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Liberalization of Trade in Services under ASEAN+n: A Mapping Exercise

By Hikari Ishido


This study maps out the degree of liberalization of trade in services under four ASEAN+n frameworks. After constructing a database showing the existence of limitations on market access and/or national treatment by each service sector, the study finds that the commitment level differs greatly between sensitive and less sensitive sectors, and that the commitment level under the ASEAN Framework Agreement (AFAS) is the highest among the four FTAs studied. It also finds that there are cross-country and sector-wide similarities in the pattern of service sector commitment under and across each of the FTAs; this implies that the shared domestic sensitivities can be overcome by a shared economic cooperation scheme for enhancing competitiveness (through FTA provisions). The study further highlights that, overall, Mode 4 (movement of people) gains least commitment, whereas Mode 2 (consumption abroad) gains most commitment under all the four FTAs studied. Turning to policy implications, there are two possibilities on the sequence of further streamlining the four FTAs: (1)Start within the same “clusters” among similarly committed countries under a particular FTA; then harmonize the level of commitments across all the signatory countries to the FTA; or (2) Start with harmonizing rather dissimilar countries from different “clusters” of commitments under a particular FTA, which provides small-scale “social experimenting”; then scale up this line of effort at an acceptably later stage to the level of the whole FTA, then eventually attempt to harmonize across all the FTAs centering on ASEAN. Further study along these lines is needed.

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