Whither Economic Integration in East Asia?
Subjects: WTO and Globalization
Countries in East Asia need to institutionalize their deepening economic interdependence. This institutionalization is however not to make East Asia a closed and protected region but to further promote globalization. There were meaningful initiatives for establishing regional trade and financial institutions in East Asia. However, they have not yet led to the creation of East Asian Free Trade Area and Asian Monetary Fund. One important hurdle in this regard was that China, Japan and Korea could not cooperate closely enough for the common goal of economic integration in East Asia. ASEAN was the center for the movement of regional integration, although the +3 countries were politically and economically the center of Asia. Establishing a core network among these +3 countries, separately from the ASEAN, is a precondition for the successful launch of Asia-wide regional trade and financial arrangements. In this process, Korea can play a key role as a gateway to the global market for East Asian countries as well as a gateway to Asian markets for outside countries such as the US and EU, taking maximum advantage of the two recently agreed FTAs with the US and the EU.