Is it really different? Patterns of regionalization in the post-Soviet Central Asia
While the regional economic integration in the former Soviet Union turns out to be highly inefficient, there appears to be a stronger interest to the regionalism in smaller groups of more homogenous and geographically connected countries of the region, specifically, Central Asia. This paper attempts to understand whether the preconditions for the regional integration in Central Asia are indeed better than in the CIS in general. Using a new dataset of the System of Indicators of Eurasian Integration of the Eurasian Development Bank, it finds that although the economic links between the Central Asian countries are more pronounced than between that of the CIS in several key areas, this advantage has been disappearing fast over the last decade. In addition, the trend of economic integration of Central Asia seems to strongly correlate with that of the CIS in general, while Russia persists as the dominant gravitation pole for all of Central Asia. Currently Central Asia should be treated as a sub-region of the post-Soviet world rather than a definite integration region. On the other hand, however, we find that Kazakhstan emerges as a new center for regional integration, which can bear some potential for regionalism in Central Asia.
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