By Bart Gaens
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Additional info for Europe-Asia Interregional Relations (The International Political Economy of New Regionalisms Series)
ASEM’s Background and Rationale 11 normalization of the EC/EU-China relations in the early 1990s, bilateral trade continued to increase, making China by 1994 the EU’s second most important trading partner (Maull 1997, 174-5). In the early 1990s China revealed interest in integration into the world economy by expressing the desire to return to GATT and implementing a series of reforms. It became clear to the EU that including China in the multilateral trading system would be essential for factors related to market access, intellectual property rights and reduction of distortions (Pelkmans 1997, 16).
Market opening could be pursued through bilateral means (vis-à-vis individual trading partners) or through multilateral avenues (in the ﬁrst place the WTO). Given its informal character, ASEM, then, should be seen as a complementary tool to identify obstacles to market access and identify trade barriers in the bilateral arena, to discuss convergence on global trade and investment rules, or to facilitate negotiations in the WTO or the OECD. In addition, ASEM’s multidimensional approach would ensure that cooperation did not remain limited to trade and investment facilitation, but would be extended to interaction and dialogue in the political and social/cultural ﬁelds.
Europe’s “rediscovery of Asia”5 during the early 1990s was therefore rooted in the ﬁrst place in the growing awareness of the region as an awakening economic world power. The opportunities this embodied and, at least as importantly, the potential threat this posed to local industry, served as a wake-up call for Europe. In economic terms the global structure came to be described in terms of “tripolarism”, or the idea that the world is driven by three major blocs, based on economic competitiveness as a source of political power.
Europe-Asia Interregional Relations (The International Political Economy of New Regionalisms Series) by Bart Gaens