We investigate the effects of free trade agreements (FTAs), focusing on the impact of cumulative rules of origin (ROO) on trade costs. Using a gravity regression model, we estimate the effect of various cumulative ROO systems on the measured trade costs. We apply these estimates to static and capital accumulation computable general equilibrium models to compare the effects of mega-regional FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region—namely, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and Free Trade Areas in the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). We find that mega-regional FTAs may not be a viable alternative to a multilateral trading system or bilateral FTAs unless less restrictive cumulative ROO are adopted. Successful FTAs depend on an appropriate cumulative ROO provision system rather than their membership expansion.
We estimate the consumer price index (CPI) bias in Korea by employing the approach of Engel's Law as suggested by Hamilton (2001). Using Korean panel data (Korean Labor and Income Panel Study) and following Hamilton's model with a non-linear specification correction, our estimation result shows that the CPI bias over the sample period (2000–05) averaged at least 0.7 percent annually, which implies that about 21 percent of the inflation rate during the sample period can be attributed to the bias. This CPI bias has caused a substantial understatement of the growth in real GDP and contributes to excessive transfers from younger taxpayers to the elderly through indexed pension payments. We discuss the implications of the CPI bias for economic management and policies in Korea.