Bye bye Britain?
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To Asian leaders who have looked to the European Union as a forerunner in economic integration, Britain's vote to exit the bloc comes as a stunning disappointment.
"The EU is the foremost example of regional integration. This seems to now [be] threatened," Ong Keng Yong, a former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, told the Nikkei Asian Review.
The U.K. may have voted to exit the EU, throwing markets into in a tizzy, but Asia should come through this episode with only a few scratches. The trade exposure to the U.K. is minimal for most Asian economies. The risks to direct bank financing from U.K. financial institutions appear manageable. The impact of currency swings -- in particular a stronger yen -- are harder to judge, tightening financial conditions for emerging markets in the region.
A generation or two ago, university courses in Southeast Asia compared the fledgling cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Europe's impressive integration. Southeast Asia's aspirational regionalism then was inspired and informed by Europe's methodical climb from a postwar customs union to an expanded "single market" and eventually a full-fledged political and economic entity with collective security and defense policies, relatively borderless populations and a single currency.