It is not expected to go all the way to the European Union for the integration of Member States, but to build on existing free trade agreements. The ASEAN bloc has largely eliminated all import and export taxes on goods traded between them, with the exception of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, which continue to impose nominal duties on certain items. But these will also be fully lifted on 31 December 2015, so that the entire region will be duty-free from that date. The AFTA agreement was signed in Singapore on 28 January 1992. When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined the country in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. The AFTA now includes the ten ASEAN countries. The four laggards had to sign the AFTA agreement for ASEAN membership, but were given longer delays in complying with THE AFTA tariff reduction obligations. Read also: Joe Biden is hardly the free trader on which Sichch hopes that RCEP will also accelerate economic integration in Northeast Asia. 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.” The agreement excludes the United States, which withdrew from an Asia-Pacific trade pact in 2017. ASEAN members have the option of excluding CEPT products in three cases: 1) Temporary exclusions 2.) Sensitive agricultural products 3.) General exceptions. Temporary exclusions relate to products for which tariffs are ultimately reduced to 0-5%, but which are temporarily protected by a delay in tariff reductions.
The RCEP agreement is flexible enough to meet the needs of different countries as diverse as Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Unlike the CPTPP and the EU, it does not create uniform standards for work and the environment or obliges countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.