The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is a free trade area between the ten member states of the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the People`s Republic of China. Beijing: Thailand is advancing plans to improve economic cooperation with China and on Wednesday approved the comprehensive framework to strengthen the trade and economic partnership between the two countries and aims to double bilateral trade to reach $140 billion (4.59 trillion baht) by 2021. The Free Trade Agreement between China and Thailand was signed in June 2003 and came into force four months later in October 2003. This is an “early agreement on agricultural trade” in which the two countries opened their agricultural markets before the broader free trade agreement between China and ASEAN came into force in 2010. As part of the agreement, tariffs on 188 fruits and vegetables were reduced to zero overnight. The first RCEP proposed by China includes ASEAN member states and six Asia-Pacific countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. ASEAN has free trade agreements with the six countries in Asia and the Pacific. RCEP members worked on two parallel negotiations on market access for goods and services and a draft contract text, the official said. However, Thailand has said that the trade agreement is on track to be concluded, as it chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, and ideally ahead of a RCEP summit on 4 November.
ASEAN members together have a population of more than 650 million. Indonesia accounts for more than 40% of the region`s population and its population has been the most opposed to the agreement.   The framework agreement was signed on 4 November 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, by eleven heads of government. : Hassanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei Darussalam), Hun Sen (Prime Minister of Cambodia), Megawati Soekarnoputri (President of Indonesia), Bounnhang Vorachith (Prime Minister of Laos), Mahathir bin Mohamad (Prime Minister Minister of Malaysia), Than Sh (Prime Minister of Burma), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (President of the Philippines), Goh Chok Tong (Prime Minister of Singapore), Thaksin Shinawatra (Prime Minister of Thailand), Phan Ven Khi (Prime Minister of Vietnam) , Zhu Rongji (Prime Minister of the State Council of the People`s Republic of China).   BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand has a “good feeling” that a China-backed free trade pact for countries with nearly half the world`s population has been agreed this year after years of delay, a Thai official said on Friday. In the financial field, Thailand and China have agreed to encourage the use of baht and yuan in bilateral trade and investment transactions and to promote fintech. Changes to the free trade area framework mainly concerned Vietnam. These amendments were intended to help Vietnam reduce tariffs and were cited as guidelines.
 China first proposed the idea of a free trade area in November 2000. The leaders of ASEAN and China therefore decided to discuss economic integration measures in the region the following year In Brunei, they supported the creation of an ASEAN-China free trade area.  The free trade agreement reduced tariffs to 7,881 categories of goods, or 90% of goods imported to zero.  This reduction came into effect in China and in the original six ASEAN members: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The other four countries are expected to follow in 2015.  Negotiators from the 16 Nations-Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are in the Thai capital this week to try to complete the world`s largest free trade area with one-third of the world`s gross domestic product.