Natural trading partners versus empires in East and Southeast Asia regional integration (1840-1938). Articles uri icon



publication date

  • March 2022

start page

  • 101184-1

end page

  • 101184-1


  • 63

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0889-1583


  • The present article tries to contribute to the literature dealing with the history of regional integration in East and Southeast Asia, reconciling the arguments defending that those territories are natural trading partners, those supporting that Western Empires enabled integration, and the ones claiming that it was the Japanese Empire which expanded regional trade. With this purpose, we reconstruct the region's bilateral imports before the establishment of Free Trade Areas and pioneer the econometric analysis of the main drivers of the commercial integration of East and Southeast Asia as a whole during the high colonial era (1840-1938). Our results display that countries' specific economic and cultural characteristics made them natural trading partners. However, intra-Asian trade acceleration during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was possible by the British imperialism of free trade and Japanese planned industrialization