Towards an Asian Economic Community:
An Agenda for the East Asia Summit

The 1990s have witnessed emergence of strong regional trading blocs in different parts of the world led by EU’s Single Market and NAFTA among others. Asia has lagged behind in this trend. However, currently there is great interest in Asia in the potential of regional economic integration for exploiting their synergies for mutual benefit as evident from proliferation of initiatives at sub-regional and bilateral FTAs in the region especially those between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, viz. Japan, China, South Korea and India. From these attempts a virtual Asian economic community is emerging. However, the sub-regional and bilateral FTAs have their limitations in fully exploiting the potential of regional economic integration and in providing a seamless market to Asian businesses to become more competitive and productive. It is therefore widely believed that Asia needs a broader pan-Asian framework for regional economic cooperation that could evolve in a phased manner.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is an important event for initiating a broader architecture for regional cooperation in Asia. The EAS participating economies combine between them the largest and most dynamic economies of Asia namely Japan, ASEAN-10, China, S. Korea, and India, and also Australia and New Zealand. Such a participation gives EAS an opportunity to launch the process of formation of an Asian grouping that could be expanded in future to evolve into an Asian Economic Community.
This publication presents outcomes of a policy dialogue involving premier Asian think-tanks and leading experts of Asia conducted during 2003-05 on the relevance of broader cooperation, possible approaches and a roadmap. It puts together an agenda for the EAS for building an institutional architecture for exploiting potential of regional economic integration for building an Asia of tomorrow that will be the centre of gravity of the world economy!

It will be useful to Asian policy makers and scholars looking for a vision for making the 21st Century an Asian century.

Published by:

Research and Information System
for Developing Countries

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