The splintering of the multilateral trading system into a number of trading blocs and arrangements has been one of the most important issues in international economics, particularly after the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1995 and especially after the launch of the Doha Round in 2001. International economic integration has played a significant part in the economic policy decisions for most countries and regions throughout the world over decades. If this is so, why then has the success of integration schemes been so variable? And what are the prospects for integration in the future? Is integration a building or a stumbling block on the way to universal free trade? This book addresses these crucial questions.
The book builds on and extends earlier research and publications by the author and presents new and up-to-date material. The author continues to broaden and deepen traditional integration theory using a new model that incorporates market imperfections such as economies of scale, foreign direct investment and an evolutionary approach to the spatial location of firms and industries. This reflects modern approaches to trade, competition, investment and the geographical distribution of production. The main theoretical types of integration – free trade areas, customs unions, common markets and economic unions – are discussed in detail with the help of a number of practical examples. These considerations have a European slant as this is the area where economic integration has the deepest meaning and because the EU serves as a model for a number of integration groups elsewhere in the world. The book also covers integration in the Americas, the Pacific region, South-East Asia and Africa. The concluding chapter outlines the accumulated experiences of economic integration throughout the world and provides guidelines to assist in steering integration through the mist that obscures the future.
Providing an excellent understanding of the complex issues involved with international economic integration, this volume will be extremely valuable for students of international economics, development and international business.