Mega-Regionalism in Trade from a Sectoral Perspective. The Case of the Automotive Industry in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

Sebastian Bobowski, Bogusława Drelich-Skulska


Theoretical background: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the largest mega-regional trade agreement ever signed, accounting for more than 30% of the global population, exports, and gross domestic product (GDP). It is also the largest automotive market worldwide, with significant potential both in terms of automotive manufacturing and sales.

Purpose of the article: The paper’s main objective is to characterize China-RCEP automotive trade in the years 2012–2021 with reference to key provisions and implications of the aforementioned mega-regional trade agreement for the automotive industry. In the empirical part of the paper, the authors attempt to verify the hypothesis that trade liberalization under RCEP may contribute to the expansion of the regional automotive industry in terms of trade volume, as well as fragmentation of value and supply chains.

Research methods: The authors conducted an analysis of intra-industry trade disaggregated into 54 six-digit HS tariff codes using the Grubel–Lloyd and Balassa indexes, accompanied by cross sectional analysis and studies of sectoral reports and literature in the field of mega-regionalism in trade.

Main findings: The hypothesis formulated in the introduction of the paper was verified positively –the authors provided an added value to previous empirical studies on RCEP, in the form of a perspective of the automotive industry and in-depth analysis of sectoral trends for the last ten years. The potential for further fragmentation of value and supply chains inside the region was identified, including the possibility of relocation of manufacturing and assembly activities to lower the cost of RCEP Member States to strengthen comparative advantages over extra-regional counterparts (EU, USMCA). The authors pointed at the prospective rising attractiveness of RCEP in automotive manufacturers’ location decisions worldwide, considering both costs, retreat from global-oriented manufacturing and export strategies, investment security, sustainable development, as well as geopolitical trends in respect of newly established tariff and non-tariff barriers.


mega-regionalism in trade; intra-industry trade; automotive industry; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); COVID-19 pandemic crisis

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Data publikacji: 2023-05-22 13:42:30
Data złożenia artykułu: 2022-12-28 14:51:22


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