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New Regionalism and the Construction of Global Order

Manuela Spindler

CSGR Working Paper No. 93/02

March 2002




The paper introduces a framework for understanding the novelty of regionalism (new regionalism) by relating it to processes of structural change led by agency, acting according to new concepts and ideas. It uncovers the phenomenon as part of change in the relationship between political authority and the logic of the market, that is at the heart of the global political economy. It will be argued that with new regionalism, the predominant concept and thus logic and content of the old regionalism found in 'embedded liberalism' is in the process of undergoing a fundamental change. This is to a great deal due to the activities of global business actors as globalising forces: they 'infuse' the logic of the market into traditional, old style regionalism. The argument is put forward that global business not only is 'the master of the market', meaning that it creates regionalised and globalised patterns of economic transactions due to economic firm strategies. As a powerful actor, global business increasingly creates and promotes new concepts of the political framework wherein their activities should be embedded. These are concepts that envision a regionalised world that sharply contrasts to the one we used to live in so far. Two cases will support the argument: the role global business actors - acting via the European Round Table of Industrialists – play with regard to the European Single Market and similar activities of global players within the APEC process. At the end, the paper will discuss a trend new regionalism might take: towards a world in which regions converge on the model of the competition region.

Keywords: New Regionalism, Old Regionalism, World Order, Global Business, European Single Market, APEC, ERT, ABAC, PBEC, PECC

Address for correspondence:

Department of Politics
Mannheim University
68131 Mannheim
Phone: 49(0)621 181 2071
Fax: 49(0)621 181 2072

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