General Issues and Regional Groups
Elgar original reference
Edited by Miroslav N. Jovanović
Regional economic integration has the potential to complement national development strategies and to address some of the longstanding structural weaknesses of many developing and least-developed countries. UNCTAD research shows that integration – when implemented within a broader development strategy that promotes economic and trade diversification, structural changes and technological development – may enhance productive capacities, realise economies of scale, help to promote technology transfer, create new markets and improve competitiveness. Through the development of regional trade integration, firms can boost their competitiveness and diversify export markets. Regional economic integration can, therefore, be a launch pad for the effective participation of developing countries in the global economy.1 These days, regionalism has forcefully returned to the forefront of attention. One reason for this has been the slow progress in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations that has led countries to increasingly pursue regional agendas. However, the benefits of regional integration cut deeper than this – as is clear by the evidence linking regional integration with economic growth and poverty reduction. One thinks in particular of the experience of economic and political integration in Europe; and of the differences in economic performances of the Asian region, where regional trade accounts for a very high proportion of total trade and economic growth has been rapid, compared to some countries in Africa, where regional trade accounts for less than 10 per cent and growth has been slow or even stagnant. Trade is essential for regional integration and cooperation to support the development policy agenda, and it has...