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The China Factor Blunts the Cutting-Edge of the Japan-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement

Rahman Khondaker Mizanur (), Molla Rafiqul Islam () and Md Murad ()
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Rahman Khondaker Mizanur: Nanzan University
Molla Rafiqul Islam: Multimedia University

Global Economy Journal, 2008, vol. 8, issue 4, 1-18

Abstract: Most industrialized and industrializing countries of the world were highly nervous about the spread effect of the surge of investment, industrialization and economic growth in China during early years of the 2000s. They were anxiously searching for ways and means to protect their economic interests from this effect. To describe this phenomenon eloquently the mass media used the term `China factor in world trade.' Against this backdrop the Japan-Malaysia free trade agreement (FTA) under an economic partnership agreement was signed in 2005 and implemented from 2006 with the expectation that it would be able to protect their bilateral trade from the sharp edge of the China factor and further enhance trade and investment relationships between the two countries. This study examines its effectiveness in influencing their bilateral trade growth in the face of this so called China factor. From analyses of the time series data on Malaysia's trade during 1986-2007 it is observed that the bilateral trade between Malaysia and Japan became stagnant during 2001-2005 with an average annual value of US$25.35 billion as a result of the impact of the China factor. However, during 2006-2007, the initial two years of its operation, the FTA was able to minimize the impacts of the China factor and revamp the growth of the bilateral trade at a modest rate. It is projected that their bilateral trade will grow marginally and reach to US$50.34 billion in 2010; but the growth rate will start declining from that year. This, in effect, indicates that the China factor's massive impact has blunted the sharp-edge of the Japan-Malaysia FTA's `tactical merit' for promoting bilateral trade growth. As a result, it is found to have only a modest and short lived influence on bilateral trade growth in the presence of China's increasing involvement in Malaysia's industrial growth. However, for a more reliable assessment a longer experience of FTA will be required.

Date: 2008
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