ABSTRACT. This paper examines the evolution of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since its foundation in 1967. It surveys the changing pattern of trade and investment relations with other parts of Asia, and with the rest of the world, especially since the 1990s. It discusses the debates which have arisen in the ten member countries about the impact of growing trade and investment ties with China, both before and after the full implementation of the ASEAN–China Free Trade Agreement in 2010. The evidence indicates that while merchandise trade has increased between China and ASEAN since 2010, the increase has not been as rapid as some predicted. But China is now running a substantial trade surplus with the ASEAN countries; the value of merchandise exports from China to ASEAN exceeds the value of imports to China from the ASEAN countries. This surplus is already leading to frictions, which could increase in the future. The paper argues that claims about massive increases in investment flows from China to ASEAN are also overstated; the evidence indicates that China is still a minor investor in most parts of the ASEAN region and this is unlikely to change in the immediate future.
JEL codes: F55; F019; F053

Keywords: ASEAN; China; economic integration; trade; investment; migration

How to cite: Booth, Anne (2018). “ASEAN and Its Changing Economic Relations with Asia and the World,” Journal of Self-Governance and Management Economics 6(1): 33–63.

Received 24 January 2017 • Received in revised form 29 April 2017
Accepted 30 April 2017 • Available online 20 May 2017


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