Liberalization of Trade in Services: Toward a Harmonized ASEAN++ FTA
The East Asian countries are seriously discussing the consolidation of ASEAN+1 FTAs to develop so-called ASEAN++ FTA or RCEP. The detailed analysis of services chapters in the existing ASEAN+1 FTAs gives insights to services trade liberalization in this new trade agreement. In order for ASEAN and its FTA partners to gain substantial new commitments that are genuinely "plus" to the existing trade pacts, both WTO GATS and ASEAN+1 FTAs, ASEAN++ countries should aim at an ambitious level of liberalization much higher than the AFAS package 5. Also, the detailed analysis suggests a policy option of narrowing the types of services trade limitations, i.e., focusing on three types of limitations and hence improving transparency. Furthermore, we advocate for the needs of prioritizing production-related services sectors in the negotiation. Beyond ASEAN++ FTA, we briefly explain the critical roles of domestic regulatory reform.