The ASEAN Economic Community and the RCEP in the world economy

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been leading economic integration within many structural changes in the world economy. ASEAN, established in 1967, has promoted regional economic integration since 1976. It started to work toward realizing the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1992 and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2003. ASEAN finally established the AEC at the end of 2015. The AEC is the most developed and advanced economic integration in East Asia. ASEAN is deepening the AEC for the next goal, AEC 2025. ASEAN also led East Asian cooperation initiatives, including ASEAN+3 and ASEAN+6, and ASEAN+1 FTAs. ASEAN proposed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and led the RCEP negotiations. Currently, rising protectionism and the US–China trade friction has great negative impacts on ASEAN and East Asia. Furthermore, the outbreak of COVID-19 has done great damage to ASEAN and East Asia. ASEAN is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening the AEC steadily amidst growing protectionism and COVID-19 pandemic. The RCEP agreement was finally signed in November 2020. The RCEP is the first East Asian mega FTA. The RCEP has great meaning in ASEAN and East Asia. ASEAN secured ASEAN centrality in East Asian economic integration. The AEC and the RCEP will become more important amidst rising protectionism, and during and in the post-pandemic era.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Contemporary East Asia Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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