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China, ASEAN Sign Enhanced FTA

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

24 November 2015

A protocol to upgrade the free trade agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations was signed on November 22 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After the signing ceremony, Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said that completion of the FTA protocol, which amends several articles of the original agreement, including those relating to trade in goods and services and investment, "reflects the desire of the two sides to deepen and expand economic and trade cooperation."

According to Gao, total trade between China and ASEAN member countries increased from only USD54.8bn in 2002 to USD480.4bn in 2014. China is already ASEAN's largest trading partner, accounting for 14.5 percent of ASEAN's total trade, and ASEAN is China's third-largest. The two sides are targeting total trade of USD1 trillion by 2020.

The ASEAN-China FTA went into effect in 2010, and its enhancement was agreed after only four rounds of negotiations.

Gao also expressed the hope that the conclusion of the protocol will boost moves towards regional economic integration in the region, and in particular completion of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which involves ASEAN and its six current FTA partners – China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

TAGS: tax | free trade agreement (FTA) | Brunei | Burma | tariffs | China | Laos | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | agreements | Cambodia | Indonesia | Malaysia | trade | Vietnam | services

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