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Rising regional economic integration in East Asia over the past three decades is part of the new regionalism that has emerged and developed in the world economy since the mid-1980s. However, economic regionalism in East Asia has followed a very different process as compared with that in other areas, particularly in Western Europe and North America. Different from government-engineered and highly institutionalized regionalism in Europe and North America, economic regionalism in East Asia emerged as an autonomous and uninstitutionalized process of rapidly rising intraregional trade and FDI flows, driven primarily by market forces and economic imperatives rather than deliberately planned by the governments in the region. Over time, however, while the economic interdependence of East Asian states continued to deepen through intraregional trade, investment, and other economic and non-economic activities, the autonomous and uninstitutionalized process of East Asian regional economic integration gradually evolved into a process of increasingly institutionalized regional economic cooperation among states in the region over a widening range of regional issues, particularly in the wake of the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98, although a true regional grouping of East Asia is still far from emerging. The evolution of East Asian regional integration from a market-driven autonomous process to growingly institutionalized regional cooperation clearly reflected the efforts of East Asian states to respond actively to the changing conditions at the global, regional and domestic levels.
KeywordsEconomic Regionalism Regional Grouping Political Trust Multilateral Negotiation East Asian Economy
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