Regionalization and Globalization in the Modern World Economy: Perspectives on the Third World and Transitional Economies

By Alex E. Fernández Jilberto; André Mommen | Go to book overview

13

ASSOCIATION OF THE SOUTH-EAST ASIAN NATIONS’ (ASEAN) FREE TRADE AREA (AFTA) 1

The changing environment and incentives

Batara Simatupang

INTRODUCTION

Twenty-five years after the establishment of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967, the fourth summit meeting held in Singapore in January 1992 made a bold decision to create an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to be completed in fifteen years (by the year 2008), starting from January 1993. Two years later the 27th meeting of the ASEAN economic ministers, advanced the completion target to the year 2003. Some members of the ASEAN proposed to advance the schedule to the year 2000, but this proposal was, however, rejected. It is generally acknowledged that ASEAN’s accomplishments in the field of politics have been significant but, on the other hand, its achievements in the field of economic cooperations have been limited. Until a few years ago, an open discussion on economic cooperations was discouraged by ASEAN leaders. For instance, at the third ASEAN summit meeting in Manilla in 1987, the words ‘free trade’ were anathema for Indonesia, the largest member of ASEAN, which for long was the main obstacle to the progress of intra-ASEAN economic cooperations (Pangestu 1995:38).

This chapter will examine the external and internal changing environment and incentives which encourage the ASEAN leaders to foster economic cooperation in the form of a free trade area (AFTA), its mechanism of implementation in the form of Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) for manufactured and processed agricultural products, the main problems confronting AFTA and its prospects. The chapter consists of four parts: the first part briefly outlines the main features and trends of the ASEAN economies, focusing on the dynamics of the economies, economic policies and structural changes. The second part examines the external and internal changing environment and incentives (shaping factors) leading to a breakthrough in the decision by the ASEAN leaders to create

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