Regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia
Project descriptionTitle: Regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Member countries of Pan-Beibu Gulf (PBG) Economic Cooperation; Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI); Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation; Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)
Overall term: 2011 to 2015
Initiatives aimed at strengthening regional economic cooperation and integration play an increasingly important role for economic development in Asia. Apart from facilitating production processes by promoting the regional division of labour, the initiatives help their members move beyond the confines of domestic markets. Subregional cooperation initiatives enable groups of countries and regions to join integration processes at their own pace. Given the existing developmental gaps in the region, it is particularly important to make these processes inclusive by ensuring the equal participation of all the countries involved in the respective regional activities.
Overall, despite the evident political will and the potential economic advantages of stepping up regional economic cooperation and integration, there has not been enough progress in implementing the existing agreements, policy recommendations and the related actions plans.
Key processes of regional economic cooperation and integration – for example in the areas of trade, investment and transport – are strengthened in selected Asian regional initiatives in which the People’s Republic of China is a participant.
The project assists regional and national decision-makers in developing strategies as well as in planning, steering and monitoring processes of regional economic cooperation and integration, thus helping them to fulfil their mandate. A particular focus is placed on the comparatively small and economically weak member states of the subregional initiatives in order to ensure their proper inclusion. In addition, training measures are carried out to enhance the knowledge required to implement the activities. In this context, the model of regional peer-to-peer teaching and learning has proved to be particularly beneficial.
The first component of the project focuses on the Pan-Beibu Gulf (PBG) region and supports the strengthening of the core functions entailed in planning, steering and coordinating regional economic cooperation and integration processes. The activities centre on the establishment of institutionalised coordination offices, the development of structures and instruments and the training of both public and private actors in selected economic areas. GIZ assists its partners in implementing action plans in these sectors on a pilot basis.
The second component is concerned with promoting regional knowledge transfer between four subregional initiatives, namely PBG, GTI, GMS and CAREC. This process of exchange covers specialised topics in the area of cross-border economic cooperation as well as the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from pilot projects.
The project supported the institutional development of the PBG regional initiative by assisting with the drawing up of a roadmap in close consultation with the lead organisation, the Asian Development Bank. In addition, a study on the priority sector of ports and logistics was compiled as part of the project. The advisory services provided ensured a participatory approach in the planning and refining of the structures and instruments of the ASEAN-China Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation (ACPBG). Accompanying capacity development measures were conducted to prepare existing structures and relevant stakeholders to implement the recommendations set out in the roadmap. This means that expertise in the areas of cooperation and implementation is now available on a long-term basis within the region.
As part of the second component, a specialist dialogue between the four subregional initiatives (PBG, GTI, GMS and CAREC) was established, in the course of which the criteria and factors for success in the context of regional integration were discussed. Moreover, approaches to sectoral cooperation were developed, particularly with regard to (cross-border) trade, investments, logistics and the maritime industry/ports. These exchange mechanisms have become firmly established, thereby constituting a major contribution towards invigorating regional dialogue and strengthening the current trend, namely the move away from market foreclosure and towards coordinated regional economic cooperation.