The Rise of Regionalism: Core Company Strategies under the Second Wave of Integration

The Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Through Mr. Fidel V. Ramos
Philippine EPG Member
Re: Reiterating the Main Elements of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Submissions to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Excellencies, generic
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN would like to thank the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter for the opportunity given us to make submissions on the following themes: Security Pillar (April 17, Ubud, Bali); Economic Pillar (June 28, Singapore); and Socio-Cultural Pillar and Institutional Mechanisms (November 10, Manila, Philippines). The three documents we submitted outline our broad and specific aspirations as citizens of ASEAN member countries.
As a final submission, we enumerate below the key points we would like to see enshrined in the ASEAN Charter:
1. Regional Recognition of Human Rights and Human Dignity as Foundation of Community
The ASEAN Charter should explicitly recognize all core human rights including recently signed international agreements that expand on human rights norms and standards.
The principles should not be compromised by economic and trade, as well as security commitments.
2. Introducing Human Security
The ASEAN Charter should broadly define human security, allocate a specific chapter addressing the issue, and contain provisions that will lead to the implementation of its values.
Human Security is a framework based on the protection and empowerment of the people. It encompasses not only freedom from violence but also freedom from threats to people’s lives, including hunger, poverty, disease, marginalization and exclusion; and hinges upon environmental integrity and ecological security that safeguard against degradation and destruction that cause disease, harsh living conditions, and loss of lives and livelihoods.
3. Regional Harmonization and Complementation in Industry, Agriculture and Services
The ASEAN Charter should enshrine principles that:
* Recognize a policy mix that is informed by heterodox economic thinking and policy
analyses;
* Integrate a strong social protection element in economic development that is founded on redistributive justice, poverty eradication and growth with equity and non-discrimination.
* Enshrine the values of agrarian reform, justice, and food sovereignty. It should have provisions for institutions to safeguard capacity for social reforms like land reform, urban reform, etc. and mechanisms to level the playing field.
* Move away from economic activities based largely on natural resource extraction;
* Promote economic growth anchored in and driven by rural industrialization;
* Promote appropriate sustainable industrial development based on harmonization and
complementation of industries;
* Promote public investment through regional support mechanisms, example of which is the promotion of science and technology for the regional collective good.
4. Sustainable Production and Consumption, Energy and Development
The ASEAN Charter should:
* Enshrine the principle of sustainable development espoused by the Rio Summit of 1992 and reaffirmed by the World Summit of Sustainable Development in 2002;
* Adopt the principle of sustainable food, water and agricultural system at the local and national levels;
* Envision an industrial production system that is clean, resource- and energy- efficient and sustainable;
* Establish mechanisms for the promotion of renewable energy sources; and,
* Promote sustainable consumption.
5. Environmental Sustainability
The ASEAN Charter should promote the concept of development that is sustainable and therefore within the carrying capacity of ASEAN ecosystems and must not destroy cultures and the rights of communities to their resources. It should commit to the highest environmental standards enshrined in various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It should promote the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in addressing past damage and present and future efforts in rehabilitation of the environment, and commit to reverse the decline of biodiversity and to restore the rich biological diversity of the region.
6. Institutional Mechanisms for Responsive Regionalism
ASEAN should be an institution that recognizes universally-accepted rights and standards, including core labor standards, and provides mechanisms for monitoring and securing compliance at the national and regional levels.
In the area of human rights, the ASEAN Charter should mandate the immediate creation of a regional human rights body responsible for, among others: monitoring and reporting human rights conditions within the region; investigating human rights violations; developing awareness on human rights among people in the region; and, providing effective compliance and redress mechanisms.
The ASEAN Charter should incorporate mandatory social dialogue and consultation with civil society, workers organizations and social movements, to ensure their access to decision making processes at all levels, and guarantee their full participation in economic, social, cultural and political life. This will help ensure responsive decisions, effective and equitable benefits sharing, and to strengthen regional cohesion and integration. Specifically, the ASEAN Charter should institutionalize the ASEAN Civil Society Conference that provides an open and accountable space for civil society to dialogue with ASEAN, even as civil society continues to pursue various tracks of engagement and employs a range of actions. It should also provide for automatic civil society observer seats in key regional decision making bodies involving economy and trade, environment, security and socio-cultural concerns.
Regional agreements should be affirmed by National Parliaments. ASEAN should establish mechanisms for the dissemination of and consultation on regional agreements and institute regular review clauses therein.
7. Securing a Process for the ASEAN Charter
On the issue of drafting the ASEAN Charter, we reiterate our call for broad-based consultations at the regional and national level, after the EPG process would have been completed.
We strongly recommend that the EPG put forward a proposed process for the ASEAN Charter through referendum in all Member States. This is to ensure that the ASEAN Charter is made known to all ASEAN citizens, and that they are given the direct hand in determining the future of ASEAN.
The SAPA Working Group on ASEAN entered the ASEAN Charter process with the view of pushing for the kind of regionalism that we want, with good faith and seeking meaningful engagement. We understand that the finalization of an ASEAN Charter may take a long time. However, while awaiting the finalization of the ASEAN Charter, SAPA WG on ASEAN maintains that the principles, perspectives and proposals advanced in this and prior submissions should already be given expression and implemented in ASEAN via the Vientiane Action Plan and subsequent ASEAN work programmes, and other ASEAN regional initiatives.
We note that this final submission has the endorsement of many other groups from the Southeast Asia region outside of the immediate membership of the SAPA WG on the ASEAN. Specifically, it is endorsed by organizations that participated in the national consultative processes in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Thai-Burma border on ASEAN and the ASEAN Charter that happened in October and November 2006.
We trust that the EPG on the ASEAN Charter would give serious consideration to the weight of hope and expectation, and the desire for genuine cooperation and solidarity, underlying this submission.
Very truly yours,
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on the ASEAN
Contact Persons:
Corinna Lopa, SEACA ( clopa@seaca.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Rashid Kang, Forum-Asia ( rashid@forum-asia.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )
The Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Through Mr. Fidel V. Ramos
Philippine EPG Member
Re: Reiterating the Main Elements of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Submissions to the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter
Excellencies, order
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN would like to thank the Eminent Persons Group on the ASEAN Charter for the opportunity given us to make submissions on the following themes: Security Pillar (April 17, Ubud, remedy Bali); Economic Pillar (June 28, Singapore); and Socio-Cultural Pillar and Institutional Mechanisms (November 10, Manila, Philippines). The three documents we submitted outline our broad and specific aspirations as citizens of ASEAN member countries.
As a final submission, we enumerate below the key points we would like to see enshrined in the ASEAN Charter:
1. Regional Recognition of Human Rights and Human Dignity as Foundation of Community
The ASEAN Charter should explicitly recognize all core human rights including recently signed international agreements that expand on human rights norms and standards.
The principles should not be compromised by economic and trade, as well as security commitments.
2. Introducing Human Security
The ASEAN Charter should broadly define human security, allocate a specific chapter addressing the issue, and contain provisions that will lead to the implementation of its values.
Human Security is a framework based on the protection and empowerment of the people. It encompasses not only freedom from violence but also freedom from threats to people’s lives, including hunger, poverty, disease, marginalization and exclusion; and hinges upon environmental integrity and ecological security that safeguard against degradation and destruction that cause disease, harsh living conditions, and loss of lives and livelihoods.
3. Regional Harmonization and Complementation in Industry, Agriculture and Services
The ASEAN Charter should enshrine principles that:
* Recognize a policy mix that is informed by heterodox economic thinking and policy
analyses;
* Integrate a strong social protection element in economic development that is founded on redistributive justice, poverty eradication and growth with equity and non-discrimination.
* Enshrine the values of agrarian reform, justice, and food sovereignty. It should have provisions for institutions to safeguard capacity for social reforms like land reform, urban reform, etc. and mechanisms to level the playing field.
* Move away from economic activities based largely on natural resource extraction;
* Promote economic growth anchored in and driven by rural industrialization;
* Promote appropriate sustainable industrial development based on harmonization and
complementation of industries;
* Promote public investment through regional support mechanisms, example of which is the promotion of science and technology for the regional collective good.
4. Sustainable Production and Consumption, Energy and Development
The ASEAN Charter should:
* Enshrine the principle of sustainable development espoused by the Rio Summit of 1992 and reaffirmed by the World Summit of Sustainable Development in 2002;
* Adopt the principle of sustainable food, water and agricultural system at the local and national levels;
* Envision an industrial production system that is clean, resource- and energy- efficient and sustainable;
* Establish mechanisms for the promotion of renewable energy sources; and,
* Promote sustainable consumption.
5. Environmental Sustainability
The ASEAN Charter should promote the concept of development that is sustainable and therefore within the carrying capacity of ASEAN ecosystems and must not destroy cultures and the rights of communities to their resources. It should commit to the highest environmental standards enshrined in various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It should promote the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in addressing past damage and present and future efforts in rehabilitation of the environment, and commit to reverse the decline of biodiversity and to restore the rich biological diversity of the region.
6. Institutional Mechanisms for Responsive Regionalism
ASEAN should be an institution that recognizes universally-accepted rights and standards, including core labor standards, and provides mechanisms for monitoring and securing compliance at the national and regional levels.
In the area of human rights, the ASEAN Charter should mandate the immediate creation of a regional human rights body responsible for, among others: monitoring and reporting human rights conditions within the region; investigating human rights violations; developing awareness on human rights among people in the region; and, providing effective compliance and redress mechanisms.
The ASEAN Charter should incorporate mandatory social dialogue and consultation with civil society, workers organizations and social movements, to ensure their access to decision making processes at all levels, and guarantee their full participation in economic, social, cultural and political life. This will help ensure responsive decisions, effective and equitable benefits sharing, and to strengthen regional cohesion and integration. Specifically, the ASEAN Charter should institutionalize the ASEAN Civil Society Conference that provides an open and accountable space for civil society to dialogue with ASEAN, even as civil society continues to pursue various tracks of engagement and employs a range of actions. It should also provide for automatic civil society observer seats in key regional decision making bodies involving economy and trade, environment, security and socio-cultural concerns.
Regional agreements should be affirmed by National Parliaments. ASEAN should establish mechanisms for the dissemination of and consultation on regional agreements and institute regular review clauses therein.
7. Securing a Process for the ASEAN Charter
On the issue of drafting the ASEAN Charter, we reiterate our call for broad-based consultations at the regional and national level, after the EPG process would have been completed.
We strongly recommend that the EPG put forward a proposed process for the ASEAN Charter through referendum in all Member States. This is to ensure that the ASEAN Charter is made known to all ASEAN citizens, and that they are given the direct hand in determining the future of ASEAN.
The SAPA Working Group on ASEAN entered the ASEAN Charter process with the view of pushing for the kind of regionalism that we want, with good faith and seeking meaningful engagement. We understand that the finalization of an ASEAN Charter may take a long time. However, while awaiting the finalization of the ASEAN Charter, SAPA WG on ASEAN maintains that the principles, perspectives and proposals advanced in this and prior submissions should already be given expression and implemented in ASEAN via the Vientiane Action Plan and subsequent ASEAN work programmes, and other ASEAN regional initiatives.
We note that this final submission has the endorsement of many other groups from the Southeast Asia region outside of the immediate membership of the SAPA WG on the ASEAN. Specifically, it is endorsed by organizations that participated in the national consultative processes in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Thai-Burma border on ASEAN and the ASEAN Charter that happened in October and November 2006.
We trust that the EPG on the ASEAN Charter would give serious consideration to the weight of hope and expectation, and the desire for genuine cooperation and solidarity, underlying this submission.
Very truly yours,
The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacies (SAPA) Working Group on the ASEAN
Contact Persons:
Corinna Lopa, SEACA ( clopa@seaca.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Rashid Kang, Forum-Asia ( rashid@forum-asia.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

History
SAARC was officially born in 1985 as an association of States whose aims were to “promote the well-being of the populations of South Asia and improve their standard of living; to speed up economic growth, healing social progress and cultural development; to reinforce links between the countries of this area; and, order lastly, doctor to promote mutual collaboration and assistance in the economic, social, cultural technical and scientific fields”.
SAARC groups seven countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. With 1.3 billion inhabitants in 1999, these countries represent almost 22% of the world population, but only 1.97% of world GNP (575 billion US$ in 1999). Average per capita income is $441 (World Bank, 1999). Indeed, poverty is one fundamental element characterising the situation in South Asia.
SAARC is an organisation with strong ambitions, but restricted powers. From the start the scope of SAARC was reduced by the rule of unanimity, by the slowness and consultative nature of the procedures, by the decision to exclude areas of disagreement, and finally by the absence from the beginning of a free trade treaty or a preferential agreement.
By excluding a multilateral approach to bilateral problems, a condition set by India in 1985 for its membership, SAARC’s intra-regional exchanges remained dependent on political decision concerning the opening or closing of frontiers and transport corridors, according to the seriousness of local crises in the frontier regions. Unlike other regional organisations, commercial discrimination was directly aimed against the closest neighbour.
It is then no surprise that the total external trade of the region amounts to 0.8% of world exports and 1.3% of world imports. Intra-regional exchanges represent only 5.3% (exports) and 4.8% (imports) of the total.
Lastly, there is a syndrome of asymmetry between India (76% of the total population and 77% of the regional GNP) and its neighbours. This is intensified by the fact that India is situated geographically at the centre of states, which have no common frontiers. In addition, geopolitical tension between Pakistan and India has further complicated regional co-operation.
The animosity between the “estranged sisters” is a barrier to regional co-operation (the minor States refusing to be drawn into the quarrel), it has isolated the region from other dynamic regions (ASEAN or APEC, for example, do not wish to import into their structures the decision-blocking South Asian conflicts) and prevented it from setting up other promising group (the Indian Ocean Rim initiative).
Dialogue on politically contentious matters was officially not allowed under the SAARC Charter. However, regular meetings of ministers did provide opportunities for informal ‘corridor talks’. The last (10th) SAARC Summit took place in July 1998 in Sri Lanka; the 11th SAARC Summit planned for November 1999 in Nepal was postponed on Indian request. No new dates for this summit have so far been set. In September 1999, the SAARC Council met at its annual Informal Session in New York at the margins of the UNGA (in the same occasion, the planned SAARC/EU Troika meeting was cancelled on SAARC request).
Despite all these structural constraints, something has actually happened, particularly with the entry into force in 1995 of SAPTA (SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement).
EU/SAARC relations
In its dialogue with SAARC (Ministerial Troika, annual meetings in 1994-September 1999), the EU has consistently affirmed an interest in strengthening links with SAARC as a regional organisation. This sentiment is equally consistently reciprocated by SAARC.
The EU fully realises the difficulties that SAARC has in discussing political issues, and that SAARC member states are not Europe. However, the EU can help consolidate the ongoing integration process through its economic influence in the region, its own historical experience of dealing with diversity, and its interest in crisis prevention. The EU remains convinced that SAARC could play a useful role in regional co-operation and dialogue, although so far SAARC development has been less than breathtaking in the economic and political arena.
Hence, the EC took the initiative in 1996 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the SAARC Secretariat, offering them technical assistance. The MoU was explicitly signed at the technical level to overcome political inertia. Yet, the internal problems of SAARC largely prevented any effective implementation of the MoU. There were two main results of this otherwise limited co-operation: the inclusion of SAARC in the General System of Preferences (GSP) Cumulative Clause of the Rules of Origin and an exploratory mission in autumn 1999 to launch an assistance programme (“Assisting SAARCs Integration Process”).

History
SAARC was officially born in 1985 as an association of States whose aims were to “promote the well-being of the populations of South Asia and improve their standard of living; to speed up economic growth, social progress and cultural development; to reinforce links between the countries of this area; and, sildenafil lastly, to promote mutual collaboration and assistance in the economic, social, cultural technical and scientific fields”.
SAARC groups seven countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. With 1.3 billion inhabitants in 1999, these countries represent almost 22% of the world population, but only 1.97% of world GNP (575 billion US$ in 1999). Average per capita income is $441 (World Bank, 1999). Indeed, poverty is one fundamental element characterising the situation in South Asia.
SAARC is an organisation with strong ambitions, but restricted powers. From the start the scope of SAARC was reduced by the rule of unanimity, by the slowness and consultative nature of the procedures, by the decision to exclude areas of disagreement, and finally by the absence from the beginning of a free trade treaty or a preferential agreement.
By excluding a multilateral approach to bilateral problems, a condition set by India in 1985 for its membership, SAARC’s intra-regional exchanges remained dependent on political decision concerning the opening or closing of frontiers and transport corridors, according to the seriousness of local crises in the frontier regions. Unlike other regional organisations, commercial discrimination was directly aimed against the closest neighbour.
It is then no surprise that the total external trade of the region amounts to 0.8% of world exports and 1.3% of world imports. Intra-regional exchanges represent only 5.3% (exports) and 4.8% (imports) of the total.
Lastly, there is a syndrome of asymmetry between India (76% of the total population and 77% of the regional GNP) and its neighbours. This is intensified by the fact that India is situated geographically at the centre of states, which have no common frontiers. In addition, geopolitical tension between Pakistan and India has further complicated regional co-operation.
The animosity between the “estranged sisters” is a barrier to regional co-operation (the minor States refusing to be drawn into the quarrel), it has isolated the region from other dynamic regions (ASEAN or APEC, for example, do not wish to import into their structures the decision-blocking South Asian conflicts) and prevented it from setting up other promising group (the Indian Ocean Rim initiative).
Dialogue on politically contentious matters was officially not allowed under the SAARC Charter. However, regular meetings of ministers did provide opportunities for informal ‘corridor talks’. The last (10th) SAARC Summit took place in July 1998 in Sri Lanka; the 11th SAARC Summit planned for November 1999 in Nepal was postponed on Indian request. No new dates for this summit have so far been set. In September 1999, the SAARC Council met at its annual Informal Session in New York at the margins of the UNGA (in the same occasion, the planned SAARC/EU Troika meeting was cancelled on SAARC request).
Despite all these structural constraints, something has actually happened, particularly with the entry into force in 1995 of SAPTA (SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement).
EU/SAARC relations
In its dialogue with SAARC (Ministerial Troika, annual meetings in 1994-September 1999), the EU has consistently affirmed an interest in strengthening links with SAARC as a regional organisation. This sentiment is equally consistently reciprocated by SAARC.
The EU fully realises the difficulties that SAARC has in discussing political issues, and that SAARC member states are not Europe. However, the EU can help consolidate the ongoing integration process through its economic influence in the region, its own historical experience of dealing with diversity, and its interest in crisis prevention. The EU remains convinced that SAARC could play a useful role in regional co-operation and dialogue, although so far SAARC development has been less than breathtaking in the economic and political arena.
Hence, the EC took the initiative in 1996 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the SAARC Secretariat, offering them technical assistance. The MoU was explicitly signed at the technical level to overcome political inertia. Yet, the internal problems of SAARC largely prevented any effective implementation of the MoU. There were two main results of this otherwise limited co-operation: the inclusion of SAARC in the General System of Preferences (GSP) Cumulative Clause of the Rules of Origin and an exploratory mission in autumn 1999 to launch an assistance programme (“Assisting SAARCs Integration Process”).

ALAN R. MULLER

Publication available for download from the website of Erasmus University, there click Rotterdam

Estrategias multiformes de las mayores potencias en las integraciones regionales y en su contra

Dot Keet

Alternative Information and Development Centre informe No. 4

Las motivaciones orientadas a la creación de grupos económicos regionales más fuertes entre países en vías de desarrollo, así como la búsqueda de formas de cooperación política entre sus gobiernos y organizaciones populares, persiguen, en parte, conferir a los países participantes el poder necesario para tratar de manera más eficaz con un sistema internacional económico y político complejo e incluso hostil. Esto incluye la necesidad de abordar simultáneamente los objetivos estratégicos y las tácticas divisorias seguidas por poderosos gobiernos extranjeros, especialmente por la Unión Europea (UE) y los Estados Unidos (EE.UU.).

Las dos mayores potencias económicas del mundo se distinguen por el uso de instrumentos multilaterales para ampliar sus intereses [véase Regional Briefings nº 2 y 3 del AIDC]. Pero, al mismo tiempo, los están enmarcando en enfoques multiformes para conservar su dominio económico sobre el resto del mundo. El gobierno estadounidense se destaca especialmente por recurrir a sus propias exigencias unilaterales y a lo que se denominan acciones ‘extraterritoriales’ en el ámbito económico, político y militar. Las estrategias de la UE, si bien resultan menos descaradas que las de los EE.UU., también se caracterizan por el uso de compromisos y acuerdos bilaterales, y de presiones económicas y políticas sobre otros gobiernos. Y tanto los EE.UU. como la UE emplean estrategias regionales

  • por una parte, para fortalecer sus propias economías de cara a su posicionamiento unido cada vez más poderoso en la llamada ‘economía mundial única abierta e integrada’ que están, a la vez, endosando al resto del mundo y,
  • por la otra, para socavar las posibles estrategias regionales que otros países necesitan adoptar para enfrentarse de manera más eficaz a las presiones y retos planteados por la economía mundial.

Las regiones geoestratégicas de las principales potencias

La Unión Europea constituye uno de los proyectos de integración más antiguos y, por el momento, el mayor y más avanzado. Este proceso comenzó mucho antes de la era de la economía mundial liberalizada y, de hecho, su origen se debe en gran medida a cuestiones como la seguridad y la estabilidad política en Europa, la reconstrucción económica y los problemas sociales después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Se trataba de un grupo basado en las políticas y el mercado, en el marco del patrón predominante en el momento, con un sistema socialdemócrata y un modelo económico regulado por el estado. En los últimos tiempos, a medida que las exigencias de fuerzas empresariales y financieras renovadas y ampliadas pasaban a un primer plano dentro de la UE y del resto del mundo, los diversos gobiernos europeos, y los objetivos y políticas del proyecto de integración europea se ajustaron a las teorías neoliberales. Es decir, el fomento del ‘libre comercio’ en una economía mundial ‘abierta’. Se trataba de algo que se necesitaba especialmente para poder presionar a las economías recién industrializadas del Sudeste asiático y otras regiones. De este modo, Europa representa actualmente una base de poder geoeconómico y geopolítico desde donde las empresas europeas pueden operar con mayor fuerza en la tremendamente competitiva economía mundial, y los estados europeos pueden actuar conjuntamente en las instituciones internacionales con un peso mucho mayor.

El Área de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (ALCAN o NAFTA) es la base de poder regional económico -y, en cierta medida, político- que han construido los Estados Unidos a su alrededor. Este grupo se presentó, desde un principio, como una respuesta más directa y un instrumento con el que fomentar la economía mundial, así como influir y aumentar la competitividad en ella. Incluso mientras se alargaban las negociaciones comerciales de la Ronda de Uruguay (RU), durante fines de los 80, los EE.UU. estaban trabajando activamente para garantizar su área de libre comercio con el Canadá y planificando la consolidación y ampliación de su base regional más amplia en las Américas, empezando por México. En aquel período, esta estrategia regional podría haberse considerado algo así como una medida preventiva, en caso de que la RU no reportara condiciones que favorecieran los intereses económicos y estratégicos de los EE.UU. Desde entonces, los acuerdos principales de la OMC creados durante la RU y posteriormente -y debidos, en gran medida, a resueltas intervenciones de los EE.UU.- han resultado ser muy beneficiosos para las necesidades y objetivos nacionales y empresariales de los EE.UU. El ALCAN sigue resultando, no obstante, un complemento muy útil para la economía estadounidense y un gran apoyo para sus empresas.

  • La UE y el ALCAN constituyen cimientos importantes a partir de los que sus multinacionales pueden actuar en la economía mundial. La mayoría de multinacionales siguen realizando sus principales actividades y operaciones más estratégicas en sus países de origen. El 87% de las multinacionales poseen su sede en la UE, los EE.UU. y el Japón y, a fines de los 90, el 88% de sus ‘bienes exteriores’ estaban ubicados, de hecho, en alguna de estas tres economías. De manera parecida, el 84% de las inversiones extranjeras directas (IED) proceden de estos tres actores y de otros miembros del grupo de países más desarrollados de la OCDE (Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico). Sin embargo, el 60% de las IED totales se mueve entre los países más industrializados de Europa y Norteamérica. Al mismo tiempo, no obstante, los gobiernos de estos gigantescos bloques económicos están determinados a actuar internacionalmente para ayudar a sus empresas a dominar al resto de mercados, abrirles campos de inversión y bases de producción cada vez más beneficiosos en todo el mundo, y garantizarles el acceso a recursos estratégicos.
  • Estos grupos regionales también proporcionan marcos útiles dentro de los que los EE.UU. y la UE pueden conseguir posiciones comunes con sus socios o vecinos económicos clave en materia de, entre otras cosas, condiciones comerciales, normativa de inversiones, derechos de propiedad y producción, y requisitos del mercado laboral. Es más fácil llegar a un acuerdo sobre estas cuestiones dentro de un grupo regional más restringido y unido que en negociaciones multilaterales, que resultan más complejas y polémicas, tal como se está poniendo cada vez más de manifiesto en el seno de la OMC. Sin embargo, al mismo tiempo, los acuerdos y prácticas regionales en el ALCAN y la UE pueden sentar precedentes notables y pueden emplearse para ejercer influencias o presiones sobre los procesos multilaterales más amplios. De este modo, los estados y otros intereses de estos bloques económicos regionales están en posición de beneficiarse de lo mejor de ambos mundos: el regional y el mundial.

Intereses enfrentados entre los bloques regionales de los EE.UU. y la UE

Desde el momento en que la ideología del libre comercio y la economía mundial abierta resultan tremendamente ventajosa para las economías más fuertes, no sólo aparece una uniformidad discursiva entre sus gobiernos, teóricos e instituciones neoliberales, sino también una unidad general en cuanto a su propósito en el ámbito mundial. No obstante, en la práctica, surgen también intereses y tensiones enfrentados entre estas potencias mundiales. El caso más reciente y evidente es el relacionado con Oriente Próximo.

  • A pesar de ello, la competencia directa entre la UE y los EE.UU. empieza ya en sus respectivas regiones o en ‘sus’ zonas más cercanas. Así pues, aunque la UE está consolidando sus intereses y avanzando en la integración de toda Europa, el gobierno y las empresas estadounidenses están muy activos en la UE y en todo el continente europeo. Análogamente, la UE está muy activa en el Canadá, y hace poco cerró un acuerdo de libre comercio altamente ventajoso con México, aunque éste último sea miembro, en el patio trasero, del bloque regional norteamericano de Washington.
  • Esta competición entre la UE y los EE.UU. se extiende a otras regiones del mundo como, por ejemplo, la zona de la APEC (Asociación de Cooperación Económica Asia Pacífico). El Japón ya está bien establecido en toda Asia, pero los EE.UU. llevan mucho tiempo intentando que la APEC se convierta en un área completa de libre comercio para que las empresas estadounidenses puedan competir mejor con el Japón. No obstante, en un área de libre comercio asiática, las empresas del ALCAN -y Australia-, como países de la ‘costa del Pacífico y Asia’, también se beneficiarían de su entrada previa y gozarían de mayores beneficios en Asia que las empresas europeas. Puesto que Europa no es miembro de la APEC, Bruselas está fomentando enérgicamente la ASEM (la denominada Reunión Asia Europa) para crear sus propios acuerdos bilaterales entre la UE y el mayor número posible de países asiáticos. Esta ofensiva competitiva no sólo se dirige a los gigantes asiáticos -la India y China-, sino también a Australia. Ésta última es una economía desarrollada importante en una zona donde Europa, por razones históricas, ha gozado de una presencia preponderante durante largo tiempo pero donde, ahora, se ve amenazada por un acuerdo de libre comercio integral entre Australia y los EE.UU.
  • Europa también está preocupada por la enérgica búsqueda por parte de Washington de acuerdos bilaterales de libre comercio y de inversiones con otros países clave en la zona Asia Pacífico, especialmente con los integrantes de la ASEAN (Asociación de Naciones del Asia Sudoriental). Este grupo regional incluye una serie de grandes economías con un potencial enorme como, por ejemplo, Malasia, Indonesia y las Filipinas, aunque, por otro lado, también son bastante ‘problemáticas’ para los EE.UU. y la UE en el contexto de la OMC. Así pues, entre los países más ‘cooperativos’ de la ASEAN que están recibiendo la atención de los EE.UU. en estos momentos se incluyen:
    • Singapur como economía desarrollada clave dentro de la ASEAN y como canal a través del que los EE.UU. se pueden ‘infiltrar’ en el grupo e influir en él.
    • Tailandia, país propuesto para un acuerdo de libre comercio por el Representante Comercial de los EE.UU. (USTR, en inglés) como uno de los instrumentos de Washington mediante el que “anclar” a otras economías del Sudeste asiático a la esfera del libre comercio de los EE.UU.

Estas estrategias ofensivas y defensivas entre los EE.UU. y la UE, así como sus rivalidades imperialistas en todo el mundo, se expresan en las emergentes guerras comerciales ‘neomercantilistas’ que se están declarando entre ambos imperios económicos. Cada uno de ellos está luchando por evitar que el otro se apropie, si no de colonias formales, como en el pasado, al menos de ámbitos reales de influencia preponderante. Esto también es patente en sus estrategias predadoras paralelas hacia grupos regionales existentes y emergentes en Latinoamérica y África, así como en otros lugares del Sur.

Estrategias paralelas contra los grupos regionales en Latinoamérica y África

  • Los EE.UU. están encaminados hacia la ampliación de su base del ALCAN en una extensa Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA), en la que se integrarán los 34 países que hay desde el Canadá a Chile. Al mismo tiempo, a la luz de cierta resistencia mostrada por algunos gobiernos latinoamericanos y, sobre todo, por parte de una amplia Alianza Social Continental (ASC) de organizaciones populares, Washington persigue la adquisición paulatina de todo el hemisferio centrándose en países clave, como Chile, y ‘reduciendo’ a los países más pequeños mediante acuerdos subregionales de libre comercio, como el Área de Libre Comercio de América Central (CAFTA, en inglés), que incluye a seis naciones. Los EE.UU. están abordando de manera parecida al cercano grupo regional del Caribe, la Comunidad del Caribe (CARICOM), que ha sido durante mucho tiempo uno de los ámbitos de influencia histórica europea.
  • En un plan más ambicioso, los EE.UU. están determinados a incorporar a su extensa área de libre comercio continental al gigantesco Mercado Común del Cono Sur (MERCOSUR), un grupo regional en América del Sur formado por el Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay y Paraguay, con Bolivia como miembro asociado, y al que Venezuela (país rico en recursos petroleros) ha solicitado adherirse. Y, como en el resto del mundo, la UE se encuentra en competición directa con los EE.UU. para intentar asegurarse su propio acuerdo de libre comercio con MERCOSUR. El interés de ambos bloques en ganarse a MERCOSUR se explica:
    • como siempre, para abrir aún más sus enormes mercados y ricos recursos a la penetración comercial, operaciones de inversión ilimitadas, la explotación y el expolio por parte de empresas estadounidenses y europeas. Pero,
    • desde una óptica más ofensiva, para evitar que este grupo se convierta en una base poderosa de resistencia y en un marco potencial para un modelo distinto de desarrollo eficaz, equitativo, independiente y sostenible.
  • Aunque no existe ninguna economía o región en África que, en estos momentos, pueda compararse con MERCOSUR en términos de tamaño, los recursos minerales del continente son de una importancia estratégica y hay que hacerse con África, como continente y/o a través de sus subregiones, como ámbito donde desarrollar una explotación intensificada. Todo esto, recuerda a las ‘disputas’ del siglo XIX por África. En este siglo, tanto los EE.UU. como la UE buscan repartirse el continente y cada uno de estos bloques persigue su propio acuerdo divisorio de libre comercio y aplica estrategias antiregionales en África. Al igual que en Latinoamérica y Asia, Washington y Bruselas están empleando la misma combinación de acuerdos bilaterales con los países más fuertes para, así, “anclar” al resto, o incluso crear acuerdos regionales directos con grupos de países más pequeños o débiles. Por ejemplo,
    • Los EE.UU. han cerrado un acuerdo bilateral de libre comercio con una economía importante como lo es la chilena en América del Sur, como modelo de economía abierta e influencia en el resto del continente. Y la UE ha conseguido su propio acuerdo de libre comercio con Sudáfrica, la principal economía africana; un acuerdo que también esta usando como modelo en el resto de continente y como influencia en él [véase Regional Briefing nº 1 del AIDC].
    • La UE está construyendo su propia ampliación económica en el norte de África mediante acuerdos bilaterales y planes regionales para la zona ‘Euro-Med’. También los EE.UU. han conseguido un gran acuerdo en materia de seguridad, política y economía, altamente ventajoso, con Marruecos y, en estos momentos, persigue hacer lo mismo con Egipto, otro país clave en el norte de África.
    • La UE ha cerrado el llamado Acuerdo de comercio, desarrollo y cooperación (ACDC) con Sudáfrica que, como acuerdo comercial, afecta directamente a Botswana, Lesotho, Swazilandia y Namibia, miembros asociados a la Unión Aduanera del África Meridional (SACU, en inglés). Mientras tanto, los EE.UU. persiguen su propio acuerdo integral con la SACU [véase Regional Briefing nº 3 del AIDC].
    • La UE está trabajando en sus propios acuerdos integrales de libre comercio recíprocos mediante los denominados Acuerdos de Asociación Económica (EPA, en inglés) con los 77 países de África, el Caribe y el Pacífico (ACP). Seguramente, los abordará de forma individual, aunque a la UE le conviene hacerlo con grupos regionales [véase Regional Briefing nº 2 del AIDC]. Los EE.UU. han lanzado su propia iniciativa competitiva, a la que se refieren como Ley de Crecimiento y Oportunidad en África (AGOA, en inglés). Con ella, se ofrece a los países africanos -y a aquellos que cumplen con los requisitos en materia de seguridad, economía y política impuestos por Washington- un acceso preferente (durante un período limitado) al extenso mercado estadounidense [véase Regional Briefing nº 3 del AIDC].

Sin embargo, a pesar de las ofensivas competitivas entre la UE y los EE.UU. en África y otros países del Sur, el contenido de estos acuerdos integrales, que están consiguiendo que firmen los gobiernos africanos y de otros países, presenta también ciertos aspectos comunes y similitudes. Y, precisamente, son éstos últimos los que plantean importantes retos para las organizaciones populares de todo el mundo.

Intereses y estrategias de poder económico comunes

Las grandes potencias siempre han utilizado las citadas estrategias multimodales para mantener su posición dominante en el mundo, y sus métodos siempre han incluido medios directos e indirectos, abiertos y encubiertos, legales e ilegales, económicos y políticos, y otros (militares) siempre que sea necesario. Y estos métodos económicos y políticos también se han manifestado en sus operaciones en la denominada ‘esfera comercial’ y especialmente en la OMC.

Sin embargo, en el contexto de

  • la gran información de que disponen ONG, sindicatos y otras organizaciones e institutos de investigación progresistas, y su eficacia en sacar a la luz los objetivos, la naturaleza y las consecuencias de las normas y acuerdos ‘multilaterales’ que la OMC impone a los países en desarrollo y al resto del mundo;
  • la creciente conciencia pública en todo el mundo sobre el funcionamiento, contrario al desarrollo y la democracia, de la OMC, y su tradicional manipulación por parte de las grandes potencias a la búsqueda ofensiva -y protección defensiva- de sus propios intereses;
  • las alianzas mejor informadas y asertivas dentro de diversos grupos tácticos y estratégicos de gobiernos de países en desarrollo en la OMC, y los consecuentes contratiempos para los planes de ‘los grandes’ en la tercera y quinta Conferencia Ministerial de la OMC en Seattle (1999) y Cancún (2003), respectivamente;

los EE.UU. y la UE están recurriendo, más que nunca, a sus propios acuerdos de comercio unilaterales, bilaterales y ‘regionales’ fuera de la OMC para poder alcanzar sus propios intereses.

Sin embargo, está claro lo que comparten las grandes potencias y sus estrategias teniendo en cuenta que

  • Las grandes potencias están haciendo un uso selectivo de las normas ‘multilaterales’ de la OMC en los acuerdos bilaterales y regionales que persiguen pero, a la vez, están sobrepasando con creces a la OMC a la hora de imponer términos y condiciones que no se han acordado en su seno (por ejemplo, los famosos ‘Temas de Singapur’ en materia de liberalización de inversiones) y ante los que muchos gobiernos de países en desarrollo en la OMC, apoyados por las intervenciones y presiones independientes de movimientos sociales populares, están mostrando una fuerte resistencia.
  • Los llamados ‘acuerdos de libre comercio’ que se están imponiendo en países de todo el mundo no tratan sólo sobre comercio, sino que van mucho más allá para incluir la liberalización de flujos de capital y el libre movimiento de inversores extranjeros, así como sus derechos de propiedad y ‘propiedad intelectual’, su acceso a contrataciones públicas y bienes nacionales privatizados, así como la desregularización y ‘apertura’ generales de las economías de los países que firman este tipo de acuerdos.
  • Los denominados acuerdos de libre comercio bilaterales que se están cerrando con determinados países clave también están concebidos como aperturas o grietas a través de las que entrar o influir en los grupos regionales correspondientes (como con Singapur, en el caso de la ASEAN, o Sudáfrica en la SADC) o para “anclar” a los países vecinos y quizá crear otras ‘regiones abiertas’ mucho más grandes y dóciles. Esta es la visión que afirman tener los estrategas comerciales estadounidenses en relación con toda África mediante acuerdos con países africanos concretos, empezando por la AGOA.
  • Muchos de los llamados acuerdos bilaterales (es decir, entre dos países) se dan, en realidad, entre un grupo regional y un país. Y lo que es más, dichos acuerdos se establecen entre grupos regionales grandes y poderosos y economías relativamente menores y más débiles, como es el caso de los denominados acuerdos bilaterales entre la UE y Sudáfrica y México.
  • Incluso en aquellos casos en que las grandes potencias persiguen acuerdos de comercio interregionales (entre su región y otras), como sucede con la UE y MERCOSUR, la UE y la SADC, la UE y la Comunidad del África Meridional, o los EE.UU. y la SACU, las condiciones también son desiguales en lo que se refiere a los recursos de que disponen los respectivos ‘socios’ negociadores. Por lo tanto, los acuerdos resultantes reforzarán, inevitablemente, dichas desigualdades.

A través de estas estrategias complementarias unilaterales, bilaterales y regionales, las grandes potencias pretenden infiltrarse en los grupos regionales de países en desarrollo (existentes y potenciales), apropiarse de ellos y transformarlos. De este modo, desean vaciar sus programas y políticas de contenido para el desarrollo y evitar que se conviertan en marcos válidos para un desarrollo más autosuficiente, sostenible y equitativo, así como bases económicas y políticas más fuertes desde las que estos países puedan oponerse a las potencias dominantes del mundo y su sistema y régimen globales.

Traducción: Beatriz Martinez


Multi-Track Strategies of the Major Powers On, and Against, Regional Integration(s)

Dot Keet


Alternative Information and Development Centre Regional Briefings 4


The externally oriented motivations for creating stronger regional economic groupings between developing countries, and seeking forms of political cooperation between their governments and between their peoples organisations, are aimed in part to empower participating countries to position themselves more effectively in a difficult and even hostile international economic and political system. This includes the need to deal together with the strategic aims and divisive tactics of powerful foreign governments, website particularly of the European Union and the United States.

The two major global economic powers are notable for their utilisation of multilateral instruments to further their interests [see AIDC Regional Briefings 2 and 3]. But they are, at the same time, locating these within multi-track approaches to maintain their economic dominance over the rest of the world. The US government is particularly notorious for its recourse to their own unilateral demands and what are called ‘extra-territorial’ actions in the economic and political as in the military sphere. The strategies of the EU, while rather less blatant than the US, are also characterised, like the US, by the employment of bilateral engagements and agreements and economic and political pressures upon other governments. And both the EU and the US utilise regional strategies

  • on the one hand to strengthen their own economies for their ever more powerful united positioning in the so-called ‘single integrated open global economy’ that they are simultaneously foisting upon the rest of the world; and
  • on the other hand, to undermine the actual and potential regional strategies that other countries need in order to be able to deal more effectively with the pressures from and challenges in the global economy.
  • The Geo-strategic Regions of the Major Powers

    The European Union is one of the oldest and so far the largest and most far advanced regional integration project. This process started well before the era of the liberalised global economy and was, in fact, initially motivated largely by intra-European security and political stability, economic reconstruction and social concerns after the Second World War. It was both politically-directed and market-driven within the then-dominant social-democratic system and state-regulated economic model. In the more recent period, as the demands of revived corporate and expanded financial forces came energetically to the fore within the EU and internationally, individual European governments and the aims and policies of the European integration project were adjusted accordingly to engage with and promote a ‘free trade’ ‘open’ global economy. This was particularly necessary to be able to counter the newly industrialised economies in East Asia or elsewhere. Thus, Greater Europe is now a geo-economic and geo-political power base from which European companies can operate more forcefully in the highly competitive global economy, and the European states can together engage with much greater combined weight in international institutions.

    The North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA)is the regional economic and to some extent political power-base that the United States has constructed around itself. This was, from the outset, a more direct response and instrument to promote, influence and engage more competitively within the global economy. Even as the Uruguay Round (UR) of trade negotiations dragged on, during the later 1980s, the US was actively securing its free trade area with Canada and planning the consolidation and extension of its broader regional base into the Americas, starting with Mexico. At that time, this regional strategy may have been something of an insurance policy, in case the UR did not yield global terms conducive to US national economic and strategic interests. Since then, the central WTO agreements created through the UR and after – and largely through determined US interventions – have turned out to be very favourable to US national and corporate needs/aims. NAFTA is, however, still proving to be a useful complement to the US economy and support to US corporations.

    • Both the EU and NAFTA are important ground bases for their transnational corporations to engage with and within the global economy. Most TNCs continue to maintain the core of their activities, and their most strategic operations, in their countries of origin. Fully 87% of all TNCs are head-quartered in the EU, the US and Japan and, in the late 1990s, 88% of their ‘foreign assets’ were actually located in each other’s economies. Similarly, 84% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) originates within these and the other members of the OECD (Organsation for Economic Cooperation and Development) grouping of the most developed economies. But 60% of global FDI moves between the most industrialised countries of Europe and North America. At the same time, however, the governments in these giant economic blocks are determined to act internationally to support their companies to dominate all other markets, open up ever more profitable investment fields and production bases throughout the world, and secure their access to strategic resources.
    • These regional groupings also provide useful frameworks within which the US and the EU can achieve common positions with their key economic partners/neighbours on trade terms, investment norms, property rights and production/labour market requirements, and other issues. These are easier to agree upon within a more limited, more cohesive regional grouping than in full multilateral global negotiations, which are more complex and potentially more contentious, as is becoming more and more evident within the WTO. At the same time, however, the regional agreements/practices within NAFTA and the EU can set significant precedents and can be utilised to exert influences or pressures upon the broader multilateral processes. In this way, states and other interests within such regional economic power blocks are positioned to obtain the best of both worlds – the regional and the global.

    Competing Interests between the US and EU Regional Blocks

    In so far as the ideology of free trade and an open global economy are most advantageous to the strongest economies, there is a uniformity of language between their governments, and with their neo-liberal theorists and institutions, and a general unity of purpose at a global level. However in practice there are also conflicting interests – and tensions – between these global powers; most recently and blatantly in relation to the Middle East.

    • However the direct competition between the EU and the US even starts in each others respective regions or ‘their’ immediate zones. Thus, even as the EU is consolidating its interests and moving towards the integration of the whole of Europe, the US government and US corporations are very active within the EU and throughout greater Europe. Similarly, the EU is very active in Canada and has recently secured a highly favourable free trade agreement with Mexico although it is a backyard member of Washington’s own North American regional block.
    • This competition between the EU and US extends to other further regions of the world such as APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation zone. Japan is already well-established throughout Asia but the US has long been trying to push APEC towards becoming a full free trade area in order that US companies can compete more effectively with Japan. However, in an Asian Free Trade Area, companies from NAFTA – and Australia – as ‘Asia-Pacific-rim’ countries would also enjoy prior penetration and more favourable positioning compared to Europe and thereby a predominant influence in Asia over European companies. Because Europe is not a member of APEC, Brussels is energetically promoting its ASEM (so-called Asia-Europe Movement) to create its own region-to-region accords and bilateral agreements between the EU and as many Asian countries as it can. This competitive thrust is directed not only at the Asian giants, India and China, but also at Australia. This is a sizable developed economy in the zone where Europe, for historical reasons, has long had a preponderant presence but where it is now threatened by a comprehensive US-Australia FTA.
    • Europe is also concerned about Washington’s energetic pursuit of more targeted bilateral free trade and investment agreements with other key countries in the Asia-Pacific region and especially the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This regional grouping includes a number of large economies with enormous potential, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines – but which are also rather ‘troublesome’ to the US and the EU in the WTO context. Thus, the more ‘cooperative’ ASEAN countries now being targeted by the US include
      • Singapore as a key developed economy within ASEAN and a channel through which the US can ‘infiltrate’ and influence this grouping
      • Thailand, which the US director of international trade (USTR) has targeted for an FTA as one of Washington’s instruments through which to “dock in” other economies in South East Asia into America’s broader free trade sphere.

    Such offensive/defensive strategies between the US and the EU, and their ‘inter-imperialist’ rivalries in the rest of the world, are expressed in emerging ‘neo-mercantilist’ trade wars building up between such economic ’empires’. Each is striving to pre-empt the other(s) by carving out – if not formal colonies, as in the past – then at least de facto spheres of preponderant influence. This is also evident in their parallel predatory strategies towards existing and emerging regional groupings in Latin America and Africa and other parts of the South.

    Parallel Strategies against Regional Groupins in Latin America and Africa

    • The US is driving towards the extension of its NAFTA base into a vast Free Trade Area of the America’s (FTAA) incorporating all thirty-four countries from Canada in the far north to the tip of Chile in the south. At the same time, in the face of some resistance from some Latin American governments, and even more so from a wide Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) of peoples organisations, Washington is pursuing an incremental take-over of the entire hemisphere by targeting key countries, such as Chile, and ‘mopping up’ smaller countries through sub-regional free trade agreements such as the Central American Free Trade Area (CAFTA). The US is similarly targeting the nearby regional grouping of Caribbean islands, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has long been one of Europe’s own historic spheres of influence.
    • More ambitiously, the US is determined to incorporate into its vast hemispheric free trade area the gigantic Common Market of the Southern Cone (MERCOSUR, a regional grouping in South America consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, with Bolivia as an associate member and oil-rich Venezuela applying to join. And, as elsewhere in the world, the EU is in direct competition with the US in trying to secure its own free trade agreement with MERCOSUR. But the importance to both of them in capturing MERCOSUR is
      • as always, to open up its huge markets and rich resources even more fully to the trade penetration, and unfettered investment ventures, exploitation and spoliation by US and European corporations, but
      • more offensively even, to prevent this grouping from becoming a powerful base of resistance and a potential framework for a different model of effective and equitable, self-sustaining and sustainable development.
    • Although there is no single economy or region in Africa that can at this stage compare with MERCOSUR in size and strategic significance, Africa as a whole and/or through its sub-regions has to be secured as a future privileged sphere of intensified exploitation … as in the 19th century ‘scramble’ for the continent. This time round, both the EU and the US are part of this carve-up, each pursuing its own divisive FTA and anti-regional strategies in Africa. As in Latin America and Asia, both Washington and Brussels are using the same combination of bilateral agreements with stronger “pivotal” countries to “dock in” others, or even creating direct regional agreements with groupings of smaller and weaker countries. For example
      • The US has secured a bilateral free trade agreement with a significant economy like Chile in South America as an extreme FTA model and influence upon the rest of the continent. And the EU has secured its own free trade agreement with South Africa as the most significant economy in Africa, an agreement which it is also using as a model and as an influence in the rest of the continent [see AIDC Trade Briefing 1].
      • The EU is building its own economic extension into North Africa through its bilateral agreements and regional plans for the ‘Euro-Med’ area. And the US, too, has secured its own highly advantageous and comprehensive economic-political-security agreement with Morocco, and is actively pursuing the same with Egypt as another key North African country.
      • The EU has secured its comprehensive so-called Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement with South Africa, which as a free trade agreement directly affects Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia, fellow members with South Africa in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). And the US is now pursuing its own comprehensive agreement with the whole of SACU [see AIDC Trade Briefing 2].
      • The EU is pursuing its own comprehensive reciprocal free trade agreements through so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with all 77 African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries – possibly individually, but for the EU preferably in regional groupings [see AIDC Regional Briefing 5]. And the US has launched its own competing initiative, which it calls the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). This offers African countries – or those that comply with Washington’s economic-political-security requirements – ‘preferential’ access (for a limited period) into the vast US market [see AIDC Trade Briefing 3].

    However, together with the competing thrusts by the EU and the US into Africa, and other countries in the South, there are also commonalities and convergences in the content of these comprehensive agreements that they are getting African and other governments to sign onto. And these pose significant challenges to peoples’ organisations everywhere.

    Convergent Economic Power Interests and Common Strategies

    The major powers have always utilised the above multi-track strategies to maintain their dominant positioning in the world, and their methods have also always included direct and indirect, overt and covert, legal and illegal, economic and political, and other (military) means as necessary. And these economic and political methods have also been evident in their operations in the so-called ‘trade sphere’ and in the WTO in particular.

    However, in the context of

    • the effectiveness of highly informed NGOs, trade unions and other concerned organisations and progressive research institutes in exposing the aims, nature and effects of the WTO’s ‘multilateral’ rules and agreements on developing countries – and on the world;
    • the growing public awareness throughout the world of the anti-developmental and anti-democratic functioning of the WTO, and its long-standing manipulation by the major powers in offensive pursuit – and defensive protection – of their own interests;
    • the more informed and assertive alliances within and between various tactical and strategic groupings of developing country governments in the WTO, and the consequent set-backs to the plans of ‘the majors’ in the Third and Fifth WTO Ministerial conferences in Seattle (1999) and Cancún (2003) respectively; the US and the EU are, more than ever before, each having recourse to their own simultaneous unilateral, bilateral and regional ‘trade’ agreements, outside of the WTO, in pursuit of their specific interests.

    However the commonalities between the major powers and within their strategies are also clear in the evidence that

    • The majors are selectively using the WTO’s ‘multilateral’ rules in the bilateral and regional agreements that they are pursuing, but are also going well beyond the WTO to impose terms and conditions that have not been agreed within the WTO (such as the notorious new ‘Singapore Issues’, for example on investment liberalisation), and that are being energetically resisted in the WTO by many developing country governments, backed up by the interventions and pressures of popular social movements.
    • The so-called ‘free trade agreements’ being imposed on countries throughout the world are not only about trade and go well beyond trade to include the liberalisation of capital flows and the free movement of foreign investors, as well as their property and ‘intellectual property’ rights, their access to government procurement and privatised national assets, and the general de-regulation and ‘opening up’ of the economies of countries signing onto such agreements.
    • The so-called bilateral FTAs being secured with key individual countries are also designed as openings or breaches through which to get into and influence the respective regional groupings (as with Singapore in relation to ASEAN, or South Africa within SADC), or to “dock in” neighbouring countries and possibly create new, more amenable and much larger ‘open regions’; as US trade strategists state to be their vision in relation to the whole of Africa through agreements with individual African countries, starting with AGOA.
    • Many of these so-called bilateral (that is country-to-country) agreements are actually between regional groupings on the one side and individual countries on the other; and, what is more, such agreements are between very large and powerful regional groupings and relatively smaller and weaker economies, as in the case of the EU’s so-called bilaterals with South Africa and with Mexico.
    • Even where the majors are pursuing inter-regional trade agreements, between their own and other regions, as in the case of the EU and MERCOSUR, the EU and SADC, the EU and the East African Community [see AIDC Regional Briefing 5], or the US in relation to SACU, these too are still very imbalanced in the resources that the respective negotiating ‘partners’ can draw on; and the consequent agreements will inevitably reinforce such inequalities.

    It is through all such complementary unilateral, bilateral and so-called regional strategies that the majors are aiming to penetrate, hijack and transform existing and potential regional groupings of developing countries, empty their programs and policies of development content and pre-empt them from becoming frameworks for more self-sustaining, sustainable and equitable development, and stronger economic and political bases from which such countries can deal with the dominant world powers and their global system and regime.


    Monitoring regional integration in Southern Africa

    Dirk Hansohm

    Regional integration (RI) is seen by many policy makers all over the world as an important policy instrument. This is in particular true for developing countries. The interest in RI has risen lately. Notably the European Union (EU) has elevated RI to a key pillar of its development cooperation. This makes it important to measure the progress in RI. However, sale as the meaning of RI remains elusive, pharm as there are many understandings of RI, there is not yet any accepted system of monitoring it. This paper aims to contribute to the development of systems of RI monitoring by looking at the Southern African region. The Monitoring Regional Integration in Southern Africa Initiative, on which this article is based (Hansohm et.al. 2001-04), has set out to develop quantitative indicators to measure progress of RI. However, in face of the complexity of such a venture and the scarcity of data, the approach was changed to a mainly qualitative approach. However, perhaps the time has come, as the interest in monitoring RI has surged world-wide, to revisit this theme again.
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    Rival regions? East Asian Regionalism and its challenge to the Asia-Pacific

    David Capie
    This chapter addresses new patterns of multilateral cooperation in Asia, focusing on new sets of connections emerging between what have traditionally been distinct sub-regions. In particular, it addresses the burgeoning linkages between Southeast and Northeast Asia that have crystallized in the ASEAN + 3 (APT) process. The chapter is in three parts. The first section reviews recent developments in East Asian regionalism and examines the motivations behind this new track of institutional cooperation. The second section critically examines the prospects for success, particularly whether APT will be able to overcome the political and strategic obstacles that stand in the way of some of its more ambitious goals. The third section considers the extent to which new East Asian institutions will prove to be complementary to, or competitive with, the existing Asia-Pacific framework.
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    Transnational Civil Society and the National Identity Question in East Asia

    Baogang He

    The institutions of civil society play diverse roles in developing and maintaining democracy—that is, capsule the process of democratization—and perform different functions in relation to the national identity/boundary question. A growing literature testifies to the emerging importance of civil society in defining the boundaries of political communities, and such that the participation by ordinary people and the institutions of civil society in defining these boundaries give rise to a democratic approach to the national identity/boundary issue and new forms of associated global governance.
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    EuroMemorandum group: Beyond Lisbon: Economic and social policy orientations and constitutional cornerstones for the European Social Model

    Euromemorandum 2005
    The year 2005 has added to the long experience of economic weakness and social downsizing in the EU the clear perception of the obvious crisis of legitimacy and po-litical acceptance by large parts of the public in the Union. The European institutions have responded by declaring a ‘period of reflection’. Such reflection could be helpful if it addressed in a critical analysis the basis of the failed economic and social policies and the powers and interests behind it, and if it embarked on the search for thorough policy changes. But it would be wasted time and counterproductive if it envisaged to better ‘explain’ and convey to the people the current policies and thus to make these more acceptable. It is to be feared that this is the Commission’s sgenda for the coming debate.
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    EuroMemorandum 2004

    The brief economic recovery of the EU is over. It was always weak and never broke the long-term vicious circle of low growth, high unemployment and rising inequality. Inadequate domestic demand continues to make the European economy very fragile. Enlargement, cure although it is to be welcomed as a historic contribution to peace in Europe, has increased regional imbalances. Both persistent unemployment and rising disparities require strong political countermeasures. But the EU is a long way from taking such measures.

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