22 Jun 2011
What role for regional economic organizations in a fragmented trade world? The case of ASEAN
NCCR Trade Working Paper No 2011/61 by Cédric Dupont
ASEAN is a case that seems to eschew our understanding based on the dominant arguments in the literature. From a political-economic perspective, it has not been a success in deepening integration and has not, accordingly, really been a credible signal sent to foreign investors or producers, nor a strategic tool for either liberalization at the world level or at the inter-regional dynamics. From a security perspective, ASEAN may have been a factor of stabilization in the region but has clearly failed to ban violence as a means to settle disputes between members. Yet, ASEAN is still very much in motion –even though more visibly in words than in practice. This paper examines whether this momentum can be expected to continue building upon a potential role of the organization in the broader region. On the one hand, ASEAN with its aim to bond members into a “community of caring societies” is examined as a potential source of legitimacy for further economic integration in the region. On the other hand, the paper considers the role of ASEAN in the various initiatives to bring together in a “widening” logic large pans ofthe Asia-Pacific “geographical” region. ASEAN future looks bright on neither account.