Regulatory Distance, Margins of Trade, and Regional Integration: The Case of the ASEAN+5
This paper measures regulatory distance in non-tariff measures (NTMs) to examine the regulatory distance patterns and how the margins of trade respond to regulatory distance for the ASEAN+5 economies (the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Member States plus Australia, China, India, Japan and New Zealand). It decomposes the margins of trade and regulatory distance by sector (agriculture and manufacturing) and NTM type (technical, non-technical, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBTs), and pre-shipment inspections and other measures) for the 15 countries. At the country level, the results indicate a varying regulatory distance amongst the ASEAN+5 countries. Regulatory implementation also varies by sector and by the type of measure. Within sectors, SPS regulatory distance is higher in the agriculture sector, while for manufacturing, the regulatory distance in TBTs is higher. Notably, few countries recorded a higher regulatory distance for non-technical measures and pre-shipment inspections. Interestingly, for the ASEAN region, there seems to be no evidence supporting a reduction in regulatory distance from 2015 to 2018, despite efforts to harmonise NTMs since 2015. The results indicate that regulatory distance largely has a trade-reducing effect along the trade margins within ASEAN+5 bilateral trade. Technical measures have a greater trade-reducing effect than other measures along extensive and intensive trade margins – specifically SPS in the agriculture sector and TBTs in the manufacturing sector. Notably, there is also evidence of non-technical measures and pre-shipments and other formalities impacting trade along extensive margins, despite efforts to establish trade facilitation. The paper also describes some policy implications.