|ASEAN - China Free Trade Agreement
The 'Framework Agreement on ASEAN-China Comprehensive Economic Cooperation' was signed by ASEAN and China on November 4, 2002 to serve as the structure and mechanism for negotiations to establish a free trade area covering trade in goods, services, and investment, as well as to effect various measures for economic cooperation between China and ASAEN. (see Details of the agreement)Subsequently, an 'Agreement on Trade in Goods of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation between the ASEAN and China' was successfully negotiated and was signed on November 29, 2004, during the ASEAN - China Summit meeting in Vientiane, Lao PRD.
Liberalization of Trade in Goods
Liberalization of trade in goods is divided into two categories : those under the Early Harvest Program (providing for immediate reduction or elimination of tariffs for certain goods), and goods that will come under the comprehensive reduction or elimination of tariffs.
- Tariff reduction under the Early Harvest Program covers agricultural goods in the customs tariff schedule codes 01 through 08 (live animals, meat and other edible animal parts, fish products, dairy products, fowl eggs, live trees, vegetables and fruit, and edible nuts), as well as specific products agreed upon by two countries (for example, Thailand and China have agreed to accelerate tariff reduction on two addition products, anthracite and coal residue). China and six founding member countries of ASEAN (namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) implemented tariff reductions on January 1, 2004, with tariffs to be eliminated completely by January 1, 2006. The timeframe and schedule for elimination of tariffs by the four newer member countries of ASEAN (Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia) is extended to 2010. (see details of items and tariff reduction schedule under the Early Harvest Program) Tariff rates of those items under quotas, such as onions and garlic, are to be reduced only within the quota quantities.
Because Thailand and China perceived the potential for trade in goods under the customs tariff schedule codes 07 and 08, embracing fruits and vegetables lines of products, (See details of Fruits and vegetables) the two countries, on June 18, 2003, signed an 'Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on Accelerated Tariff Elimination under the Early Harvest Programme of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China, which eliminated tariffs on all items under these categories as of October 1, 2003. (See details of the agreement on tariff elimination of fruit and vegetables). Singapore subsequently signed this agreement as well.
- Reduction of Tariff on General Goods ( See details of the agreement on trade in goods between ASEAN and China). Two tracks have been established for trade in goods, a 'normal track' under which tariffs will finally be completely eliminated, and a 'sensitive track', which sets a more detailed and long-term schedule of tariff reduction and elimination for goods to be safeguarded.
* The Normal Track: The TIG Agreement specifies that duties greater than 20% on goods be reduced to 20% by January 1, 2005, and duties less than 20% on goods be progressively reduced, with duties on all goods under this track to be eliminated completely to 0% within 5 years (by January 1, 2010), with the exception of 150 items for which the timeframe for complete elimination of tariffs is extended to 2012. (See details of items from Thailand under this track ||details of items receiving extension). In addition, the percentage of goods bearing duties of 0%-5% shall be increased from 40% in 2005 to 60% by 2007.
* The Sensitive Track: No more than 400 items comprising not more than 10% of the value of all goods imported from China by respective ASEAN countries are to be included in the sensitive list, with a reduction of duties on these goods to 20 % by 2012, and final rates of 0%-5% by 2018. It was also agreed that goods in the highly sensitive list should comprise no more than 100 items or 40% of goods in the sensitive list, whichever is less, with the reduction of tariffs on these items to 50% by 2015. (See the Thai schedule for tariff reduction of sensitive items)
Goods covered under the ASEAN-China FTA Agreement must adhere to the agreed-upon 'Rules of Origins' criteria, with some goods comprised of materials wholly obtained within the producing country, and other products consisting of local content at least 40% of their value. 'Local content' here includes the value of materials obtained from all ASEAN member countries. (See details of Country of Origin of Goods produced in ASEAN-China) Additionally, ASEAN and China have set Product Specific Rules (PSR) for some products to enjoy the advantages of tariff reduction under ASEAN - China FTA as well. (See list of Goods under Product Specific Rules)
At the same time, both parties have agreed to undertake measures to safeguard domestic industries in each country from negative impacts of trade liberalization between ASEAN and China, such as a flood of imports that injures domestic products and industry, through an increase in duties on those products to equal the WTO member (MFN) rate in effect at the time. This measure would remain in effect for 5 years following implementation of the reduction or exemption on duties under the Agreement. In addition, ASEAN and China have reached an agreement on dispute settlement mechanism acting as a provision of the Free Trade Agreement. (See details of the Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the People's Republic of China)
Liberalization of Trade in Services
On January 14, 2007, in Cebu City, Philippines, ASEAN and China signed an agreement relating to Trade in Services (See details) along with provisions for liberalizing trade in services of Group 1, covering private sector businesses in all areas with the exception of government services and government procurement. A table exhibiting liberalization phases of each country appears in the schedule of commitments and appended to the agreement. Thailand has offered provisions that are consistent with the current Foreign Business Act that governs the conducting of foreign owned businesses in Thailand; i.e., the permission for individuals from China and ASEAN member countries to hold more than 49% share in business ventures, along with conditions attached to specific professions as designated by the professional associations.
Provision for Liberalization of the Initial Group of Service Activities
- The members of ASEAN, including Thailand, have offered liberalization provisions beyond those stipulated under WTO trade liberalization conventions, but less than those granted among the ASEAN group itself. Provisions made by Thailand that offer greater advantages than those under WTO commitments incorporate service activities in the areas of professions, education, health, tourism, and maritime transportation. (See details of Thai Commitments)
- China has offered provisions beyond those obligated under WTO conventions in the areas of computers, realty, land transportation, and other service businesses. (See details of Chinese Commitments)
- ASEAN and China are now in the process of negotiating the second group of service activities, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
Negotiations relating to Investment
are currently in progress; however, an accord has not yet been reached in a number of issues, and discussions are yet to be concluded.
China and ASEAN, including Thailand, have agreed to undertake economic cooperation in five areas, namely agriculture, information technology, human resource development, and development of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), as well as cooperation in customs issues, intellectual property protection, establishment of a center for facilitation and promotion of trade and investment, Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA), implementation of plans with the framework of Greater Mekong Sub-region cooperation, and assistance to the newer members of ASEAN.
In 2012, ASEAN and China convened 2 meetings of the ASEAN-China FTA Joint Committee (ACFTA-JC). These included the 1st ACFTA JC during 12-14 March 2012 and the 2nd ACFTA JC during 22-24 October 2012. At these meetings, Thailand, by the Department of Trade Negotiations, pushed forward the successful implement of the following tasks:
(1) Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation between ASEAN and China
ASEAN and China concluded the negotiations on the 3rd Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China to transform the institutional mechanism for implementation from the ASEAN-China Trade Negotiating Committee into the ASEAN-China FTA Joint Committee (ACFTA-JC). ACFTA-JC, hence, has been vested the authority to be a legal body to oversee the negotiations and monitor the implementation of all elements contained in the Framework Agreement.
(2) Trade in Goods
ASEAN and China concluded the negotiations on the Protocol to Incorporate the Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures into the Agreement of Trade in Goods under the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation between ASEAN and China. At present, ASEAN and China are preparing the chapter on customs procedure and trade facilitation and reviewing Rules of Origin with a view to modernizing the rules and making them more business-friendly.
(3) Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China
ASEAN and China have concluded the negotiations on the second package of services liberalization, and the Protocol on Enforcement of the Second Package of Specific Commitments under the Agreement of Trade in Services of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area entered into force on 1 January 2012.
On 19 November 2012, the Economic Ministers of ASEAN and China jointly signed two important documents, namely, 1) Protocol to incorporate Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures into the Agreement on Trade in Goods of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-Operation between the Association of Southeast ASIAN Nations and The People’s Republic of Chinas and 2) Third Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-Operation between the Association of Southeast ASIAN Nations and the People’s Republic of China to give a legal status to the Joint Committee (JC). Both protocols would enter into force on 1 January 2013. Additionally, both sides reviewed the progress of liberalization under the services and investment agreement.
The Department of Trade Negotiations hosted the 4th Meeting of the ASEAN-China FTA Joint Committee (ACFTA-JC) during 5-7 November 2013 in Bangkok. The meeting discussed the implementation of the Agreement on Trade in Goods. Issues discussed were, among others, review of the Sensitive List and the transposition of HS 2007 into HS 2012. To this end, Thailand informed the meeting that it had ratified both documents since 7 February 2013 to help facilitate the flow of trade between ASEAN and China.
ASEAN and China jointly organized the AEM Road Show to China during 21-26 October 2013. In this regard, Minister of Commerce (H.E. Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan) and Deputy Minister of Commerce (H.E. Yanong Phuangrach), as Thailand representatives, joined the ASEAN Economic Ministers in a mission to Chengdu, China. They paid a visit to Chengdu Tianfu Software Park, joined the Opening Ceremony of the Western China International Forum and attended the ASEAN-China Trade and Investment Forum.
After the conclusion of the ASEAN-China Trade and Investment Forum, they group went on to visit te Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai Free Trade Zone and Shanghai General Motors Corporation Limited. ASEAN Economic Ministers also made a courtesy call on the Chinese Premier (HE> Li Keqiang) and Vice Premier (H.E. WangYang) and Minister of Commerce (H.E. Gao Hucheng) to discuss ways and mean to enhance flows of trade and investment between ASEAN and China. Minister of Commerce (H.E. Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan), as ASEAN’s representative, delivered his remark and expressed the gratitude to the Chinese government for the successful arrangement of the AEM Road Show to China and gave opportunities for ASEAN to meet and disseminate to Chinese investors from each city visited the information on ASEAN’s trade and investment policies as well as the progress of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. These sessions helped to facilitate the utilization of the AEC by potential Chinese investors and enhance flow of FDI from China info ASEAN. The particular sectors that the Chinese investors were interested in the most were infrastructure and clean energy.
ASEAN and Chiba were strongly confident that trade and investment targets set forth earlier would soon be accomplished. It was expected that the bilateral trade would increase by 500,000 million USD in 2015 and 1,000,000 million USD in 2020 while the volume of investment was expected to reach 150,000 million USD in the next 8 years.
Thailand, as the ASEAN’s coordinator for China, expressed the readiness to bring the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement to the higher plan to foster the even closer and stronger trade and investment linkage between ASEAN and China.
Summary of Links in this Document
The ASEAN-China Framework Agreement
Items and tariff reduction schedule under the Early Harvest Program
Agricultural goods under the Customs Code 07-08 (Fruits and Vegetables)
Agreement on Accelerated Tariff Reduction on Fruits and Vegetables
Agreement on Trade in Goods between ASEAN and Thailand
Items from Thailand under the 'Normal Track'
Thai Schedule for tariff Reduction of Sensitive Goods
Rules of Origin of Goods produced in ASEAN - China
Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the People's Republic of China
Schedule of Tariff Reduction between China and Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand
Schedule of Tariff Reduction between China and Other Countries under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement
Product Specific Rule for Goods
Format of Tariff Reduction and Elimination under the 'Normal Track' for Member Countries of ASEAN and China
Tariff Reduction Schedule
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