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Collective Action Problems and Regional Integration in ASEAN

Hidetaka Yoshimatsu

CSGR Working Paper 198/06 

March 2006

This article examines the states' attempt to overcome collective action problems for promoting regional integration, by highlighting such attempts by the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). It considers two kinds of collective action problems: collaboration games where actors are lured to defect from an agreement in order to obtain short-term gains, and coordination gains where actors face difficulty in reaching an agreement on which of multiple points will be chosen. This article argues that although ASEAN countries have not intended to establish a supranational body to resolve collective action problems, they have gradually developed feasible enforcement mechanisms by intensifying the centralised nature of the regional organisation. It also contends that some member states began to play a one "focal point" role in resolving coordination problems resulting from accelerated regional integration and market liberalisation, and the resolution of coordination problems has been pursued in a framework where extra-regional countries and environments play a significant role.