Two presumptions appear to underlie recent proposals for East Asian economic integration. The first is that economic integration is a good way to promote economic growth. The second is that preferential trade agreements (PTAs), particularly ones that go beyond goods trade, are an effective way to promote economic integration. Both these presumptions are empirical questions. In this paper, a partial evaluation of the evidence suggests caution. Even a broadranging PTA may do little to remove the important impediments to growth in the region. Far greater income gains would come from comprehensive reform of non-discriminatory impediments to competition, as part of a thorough-going programme of unilateral domestic regulatory reform. It may be time to rethink East Asian economic integration as a policy priority, or at least review the way in which it might be pursued.