Nowadays East Asian countries are busy pursuing and negotiating regional trade agreements, particularly in the form of free-trade agreements (FTAs), with their trading partners within and without the region. Even a few years ago, East Asia was a region characterized by the absence of regional trade arrangements, in contrast with Europe and North America. However, the scene has been changing very rapidly in recent years. The East Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 was a catalyst for this movement. Many countries became victims of the regional financial turbulence. In fact, the region as a whole felt a serious threat to its economic security and had a sense of powerlessness in coping with the ongoing crisis. East Asian heads of the state met together for the first time in history, in the name of the ASEAN+3 Summit, in 1997. Since then the summit has been held regularly and has adopted many measures to preempt the reemergence of a similar crisis. In this sense, the financial crisis was a turning point in the history of regional cooperation in East Asia.