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The Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China (ACFTA Agreement) was signed in November 2002. The ACFTA agreement contained provisions on economic cooperation and areas of cooperation. In November 2015, as part of joint efforts to raise ASEAN-China relations to a higher level, the parties agreed to sign the protocol amending the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and certain agreements between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the People`s Republic of China (the Protocol). As part of the protocol, the parties agreed to review and implement, on the basis of mutual benefits, economic cooperation activities in the following areas: We also believe that the RCEP and the CPTPP together offset the global losses resulting from the trade war between the United States and China, but not for China and the United States. The new agreements will make the economies of North and Southeast Asia more efficient and combine their strengths in technology, production, agriculture and natural resources. In order to encourage increased use of the CEPTAFTA system, a major transformation has also been adopted as an alternative rule for determining the origin of CEPT products. The CEPT Rules of Origin Task Force is currently working on key processing rules for certain product sectors, including wheat flour, iron and steel, and the eleven priority integration sectors covered by Bali Concord II. ASEAN exports increased their upward trend in the two years following the 1997-98 financial crisis and peaked in 2000, when total exports were valued at $408 billion. Following the fall in ASEAN exports to $366.8 billion in 2001 as a result of the economic slowdown in the United States and Europe and the recession in Japan, ASEAN exports recovered in 2002 to $380.2 billion. The upward trend in ASEAN-6 continued until the first two quarters of 2003. In the first two quarters of 2003, intra-ASEAN trade increased by 4.2% and 1.6% respectively in exports and imports. [Figures 2, 3 and 4] The RCEP will also accelerate the economic integration of Innordostasia. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said last year that negotiations on the trilateral free trade agreement between China and South Korea and Japan, which have been stalled for many years, will begin "as soon as they are able to conclude the RCEP negotiations." As I said, in a high-level speech in early November, President Xi Jinping promised to "accelerate negotiations on an investment agreement between China and the EU and a free trade agreement between China and Japan and the United States." A second option for the United States is to be fully involved in regional economic networks, in addition to an active security role.

For example, the United States could join the CPTPP and support its rapid expansion to Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and the United Kingdom. U.S. markets and technology make these agreements attractive and could encourage China to join in the long term (we believe the benefits are significant if the group does). But current U.S. policy does not seem to support this approach. Negotiations are also under way with Myanmar (Burma) for an investment protection agreement. ASEAN national authorities are also traditionally reluctant to share or cede sovereignty to the authorities of other ASEAN members (although ASEAN trade ministries regularly conduct cross-border visits to conduct on-site checks as part of anti-dumping investigations).

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