The protocol was inked on the sidelines of the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting in Semarang, Central Java, which was organized under Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN.
Economic ministers from four ASEAN member states — Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore — along with their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand signed the protocol, which upgraded the original AANZFTA Agreement that came into force on January 1, 2010.
The rest of the ASEAN member states will sign the protocol in due course, according to a press release received from the ASEAN Secretariat on Monday.
The second protocol has been signed to demonstrate that the AANZFTA, which is the first region-to-region FTA for ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand, remains the gold standard of ASEAN’s free trade agreements, the statement said.
Under the second protocol, 13 chapters in the original AANZFTA, such the chapters on rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, investment, competition and consumer protection, and electronic commerce, have been upgraded.
Three new chapters, namely on government procurement, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and trade and sustainable development, have also been added, along with new provisions on education services under the chapter on trade in services.
This is the second time the AANZFTA is being amended since the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area was inked in Thailand in February 2009.
The first protocol, signed in August 2014, amended two chapters that covered trade in goods and rules of origin, as well as the annexes on the operational certification procedures to streamline the certification processes and support the movement of goods, besides product-specific rules (PSR).
The AANZFTA is a market of around 711 million people, which recorded a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$5.9 trillion as of April 2023, based on data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Economic Outlook.
Australia and New Zealand collectively form ASEAN's eighth-largest trading partners.
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