Regional Economic Cooperation
One of the most important developments in the world trade system in the 1990s has been the emergence of regional cooperation. The end of the Cold War reduced political tensions between countries in Asia as well as globalizing production processes and increasing vertical integration. Cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore have been lifting their populations out of poverty in part through cooperative arrangements with neighboring countries. Transnational economic zones have utilized the different endowments of the various countries of East Asia, exploiting cooperative trade and development opportunities. Transfer of technology and manufacturing between nations has allowed them to develop sequentially. Information technology has improved linkages between economies and put remote regions in contact with the world. The private sector provides capital for investment; the public sector provides infrastructure, fiscal incentives, and the administrative framework to attract industry. Regional cooperation is now considered the means of enhancing economic development and providing economic security within the regions. Trade among ASEAN members accounted for more than 23% of all trade by member nations in 1994, topping that of any of the group's major trading partners.
Singapore has concentrated on becoming the technology center for Southeast Asia, sending labor-intensive operations to low-cost neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia in special mutual cooperative trade and development arrangements known as growth triangles or growth polygons. The Southern Growth Triangle, also known as SIJORI (Singapore, the Johore state of Malaysia, and Riau Province of Indonesia), was formed in 1989 and covers a population of about 6 million people. It attracted $10 billion in private sector investments during its first five years. Such regional economic cooperation has occurred in other Asian regions as well, spurring economic development.