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Strengthening Capacities of ASEAN Member States to Draft Negative List for Services Commitments

6 November 2019

November 2019 – A series of in-country technical assistance workshops on preparing negative list for schedules of commitments in trade in services have been successfully organized in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Thailand in October and November of 2019. Attending these workshops were more than 150 trade negotiators and domestic regulators from these four AMS who are directly involved in preparing the negative list schedules for their respective country. The technical assistance workshops aim to assist these officials with their preparation and negotiation of the negative list for their services commitments under the relevant trade agreements.

The negative list approach to scheduling services commitments differs substantially from the positive list approach to scheduling. These in-country technical assistance workshops were designed to provide participants a foundation of the key concepts and principles of the negative list approach and to build skills further  with ‘hands-on’ practical sessions, to equip the participants with the knowledge and confidence they need to draft and negotiate for a negative list, and in the meantime, to encourage whole-of-government coordination and consultation.

In his remarks, H.E. Rath Saravuth, General Director of International Trade, Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia stated that the transition of scheduling services commitments from positive to negative list approach is a big challenge to officials involved in the drafting and negotiation of the list, and that technical assistances are therefore necessary and appreciated. This view was also shared by Dr. Iskandar Panjaitan, Director of Trade in Services Negotiation, Ministry of Trade of Indonesia

“Laos has performed its obligations, as provided in specific services commitments, under AFAS through positive list schedules," noted Mr. Saysana Sayakone, Director General of Department of Foreign Trade Policy, Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR. "Scheduling our commitments following the negative list approach would promote further development on trade liberalization in the region”

These workshops were part of a pilot phase of the ‘Preparatory Work on Transitioning to Negative List’ project supported by the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP), organised by the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia, the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR, and the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand.
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