Table of Contents

  • The Asia Pacific is the world’s most economically dynamic region. Most of its economies are growing persistently, at rates of between 3.5% and 10% p.a. The pace is such that East Asia (excluding Japan) now enjoys an average GDP per capita (in purchasing power parity terms) not far short of Western Europe’s in 1950 (Angus Maddison, “World Development and Outlook 1820- 2030: A Quantitative Perspective”, Revised Note for the Meeting of OECD Economics and Environment Directorates, 25 June 2004, Table 2, p. 5). On present trends, East Asia will reach Western Europe’s 1990 GDP per capita in 30 years’ time (Maddison). In line with such growth, the region’s share of global exports has doubled over the past 25 years, and many regional businesses...

  • Globalisation trends have dominated much of the news media in the past ten years; many studies have documented the drivers and the process of global economic integration. Understated is the role that regional economies play in relaying globalisation effects, both within and beyond the region. Regional integration has long been on the agenda within the Asia Pacific, but it has advanced at a slower pace than efforts in Europe and North America.

  • While this chapter mainly focuses on the economic aspects of regional integration, it will go beyond that brief because much of the benefit of integration comes from the synergies between the narrow economic issues and the broader social and political aspects. The economic ties that tend to be the usual focus of discussion on integration are the skeleton or framework on which other, equally important, issues can be built.

  • History, in the present times, tends to be forgotten. In the case of the Pacific region, such an oversight prevents us from recognising the possible consequences of the three great regional integration projects (the European Union, the Americas’ Free Trade Area and ASEAN + 3) on the future evolution of the world economy.

  • Since the 1990s, the East Asian region has gone through some turbulent times, starting with the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, the global economic slowdown, and more recently the SARS epidemic. These problems have had severe economic consequences on the East Asian economies, particularly the Southeast Asian countries that had recorded impressive growth rates in the early and mid-1990s. There is no more talk of Tigers.

  • Why integration now?

    Two economic events of historic proportions provide the context for regional integration in the Asia Pacific today.

    The first event, the currency and financial crisis of 1997/98, still affects every aspect of economic policy making. The crisis shattered a deeply held and broadly shared view of the policy keys to development success, and called for a review of what now needs to be done to build on the basic tenets: macroeconomic stability, high savings and investment, rapid expansion of education, and a strong export orientation.1 Many in the region consider...

  • Global network corporations – major agents of contemporary globalisation – exploit economies of scale in their expanding markets and economies of scope from their corporate (knowledge, financial and marketing) networks, while locating and maintaining production centres world wide in order to take advantage of lower factor prices. These activities, which create a globally distributed production system and related flows of knowledge, capital, goods and services, have been made possible by and are making possible a variety of recent developments: innovations in transportation and complementary communication technologies; organisational and institutional innovations creating new logistical systems; reform of the regulatory regimes of the...

  • The Asia Pacific region contains a major share of the world’s population (exactly a third if South-Central Asia is not included; 57% if it is). The extraordinary variety of ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions in the region, not to mention a wide spectrum of economic and social development levels, renders any search to identify a unifying thread, aside from the obvious one of geographic propinquity, a difficult one. No doubt there are commonalities of interest in the Asia Pacific region, but we would still have to conclude that we are dealing here with a situation of extreme diversity. This is why, if indeed the Asia Pacific region is to be regarded as an entity, it is...

  • Introduction

    “People are no longer satisfied only with declarations. They demand firm action and concrete results. They expect that the nations of the world, having identified a problem, will have the vitality to act.” Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, whose country hosted the Stockholm Conference, 1972

    This call to action by Prime Minister Palme at what was the first major international conference to address global environmental problems has, unfortunately, remained substantially unanswered. Global (and Asia Pacific) negotiations in the time since the Stockholm Conference are yet to result in widely accepted plans for action on redressing environmental degradation. Discussions on such issues have centred on an elusive search for principles to guide the global regime (sustainable development and Agenda 21) rather than...

  • In 1995, the author conducted a study attempting to measure the level and scope of Philippine participation in selected issue areas of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Carlos, 1996). A scoring procedure was devised for that study to indicate the areas in which advances in co-operation are occurring and the areas in which they are lagging. The study concluded that co-operation on drug enforcement and scientific matters rated highest in the first group and co-operation on social development and selected environmental...

  • It is right and fitting that we should discuss, examine, audit, criticise and promote the issue of regional integration in Asia and the Pacific under the leadership of the Hawke Centre.

    It was Bob Hawke’s leadership that saw the creation of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation – APEC – in Canberra in the 1980s. I was at the first meeting, representing New Zealand. In those heady days, we called it the Hawke initiative. What was also significant then was that it was the first ministerial meeting where China, Hong Kong (a British colony at the time) and