PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2013, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (7): 1082-1091.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2013.07.011

• Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Implication of regionalism and regional integration under the global shift

WANG Jue1,2, CHEN Wen1   

  1. 1. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2013-03-01 Revised:2013-05-01 Online:2013-07-25 Published:2013-07-25

Abstract: As one of the important paradigms for regional cooperation, regional integration has been receiving extensive attention from scholars, especially in the field of geography. In today’s globalizing world, regional integration is one of the driving forces that reshape the world’s politics and economies. Especially, a considerable amount of research interest has been focused on how the emergence of regional integration after the World War Ⅱ has affected, and will continue to affect, the global economy. However, it is widely accepted that regionalism is not just a recent phenomenon. There have arisen at least four waves of regionalism since the 19th century, along with the trend of globalization. The first wave occurred during the second half of the 19th century and was characterized by colonization. After World War Ⅱ, regionalism demonstrated some new traits and began to pave a peaceful path. Soon after that, a plethora of regional trade blocs formed against the backdrop of the Cold War. With the advent of the 21th century, the most recent wave of regionalism has arisen in a more globalized context than the earlier ones. Because the current regionalism creates the new forms of regional organization, co-existing with traditional forms of state-led governance at the national level, not only the forces driving the current regionalism but also the context and features of the new regional integration are radically different. Consequently, with the“new regionalism”wave, regional integration has become a multidimensional process with implications for bilateral/multilateral trade liberalization as well as the dimensions of politics, security, culture and institutions. In the meantime, theoretical framework used to analyze the political and economic impact of the implementation of regional integration have been systematically improved; new regionalism, new economic geographies and new institutional economics have been introduced to the analysis of regional governance, spatial equilibrium and institutional construction of regional cooperation. This transformation greatly contributes to diversification of the implications of regional integration, including its agents, content of cooperation and organizational mechanism. Nevertheless, there are some issues to be further studied in future. Based on the development process of regional integration, this paper first differentiates regional integration from other related concepts, and then reviews the developmental path of regionalism in the context of globalization in which regionalism has gone through four stages. At last, by summarizing important economic and political theories about regional integration in the literature, which provide reference and inspiration for the regional study, this paper makes a brief comment on the strengths or weaknesses of those established theories, and raises several questions for the current research on regional integration.

Key words: globalization, regional integration, regionalism, review