East Asia is catching up with the rest of the world in establishing regional trade arrangements (RTAs). This region is responding to pressures from globalization, regionalism in the Americas and Europe, the rise of China and India, improved political relations in the region with the end of the Cold War, as well as market-driven trade and investment integration and the emergence of production networks. ASEAN formed the first RTA in 1992, and by the turn of the decade, ASEAN was signing or negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia–New Zealand, and the European Union. It also entered into bilateral FTAs with the United States and countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. ASEAN is also considering an East Asian FTA. Can ASEAN remain in the driver's seat of regional integration and be an effective hub? The FTA proliferation also has important consequences and effects for East Asia and the world trading system.

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