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Shifting Paradigm of Regional Integration in Asia

Shifting Paradigm of Regional Integration in Asia


Dilip K. Das


CSGR Working Paper Series 230/07

June 2007


The objective of this paper is to examine the prospects for and progress in economic interdependence and regional integration in Asia. In particular it focuses on the changing scenario in integration of South Asia into the rest of dynamic East and Southeast Asia. With India emerging as a rapidly growing economy and with enhanced interest in sub-regional and regional integration taken by the South Asian economies, novel intra-regional economic ties have been evolving.



During the last millennium, different geographic Asian economic regions had fairly good economic relations, albeit they were not economically integrated in the modern economic meaning of the term. Smooth trade flows and active commercial activity led to prosperity in many parts of Asia. Historical evidence is available to show that the Eastern, Southeastern and Southern regions of Asia continually interacted economically with each other and a good deal of commercial activity existed among them for centuries. To be sure, there were periods when this mutually profitable commercial interaction broke down and periods of hiatus and those of isolation of specific economies followed. Integration of Asian economies, particularly those from the South, East and Southeast Asia is neither a novel concept nor a new phenomenon. If the various sub-groups or sub-regions of Asian economies are now attempting to integrate, they are trying to return to their past.