Kyodo | August 28, 2008
ASEAN concludes FTA with Australia, New Zealand
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SINGAPORE, Aug. 28 (Kyodo) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations concluded Thursday a free trade accord with Australia and New Zealand that will link up the 10-member grouping with the latter’s free trade pact, the sides said.
"The Ministers welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand," for the free trade pact, they said in a statement after a meeting of economic ministers from the sides on the fringe of the annual ASEAN economic ministers meeting in Singapore.
They plan to have the accord, which they have been negotiating since 2003, signed during the ASEAN leaders’ summit in Bangkok in December.
It is expected to "pave the way to enhancing the region’s economic integration and acting as an impetus to deepen and broaden the trade and investment among the twelve participating countries," the statement said.
The accord will encompass trade in goods, investment, trade in services, financial services, telecommunications, electronic commerce, movement of natural persons, intellectual property, competition policy and economic cooperation.
Two-way trade between the sides jumped 17 percent from $41 billion in 2006 to $47.8 billion last year. Direct investment from Australia and New Zealand into ASEAN has also surged to $1.1 billion last year.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.