Trading blocs are relationships between countries, generally in the same region, to facilitate free trade agreements. Trading blocs include: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), European Union (EU), Mercado Comun del Sur (MERCOSUR), and Southern African Development Community (SADC). Southeast Asia has enjoyed unparalleled and astonishing economic growth in the past three decades since the establishment of ASEAN. In 1967, ASEAN's overall trade was worth $10 billion. In 2003, total trade reached a staggering $758 billion. In general terms, regional trade blocks are associations of nations at a governmental level to promote trade within the block and defend its members against global competition. Defense against global competition is obtained through established tariffs on goods produced by member states, import quotas, government subsidies, onerous bureaucratic import processes, and technical and other non-tariff barriers.
Since trade is not an isolated activity, member states within regional blocks also cooperate in economic, political, security, climatic, and other issues affecting the region.
In terms of their size and trade value, there are four major trade blocks and a larger number of blocks of regional importance.
The four major regional trade blocks are, as follows:
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)
Established on August 8, 1967, in Bangkok/Thailand.
Member States: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Goals: (1) Accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and (2) Promote regional peace and stability and adhere to United Nations Charter.
EU (European Union)
Founded in 1951 by six neighboring states as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Over time evolved into the European Economic Community, then the European Community and,...