The ASEAN Experience, Northeast Asia and Beyond: Free Trade and Economic Integration

By Aik Seng Tan
Cornell International Affairs Review
2016, Vol. 10 No. 1 | pg. 3/3 |

Summary and Conclusion

The ASEAN Economic Community provides a very good example of how successful economic integration in a diverse region can be pursued. An integrated economic regional outfit provides both powerful economic benefits and security externalities, which are goals that the AEC can help advance. Northeast Asia can also benefit from the creation of a Northeast Asian Economic Community, as earlier mentioned. To pave the way for success, three lessons can be gleaned and adapted by Northeast Asia to enhance an economic community's viability. To that end, ASEAN's emphasis on negotiation and consensus building has helped them to pursue economic integration. Specifically, the AEC's ability to reduce the obstacles of dumping, protectionism and problems associated with mobility of labour were discussed. These are lessons relevant to Northeast Asia.

Based on the essential similarities between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, the benefits enjoyed by the latter can also be expected in Northeast Asia if a similar economic community is created there. The lessons learnt from AEC in dealing with dumping, protectionism, and unregulated labor movements are valuable experiences for Northeast Asia. Yet, the region has some unique problems that need to be resolved in order for an integrated economic community to be created. These problems include the lack of regional political institution and complicated international relations. Still, these problems can be resolved if member states can constructively utilise existing platforms, such as the East Asian Summit and the ASEAN+3 Summit. This paper has deliberately not engaged the political dimension of inter-state relations in detail, since much scholarly effort has been devoted towards explaining this aspect of the region's relational dynamics. Instead, this paper has sought to argue that economic integration can be a major stepping-stone that supplies and reinforces the logic of cooperation and regional peace. The economic route to regional stability may not come without its own limitations. However, in the absence of more feasible alternatives that are empirically superior, economic integration stands out as an option with great promise for future East Asian relations. If economics can facilitate regional peace, incentivize member states to set aside political differences and help to raise their collective societal happiness, then Northeast Asia should work towards greater economic integration – with some help from the AEC on how economic disputes can be reconciled through consensus building and concordant political will.


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Endnotes

  1. Tan Aik Seng is a final year honors undergraduate at the National University of Singapore. His academic interests are in public administration and comparative Asian politics. I am grateful to Dr. Han Hee-Jin from the NUS Department of Political Science for providing me with her invaluable guidance and support in the development of this paper's original version.
  2. The ASEAN countries are Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei and Vietnam.
  3. Rafael Reuveny and Heejoon Kang, "Bilateral trade and political conflict/cooperation: do goods matter?," Journal of Peace Research 35, no. 5 (1998): 581-602. See also Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and discord in the world Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).
  4. ASEAN, Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, ASEAN Website, January 2008, Accessed May 1, 2015, http://asean.org/wp-content/uploads/archive/5187-10.pdf
  5. Ibid.
  6. KPMG, The ASEAN Economic Community 2015: On the Road to Real Business Impact, June 2014, Accessed May 5, 2015, http://www.kpmg.com/SG/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/Tax-Itax-The-ASEAN-Economic-Community-2015.pdf
  7. Quah, Jon ST, Public Administration Singapore Style, Vol. 19 (Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing, 2010).
  8. Based on the QS University Rankings, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, were respectively ranked 12th and 13th in the 2016 edition.
  9. J.S. K. Yip & Sim, W.K, Evolution of Educational Excellence: 25 Years of Education in the Republic of Singapore (Singapore: Longman, 1990).
  10. Ana Shohibul, "Revealed comparative advantage measure: ASEAN-China trade flows," Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development 4, no. 7 (2013): 140.
  11. ASEAN, Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint.
  12. ASEAN. Thinking Globally, Prospering Regionally: ASEAN Economic Community 2015, ASEAN Website, April 2014, Accessed May 1, 2015, http://asean.org/storage/2016/06/4.March-2015-Thinking-Globally-Prospering-Regionally-%E2%80%93-The-AEC-2015Messaging-for-Our-Future-2nd-Reprint.pdf. http://www.asean.org/images/resources/2014/May/AECKeyMessagesBooklet_FINAL30Apr2014.pdf
  13. Ibid.
  14. Bruce Russett, and John R. Oneal, "The Kantian peace: The pacific benefits of democracy, interdependence, and international organizations," World Politics 52, no. 1 (1999): 1-37.
  15. Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid, "Prosperity of Asia dependent on factors not economic in nature: PM Lee," Channel NewsAsia, April 11, 2015, Accessed May 5, 2015, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/prosperity-of-asia/1777396.html
  16. Thomas J. Prusa, "On the spread and impact of anti-dumping," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique 34, no. 3 (2001): 591-611.
  17. Amitav Acharya, "Ideas, identity, and institution-building: From the "ASEAN way" to the "Asia-Pacific way"?," The Pacific Review 10, no. 3 (1997): 319-346.
  18. Patrick John Lim, "10 to 15 years before ASEAN economic community becomes fully integrated: ANZ," Channel NewsAsia, April 24, 2015, Accessed May 1, 2015. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/singapore/10-to-15-years-before/1805076.html
  19. The Economist, "Protectionism: the Hidden Persuaders," The Economist, October 12, 2013, Accessed May 1, 2015, http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21587381protectionism-can-take-many-forms-not-all-them-obvious-hidden-persuaders
  20. Anusha Chari and Nandini Gupta, "Incumbents and protectionism: The political economy of foreign entry liberalization," Journal of Financial Economics 88, no. 3 (2008): 633-656.
  21. Najib Razak, Chairman's Statement of the 26th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Website, April 27, 2015, Accessed May 1, 2015. http://www.asean.org/images/2015/april/26th_asean_summit/Chairman%20Statement%2026th%20ASEAN%20Summit_final.pdf
  22. ASEAN, Thinking Globally, Prospering Regionally, 6.
  23. Balboa, J.D & G. Wignaraja. "ASEAN economic community 2015: what is next?." Asia Pathways. December 12, 2014. Accessed May 1, 2015. http://www.asiapathways-adbi.org/2014/12/asean-economic-community-2015-what-is-next/
  24. Marc Lieberman and Robert Hall, Economics: Principles and Applications, (Australia, SouthWestern: Cengage Learning, 2013).
  25. Brenda SA. Yeoh, "Bifurcated labour: the unequal incorporation of transmigrants in Singapore," Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 97, no. 1 (2006): 31.
  26. Chew Soon-Beng and Rosalind Chew, "Immigration and foreign labour in Singapore," ASEAN Economic Bulletin (1995): 191-200.
  27. Neo Boon Siong and Geraldine Chen, Dynamic Governance: Embedding Culture, Capabilities & Change in Singapore, (New Jersey: New Scientific Press, 2007).
  28. Yeoh, "Transmigrants in Singapore".
  29. National Population and Talent Division, Prime Minister's Office [Singapore], 2014 Population in Brief, accessed May 1, 2015, http://www.nptd.gov.sg/portals/0/news/populationinbrief-2014.pdf
  30. Teo Xuanwei, "Firms must now post job listings for Singaporeans on MOM site," TODAY Newspaper. September 23, 2013, Accessed May 5, 2015, http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/firms-must-now-post-job-listings-singaporeans-mom-site
  31. Toh Yong Chuan, "Budget 2013: foreign worker levies to go up, quotas for services and marine sectors cut," February 25, 2013, Accessed May 5, 2015, http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/singapore/story/budget-2013-foreign-worker-levies-go-quotas-services-andmarinesector
  32. Kent Calder and Min Ye, The Making of Northeast Asia, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010).
  33. Ramesh Chand, Free Trade Area in Asia, (Academic Foundation, 2006).
  34. Douglas B. Fuller, "The Cross-Strait economic relationship's impact on development in Taiwan and China: Adversaries and partners," Asian Survey 48, no. 2 (2008): 239-264.
  35. Koh, Il-Dong. "Korea's reunification from the perspective of Northeast Asia's economic integration." Journal of Economic Integration 27, no. 2 (2012): 274-279.
  36. Prusa, "Anti-dumping".
  37. Chari and Gupta, "Incumbents and protectionism".
  38. Bernhard Seliger, "Economic integration in northeast Asia: Preconditions and possible trajectories," Global Economic Review 31, no. 4 (2002): 17-38.
  39. John G. Ikenberry, "American hegemony and East Asian order," Australian Journal of International Affairs 58, no. 3 (2004): 353-367.
  40. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).
  41. Clark D. Neher, Southeast Asia: Crossroads of the World (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010).
  42. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso Books, 2006).
  43. Fareed Zakaria, "The rise of illiberal democracy," Foreign Affairs (1997): 22-43.
  44. Myanmar appears to be transiting towards a more democratic political system, following elections held in 2015. Nonetheless, the military still wields considerable influence as many legislative seats are reserved for the army.
  45. Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  46. Victor D. Cha, "Powerplay: Origins of the US alliance system in Asia," International Security 34, no. 3 (2010): 158-196.
  47. June Teufel Dreyer, "China's power and will: The PRC's military strength and grand strategy," Orbis 51, no. 4 (2007): 651-664.
  48. Khalid, "PM Lee".
  49. He Yinan, "History, Chinese nationalism and the emerging Sino–Japanese conflict," Journal of Contemporary China 16, no. 50 (2007): 1-24.
  50. Ibid.
  51. H Soeastro, "An ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN+3: how do They Fit Together?" Pacific Economic Papers, 338, 2003. https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/41965/2/pep-338.pdf

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