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Book Chapter: Building Towards the RCEP? Reflections on the ASEAN-China FTA

26 November 2019

By Jayne He


A recent book chapter authored by Co-director of the Herbert Smith Freehills China International Business and Economic Law (CIBEL) Centre Associate Professor Heng Wang studied the legal issues related to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a major mega-regional trade agreement that is expected to be signed next year.

This chapter, titled “Building Towards the RCEP? Reflections on the ASEAN-China FTA” analyses the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and examined how it could impact the RCEP by looking into the questions: what is the approach of the ACFTA? What are the implications of the ACFTA for the RCEP? What national implementation issues are involved with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)? 

With the ASEAN has increased importance on the global economy, it is useful to study the ACFTA as an important external FTA of the ASEAN that has a great significance to both the ASEAN and China. 

Associate Professor Wang argued that on the one hand, “the ACFTA adopts a more flexible approach than China’s other FTAs”. On the other hand, its implementation has faced a number of challenges as the level of implementation varies among the individual ASEAN countries. The scenario of the ACFTA is markedly different from that of the RCEP.

Associate Professor Wang noted that the ACFTA would increasingly interact with other agreements like the RCEP and the ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA (AHKFTA). It would be worth studying the evolution of the ASEAN law from a global perspective, and also the development of the ACFTA and its interaction with other agreements. 

He further shared his opinions on the RCEP in recent interviews with SBS Mandarin and the South China Morning Post, where he analysed the possible impact RCEP may bring to its member countries, especially China and Australia.

This book chapter has been published in the book “ASEAN Law in the New Regional Economic Order: Global Trends and Shifting Paradigms” co-edited by Associate Professor Pasha L Hsieh of the Singapore Management University and Professor Bryan Mercurio of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published with the Cambridge University Press in August 2019. A preprint of this book chapter is available for download on SSRN.

More of Associate Professor Wang’s research may be found at ResearchGate, SSRN, Twitter @HengWANG_law, and LinkedIn.