Sunday, April 12, 2020

ASEAN Further Enhances the EDSM

Hi folks!

I am back temporarily to let you know that my new article, "ASEAN Further Enhances Its Dispute Settlement Mechanism" has just been published by the Indonesian Journal of International and Comparative Law.  You can find it at

Here's the abstract for the article:

In 2019, ASEAN completed a further “enhancement” of the Enhance Dispute Settlement Mechanism (EDSM). On their face, the 2019 revisions do indeed “enhance” the EDSM by eliminating structural problems such as impractical timelines and by bolstering previously underdeveloped systems such as appellate procedures, creation of arbitration panels and rules of conduct for panelists. This will help give the revised EDSM more credibility. 

Ultimately, however, whether the updated EDSM will be viewed as more credible, thereby strengthening the AEC, will depend on factors beyond its remit. Cultural and political factors in ASEAN will determine to what extent the updated EDSM is used by the ASEAN Member States. Moreover, the relative decline of alternative dispute forums, in particular the WTO, may make the updated EDSM more attractive to ASEAN Member States. Either way, the 2019 revisions in the EDSM are both welcome and timely reinforcements to the legal and policy foundations of the AEC.

Please keep safe and healthy during this difficult time!

Best Regards,


Monday, September 2, 2019

Status of this Blog

For various professional and personal reasons, I have not been updating this blog.  I am maintaining it to support academic research on ASEAN.  If you wish to contact me about ASEAN issues, please email me at

Wishing you all the best,


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wrap-up of the 31st ASEAN Summit

In today’s post, I provide a wrap-up on last week’s ASEAN Summit.  Given the focus of this blog, I will not analyze issues (such as the South China Sea) which have been well covered elsewhere. Instead, I review some institutional developments:

New ASEAN Secretary-GeneralLim Jock Hoi of Brunei was named the next ASEAN Secretary-General. Lim will serve during the 2018-2022 term (this post is rotated among the ASEAN countries based on alphabetical order, so the next Secretary General will be from Cambodia).   This is a positive development for the AEC, as Lim has deep experience in trade and investment issues, having served as Brunei’s chief negotiator during the Trans Pacific Partnership talks.  By my reckoning, Lim has the most experience in regional economic integration of any Secretary General.

ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA (AHKFTA) – ASEAN and Hong Kong signed their FTA.  With ratification not expected to be an issue, the AHKFTA will take effect before the completion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks (which have again missed a self-imposed deadline for completion).  The real value-added for the AHKFTA is in investment and services, as virtually all goods coming out of Hong Kong have China-origin and thus already qualify for the ASEAN-China FTA.  Rather, the AHKFTA will give Hong Kong companies better access and protection for investments and services, meaning that Chinese companies can use Hong Kong for their investment vehicles rather than an ASEAN country or China itself.  This may mean some small market share loss in investments for Singapore, particularly in the Philippines and perhaps northern Vietnam (due to distance and stronger links) but overall both ASEAN and Hong Kong will benefit from the FTA.

Timor-Leste – The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Aurelio Guterres was in Manila representing Timor-Leste instead of the Timorese president.  However, this was not a downgrading by ASEAN but instead resulted from internal protocol issues in Timor-Leste (and Guterres, whom I know from the Diplomatic Institute and the National University of Timor-Leste, represented the country well). The ASEAN Summit did not issue any finding on Timor-Leste’s application to join ASEAN, referring the matter to the working group that meets on December 5 in Bali. Hopefully the Bali meeting will be the end of the beginning for the Timorese accession to ASEAN.

I will update this post as more documentation comes out.