中国东盟法律合作中心

中国东盟法律合作中心

中国东盟法律合作中心

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 The History of AFTA

ASEAN Free Trade Area(AFTA) is a trade bloc agreement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations supporting local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries.
The AFTA agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore. When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. AFTA now comprises the ten countries of ASEAN. All the four latecomers were required to sign the AFTA agreement in order to join ASEAN, but were given longer time frames in which to meet AFTA's tariff reduction obligations.
The primary goals of AFTA seek to:
  • Increase ASEAN's competitive edge as a production base in the world market through the elimination, within ASEAN, of tariffs and non-tariff barriers; and
  • Attract more foreign direct investment to ASEAN.
The primary mechanism for achieving the goals given above is the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme, which established a schedule for phased initiated in 1992 with the self-described goal to increase the "region’s competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market".

 Administration

 

 Administration of AFTA is handled by the national customs and trade authorities in each ASEAN member. The ASEAN Secretariat has authority to monitor and ensure compliance with AFTA measures, but has no legal authority to enforce compliance. This has led to inconsistent rulings by ASEAN national authorities. The ASEAN Charter is intended to bolster the ASEAN Secretariat’s ability to ensure consistent application of AFTA measures.
ASEAN national authorities have also been traditionally reluctant to share or cede sovereignty to authorities from other ASEAN members (although ASEAN trade ministries routinely make cross-border visits to conduct on-site inspections in anti-dumping investigations). Unlike the EU or NAFTA, joint teams to ensure compliance and investigate non-compliance have not been widely used. Instead, ASEAN national authorities must rely on the review and analysis of other ASEAN national authorities to determine if AFTA measures such as rule of origin are being followed. Disagreements may result between the national authorities. Again, the ASEAN Secretariat may help mediate a dispute but has no legal authority to resolve it.
ASEAN has attempted to improve customs coordination through the implementation of the ASEAN Single Window project. The ASEAN Single Window would allow importers to submit all information related to the transaction to be entered electronically once. This information would then be shared with all other ASEAN national customs authorities.

 The Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme

Unlike the EU, AFTA does not apply a common external tariff on imported goods. Each ASEAN member may impose tariffs on goods entering from outside ASEAN based on its national schedules. However, for goods originating within ASEAN, ASEAN members are to apply a tariff rate of 0 to 5 percent (the more recent members of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, also known as CMLV countries, were given additional time to implement the reduced tariff rates). This is known as the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme.
ASEAN members have the option of excluding products from the CEPT in three cases: 1.) Temporary exclusions; 2.) Sensitive agricultural products; 3.) General exceptions. Temporary exclusions refer to products for which tariffs will ultimately be lowered to 0-5%, but which are being protected temporarily by a delay in tariff reductions.
Sensitive agricultural products include commodities such as rice. ASEAN members have until 2010 to reduce the tariff levels to 0-5%.
General exceptions refer to products which an ASEAN member deems necessary for the protection of national security, public morals, the protection of human, animal or plant life and health, and protection of articles of artistic, historic, or archaeological value. ASEAN members have agreed to enact zero tariff rates on virtually all imports by 2010 for the original signatories, and 2015 for the CMLV countries.
 

 

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