There have been, arguably, too many regional free trade agreements (hereinafter ‘FTAs’ or ‘RTAs’) in Asia. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)–China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), albeit only half-materialized, is certainly one of these many that have caught most of the attention. Starting with a Framework Agreement signed in November 2002, it aims to create, by 2010, the third largest free trade area in the world after the EU and NAFTA. The parties have completed negotiations on trade in goods and services as well as on dispute resolution, and are now working on how to implement the FTA fully and tackle certain sensitive issues. There is already a growing body of literature on the economic and geopolitical dimensions of ACFTA even though discussions on its legal aspects are still in the nascent stage. This chapter is an attempt to explore the various legal issues concerning the ACFTA, including mainly:
(a) the tariff reduction arrangement under ACFTA;
(b) the investment;
(c) the services;
(d) some contentious trade law issues in ACFTA, including rules of origin and contingency protection policies;
(e) dispute settlement under ACFTA; and
(f) the legal nature of ACFTA and its impact on the legal relations concerning the rights and obligations of the parties under ACFTA.
Why are these issues important? The chapter starts with an introduction to the negotiations and conclusion of the relevant ACFTA instruments.