Libmonster ID: VN-1294

During the second half of the 20th century, a new "power center" of the world economy emerged in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, the region accounts for more than 50% of global GDP production and more than 40% of world trade turnover. The significant role of the Asia-Pacific region in the world economy is associated not only with the presence of a number of developed countries (including such economic giants as the United States and Japan), but also with the rapid economic growth in Asian developing countries that took place in the 60s and 90s of the past century. The "four" new industrial countries (South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) have already reached the economic indicators of developed countries. Until the 1997-1998 financial crisis, Southeast Asian countries also developed at a consistently high rate, and some of them (Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia) began to be called the "second wave"NIS. In the 1980s and 1990s, after the start of market reforms, the economic development of China and Vietnam accelerated dramatically.

In all these countries, external economic factors make a significant contribution to economic growth. The economic development of the "first wave" NIS in the 1960s and 1970s was largely based on the occupation of labor-intensive branches of their manufacturing industry in commodity "niches" on international markets, which were vacated by developed countries during the structural adjustment of their economies. In turn, as incomes grew and technological and financial potential accumulated in the NIS themselves, they began to pass the baton of labor-intensive export specialization to the economically less developed countries of Southeast Asia, and then to the newly "opening" economies of China and Indochina. As a result, trade and investment relations in the Asian part of the Asia-Pacific region sharply intensified in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, to date, the region has developed a kind of multi-tiered economic structure, on different "floors" of which there are competing countries of approximately the same level of development, and in general, the more developed and less developed economies in the region are quite highly complementary.

In the economic literature and political circles of the region, the question of the applicability of the concepts of "integration" to characterize the processes taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, and, accordingly, the prospects for cooperation within interstate integration associations, has been discussed for quite a long time (at least since the beginning of the 80s of the XX century). This issue is also of great importance for our country, both in a purely practical and conceptual-analytical sense. It seems that the point is not only that Russia, as the largest Eurasian power, should focus on active participation in the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region and develop a strategic line that best meets the national interests of the region.-

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It is also balanced from the point of view of simultaneous "progress" in the European direction. It is also important that the study of the experience of economic interaction in the Asia-Pacific region gives an idea of the real complexity of the processes of economic integration in the world, warns against overestimated expectations, and partly allows us to modify the theoretical ideas about integration that have developed mainly on the basis of studying Western European practice.

According to the most frequently used definition in the literature, economic integration is understood as the progressive interdependence of the economies of a number of countries, which results in the policy pursued by the authorities of these states aimed at further rapprochement of their national economic complexes. Various theoretical schools agree that integration is a very complex structured, multi-factorial process. In functional terms, it is customary to distinguish between market integration - guarantees of unhindered sales of goods in the markets of integrating countries and free movement of factors of production between them, and production integration-the development of industries that realize economies of scale not within national borders, but within the entire integration association. At the level of economic policy, a distinction is made between negative integration - measures aimed at liberalizing protectionist restrictions that hinder economic ties between members of an integration association, and positive integration - coordination of the development of the productive potential of all members of the integration group, including through industrial, fiscal and monetary policies. Taking into account all these features and features of the processes under study, it is possible to speak about economic integration in the full sense of the word1 .

It is clear that from this point of view, for example, the economic ties between the Asian NIS and the United States can hardly be considered as integration: the dependence of the NIS on the sale of products on the American market was very significant in the 1960s - 1990s, but it was combined with the presence of numerous protectionist restrictions in the Asian economies themselves. Similarly, it is hardly possible to call the integration of the relationship between the first and second "wave" NIS: dynamic shifts in comparative advantage between these countries, although leading to increased interdependence, occurred mostly spontaneously, without attempts at supranational coordination of economic policies.

It is also important that the full set of features and features inherent in integration is usually characteristic only of relations between developed economies; it is the latter that can objectively afford the degree of external economic liberalization necessary for integration. Whereas in relations involving countries with developing and transition economies, some signs of integration may be weak or not present at all. Therefore, in relation to developed countries, on the one hand, and developing countries, on the other, we can talk about differences in the very motivation, models and rates (speeds) of integration.

While in the case of developed countries, the incentive to integrate is primarily the ability to realize existing competitive advantages on an international scale, in the case of developing countries, they are more driven to integrate by the underdevelopment of their economies; they can create integration associations in order to jointly defend their interests in relations with economically stronger partners or for the sake of implementing joint projects within the framework of the industrialization policy. Integration groups with the participation of developing countries often arise as an addition to existing military and political alliances. Obviously, in all these cases

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the degree of real economic interdependence of the members of an integration association may be very small.

Therefore, there are objective limitations to possible economic integration between developed and developing countries. Apparently, if integration associations of more or less developed countries can be strong, it is only at the local, sub-regional level, when mutual economic interest is complemented by geographical, linguistic and cultural proximity. Nevertheless, attempts to create "broad" integration groupings that unite states of different levels of development are already taking place, and they are likely to be quite persistent. Such attempts are being stimulated by the globalization of trade and investment flows, a process that is being developed largely due to the activities of the WTO and other international economic organizations. Although developed countries play a major role in this process, both developing and post-socialist States are increasingly being drawn into it.

At the global level, negotiations on multilateral trade and investment liberalization are relatively slow, and therefore developed countries see the formation of" broad " integration associations as an opportunity to accelerate liberalization and implement it initially within a limited regional framework. From the perspective of developing countries, the situation is different. The consequences of international economic liberalization for these countries are very ambiguous, which was especially evident during the 1997-1998 financial crisis. Therefore, developing countries see economic integration as a step towards participating in globalization, but with relatively lower costs: "opening up" the national economy to competition within the integration grouping creates more opportunities for adapting low-efficiency industries than would be the case if they participated in competition at the global level.

At the same time, economic globalization itself creates fundamentally new conditions for integration, including among developing countries. In theory, the effects generated by economic integration are usually divided into "trade creation" due to the fact that cheap imports from the partner countries of the integration association displace the products of national producers with higher costs from the market, and "trade distortion" due to the fact that the elimination of trade barriers leads to an increase in the number of goods imported into the market. barriers within the integration grouping allow less competitive producers to displace the products of more efficient producers from outside the market, as the latter still face protectionist barriers .2 However, with the global trend to eliminate trade restrictions, as well as due to the growth of foreign investment by TNCs and, consequently, an increase in their intra-company trade turnover, the effect of "trade distortion" in integration associations tends to weaken. The set of international agreements in force within the WTO is a counterbalance to the strengthening of protectionism at the regional level, and as a result, integration associations of both developed and developing countries are forced to move towards so-called open, non-discriminatory regionalism.

The real, not simple picture of economic integration in the world, therefore, is formed under the influence of multidirectional trends. This fully applies to the integration groups that exist in the Asia-Pacific region.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN 3) was established in 1967 by five founding countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines-

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with pins. In 1984, after gaining independence, Brunei joined ASEAN, and then Vietnam (1995), Laos, Myanmar (both in 1997) and Cambodia (1999) were admitted to the organization.

Although the founding documents of ASEAN declared that its main goal was to promote economic development in the region, but in fact, at least during the first decade of the Association's existence, its activities were dominated by a political component. ASEAN was created during the escalation of the Vietnam War. However, it was not only about uniting its members on the basis of opposition to socialist countries and the fight against internal rebel groups, but also about resolving long-standing conflicts between the members of the Association themselves .4 The accumulated experience allowed ASEAN to effectively participate in the settlement of the Cambodian conflict, as well as to include the countries of Indochina, where the communist parties remain in power, and even Myanmar, which has a bad reputation in the West as an "undemocratic state".

In the economic sphere, during the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps the most significant activity of the Association was to jointly defend the interests of the member countries as exporters of raw materials. The ASEAN countries are among the world's leading suppliers of goods such as natural rubber, tin, palm oil, spices, sugar, coffee, tropical timber, etc. Foreign exchange earnings from their exports were particularly important during the period when the Association countries established their own manufacturing base. In the 1970s, the ASEAN countries actively participated in the formation of a system of International Commodity Agreements, the function of which is to stabilize the production of raw materials and their prices, to coordinate the interests of producing countries (mainly developing countries) and consumer countries (mainly developed countries of the West).

Later, as the ASEAN countries industrialized, the problem of access to foreign markets for manufacturing products came to the forefront of their economic diplomacy. True, at the GATT and then WTO negotiations, the Association countries did not act as a single collective participant, but they coordinated their negotiating positions. In addition, the formation of a whole system of permanent bilateral forums began in the 1970s, with ASEAN as an organization, on the one hand, and the leaders of the developed part of the world, on the other. For the first time, the "dialogue partners" relationship was established in 1972 between ASEAN and the European Economic Community (EEC). Then the Association's relations with Australia (1974), New Zealand (1975), the United States (1977), Japan (1977), Canada (1981) and South Korea (1989) acquired this status. In 1996, Russia, China and India also became "dialogue partners" with ASEAN.

Although the activities of these forums are highly politicized, they also allow participants to discuss many economic issues. Thus, during the ASEAN-Japan dialogue, such issues as the Association countries ' trade deficits with this country, Japan's existing restrictions on the import of a number of goods from ASEAN countries, the distribution of Japanese financial assistance to the Association countries, etc. are discussed. During the ASEAN - US negotiations, the US side constantly raises the issue of protecting intellectual property rights in Asian countries, insists on accelerating the liberalization of foreign trade regimes in the ASEAN states, and the issue of expanding access to the US market is often linked to the problem of "human rights" in some countries of the Association. The activities of the ASEAN - EU Forum have largely helped to mitigate the Association's wariness about the deepening of integration processes in the 1990s.

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The EU, as the European partners have given assurances of its non-discriminatory character5 .

The very concept of economic integration in ASEAN has undergone significant changes over the three and a half decades of its activity. Until the end of the 1970s, this concept was mainly designed in dirigiste tones, which seems to have been directly related to the significant role of the state in the economy of the grouping countries, and to the general popularity that the ideas of planning and import-substituting industrialization had in developing countries at that time. Consequently, later on, as the ASEAN economies became export-oriented and the trend towards liberalization became more pronounced in domestic policy, the concept focused on promoting intra-regional ties between private companies.

At the same time, it is noteworthy that the integration institutions in the Association developed in a peculiar dissonance with the evolution of economic policy. ASEAN's organizational structures were originally designed to be highly decentralized. The highest body of the Association since its formation has been the annual meetings of foreign ministers. The first meeting of the heads of State took place only in 1976 in Bali (Indonesia), and since then such summits have received the status of the highest body of ASEAN. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economy continue to meet once a year, while other ministers meet as needed. In the intervals between such meetings, there is a political body - the ASEAN Standing Committee, which consists of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country that chairs the Association during this period, and the ambassadors of other States. Practical work is carried out by the ASEAN Secretariat (it is characteristic that it was also established only in 1976).

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Secretariat established a total of eight committees for specific areas of cooperation. But they did not have managerial functions, and were only technical bodies that served the meetings of the relevant ministers. Only after the Fourth ASEAN Singapore Summit (January 1992), which decided to establish a free trade zone in the Association, did some coordination of the committees ' activities take place. Five committees (Food, Agriculture and Forestry; Finance and Banking; Industry and Energy; Transport and Communications; Trade and Tourism) were merged into the Council of Senior Economic Officials. However, the latter was never given the functions of monitoring compliance by the participating countries with the signed agreements. There are still no inter-State bodies for resolving economic disputes in ASEAN. The banking committee, formed not by the Governments, but by the Central Banks of the Association's member countries, does not play any significant role yet.

In general, integration in ASEAN is characterized by "soft", consensual forms. Decisions at the interstate level are made only if all participants agree, and not by a majority vote. At the same time, decisions are not binding, they are implemented by the participating countries as far as possible and are not perceived as strict norms, non-compliance with which is fraught with conflicts. And this, in turn, is associated with the unwillingness of the Association's members to create more formalized management structures.

In part, this state of affairs seems to be related to the peculiarities of the Asian business culture, which prefers informal relations rather than contractual obligations; the negotiation process is considered not only as a movement towards a certain fixed result, but also as a means of communication-

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special relationships that do not require an institutional framework. But no less important are purely economic circumstances. Most of the ASEAN economies were and still are largely of the same type. Therefore, in trade with external partners, ASEAN members act as direct competitors, and trade within the Association is characterized by sluggish dynamics and poor commodity nomenclature with a predominance of raw materials. The share of intra - ASEAN trade in the total foreign trade turnover of the Association during the entire period of the 1970s and 1990s fluctuated at the level of 20% (for comparison, trade within the European Union accounts for more than 50% of the foreign trade of its member countries).

The pace of integration into ASEAN is also affected by differences in the development levels of individual states-from the newly industrialized country of Singapore to the backward agricultural economies of Indochina. In addition, the very model of economic development, which at least until the end of the 1990s was followed by almost all the countries of the group, assumed a combination of export orientation with selective industrial policies and significant protectionist protection of newly emerging industries, and this created objective difficulties for mutual liberalization and unification of foreign economic regimes. The systems of foreign trade regulation in individual ASEAN countries developed differently. In Malaysia and Singapore, import tariffs have long been kept low, and quantitative restrictions on imports have rarely been applied. In Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, the regulatory regime was clearly protectionist until at least the late 1990s. This is especially true for the countries of Indochina and Myanmar.

Steps to liberalize trade in ASEAN were taken with the conclusion of the Agreement on a Preferential Trade Zone in February 1977 (most theoretical experts consider this formation to be pre-integration, preceding the creation of a free trade zone 7 ). The agreement provided for such measures as mutual reduction of customs tariffs; elimination of non-tariff restrictions; conclusion of long-term trade agreements between the participating countries; admission of companies from partner countries to place government orders, etc.

In fact, during the 1970s and 1980s, progress, even then limited, was made only in the area of mutual provision of tariff preferences. Various techniques were used. Initially, tariff reductions were made on a voluntary basis: during bilateral negotiations, each country submitted lists of goods for which it was ready to provide benefits. Gradually, the agreements reached in this way began to extend to relations with other ASEAN partners. Then, already in the 1980s, the principle of multilaterally agreed tariff reductions for individual commodity items was applied for imports originating from the grouping countries in a certain value volume (that is, in fact, it was a matter of agreeing on the establishment of preferential tariff quotas).

The number of items included in the preferential lists gradually increased, and by the beginning of the 1990s, the system of preferences covered about 28 thousand product items. Nevertheless, the impact of these measures on intra-group trade was largely offset by unilateral countermeasures that the ASEAN countries could use under the terms of the agreements in the event of a deterioration in the balance of payments situation. At the country level, lists of "exclusions" from the system of preferences for individual product groups were often established. The preferential lists often included goods that were not produced in the region and

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few people involved in trade (a textbook example is Indonesia's introduction of a preferential tariff for importing snow plows) 8 .

In December 1987, at the ASEAN Manila Summit, it was decided to expand the system of trade preferences. The task was set to reduce the list of "exceptions" so that after five years they cover no more than 10% of the number of goods included in the preferential lists. For goods that were again removed from the list of "exceptions", the tariff reduction should have been at least 25%. Preferential rates for non-exempt products were to be reduced by an additional 50% over five years in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, and for seven years in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Finally, the ASEAN Free Trade Area Plan (AFTA 9) was adopted at the Singapore Summit in 1992. In fact, the AFTA model is a combination of the classical free trade area and the customs union, since tariff reductions should apply not only to trade within ASEAN, but also to relations with external partners. Initially, it was envisaged that the transition period would last from 1993 to 2008, and by the end of it, import duties on goods included in the approved Unified External Preferential Tariff Scheme should be reduced to the level of 0 - 5%. On average, for the six countries included in the grouping at the time of the AFTA's establishment, the Single Scheme covers up to 87% of all commodity items. Indonesia reserved the largest number of "temporary exceptions" (1,654 product items); Singapore, on the contrary, did not have them from the very beginning.

The reduction of tariffs was carried out using two methods: universal and accelerated. According to the universal methodology, Malaysia and Singapore, which already had the lowest tariff rates, began to gradually reduce them in 1993. In Brunei, tariffs with rates above 20% began to decrease in 1994, in the Philippines-in 1996, in Indonesia and Thailand-in 1998. For tariffs with rates up to 20%, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines were supposed to start liberalizing from 1996, and Thailand - from 1999. The accelerated method was applied to 12 product groups (vegetable oils; cement; chemicals; pharmaceutical products; fertilizers; plastics; leather goods; rubber products; textiles; clothing; glass and ceramics; diamonds and jewelry). For these groups, liberalization was planned to be completed mostly by the end of the 1990s. Unprocessed agricultural products did not fall under the Unified Scheme - for such goods, the participating countries pledged to reduce tariffs unilaterally. 10

In 1994, the ASEAN countries decided to shorten the term of the AFTA establishment from 2008 to 2003, as well as to extend the Single Scheme to all agricultural products. At the 1998 Hanoi Summit, the AFTA was postponed to an even earlier date, January 2002. For the newly-joined ASEAN countries, a longer period of liberalization was set: for Vietnam-2003, Laos and Myanmar-2005.11 .

The transition from a dirigiste to a market-based concept of integration in ASEAN is particularly pronounced in the investment area. The first experience of industrial cooperation was an attempt at "collective import substitution". In 1978, it was decided to build five large enterprises at the expense of state funds (one in each of the then member countries of the Association), which would meet the needs of all countries of the group in the corresponding products. It was planned to build plants for the production of urea in Indonesia and Malaysia, for the production of diesel engines-in Singapore, soda-in Thailand, superphosphate - in the Philippines. Only the first two projects were implemented, but they were not very successful either, because the scale of production exceeded the needs of the markets

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ASEAN. The fate of the "industrial complementarity"program, which was announced in 1980, was similar. This time, the goal was to coordinate the development of capital-intensive industries in the ASEAN countries in order to avoid creating overlapping industries with excessive capacity. However, in practice, each country sought to create such enterprises on its own territory, which called into question the very idea of state-directed industry specialization.

The program that has been implemented since 1983 to encourage the establishment of small and medium-sized joint ventures by private companies in ASEAN countries has been more effective. Most of the countries in the group have long been very supportive of foreign direct investment and encourage it with special preferences. And for private investors from the ASEAN partner States, special preferential treatment has been established since the 1980s. Private projects with the participation of companies from other participating countries enjoy tariff benefits (90% of the base rate) when importing the goods they need for their production needs. The share of mandatory participation of ASEAN partners in joint projects was initially set at 51% of the authorized capital, and since 1990, the share of the authorized capital of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has remained unchanged. it has been reduced to 40%. In other words, foreign capital from outside the group is also encouraged to participate in such enterprises. In order to receive tariff benefits, the value added for processing within ASEAN must be at least 40% of the price of the product produced in the joint venture .12

The practice of creating so-called "growth triangles"in ASEAN is particularly well-known in the world. This refers to the creation of free economic zones located at the junction of the borders of several states. Since the late 1980s, such a zone has existed in the "triangle" of Singapore - Johor State (Malaysia) - Riau Province (Indonesia): it involves Singapore's capital, Malaysian mid-level technology and cheap Indonesian labor. After 1993, the formation of the "northern triangle" in the Strait of Malacca zone began, which includes four states of Malaysia, five southern provinces of Thailand and two provinces of the Indonesian island of Sumatra13 .

The 1997 - 1998 Asian financial crisis was a milestone for the ASEAN economies. Among the most affected countries are Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The turmoil in the stock and foreign exchange markets was not limited here, these economies experienced a downturn, albeit short-lived, in the real sector. Domestic literature has discussed in detail the dynamics of the Asian financial crisis and its causes, including those related to external economic factors (changes in the situation on export markets, the outflow of foreign speculative capital from the region, etc.). I will only note that directly during the crisis, the ASEAN interstate institutions, in fact, did not manifest themselves in any way. Faced with similar problems, individual countries did not even try to coordinate their stabilization policies, but preferred to "swim out alone". Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have all taken financial assistance from the IMF and have more or less followed the Fund's anti-crisis prescriptions. On the contrary, Malaysia has abandoned the services of the IMF and resorted to administrative currency controls in order to solve stabilization tasks.

The impact of the crisis on the course of integration processes in ASEAN is difficult to assess unambiguously. In principle, the action programs agreed with the IMF provided for accelerating foreign trade liberalization. But only Indonesia has consistently followed this path. Since the beginning of 1998, tariffs on imports of seafood and chemical industry products have been significantly reduced in this country.-

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Since February of the same year, import duties on all food products have been set at no more than 5%. The list of goods subject to import licensing has been radically reduced. In order to stabilize the domestic consumer market, restrictions on the export of rice, grain, flour and vegetable oil were introduced in the spring of 1998, but in September they were replaced by export duties.

In other countries, the foreign trade policy was more differentiated. The liberalization of imports of some goods was combined with an increase in tariffs for other goods. Duties on luxury goods, i.e. goods that are characterized by price inelasticity of demand, were increased in order to replenish the revenue side of the state budget. And new tariff restrictions on imports of industrial goods and mass consumer products were supposed to help "cool" the overheated investment sector and reduce current account deficits.

In Malaysia, in 1997 - 1998, tariffs on imports of clothing, footwear, and leather goods were significantly reduced in order to stimulate demand from foreign tourists. But at the same time, duties on imports of certain types of machine-building products were re-introduced, and duties on structural materials were increased. The increase in duties also covered luxury goods (such as crystal) and durable goods (cars, refrigerators, microwave ovens). For such products, the excise tax was increased and the sales tax was re-established. In the Philippines, the January 1998 reduction in import duties on seafood, food products, footwear, and leather goods was combined with an increase in tariffs on clothing, textiles, and artificial fibers in early 1999. Since October 1997, Thailand has increased import tariffs on cars, cosmetics, watches, cameras, clothing, shoes, etc. During 1998, tariffs for textiles, clothing, and ferrous metal products14 increased .

In general, it can be stated that a radical turn to trade protectionism did not occur as a result of the crisis. The pressure from the IMF, the commitments already made by the ASEAN countries within the WTO to "link" import duty rates, and the general commitment of the Asian governments to the principles of foreign economic openness obviously played a role in this. Temporary restrictions on the withdrawal of foreign portfolio investments were established only in Malaysia. In all countries affected by the crisis, new efforts have been made to encourage direct investment from abroad, including by liberalizing the conditions for allowing foreign investors to enter previously banned industries.

It is particularly significant that, after overcoming the most painful consequences of the crisis, the ASEAN States have once again recalled the integration process. This was primarily reflected in the already mentioned decision to speed up the creation of AFTA. As early as 2000, in Indonesia, import duty rates were in the range of 0 - 5% for 89% of commodity items covered by the Unified External Preferential Tariff Scheme; in Malaysia, the same figure was 89%, in Thailand-85%, and in the Philippines - 83% of commodity items. Although it should be noted that the process of liberalization is still not without problems. In particular, Malaysia introduced an "exception" to the Unified Car Importation Scheme in 2000 to protect its own manufacturers .15

In October 1998, the establishment of an investment cooperation zone in ASEAN was announced. Projects in the manufacturing industry approved from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2000 with the participation of foreign investors, both domestic and external, were granted a three-year "vacation" when paying the corporation tax.-

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corporate taxes, as well as the right to duty-free import of industrial goods. In recent years, there has also been much talk about the possible introduction of an ASEAN single currency, which should stabilize the international settlement system in the sub-region after the financial crisis in most of the ASEAN countries destroyed the mechanisms of fixed exchange rates. 16 (Although, generally speaking, such a step seems premature from the point of view of the objective logic of integration.)

So far, it is difficult to say how much all these events will contribute to real economic rapprochement between the Southeast Asian countries. In any case, the experience of ASEAN shows that the relatively low level of economic development and related features of economic policies directly affect the dynamics of integration. Its further course here will largely depend on the deepening specialization of the economies of the member countries of the Association, and this implies their structural adjustment, which is unlikely to be possible without the active participation of foreign capital. It is no coincidence that some ASEAN officials have acknowledged that they see even AFTA not so much as a mechanism for developing intraregional trade, but rather as a way to attract foreign direct investment (investors who set up an enterprise in one of the countries of the grouping will also have access to the markets of other countries) .17

The intensification of relations with the outside world will obviously take place in different ways for individual ASEAN countries. Singapore has been active in concluding bilateral free trade agreements with developed countries in recent years. Other countries are likely to seek to solve their problems in relations with stronger partners on a collective basis, including within the framework of the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), a pan-regional organization that exists in the Asia-Pacific region.


Plans to create an organization that would include both developed and developing countries in the region have been actively put forward by leading countries since the beginning of the 80s of the last century: Japan (the idea of a "Pacific Commonwealth") and the United States (the idea of a "Pacific Community"). However, for a long time these initiatives were rejected by the ASEAN countries, who were afraid of the economic hegemony of developed countries in the proposed association, as well as its transformation into another military-political bloc. Therefore, the matter got off the ground only with the end of the cold war, and after the relevant proposal was made by a relatively "neutral" party - Australia.

The APEC Intergovernmental Forum was established in Canberra in 1989. The forum was founded by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and six " old " ASEAN members. During the 1990s, the organization's membership gradually increased, with China joining in 1991 and Russia joining in 1998. To date, APEC unites 21 countries and territories (in addition to those already mentioned, these are Taiwan, Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Peru and Chile). In 1998, a 10-year moratorium on further expansion of the organization was established.

* Admittedly, this organization has become really influential because of the attention paid to it by the United States. In 1993, Clinton proposed that regular meetings of heads of State and government should be made the highest body of APEC, and Seattle, USA, was chosen as the venue for the first such summit. After that, the annual meetings of APEC leaders took their rightful place in the international diplomatic calendar.

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In addition to summits, the most important events in APEC are meetings of foreign and trade ministers (they are usually held in parallel with summits). There are also regular meetings of senior officials of departments responsible for economic affairs, that is, ministerial conferences with the participation of leaders of the economic bloc of the governments of the participating countries. Numerous committees and working groups (the Committee on Trade and Investment with sub-committees on Standards and Customs Procedures; the Economic Committee; working groups on energy, fisheries, Human resource Development, etc.) have been established to work in depth on certain issues of cooperation. 18 The APEC Secretariat coordinates the activities of these structures. Together, they ensure the preparation of documents adopted at summits and ministerial meetings.

The Forum's activities are advisory in nature. Decisions are made by consensus and are not binding. However, the organization has already stated quite ambitious goals. The Declaration adopted in 1994 at the Bogor Summit in Indonesia set the goal of creating a free trade and investment zone in the region by 2010. it should include developed countries and, by 2020, developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region19 .

Mechanisms of foreign trade liberalization in APEC are designed to be::

- first, accelerated voluntary sector-by-sector liberalization. We are talking about more rapid removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in certain categories of goods, so that these measures are implemented even earlier than the deadlines set by the Bogor Declaration. These industry sectors at the Vancouver Summit (1997) included: information technology; telecommunications; energy equipment; chemical products; fish and fish products; wood; medical equipment; toys; jewelry; environmental products; oilseeds and oils; food products; natural and synthetic rubber; fertilizers; automobiles; aviation equipment (15 product groups in total, which are estimated to account for up to 40% of all APEC trade). At the Kuala Lumpur Summit (1998), it was decided to refer the issue of accelerated sector-by-sector liberalization to the WTO as a regional initiative;

- secondly, individual action plans for economic liberalization. Each country forms and annually updates such a plan, taking into account the specifics of its economic development. The plans contain voluntary commitments made by countries to reduce tariffs, eliminate quantitative restrictions, protect intellectual property rights, standardize and simplify customs procedures, etc. Russia first submitted such a plan in 2001.;

- third, collective action plans to implement the agreements reached at the summits, as well as in committees and working groups.

With regard to the liberalization of capital flows, the APEC Trade and Investment Committee developed a recommendation "List of possible options for liberalizing investment and promoting business". Each participating country can independently choose a specific set of measures and implement them unilaterally. APEC countries are recommended as general principles of foreign capital policy: "transparency" of legislation, non-discriminatory approach, granting national treatment to foreign investors, refusal of unjustified expropriation, elimination of double taxation, etc. At the same time, exceptions to the national regime are allowed if they are dictated by the general situation in the country's economic legislation .20

APEC's activities offer a wide range of opportunities for evaluation. From the point of view of optimists, the forum is an example of modern, "open" regionalism. Pe-

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The negotiation process does not lead to the formation of a closed trade bloc; the removal of trade and investment restrictions within the organization also applies to relations with partners from other regions, and in this sense it is an important support for the practice of liberalization within the WTO. Skeptical observers argue that APEC liberalization does not actually exist as such, but only processes of liberalization on a voluntary basis, within the framework of bilateral agreements or at the level of sub - regional organizations (ASEAN, NAFTA), on the one hand, and the global process of liberalization in the WTO, on the other. There is also a point of view that APEC is a superstructure over a nonexistent foundation: in reality, integration processes are taking place only at the sub - regional level, and not at the pan-regional level, and therefore the organization is nothing more than a mechanism for coordinating interests between North American and East Asian "centers of power".

Indeed, the future of APEC still looks very uncertain. Coordinated foreign trade liberalization in the entire region is problematic because different levels of development of individual countries determine the diversity of degrees of tariff and non-tariff protection of national economies. With different "base" rates of import tariffs, which are the basis for the liberalization policy, it is difficult to "link" reduced rates not only on a multilateral, but even on a bilateral basis. Perhaps the only possible option in this situation is the voluntary liberalization practiced in APEC, but it can hardly be fast.

The investment goals of developed and developing countries are also different: Asian countries that have recently experienced a financial crisis are unlikely to be thrilled with the prospect of further loosening control over the movement of speculative capital. APEC participants ' views on the further evolution of its organizational structures are also different: the expansion of the forum has already made it a rather loose entity, and this threatens the consensus principle that is so beloved by Asians.

In any case, it can be stated that today the organization's activities are useful, at least in several aspects. APEC acts as a forum for negotiations between the region's leading countries, many of which have long-standing mutual distrust in their relations with each other. We are talking not only about relations within the" big triangle " of the US-Russia-China ,but also, say, about Russian-Japanese relations, the progressive development of which is largely blocked by the unresolved territorial dispute and the problem of a peace treaty that has not been concluded since the Second World War. The Forum also serves as a tool for coordinating interests between East Asian countries, which still have significant ideological and political differences, including over their attitude to American and other Western influence, despite their active economic ties.

The work of the forum's committees and working groups promotes cooperation in specific areas. It is worth mentioning the joint program "Electronic APEC", which is aimed at spreading modern information technologies in the region, developing e-commerce systems, and expanding access to the Internet, including in less developed countries. There are joint projects in the field of education (teacher training programs, development of distance learning systems, etc.), programs to control the spread of epidemic diseases, etc. There is a coordination of positions and the development of uniform principles of trade in products of individual industry sectors. Thus, the APEC Food Program was adopted, which

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It provides for common standards for the production of agricultural products and trade in food products. In all these areas, measures of economic assistance from more developed countries to less developed ones are envisaged.

APEC negotiations are promoting more and more initiatives to conclude local free trade agreements. For example, Singapore has already signed such bilateral agreements with New Zealand and Japan and is in talks with the United States, Australia, Mexico and China. The same negotiations are being held between New Zealand and Chile, South Korea and Mexico, etc. In the Asian part of the Asia-Pacific region, attempts at multilateral trade liberalization have intensified over the past two years. In 2000, a plan was put forward to create a 10 + 3 free trade zone by 2010 (with the participation of the ASEAN countries, Japan, China and South Korea). It is obvious that its implementation is fraught with many difficulties, especially due to the ongoing stagnation of the Japanese economy. This encourages Asian countries to look for alternative options for liberalization in a narrower format. At the end of 2001, the ASEAN countries and China announced their intention to liberalize bilateral trade within ten years. Whether these plans will be implemented - the future will show, perhaps their nomination indicates the emergence of mechanisms for "multi-speed integration"in APEC.

Apparently, participation in APEC is also promising for modern Russia, primarily from the point of view of taking these aspects into account.

The study of the mechanisms and processes of economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region allows us to draw a number of conclusions that are important both from the point of view of Russia's participation in the affairs of this region, and in terms of its participation in integration projects in the western direction, in particular, the possible creation of a free trade zone between Russia

The experience of the Asia-Pacific region shows that integration is neither an end in itself, nor a panacea that can magically solve Russia's economic problems. Moreover, the forced involvement of the Russian Federation in multilateral foreign economic liberalization projects, which is not supported by the objective logic of economic ties, will be more likely to harm Russia than benefit it, in fact, it may entail economic subordination to its stronger foreign partners. But this does not mean that Russia should not participate in the activities of international regional groups at all at the moment. It is only necessary to have a clear idea of what the country can really afford now and what it can get from such participation.

The practice of the Asia-Pacific region shows that regional groupings are valuable for the very possibility of dialogue, and this is very important for Russia's relations with those countries of both the West and the East that until recently were perceived by us as likely military opponents. Participation in regional organizations is also important for protecting national economic interests in existing areas of cooperation. In this regard, not only the APEC mechanism is of great interest, but also the experience of "dialogues" with leading developed countries accumulated in ASEAN. Its partners in the Eurasian Economic Community and the CIS could also participate in similar structures with Russia's membership.

As for the actual policy of economic integration with the "far abroad" countries, a purely gradual approach is preferable. It is hardly necessary to assume that the first form of integration associations with Russia's participation will be a free trade zone. This form of cooperation still needs to be approached through intermediate stages such as a preferential trade zone, as was the case in the 1970s and 1980s in ASEAN. At the same time

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We should not "fixate" on the integration policy exclusively in the field of trade. For modern Russia, attracting investment resources from abroad is of particular importance, and now it is quite possible to purposefully encourage investments from "privileged" partner countries. This may displease international economic organizations, which traditionally insist on the uniformity of the"rules of the game". But it seems that both in the field of attracting foreign capital and in foreign economic policy in general, we need to focus not on following certain abstract principles, but rather on defending our own economic interests.


1 See: Buglai V. B. Doctrines of supranational regulation of Economic Relations, Moscow, 1984, pp. 6-38; International Economic Relations / Edited by I. P. Faminsky, Moscow, 2001, pp. 739-747.

See: Lindert P. 2 Ekonomika mirokhoz'stvennykh svyazi [Economics of World Economic Relations], Moscow, 1992, pp. 157-160.

3 From English: Association of South-East Asian Nations.

4 See more details: Avtonomov A. S., Gavrilova I. N. Evolution of international legal forms of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, Moscow, 1998, pp. 22-23.

5 UNCTAD. Handbook of Economic Integration and Cooperation Groupings of Developing Coutries. V. 1. New York-Geneva, 1996. P. 109 - 110.

6 See: Bende-Nabende A. FDI, Regionalism, Government Policy and Endogenous Growth: A comparative study of ASEAN - 5 economies, with development policy implications for the least developed countries. Aldershot etc, 1999. P. 1 - 2, 32 - 33.

7 См.: Yeung M., Perdikis N., Kerr W. Regional Trading Blocs in the Global Economy: The EU and ASEAN. Cheltenham - Northampton (MA), 1999. P. 49 - 50.

8 See for more details: ASEAN in the System of International Economic Relations, Moscow, 1994, pp. 49-54.

9 From English: ASEAN Free Trade Area.

10 Handbook of Economic Integration. P. 105 - 107.

11 China Daily. 2001. September 18.

12 Handbook of Economic Integration. P. 107 - 109.

13 См.: Chia S. Y., Lee T. Y. Subregional Economic Zones: A New Motive Force in Asia - Pacific Development // Bergsten F., Noland M. (eds.). Pacific Dynamism and the International Economic System. Washington, 1993. P. 225 - 269.

14 See: Bora B., Neufeldl. Tariffs and the East Asian Financial Crisis // UNCTAD. Policy Issues in International Trade and Commodities. Study Series No. 13. New York - Geneva, 2001. P. 12 - 22.

15 Far Eastern Economic Review. May 4, 2000. P. 32.

16 See: Bayoumi T., Mauro P. The Suitability of ASEAN for a Religional Currency Arrangement. IMF Working Paper, WP/99/162, December 1999. P. 3 - 8.

17 Far Eastern Economic Review. July 28, 1994. P. 31.

18 See more details: S. N. Gonnarenko APEC Working Groups, Committees and other bodies: main directions of activity / / Problems of the Far East. 1998. N 4. pp. 15-28.

19 Far Eastern Economic Review. November 24, 1994. P. 14.

20 See: Rugman A. Towards in Investment Agenda for APEC / / Transnational Corporations. V. 6. No. 2 (August 1997). P. 115-126; Li Zhuoyu China's Participation in the liberalization of investment in APEC: a Strategic approach / / Guoji maoi wenti. 2001. N 1. pp. 38-41 (in Chinese).


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