AANZFTA upgrade talks concluded

16/11/2022    191

Negotiations to upgrade an agreement to establish an Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) have reached "substantial conclusion," the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said on Sunday.

"AANZFTA is not only the first region-to-region free trade agreement for both Asean and CER (Australia and New Zealand) but also remains as Asean's most ambitious single undertaking since it embarked on an outward-looking economic regime aimed at integrating the Asean member states, individually and collectively, into the global economy," a joint statement issued at the end of the regional bloc's annual summit declared.

Asean is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Timor Leste is in line to become the 11th member, having been granted observer status last week.

CER, meanwhile, refers to the Closer Economic Relations free trade deal signed by Australia and New Zealand in 1983.

In the wake of the latest talks, ministers have been tasked to work on the signing of a Second Protocol next year to amend an earlier agreement to establish the free trade area.

Upgrade negotiations started in September 2020 and the first negotiating meeting was held in April last year even as the world was struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The substantial conclusion of the upgrade negotiations, even as the region continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, and multiple regional and global challenges, is a testament to the AANZFTA parties' resolve to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery...," the joint statement read.

Among others, new chapters on government procurement, micro, small and medium enterprises, and trade and sustainable development have been included.

"The upgraded AANZFTA will, among other benefits, accelerate supply chain integration and resilience; ensure the smooth flow of essential goods during periods of crises; deepen services and investment liberalization; and support electronic commerce and digital transformation," the joint statement read.

Source: The Manila Times

Click the link below to download the AANZFTA Upgrade Fact Sheet: