Coverage of Trade in Services under ASEAN+1 FTAs
This paper examines how ASEAN-centered free trade agreements (FTAs) or so-called ASEAN+1 FTAs are correlated among themselves and thus have the potential to be merged into one single commitment toward the establishment of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The "Coverage Index" defined in this paper highlights similarities and differences among the ASEAN+1 FTAs (i.e., ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services 8th package [AFAS-8], ASEAN-China Free Trade Area 2nd package [ACFTA-2], ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement [AANZFTA], and ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement [AKFTA]). It has been found that the degree of liberalization in terms of the Coverage Index is highest under AFAS-8, which could serve as the focal point for the convergence of the ASEAN+1 FTAs which are positively correlated with AFAS-8. Also, the ASEAN priority integration sectors are making progress (with the exception of transport-related sectors). While the Coverage Index shows rather low levels of commitment by the member countries, a feasible policy suggestion is to further prioritize the priority integration sectors, including transport-related sectors, for a seamless ASEAN Economic Community as well as for a well-connected RCEP.