Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More ASEAN Around the Horn

In this post I provide some ASEAN updates:

  • Sign-off of ASEAN-India FTA (AIFTA) chapters on services and investment was delayed yet again because the Indian commerce minister decided to deal with a domestic political issue rather than attend the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meeting in Naypyidaw this week.  The Indian government claims that this delay is merely a formality and that they will sign off during Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations later this year in New Delhi.  However, this represents yet another delay in the interminable efforts to add services and investment to the AIFTA (NB: India signed the agreement on September 8).
  • Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand launched the ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) Framework.  Under the framework, unit trust/mutual fund managers can offer their products to other participating ASEAN countries; their home countries are responsible for reviewing and regulating their operations and regulators from the other participating ASEAN countries are to recognize the approval by the home country regulator.  Hence the CIS framework is really a mutual recognition agreement. It does not provide for formalized cross-border cooperation in enforcement measures, such as to deal with fraud. A cooperative committee among the relevant regulators to deal with compliance and enforcement should be established, particularly given the potentially large investment amounts involved.
  • Malaysia announced that it would issue 5 year multiple-entry visas for investors by year end, as part of its efforts to improve the foreign investment climate in Malaysia.  Prime Minister Najib Razak also announced “My ASEAN Internship Programme,” an effort to place Malaysian students in internships in other ASEAN countries and vice versa.
  • New Zealand announced a new protocol to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA dealing with technical issues.   Trade Minister Tim Groser said “These changes relate to product-specific rules of origin, certificate of origin requirements, and the process for transposition of tariff reduction and origin schedules when the classification documents on which they are based are revised.”

I’ll have more on the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meeting as soon as possible.