ASEAN assists Asia-Pacific's rise in intra-regional trading

According to Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation, the Asia-Pacific is on its way to become the world's most integrated trading region.

"Intra-regional trade accounts probably for as much as 50%-60% of the region's total imports and exports," he said, as quoted by The Australian.  "It  will increase further, not least because of the systems for trade integration in the region. You have ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum) and Trans-Pacific Partnership."

He said while the European Union had the highest level of intra-regional trade, only about 40% of North America's trade was intra-regional, 25% in South America and 10% in Africa.

The Geneva-based WTO recently published a study on regional and bilateral free-trade agreements and concluded that these trade pacts met the need to regulate global production. But it said the WTO's multilateral system also had a role in reducing the resulting complexity.

"We found that tariff and market access are not a problem," Mr Lamy said, "but they can create divergence in regulatory regimes. If I were a multinational company, what really matters to me is to have convergence. My objective would be to have as much as possible the same rules everywhere so that I can benefit from economy of scale."