Regionalism has been major issue in global political economy in the recent decades. This essay emphasizes on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as one example of a regional association which is moving toward economic integration, especially after the WTO had been set up. It will try to find out the motivation of ASEAN for wanting an economic integration. The question here will be whether the implementation of the WTO or the emergence of economic powers in Asia such as China and India has been the reason for ASEAN to move into an integrated economy. From here I shall argue that in ASEAN’s case, the latter seems to be more convincing than the former. Having discussion among scholars, from both optimistic and pessimistic perspectives regarding the success of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), it can be argued that the implementation of the AEC may represent the realisation of ASEAN as a single market. The ongoing process for the implementation of the AEC illustrates ASEAN’s moves towards deeper integration. Despite the rationale on the benefits of a regional trade agreement over multilateralism, the emergence of China as a new economic power in Asia is indeed the motivation for ASEAN to integrate their economy. The ASEAN states are aware of the need to consolidate their regional economy in order to have a balance trade with China and therefore may maintain ASEAN’s competitiveness in global trade. However, it is still a long way for ASEAN to have a single market.
Keywords: ASEAN, regionalism, economic integration