Winner or loser? Indonesia and the ASEAN Economic Community

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This article explores the essence of economic integration in the ASEAN region to individual economies. The most interesting thing in this paper is that it takes the perspective of a weaker nation within a regional economic bloc. Though the author does not directly point out that Indonesia is a weaker economy compared to a number of other giant economies that form the ASEAN economic community, the direction of the analysis points to Indonesia as a disadvantaged economy when it comes to benefits from regional economic integration.

One of the issues that are brought out in the article is human capital mobility in the region, where Indonesia is at a disadvantaged position because most of the population is comprised of people who do not possess the skills of a high level. In such a situation, two scenarios that point to economic disadvantage come out. The first scenario is the high level of capital mobility in the country, where skilled labour from other countries flow into the country to fill the skilled labour gap, thence leaving most of the Indonesian population unemployed. The other possible scenario is the massive exodus of the population in other countries where they can acquire the skilled labour. The author fails to incorporate these two critical issues in the analysis. However, the author points to the need for clear policies that govern the mobility of human capital in the economic block as a way of cushioning weaker economies like Indonesia. Also, the author brings out an important concept of human capital mobility; casualization, which applies to the economies that portray low levels of skilled manpower within an economy that is highly integrated, such as the AEC.

The author presents a high level of analysis pointing to the sociopolitical and economic aspects of the countries in the region, relative to the pursuance of economic policies collectively. Two critical issues are brought out in the paper to support the assertion. The first thing is the operation of the AEC based on the philosophy of liberalization. The second thing is the existence of a wide variation in economic and sociopolitical development in the region, which points to losses for the countries that lie on the lower side of the economic and sociopolitical development ladder. Though the author does not point to the ‘how’, is it vital to note that he points to the need for the protection of weaker economies in the AEC as more policies of integration are pursued by the states that form the bloc (Sundari 2013). 

Sundari, EK 2013, ‘Winner or loser? Indonesia and the ASEAN economic community’, Strategic Review, viewed 13 February 2013, <http://www.sr-indonesia.com/web-exclusives/view/winner-or-loser-indonesia-and-the-asean-economic-community> 

Aga Rianta

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