I mentioned the EU earlier. I believe that is the largest free trade zone, among other things. NAFTA is second. Well East/SEAsia will not be left behind. Despite the optimism of Singapore and Malaysia (oh and a former Filiopino president) I seriously doubt the new Asian trade zone will become EU-like any time soon. The region is over 4X as large as Europe in land mass and has about 500-700 million more people. Religiously very diverse, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Confucianists, Hindus and the list goes on. Fortunately East/SE Asians have not been very fundamentalist in their approach to religion. Still, Europe, 2,000 years ago their was no France, no Italy, no Spain, no Germany, no UK, etc. There was however, a China, a Japan, a Korea, a Thailand. These nationalities run deep, and ethnic animus between them goes back centuries, however they can all agree that money is good. J The grand uniter is not “love” unless you mean love of money. Despite this I can’t see S.Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, or China giving up sovereignty to a regional body in the way that the EU member states have to Brussels. That won’t happen in my life time or my children’s, maybe my great grand children’s or so depending on the push factors from outside the free trade zone. I’m wonder how America will react. It seems Bush’s response is to try to make a Pan-American trade zone, which doesn’t look to promising now that Venezuela is doing everything in its power to turn Latin America more against us then it already is. Haha Australia and New Zealand are somewhat outsiders as well, as ASEAN has been pretty firm that they are not “Asian nations” but time will tell. Fact is Australia and New Zealand need the trade and can not afford to be outside of a “block”.
Anyway more on this:
In the past five years, this Asian integration has gathered pace. From the limited economic integration of the mid-1990s, Asia has developed deep intraregional trade and investment ties. In 2000, East Asian financial ministers created a new network of currency swaps. Since then, Asian countries have been aggressively signing bilateral free-trade agreements. ASEAN-China trade grew rapidly from $35 billion in 2000 to more than $110 billion in 2005.5 Most importantly, China and ASEAN inked an agreement in 2004 that will create the largest free-trade zone in the world when it comes into force by 2012.6 In August 2006, ASEAN ministers agreed to speed up the creation of their own trade zone, which will encompass the 10 Southeast Asian nations. That same month, ASEAN’s secretary general announced that an East Asia–wide free-trade agreement, the ultimate statement of regional economic integration, could be developed within 10 years.7 Even Japan, which once prioritized its trade links to the United States, has become an active supporter of intra-Asia trade deals.
East Asian companies have increasingly focused on markets in Asia both for production and for sales. These deals have created a booming intraregional trade, which now comprises roughly 60 percent of all trade in East Asia, up from 30 percent 15 years ago.8 As one Asian Development Bank study noted, the region seemed to be developing an economic model of “bamboo capitalism,” in which Asian companies build production networks within Asia designed to serve markets in the region, not just the United States and Europe.9 Some leaders, such as former Philippine president Fidel Ramos, suggest that East Asia eventually could become like the European Union, which has a common currency, market, and institutions to facilitate trade and even security policies.10 “A shift from ‘Pax Americana’ to ‘Pax Asia-Pacifica’ could well be the answer,”
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