By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order modifying import duty rates of certain products in line with the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian (Asean)-Hong Kong, China free trade agreement (AHKFTA).
Duterte signed Executive Order 102 on January 10, but a copy of the document was released to media on Monday.
EO 102 notes that AHKFTA will “strengthen the economic partnerships between the Asean member states and Hong Kong, China, serve as an important building block towards regional economic integration, and support sustainable economic development.”
“The commitment under the AHKFTA to reduce tariffs and eliminate Customs duties will enhance trade and investment between the Parties to the Agreement,” the EO read.
Under the AHKFTA, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand will eliminate customs duties on 85 percent of products traded with Hong Kong within 10 years and reduce another 10 percent of tariff lines within 14 years, according to a press statement on the Asean website.
Indonesia and Vietnam will eliminate customs duties for 75 percent of their products within 10 years, and reduce another 10 percent of tariff lines within 14 years.
Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar will eliminate customs duties for 65 percent of their products within 15 years and reduce another 20 percent of tariff lines within 20 years.
Hong Kong and Singapore will grant tariff-free access and will bind their customs duties at zero tariffs upon entry into force of the agreement.
The AHKFTA contains 14 chapters covering broad areas of market access liberalization, trade facilitation, rules to promote confidence in trade, and cooperation aimed at facilitating trade in goods and services in the region.
It is Asean’s sixth free trade agreement with external partners, after China, Korea, Japan, India, and Australia-New Zealand,
The Philippines signed the AHKFTA on November 12, 2017, at the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Leaders Summit in Manila.
However, the signatures of all Asean member states were completed on March 28, 2018 n Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
It was ratified by Duterte on January 4, 2019.
Other Asean members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (PNA)