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Introduction In the 21st century, regions have emerged as “a drivingforce in world politics”, such as in Europe, Asia, Africa,the Middle East, and the Americas. Regional Organizations have become new “new globallandscape”. Regions vary widely in terms of their scope, institutionalforms, membership and identity Europe has developed formal bureaucratic-legalisticinstitutions. Regionalism in Asia is more informal and non-legalistic.
Definition of Regional Integration Regional integration is a process in which states enterinto a regional cooperation framework in order toenhance regional cooperation and reduce regionaltension. It can be defined as an association of states based uponlocation in given geographical area. Regional integration is the joining of individual stateswithin a region into a larger whole. The degree ofintegration depends on the willingness and commitmentof independent sovereign states to share theirsovereignty.
Regional Integration: Old & New Regionalism Idea of regional integration or regionalism can be tracedback to the 19thcentury, but given serious attention in the1950s to 1960s. However, regional integration in many parts of the world,except in Europe, were not very successful. In the 1990s, regional integration became increasinglywide-spreading, mainly due to rising globalization andslow progress in the WTO negotiations.
Old Regionalism vs. New RegionalismNowadays, especially after the 1980s, we can seedifferences between old regionalism and newregionalism.(1) Under the old regionalism, the world was divided intotwo camps in a bi-polar cold war context. The US set upNATO in 1949, whereas the Soviet Union responded byestablishing the Warsaw Pact in 1955
Old Regionalism vs. New Regionalism In economic arena, the US initiated Marshall Plan orEuropean Recovery Program in 1947, while the SovietUnion set up the Council for Mutual EconomicAssistance (COMECON) in 1949.(2) The old regionalism was heavily influenced by theoutside major powers (Southeast Asia TreatyOrganization-SEATO, 1954), while the new regionalismwas driven by the need of countries within the region(ASEAN in 1967, ASEAN+3 process in 1997).
Old Regionalism vs. New Regionalism(3) From economic perspective, old regionalism was aimedat protecting industries of the member countries, whilethe new regionalism is more open to outside competitiondue to the growing economic interdependence.
Old Regionalism vs. New Regionalism(4) Old regionalism was more specific in its objective, suchas security (NATO), or economic cooperation(COMECON), whereas new regionalism has a widerobjective, ASEAN, ASEAN+3 process, East Asia Summit(EAS).
Type of Regionness(1) Region as geographical unit is confined more or lessby natural physical barriers and marked by ecologicalcharacteristics: “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals”,“Africa from South Africa to the Sahara”, “the Indiansubcontinent”, and “East Asia” from the west coast of thePacific Ocean to the east coast of the Indian Ocean.
Type of Regionness(2) Region as social system implies trans-local relationsbetween human groups. “East Asia” used to refer regionstrongly influenced by Confucianism (China, Japan,ROK, Taiwan, Vietnam, even though Vietnam isgeographically a Southeast Asian country)
Type of Regionness(3) Region as organized cooperation in any of fields, suchas cultural, economic, political, or military fields. It couldbe called the “formal” region driven by “geo-political” or“geo-economic” interests. This kind of regionness istherefore based on common strategic interests, insteadof geographical proximity, e.g. “APEC region” and“EAS region”.
Type of Regionness(4) Region as acting subject with distinct identity, actorcapability, legitimacy and structure of decision-making.This regional process is similar to state formation andnation building and the ultimate outcome could be a“region-state” whose terms of scope can be compared tothe classical empires but in terms of political orderconstitutes a voluntary evolution of a group of formallysovereign national political units into a supranationalsecurity community where sovereignty is pooled for bestof all (EU?).
Approaches to Regional Integration In theory, regional integration can be divided into twocategories:(1) Regionalism is defined as the process ofinstitutionalized cooperation in top-down manner thatnormally requires formal government approval andincludes the establishment of permanent organizations(governmental-driven integration). European integrationis the best example for this approach of integration.
Approaches to Regional Integration(2) Regionalization is defined as progress in bottom-upcooperation & relationships which take place outside thegovernmental framework (market-driven integration).East Asian integration is primarily based on thisapproach.
Motivations for Regionalism(1) Political MotivationPower DynamicsIdentity and IdeologyInternal and External ThreatsDomestic Politics (regionalization)Leadership
Motivations for Regionalism(2) Economic Motivation Reducing negative effects of bilateral FTA (“SpaghettiBowl” effect) by stimulating trade creation, andreducing trade diversion Expanding trade and investment opportunities Providing impetus or incentive to undertake domesticreform Coping with the dark side of globalization Countering regional integration in other parts of theworld
Steps towards Integration Functional Cooperation Policy Coordination Full-fledged Integration
Important Regional Organizations Europe: NATO, OSCE, EU, CIS Americas: OAS, NAFTA, Mercosur, AndeanCommunity, the Union of South American Nations Asia: ASEAN, ASEAN+3, ARF, APEC, SCO, SAARC Africa: AU, ECOWAS, SADC Middle East: Arab League, GCC,