Regional integration in South East Asia

b) Regional integration in South East Asia

Regional Integration may be a process during which neighboring states enter into an agreement so as to upgrade cooperation through common institutions and rules. The objectives of the agreement could range from economic to political to environmental, although it's typically taken the shape of a economics initiative where commercial interests are the main target for achieving broader socio-political and security objectives, as defined by national governments. Regional integration has been organized either via supranational institutional structures or through intergovernmental decision-making, or a mixture of both.

Past efforts at regional integration have often focused on removing barriers to trade within the region, increasing the free movement of individuals , labour, goods, and capital across national borders, reducing the likelihood of regional armed conflict (for example, through Confidence and Security-Building Measures), and adopting cohesive regional stances on policy issues, like the environment, global climate change and migration.

Intra-regional trade refers to trade which focuses on economic exchange primarily between countries of an equivalent region or economic zone. In recent years countries within economic-trade regimes like ASEAN in Southeast Asia for instance have increased the extent of trade and commodities exchange between themselves which reduces the inflation and tariff barriers related to foreign markets leading to growing prosperity.

Regional integration initiatives, consistent with Van Langenhove, should fulfill a minimum of eight important functions:

  • the strengthening of trade integration within the region
  • the creation of an appropriate enabling environment for personal sector development
  • the development of infrastructure programmes in support of economic process and regional integration
  • the development of strong public sector institutions and good governance;
  • the reduction of social exclusion and therefore the development of an inclusive civil society
  • contribution to peace and security within the region
  • the building of environment programmes at the regional level
  • the strengthening of the region’s interaction with other regions of the planet .
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