy for many countries in the world, especially those in the Asia Pacific. This book delves into the American side of the story. It is about how Singapore and the United States came to sign the agreement in 2003 (taking effect from 1 January 2004). The United States - Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA) is the first FTA that America signed with an Asian country and the second such agreement with a fully developed country, after Canada. The city-state has used a free trade agreement as both a national survival and a growth strategy, first forging such FTA ties with its major trading partners and then expanding its strategic link to such extra-regional great powers as the United States, Japan, Australia, China, India, and the European Union. Both Singapore and the United States saw in FTAs something more than just merchandise trade.

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This work of political economy explores in an unusually detailed manner the political roots of bilateral trade agreements through the focal point of one such agreement, the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA). Pang (Colorado School of Mines) argues that the neoclassical thesis that free trade benefits all nations is weakly supported by the evidence and that political objectives are the real motor force behind trade agreements. In other words, without political objectives it is unlikely powerful nations such as the US would pursue these agreements in the first place. The US government has used bilateral agreements as a mechanism for strengthening political relationships with individual countries, but the political objectives are often regional and global. In the case of the USSFTA, the US objectives in Asia have been served, since it was the first bilateral trade agreement between the US and an Asian country at a time when China was on the rise. The competition between the US and China over influence, if not hegemony, within Asia will be played out, in part, via these sorts of agreements, perhaps even more so than within the larger multilateral trade agreements. Summing Up: Recommended. International economics and political science collections, upper-division undergraduate through professional. S. J. Gabriel Mount Holyoke College