New Regionalism in East Asia: Lessons for Pakistan

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Muhammad Aslam


Untill 1997, the only preferential trading arrangement which existed in East Asia was ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). AFTA was established in 1992, as a replacement to Preferential Trading Arrangements (PTA) which was formed in 1978. AFTA had managed to generate about 20 percent of intra-ASEAN trade. However, the increment of intra-trade, as well as intra-investment in the region had remained small even though the number of members increased from six to ten in the late 1990s. Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir had realised earlier the deficiency of the small regional economic integration, such as AFTA, in terms of stimulating economic growth and development significantly. In 1990, he proposed to ASEAN members to form a bigger economic group in the East Asia region, i.e the East Asian Economic Group (EAEG). Due to the regional political factor his proposal was turned down and replaced with a forum called the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) in 1992. However, in 1997 at the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, again he proposed that ASEAN needed to establish a large economic co-operation with other countries in East Asia, i.e China, South Korea and Japan.

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