The effect of the Spaghetti Bowl is the proliferation of free trade agreements (ATAFs) that supplant the multilateral negotiations of the World Trade Organization as an alternative to globalization. The term was first used in 1995 by Jagdish Bhagwati in the document “US Trade policy: The infatuation with free trade agreements”, where he criticized free trade agreements as a counterproductive paradox in promoting freer and more open world affairs. According to Bhagwati, too many cross-trade agreements would allow countries to pursue a discriminatory trade policy and reduce the economic benefits of trade. Bhagwati identifies several problems inherent in independent free trade agreements that make them incapable of promoting clear and comprehensive trade liberalization, with considerable benefits: East Asian governments began to promote free trade agreements as trade instruments in the late 1990s. In 2000, only three free trade agreements were in force across the region. But today, East Asia is at the forefront of global free trade. As of July 2009, 47 free trade agreements were in force and another 64 were in preparation (Figure 1). The failure to conclude the WTO`s Doha Global Round has resulted in a large number of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements around the world. While East Asia is a relative novice in free trade agreements, the region has seen dramatic growth in free trade agreements in recent years. A lively debate took place on the impact of free trade agreements on the region`s economy. In Asian countries, the free trade agreement has grown dramatically since the beginning of the 21st century. In 2000, only three free trade agreements were in force, nine years later, 37 free trade agreements were in force and 72 were under negotiation. Important platforms such as the People`s Republic of China, Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have emerged.
De facto increasing economic integration, combined with the absence of common economic institutions, has led Asian countries to pursue a trade policy for free trade agreements. As part of the organizing team of the South Asian Economics Student`s Meet (SAESM`13) in Lahore, Pakistan, I already had an overview of what it was like to be part of the SAESM family. The idea behind the first annual conference, in 2003, was to provide South Asian economics students with a platform to interact, exchange ideas and discuss economic issues in an a-class environment. Participants write and present research, or participate in a multi-cycle competition to fight for the honor of being the budding economist of South Asia. In addition, SAESM offers the opportunity to forge cross-border friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime. Therefore, as soon as the applications for SAESM`14 (Bhutan) were opened, I applied for a request to participate in the Pakistani delegation and I was selected after an academic interview. I decided to write my research work on the sub-theme “South Asia from a Global Perspective.” A lot of hard work, with many nights where relevant articles, articles and publications led me to limit the subject to “Impact Evaluation of Spaghetti Bowl Effect on South Asia-East Asia trade relations”. The proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements has led to a phenomenon that trade economists call the “pasta shell problem.” Instead of having a single, integrated set of rules that apply equally to all governments, the region is now through dozens of individual bilateral agreements.
What complicates matters is that agreements are often totally inconsistent. Each has its own rules on tariff reductions, non-tariff trade reforms and administrative standards. Several empirical studies have been carried out to determine the true cost of the spaghetti bowl effect on the volume of trade and the competitiveness of countries.