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ASEAN and China Commence First Round of Talks to Enhance Bilateral Free Trade Agreement

by Surya Narayan
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The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have initiated the first stage of negotiations to improve the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA). The discussions aim to concentrate on areas that cater to mutual interests, such as the digital economy, green economy, non-tariff measures, consumer protection, and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), along with reorganizing the chapter structure of the ACFTA.

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported that during the meeting held last week, ASEAN member nations and China exchanged opinions and suggestions on components that could be integrated into the STRACAP (Upgraded AFCTA Structure) chapter. Both parties concurred to delve deeper into the dispute resolution process during subsequent negotiation rounds.

In addition, the two sides agreed to investigate technical aspects of Article 6.5, which deals with International Standards, Guides, and Recommendations within the ACFTA STRACAP chapter. ASEAN and China expressed hope that STRACAP-related negotiations will progress in the future and are prepared to collaborate closely to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

The report also mentioned that the second round of negotiations is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023 in China, adopting a hybrid format.

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