This chapter traces the evolution of economic integration in the Pacific region since 1800. Treating the economies of both sides of the Pacific as a single analytical unit is a relatively recent idea. In the late 1960s, Japan, Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries had various ideas for regional integration on the western side of the Pacific (through liberalisation measures such as the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and of barriers to capital flows), which had direct bearings on the economic integration of the entire Pacific region. By the mid-1980s there was a widespread notion (on various statistical and conceptual grounds) that the Pacific trade had become larger in volume than the Atlantic trade, and East Asia had become the centre of world economic growth. By the 1990s, the Pacific Rim (or basin) had emerged as the key category which captured the notion of the region as the driving force of the world economy, with several concrete expressions such as the establishment of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The contesting categories at that time were the model of the United States as the single hegemon and the notion of the tripartite engines of growth (United States, EC/EU and Japan).
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