The existing pattern of trade in forestry products did not evolve by accident. Rather, it is a result of a combination of productive capacity, profitability and ease of market access. The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provided an opportunity to address this latter aspect - an opportunity to improve the efficiency of global trade in forest products and thereby both increase volume of trade in forest products (trade creation) and ensure that resources are more efficiently allocated according to their relative market valuation (trade diversion).
While forestry tariffs are at a global scale relatively low, there are significant differences in tariff rates between countries and markets. And changes in market relativities can have significant impacts on inter-country trade flows involving important changes at a regional level, while being relatively insignificant when investigating change at the global level. Of all the world's major regions the Asia-Pacific is probably most susceptible to changing trading patterns in response to the erection or removal of trade barriers. Not only does it have generally a greater profusion of trade controls and barriers, but it has greater differentials in levels of development, wealth, technological capacities and market power. Consequently, the impacts of the Uruguay Round on forestry trade on the microcosm of the Asia-Pacific region is well worth examining as an adjunct to a global level analysis.
This paper attempts to build on a globally oriented analysis by Barbier2(1996) by concentrating on the more limited partial market equilibrium within the Asia-Pacific region. It is written as a supplement to the Barbier paper and consequently will only partially stand alone. It does not address any of the history or theory of market access or Uruguay Round negotiations contained in the parent paper. Rather, it deals exclusively with documenting and assessing the impacts of changes in market access conditions in Asia-Pacific in response to the Uruguay Round and, briefly, describing potential market access developments in a range of regionally based fora. It should be noted, however, that the general analysis contained in the Barbier paper is equally applicable to the Asia-Pacific region. Trade linkages in the forestry sector are complex with the major markets being generally common to all exporters. Consequently, this paper also provides some analysis of the effects of changes in United States and European Union tariffs for Asia-Pacific countries.
1 This report was largely finalized in December 1996.
2 Edward B. Barbier; Impact of the Uruguay Round on International Trade in Forest Products; FAO; 1996 (Ref. Job No D/W0723).