OECD Territorial Reviews: Trans-border Urban Co-operation in the Pan Yellow Sea Region, 2009

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The Pan Yellow Sea Region (PYSR) covers the coasts of Northern China (Bohai Rim), western and southern Korea and south-western Japan (Kyushu). It has been one of the fastest growing economic zones in East Asia since China’s opening in the early 1990s, thanks to the region’s extensive manufacturing and transportation networks. Development has been driven by cities such as Dalian, Qingdao and Tianjin in China, Busan and Incheon in Korea, and Fukuoka and Kitakyushu in Japan. 

However, the PYSR has yet not fully utilised its assets nor reached its potential for growth.  Further economic integration has been hindered by excessive competition and inadequate co-operation within the region. The regional transportation system requires structural changes to be integrated, especially in the container transportation market. Deepening the region’s social and cultural network remains a challenge. And environmental concerns are increasingly attracting attention. This report analyses these factors and assesses a wide range of policies to improve the PYSR’s competitiveness and integration.

In particular, the report examines the PYSR’s trans-border governance system, which has emerged since the 1990s as a key regional policy agenda. The harmonisation of authorities within the region is a prerequisite to achieving economic success and addressing the PYSR’s diverse challenges. A comparative analysis of trans-border cooperation in OECD countries in Europe and North America is also included in an annex. This report will be of special interest to policy makers, researchers, NGOs and others active in trans-border development or Asian economic development. 

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Annex A

Comparative analysis of trans-border co-operation in OECD countries

OECD member country experiences could provide useful lessons for East Asia(Table A 1). For example, European and North American cases tell us that borderlands come to the fore under increasingly globalised markets. Their peripheral and remote location from the national centre has tended to leave border regions underdeveloped. Legal and institutional factors have erected barriers to the smooth flow of people and goods across borders in order to protect domestic (mainly security) interests. However, with increasing pressure for free trade and integrated markets, borders are now increasingly being re-defined as bridges or communication channels, rather than barriers. This brings new economic opportunities for border regions. There are different degrees of border openness across Europe and North America.1 In the US -Canada case, tightened border control after the “9/11” attack on the US has hampered the smooth trans-border flow of people and goods. In the US -Mexico case, other issues such as illegal immigration and drug trafficking, have made governments fearful of open borders. In Europe, many barriers to the movement of people and goods have been lifted through measures such as the Schengen Convention. In Europe, virtually all border regions are involved in some type of trans-border co-operation activity. There are more than 70 such arrangements, operating under names like “Euroregions” or “Working Communities” (Perkmann, 2007).


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