economies work well together
third High-Level Conference on Asian Economic Integration was jointly
organized last week in Taiyuan, Shanxi, by Shanxi University for
Economics and Finance and the Research and Information System for
Developing Countries (RIS) of New Delhi, India. This initiative
was supported by the Sasakawa Foundation in Tokyo, which was also
an active partner in the first two conferences.
series of high-level conferences is thus an initiative of the three
big Asian powers, who are rightly leading Asian economic integration.
What stood out was a clear feeling of optimism that Asia is poised
to accelerate its economic integration, especially in the lead-up
to the East Asia Summit (EAS), which will take place in Kuala Lumpur
least five major themes emerged in Taiyuan, giving rise to this
it was stressed in the official opening remarks that the time was
right for the launch of Asian economic integration, as economies
in the region take off. The mood in Asia is optimistic, as economic
growth has proven to be sound and buoyant, despite the rise of oil
prices and economic slowdowns in the United States and Europe. China
and India, and eventually Japan, will be the much-needed engines
of growth, especially in trade.
Asia's economic integration will be more and more trade, investment
and consumption-led, as these three pillars will no doubt constitute
the key elements of Asian growth and integration.
was also pointed out in the opening paper that sub-regional entities
have perhaps reached their limits, as they may not be able to exploit
the full potential of growth through the synergy of these economies
is perhaps the case for ASEAN, as the financial needs in terms of
infrastructure-building, as well as the potential of markets, may
have reached their limits.
is here that Japan - and even the Republic of Korea, Australia and
New Zealand - could step up in the first place, with China and India
providing a later boost.
elements would definitely offer even greater potential in an all-inclusive
"ASEAN plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and
New Zealand" grouping, when launched in Kuala Lumpur.
is coming to realize its interdependence is growing very quickly
- not only economically and financially, but also in other social
areas, ranging from health and education to environment and social
development. Asian countries have become fully aware of their total
interdependence and common vulnerability, as the past three years
have adequately and unfortunately proven.
the scourge of terrorism and piracy have also locked Asian countries
together in the Melaka Straits and the adjoining Indonesian maritime
domains, as well as in the South China Sea.
common vulnerability and interdependence that binds Asia together
is progressively emerging in the common consciousness of Asians.
is an urgent need for Asians to adopt a pragmatic, progressive and
open approach to growing regionalism and economic integration. Asian
economic integration must be progressive so as not to give the feeling
of a heavy handed top-down government-only approach, but should
be pragmatic, as the economies evolve towards integration, with
the process balancing both social and economic imperatives.
Asian economic integration must be undertaken in an inclusive way,
in line with Asia's goal of "open regionalism," as its
economies also depend heavily on external trade. Asians must therefore
assure Americans and Europeans that Asian integration is not undertaken
at their expense, as Asian economic integration should not be seen
as a threat.
way to promote economic integration developed during the conference
consists of joining the existing and negotiated Free Trade Agreements
(FTAs) into a region-wide Asian FTA.
there is also a need to create a "one-ness" or an "Asian-ness"
within the region - a feeling of "one Asia." The crucial
question of an emerging Asian identity arises, as Asians should
feel a certain togetherness as a people, forging a common destiny.
But an Asian identity of togetherness and commonality must be built
progressively, if Asian integration is to be based on a solid foundation.
Teo Chu Cheow
Daily, September 22, 2005 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-09/22/content_479928.htm)
Previous Write Ups