A Two-level-games Analysis of AFTA Agreements: What Caused ASEAN States to Move towards Economic Integration?

Yi-hung Chiou


The goal of this article is to investigate the conditions under which ASEAN states are more likely to pursue regional economic integration, namely, a series of ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreements/ protocols. Adopting Putnam’s two-level-games model, this article examines the influences of domestic politics, political elites’ preferences, economic performance, and external impacts. Through the construction of a set of hypotheses, this article investigates five AFTA agreements/ protocols and the conditions of ASEAN states during the 1992–2003 period. The findings indicate that political leaders’ preferences have played a pivotal role in the development of the AFTA. Economic performance and domestic support in individual states has also affected the AFTA. The close link between AFTA agreements and external impacts reveals that the AFTA’s inherent nature is defensive.

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