AECSP Supports the AANZFTA Upgrade—Capacitating ASEAN Member States to Transition to Negative List Commitments31 May 2022
Jakarta, 31 May 2022—A total of 231 officials from ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) countries have participated in training and targeted dialogues on ASEAN’s Transition to Negative Listing for Services Commitments—part of a project that is supported by the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP).
The project supports the upgrade of AANZFTA by building the capacity of ASEAN Members States (AMS) to draft, negotiate, and implement negative list commitments. The project successfully delivered a regional refresher training to over 150 Participants from ten AMS and additional tailored Targeted Dialogues—to examine priority issues in detail—with 81 officials from two AMS (the Philippines and Thailand). The training and dialogues combined an examination of fundamental principles and issues with real-world examples and practical ‘hands-on’ exercises.
Beyond this training, the project supports the ongoing work of AMS to transition to the negative list approach through a revised and expanded version of the Best Practice Guidelines for Preparing a Negative List—a reference document produced during a pilot phase of the project in 2020, also made possible by the AECSP. These Guidelines provide a practical, comprehensive guide to drafting negative list reservations and translating positive list to negative list commitments.
Prewprae Chumrum, Director, Bureau of Trade in Services and Investment Negotiations, Department of Trade Negotiations, Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, mentioned in her opening remarks of a regional refresher training that ‘the Negative list approach is not something new among ASEAN Member states because in ATISA (ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement) and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement, we have obligations to transpose our commitments from the positive list into the negative listing approach, especially on non-conforming measures (NCM), which is very well known for its transparency and business friendliness.’
‘However, a number of ASEAN countries, including Thailand, are not familiar with or get used to making the schedule in a negative listing approach. Therefore, the knowledge of the negative list approach and NCM is very important,’ she added.
Melisa Jane B. Comafay, Director IV, Professional Regulation Commission of the Philippines, commented on the targeted dialogue session, ‘It is great to have this training which has definitely helped our knowledge of the issues. However, should it be possible to have the meeting in person, it would be more productive to have everyone in a room more free to discuss. Online still limits the free flow of questions, etc. Also, to have more time to conduct exercises, especially in our specific sectors, the questions are more dynamic and useful.”
In positive-list commitments, only the listed sectors/subsectors are committed to being open to foreign service suppliers and the non-listed subsectors are not committed. On the contrary, in negative list commitments, all subsectors are committed except those that are listed in the commitments.
The project was led by the ASEAN Secretariat with the support of the AANZFTA Support Unit and an external consultant, aiming to promote the ongoing implementation and upgrade of AANZFTA—target for completion by September 2022.
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