To improve knowledge on free trade agreements (FTA) and regional trade agreements (RTA) among members of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), the GTI Secretariat with the Ministry of Commerce of China (MofCom) and the China Association of International Trade (CAIT), organised the GTI Workshop on FTA/RTA Information Sharing on 25th October in Bo’ao. The workshop brought together relevant focal points for GTI member countries as well as academia and international organisations.

The discussion was opened by the Director of GTI Secretariat and the Vice Chairman of CAIT. Both emphasised the fruitful development of the GTI over the last 20 years but also highlighted the significance of setting-up a Northeast Asia (NEA) FTA – especially given the global trend of protectionism and unilateralism.

The first session gave an overview on current trends of regional economic cooperation. Experts pointed out the construction of border FTAs should be the focus of NEA FTA development. Given Mongolia as the only land-locked trade partner in GTI, Mongolian representatives highlighted the necessity of NEA regional cooperation for providing Mongolia the access to the sea trade.

In the second session, delegates from the four GTI member introduced their respective FTA policies and practice, along with the representative from Malaysia to share good experience from ASEAN aspect. Here, GIZ provided an expert input on “Regional Economic Integration Lessons from ASEAN” comparing the Southeast Asian model with further cooperation mechanisms in Europe and North America.

The following discussions elaborated on possible effects of FTAs in NEA region, showing challenges in developing a regional FTA in NEA. The representatives from RoK emphasised once more the vision of an inner Korean FTA as well as integrating the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) into a NEA FTA to Support a peacful economic development in the region.