Speaking to Bernama about a Japanese proposed regional Free Trade Agreement, Dr Nam Viyaketh, the Laos Minister of Industry and Commerce, said:

The way to prevent economic hegemony and preventing rich countries from pressuring poor countries is through strong economic cooperation.

Bernama continues its brief report by paraphrasing the Minister’s strong backing for the Japanese deal.

It is sometimes worth reminding ourselves that New Mandala is trying to provide analysis of a region where Malaysia‘s official media so casually quotes a Lao minister about a proposed Japanese plan. Of course, any such agreement could end up involving many other countries.

For these reasons, New Mandala‘s mandate will increasingly and necessarily stretch far and wide.

From a different perspective, the possibilities of Free Trade Agreements and regional integration was recently and informatively canvassed by the Lowy Institute’s Dr Stephen Grenville. He provides more detail than Bernama. Read together, these two very different sources give us hints about possible future movements in the regional economic agenda.