It is now a common phenomenon that rubber produced on plantations of Thailand are processed into tires at Chinese mainland workshops, which are sold to Europe and the United States via Hong Kong.
Multinationals have helped form links for industrial division by way of building up procurement centers, research and development centers and production bases beyond the national or regional borders, which has led to increased trade and exchange of visits within Asia, and increasingly closer economic relations and cooperation among Asian countries and regions.
The fact that multinationals are playing an important role in advancing economic integration in Asia is universally acknowledged by participants attending the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).
Long Yongtu, secretary-general of the BFA, said because of the market forces, the economies in Asia are more closely linked than ever before, wherein multinationals have played an irreplaceable role.
As a matter of fact, governments of Asian countries and regions are more active in promoting the economic integration in Asia in the 21st century due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the worry of being marginalized by economic cooperation organizations from other continents.
Up to now, a number of organizations assigned with the mission to step up regional economic cooperation among Asian countries and regions have set up, including the 10+3 cooperation mechanism among ASEAN, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the East Asian Economic Conference.
Notable progress has been made in fields of trade liberalization, financial cooperation among Asian countries and regions. In November 2002, for instance, the then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and leaders of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries signed in Phnom Penh of Cambodia a landmark framework agreement on enhancing full-range economic cooperation, marking the beginning of setting up a China-ASEAN free trade zone.
Asian countries and regions have carried out wide cooperation in aspects such as establishment of a financial rescue mechanism and supervision over flow of short-term capital. Eleven central banks from East Asia and the Pacific Region announced on June 2003 that they would pump up US$1 billion of capital to start up the Asian Bond Fund.
Economic integration has made Asian countries and regions depend more on each other's markets.
Again China, for example, has been actively participating in the economic globalization and has attracted over US$500 billion of international capital in the past 25 years. Large number of multinationals have established bases for production and marketing in China, greatly promoting development of manufacturing sector and logistics in the country.
The volume of trade between China and other major economies of Asia has been rising steadily. Among China's top 10 trade partners for last year, 7 are its neighboring countries and regions.
Along with growing dependence on each other's market among Asian countries and regions, an economic organization that can be matched with European Union and North American Free Trade Zone will soon take shape in Asia, analysts say.
(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2004)