Mireya Solís is the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies and senior fellow in the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies. An expert in Japan’s foreign economic policies, Solís earned a doctorate in government and a master’s in East Asian studies from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s in international relations from El Colegio de México. Her main research interests include Japanese politics, political economy, and foreign policy; international and comparative political economy; international relations; and government-business relations. She also has interests in broader issues in U.S.-Japan relations and East Asian multilateralism
In the past few years, Japan reversed its exclusive support for the multilateral trade regime and endorsed for the first time bilateral and preferential trade pacts -signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with Singapore and Mexico, and recently announcing negotiations with South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and possibly ASEAN. How can we explain this unprecedented move in favor of minilateral preferential trade liberalization? What will be consequences for East Asia and the multilateral trading system of the Japanese government' s decision to "trade preferences" on market access with a few selected partners? As the questions above suggest, Japan' s new regionalism presents us with an invaluable opportunity to assess the sources of change in Japanese trade policy, to understand the remarkable shift among many East Asian nations in favor of formal regional integration, and to elucidate the impact on international trade and investment flows of Japan's new regional integration strategy.