- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Economic Integration: Implications of Regional Economic Integration

Ellen L. Frost

A network of trade and financial negotiations is creating new linkages among countries in Asia. Free trade agreements are proliferating and a framework for currency swaps is in place. Particularly striking are growing ties between Northeast and Southeast Asia, China’s "charm diplomacy," Japan’s lagging performance, and the inclusion of India in summit-level discussions with East and Southeast Asia. This drive for intra-Asian economic integration excludes the United States. It will yield few economic benefits compared with trans-Pacific or global integration, but it offers Asian leaders political and security advantages, such as engaging China peacefully in the region, acquiring a stronger collective voice, and, for India, building economic relationships corresponding to its status as an emerging regional power. Over time, market-oriented regional integration works in favor of peace, stability, and democracy and deserves U.S. support.