Efforts to achieve regional economic integration are not new. The post-World War II era has witnessed the emergence and growing importance of regional economic groupings in many different parts of the world to overcome obstacles to international trade and to isolate the region from the fluctuations of the world economy. The process of regional economic cooperation was initiated by Western Europe in the late 1940s with the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community and subsequently to the Treaty of Rome in 1957 that established the European Economic Community (EEC). The formation of the EEC encouraged some other countries outside the EEC to form the European Free Trade Area (EFT A). The spectacular success of the EEC in the immediate aftermath provided an added impetus to the growing tide of regional integration. Accordingly, a large number of integration schemes, ranging from bilateral or multilateral agreements to sub-regional or regional cooperation, came into existence in different parts of the world.

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