After years in development, the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) came into force on Monday (17/5). The agreement's fundamental distinguishing feature is the schedule for progressively dismantling tariff and non-tariff structures placed on goods traded between ASEAN member states, with full implementation of tariff reductions by 2018.
Among other things, it also simplifies and standardizes customs procedures, promotes greater levels of communication and transparency between member states, and sets out rules of origin regime to govern all intra-ASEAN trade.
In short, the essence of the ATIGA integrates many of the critical features of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade: rules of origin, tariff and non-tariff policy, anti-dumping regulation, amendment procedures, and safeguard mechanisms, among others.
Additionally, the agreement integrates a host of previous ASEAN economic agreements already in place, including the ASEAN Agreement on Customs (1997), the Protocol Governing the Implementation of the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (2003), and the Agreement to Establish and Implement the ASEAN Single Window (2005).
Taken together, the effect is a streamlined, standardized ASEAN customs regime: all ASEAN member states will share a tariff classification system for goods, will use the same electronic Single Window system to register imports and exports with customs agencies, and will use the same customs procedures for the import and export of goods between ASEAN states.
The effect is tantamount to a single unified trade bloc, with reduced transaction costs, heightened efficiency, and greater transparency. Each member state is mandated to ratify the ATIGA into domestic law within a given timeframe; the original 6 member states - including Indonesia - are given 90 days from the time the agreement takes force, while Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar are given 180 days. The ratification will either take the form as a Presidential Regulation or Law.
Source: Hukumonline, 20 May 2010