In the aftermath of East Asia's spectacular economic collapse in mid-1997, even the most optimistic predictions gave at least a decade before Asia could fully recover. Although it was expected that the growing intra-Asian trade and demand from the European Union would help to fill the void, there was little doubt that Japan's recovery was crucial to the region's recovery. Most Asian countries experienced a sharp economic slowdown beginning in the last quarter of 2000. The problems of a deteriorating external environment due in large part to the downturn in the US economy were exacerbated by the September 11 terrorist attacks. The single greatest push for East Asian regionalism had been the Asian financial crisis. It was clear that the Asian governments agreed that they must reduce their dependence on the G-7 countries and multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
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