For the countries of south east Asia, achieving progress on intra-regional trade liberalisation has been a slow process and at times a politically difficult one. For investors in the region's automotive industry, there is a feeling that the lack of progress is impairing sensible development, forcing manufacturers to have fragmented operations and run plants below the most efficient volume levels. The economic crisis of recent times has diverted attention from the trade liberalisation issue, but this year has brought renewed sign of progress - albeit slow. Tony Pugliese reports.