Emerging East Asian economies have seen their share of world exports
more than triple during the past quarter-century, and intraregional
trade has driven this growth. Broad measures of development in East
Asia have improved at the same headlong pace. Why push further
integration now? Two economic events of historic proportions provide
the context: strategic thinking of development in the region following
the East Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 and the accession of China
to the World Trade Organization. Policymakers interested in a stable,
prosperous region are concerned by mildly rising inequality within
countries and a widening gap between richer economies and the poorest
economies. Increasingly, the development agenda in the
region—with its focus on growth, jobs, and social
stability—and the trade policy agenda—with its focus on
market access and competitiveness—have become intertwined.
East Asian policymakers seek to develop a coherent set of economic
policies that can deliver stability, growth, and regional integration.
Without attempting to be comprehensive, East Asia Integrates
offers fundamental strategies that promote cross-border flows of trade,
along with domestic policies on logistics, trade facilitation,
standards and institutions to maximize the impact of these flows on
development and distribute the gains from trade widely.
As the authors demonstrate, multilateral and regional trade
initiatives must provide a compelling vision of how integration can
deliver broadly shared growth and prosperity if they are to succeed. In
addition, they must use the momentum offered by trade agreements to
address the links between trade on the one hand, and social stability,
poverty reduction, and growth on the other.
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