Upgraded protocol to further tap opportunities of China-ASEAN FTA: Singapore scholar
4 Nov 2019


The upgraded protocol will further explore the opportunities of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), said Gu Qingyang, an associate professor of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore.


Gu made the remarks in a recent interview with Xinhua shortly after the upgraded protocol of CAFTA was fully implemented among all its members on Oct. 22, adding that it will benefit all the peoples and enterprises among its members in areas including trade, investment and industry cooperation.


"This implementation comes at a high time against the backdrop that trade protectionism has hindered the world economy to climb out of sluggishness," he pointed out.


For example, Singapore, as an ASEAN member, could witness a continued growth in its goods trade volume with China after the implementation, which would lead to more closed bilateral collaboration between Singapore and China, according to Gu.


In his opinion, Singapore could take full advantage of its financial, legal and patent services as well as education and training sectors, and further consolidate these industries.


Moreover, he expressed belief that more Singaporean and Chinese enterprises would be keen to invest in each other, as limitations on investment among the CAFTA members have been diminished under the framework of the upgraded protocol. In this regard, Singapore can bring into fuller play its role as a bridge between China and other ASEAN members, he added.


On a broader horizon, Gu noted that the economies of China and ASEAN countries are highly complementary, which explains for itself the intense market connectivity of China and ASEAN members and robust growth in trade between them over the years. Now China stands as ASEAN's largest trading partner while ASEAN is China's second largest trading partner.


The upgraded protocol has made some adjustments in order to solve the problems cropped up earlier in the economic and trade cooperation between China and other CAFTA members, showing more flexibility in defining countries of origin, further improving trade facilitation and lowering the thresholds for investment and service trades, Gu said.


The CAFTA upgraded protocol is the outcome of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area upgrade negotiation. The protocol was officially signed on Nov. 22, 2015, while CAFTA was firstly set up in 2010.


The upgrading will herald new growth in fields like finance, logistics, tourism and communications among the CAFTA members, he concluded.


Source: Belt & Road Portal