Many Member States have already concluded free trade agreements, but there are restrictions. The EU also funds regional trade projects such as: in addition to the China-India free trade agreement, ASEAN also has a joint free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand, known as AANZFTA. The agreement, which will also be phased in, has eliminated tariffs on 67% of all products traded between regions and will be extended to 96% of all products by 2020. This is the first time ASEAN has entered into negotiations on a free trade agreement covering all sectors, including goods, services, investment and intellectual property rights, making it the most comprehensive trade agreement ever negotiated by ASEAN. For more details on this agreement, click here. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang celebrated the signing of the agreement in a speech at the summit, saying: „The signing of the RCEP is not only a milestone in East Asian regional cooperation, but also a victory for multilateralism and free trade.“ Under the RCEP, the parts of all Member States would be treated in the same way, which could encourage companies in RCEP countries to look for suppliers in the commercial region. Negotiations are also under way with Myanmar (Burma) for an investment protection agreement. ASEAN has a similar free trade agreement with India, which is being phased in and is reducing tariffs to 90% of all goods traded between ASEAN and India. In 2016, import and export duties on more than 4,000 products will be abolished. This will have a similar effect to that of the free trade agreement with China, as it opens the Indian consumer market to ASEAN manufactured goods.

Indeed, India has a considerable middle-class consumer market in its own right of about 250 million, although it is not expected to grow as rapidly in the short term as China. The ASEAN-India free trade agreement will also be extended to services, discussions are already at an advanced stage and a conclusion is expected before the end of the year. For more details on the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement, click here. Read also: Joe Biden is hardly the free trader that Asia hopes to see manage the AFTA, which is managed by the national customs and trade authorities of each ASEAN member. The ASEAN secretariat is authorized to monitor and ensure compliance with AFTA`s measures, but it does not have the legal authority to enforce them. This has led to inconsistent decisions taken by the ASEAN national authorities. The ASEAN Charter aims to strengthen the capacity of the ASEAN secretariat to ensure consistent implementation of AFTA`s measures.