The paper discusses the ASEAN + 3 integration in the context of the literature on hub-and-spoke regionalism. It argues that, provided proper rules of origin are incorporated, the different bilateral arrangements between ASEAN countries and each of the three East Asian economies are building blocs towards an East Asian FTA. It argues that the bilateral arrangements skirt the slow decision process which marks the ASEAN way and create some sort of coalition of the willing that can, eventually, set the pace of integration for the rest of East Asia. Because of the regions so-called leadership vacuum, the paper also underscores the important role of ASEAN in bringing any discussion on East Asian integration on the table.
economic integration ASEAN ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) trade bloc