EIJS Working Papers Series
Jose L. Tongzon
THE DEVASTATING CRISIS, SINGAPORE’S EXTRA-ASEAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR ASEAN
Abstract: This paper aims to assess the implications of the Asian
economic crisis of 1997/98 and Singapore’s current initiatives to forge
extra-ASEAN free trade agreements for the future of ASEAN economic
integration. Have the recent crisis and the resulting economic difficulties
undermined ASEAN’s resolve to deepen their level of economic integration?
Would Singapore’s current initiatives at forging free trade deals with
countries outside the region undermine the region’s economic integration?
The perception by some members in ASEAN that these bilateral free trade
deals can be used as a “backdoor” entry into the ASEAN markets is
particularly a matter of serious concern, which could threaten the very
existence of ASEAN as a regional economic grouping. It is argued that the
recent crisis has instead galvanised ASEAN countries’ determination to move
forward in economic integration and on the basis of the most recent trends,
there is strong indication that the political resolve is likely to be
translated into concrete measures. However, there remain other more
challenging tasks before the vision of a regional free trade can be
realised. Further, the fear that Singapore’s FTAs with other countries will
undermine AFTA has not been based on concrete grounds. However, Singapore
needs to assure other ASEAN members that Singapore is not abandoning ASEAN
but remains committed to the success of AFTA with greater awareness of the
political sensitivities of the other members.
Keywords: AFTA; bilateral free trade agreements; ASEAN; Asian crisis; implications; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: F10; F15; (follow links to similar papers)
15 pages, September 1, 2002
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