Since the prosperity and dynamism of Asia heavily depend on an open and liberal trade regime, trade liberalization and its impacts on poverty and environment are very important issues for the region. While poverty has decreased in newly industrialized countries (NIEs), in Southeast Asian countries and China, which have experienced export-led economic growth it is still a major problem, particularly in Central and South Asia. Furthermore, while intensifying competition under trade liberalization has led to an increase of the region's productivity, an increase in production has put more stress on its environment. With the new round of multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO and regional and sub-regional trade negotiations, such as the agreement on the ASEAN Free Trade Area, trade liberalization in the region will likely be further expanded. The challenge is how to ensure that all the economies and populations of the region, particularly the poor, will be able to reap the benefits from trade liberalization, and that economic development through trade liberalization is balanced with the environment. This paper aims to provide the region's main issues in achieving sustainable development through trade, to examine its characteristics of trade, and to identify policy directions towards sustainable development through trade, based on their economic, social, and environmental implications.
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