Hanging together, institutional design, and cooperation in Southeast Asia: AFTA and the ARF

Yuen Foong Khong, Helen E.S. Nesadurai

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Introduction. One of the most fascinating developments in post-Cold War Asia-Pacific is the frenzy of (regional) institution-building that began in the late 1980s. At the intergovernmental level, we witness the founding of the following: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC, 1989), the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA, 1992), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF, 1994), and the ASEAN Plus Three forum (APT, 1997). Equally fascinating, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – a group of small to middle powers – played a lead role in the creation and maintenance of many of these institutions, in particular the ARF, AFTA, and the APT, while ASEAN's preference for informality and non-binding mechanisms prevailed over American and Australian preferences in the institutional design of APEC. Important too is the enlargement of ASEAN to ten members through the inclusion of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia in the 1990s. The reason for ASEAN's leading role in regional institution-building is partly historical, since ASEAN, formed in 1967, was until the 1990s the only regional institution of note in Asia. Hence it seemed natural to build on the strengths and achievements of ASEAN – whether it was the expansion of ASEAN itself, buttressing intra-ASEAN economic cooperation, engaging new partners in financial cooperation through the APT, or reaching out to the great powers in the form of the ARF.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrafting Cooperation
Subtitle of host publicationRegional International Institutions in Comparative Perspective
EditorsAmitav Acharya, Alastair Iain Johnston
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages51
ISBN (Electronic)9780511491436
ISBN (Print)0521876036, 9780521876032
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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