ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship


This is a listing of older East-West Center events (newer listed first).  See Events to get the list of current or upcoming events.

When: Apr 10 2014 - 12:00pm until Apr 10 2014 - 2:00pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship

An Asia Pacific Seminar and publication launch featuring:

Dr. Peter A. Petri
Professor of International Finance, Brandeis University
Senior Fellow, East-West Center

Dr. Michael G. Plummer
Professor of International Economics, the Johns Hopkins SAIS, Bologna
Senior Fellow, East-West Center

Dr. Peter Petri (left) and Dr. Michael Plummer (right) co-authored a publication in the East West Center Policy Studies series entitled ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is strategically significant because of its size, dynamism, and role in the Asian economic and security architectures. How ASEAN seeks to strengthen these assets through "centrality" in intraregional and external policy decisions is examined in depth by Dr. Peter Petri and Dr. Michael Plummer in the latest issue of the East-West Center Policy Studies series. In a special launch program at the East-West Center in Washington, both authors discussed their research and recommendations on how ASEAN can use this approach to benefit all member economies: first through selective engagement by member countries with productive external partnerships and, second, vigorous policies to share gains across the region. They estimate that the gains from “ASEAN-centric” approaches to regional integration will be significant.

Dr. Peter Petri and Dr. Michael Plummer both explained Asia-Pacific economic integration from the perspective of ASEAN, in particular from the view of “ASEAN Centrality” as the new regionalism in the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN became more ambitious in economic cooperation since the end of Cold War despite its original goals of regional diplomatic and political stability. Some of the examples of this change are seen in the creation of AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) in 1992 and its subsequent “constructive engagement” approach to bring on board transition economies in Southeast Asian states such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

ASEAN will be able to deepen these economic integration initiatives both internally and externally spurred in part by rising competition from big economies such as China and India. ASEAN is proceeding with internal initiatives, such as the ASEAN Economic Community, with the goal of regional economic integration by 2015, and external efforts with numbers of “ASEAN+” free trade agreements with non-ASEAN partners.

However, the idea of ASEAN Centrality is difficult to realize as economic and political interests of each member country intricately diverges. In addition, the term “ASEAN Centrality” represents both a goal of “united” ASEAN to act collectively and at the same time the means to achieve it. ASEAN Centrality will bring two major big benefits for ASEAN itself; deep integration to make the region be attractive production networks for the foreign investors, and better negotiation positions vis-a-vis outsiders.

It is important to remember that the concept also benefits ASEAN’s dialogue partners, including the United States. For its partner states, ASEAN can play a key role of middle powers providing a counterbalance to other big powers in the region, and can advocate rule-based and outward-orientation trade and investment environments in the region. To this end it is in the interest of the United States to support ASEAN’s mega trade agreements. To be more precise, the United States should support AEC project and to encourage RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) that covers 26% of world GDP. In adition, it is important to bring ASEAN member countires on board in the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that covers 38% of world GDP.

It is because TPP would generate big gains for ASEAN as it will bring benefits nearly all ASEAN member, especially for Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, and the Philipinnes if they all join. RCEP meanwhile reinforces ASEAN centrality, though ASEAN’s gain would be limited compared to TPP, as it would heavily depend on China-India-Japan-South Korea trade. Therefore, in conclusion, it is significant for the United States to design TPP provisions with ASEAN centrality in mind by encouraging TPP for countries that are ready and helping other countries become ready.

Electronic copies of ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship are available online on the East-West Center Publications page.

For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page.

Dr. Peter Petri is the Carl J. Shapiro Professor of International Finance at the Brandeis University, a senior fellow of the East-West Center and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute. He has consulted with the Asian Development Bank, OECD, World Bank, and Asia-Pacific governments; is a member of the Asia Pacific Council and PAFTAD; and chaired the US APEC Study Center Consortium. He received AB and PhD degrees from Harvard University.

Dr. Michael Plummer is Eni Professor of International Economics, the Johns Hopkins University, SAIS; non-resident senior fellow, the East-West Center; and editor-in-chief, Journal of Asian Economics (Elsevier Press). Previously he was head of the Development Division of the OECD and associate professor of Economics at Brandeis University. His main academic interests relate to international trade, international finance, and Asian economic integration, especially in the ASEAN context. His PhD in economics is from Michigan State University.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762