Bangkok (United Nations Information Services)
- China has completed the formalities related to its accession
to the Bangkok Agreement one of Asias oldest regional
trading agreement (RTA) when it deposited the instrument of
ratification with the ESCAP secretariat at its the fifty-seventh
session of the Economic and Social Commission of the Asia and
Pacific (ESCAP), 23-25 April.
With Chinas accession, the Bangkok Agreement
becomes the largest RTA in the world in terms of market potential
with a combined population of member countries of more than
Head of the Chinese delegation and Assistant
Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Zhang Yesui expressed the hope
that Chinas accession "will bring fresh vitality
to the Bangkok Agreement so that it will play a greater role
in promoting regional economic and trade cooperation."
"The Bangkok Agreement is the first RTA
that China has joined leaving Japan as the only Asian economic
power that has yet to become a member of any formal regional
trading arrangements", said an ESCAP spokesman. Japan,
like China, is a member of the APEC, which is an open
arrangement, based on voluntary trade and economic liberalization
by members. The Bangkok Agreement on the other hand is a trading
arrangement based on the grant of tariff and other trade preferences
through formal negotiations of the same among member countries.
Under the Agreement, the member countries will
be able to export 634 products to China at concessional tariffs.
The margin of preference on those items, compared with Chinas
most-favoured-nation duty, ranges from 10 to 84 per cent. The
list of concessions under the agreement is expected to expand
substantially with the forthcoming Third Round of Negotiations.
Several interested countries of the region
have keenly watched the ratification by China, as it means that
members of the Agreement will have easier access to Chinas
huge market. The current members of the Agreement are the Republic
of Korea, India, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Sri
Lanka and Bangladesh.