Institutions for Economic and Financial Integration in Asia: Trends and Prospects

Giovanni Capannelli
JEL codes: 
ADBI Working Paper Series

Asian economic regionalism has emerged from a bottom-up process, driven by market forces in the absence of a grand plan for regional integration. While the financial crisis of 1997–98 triggered new regional cooperation initiatives, more recently several Asian political leaders have formulated proposals for the creation of a regional economic community, suggesting the possible start of a top-down approach. Based on the results of a survey of Asia’s opinion leaders conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2010, this paper discusses how Asia’s institutional architecture for economic and financial integration is taking shape, suggesting the need to strengthen existing institutions that promote Asian regionalism and to create new ones. While the focus of the paper is on monetary and financial integration, the analysis also covers other integration pillars such as trade and investment, connectivity and infrastructure, and regional public goods. It suggests the need to create new institutions in support of Asian regionalism and to adopt a broad perspective in moving towards the formation of a region-wide economic community based on strong political commitment and grassroots participation.