Chinese President Xi is opening up to more longer-term trade and import agreements, Li called the agreement a “victory for multilateralism and free trade.” Although China already has a number of bilateral trade agreements, this is the first time it has signed a regional multilateral trade pact. In order to encourage increased use of the CEPTAFTA system, a major transformation has also been adopted as an alternative rule for determining the origin of CEPT products. The CEPT Rules of Origin Task Force is currently working on key processing rules for certain product sectors, including wheat flour, iron and steel, and the eleven priority integration sectors covered by Bali Concord II. ASEAN exports increased their upward trend in the two years following the 1997-98 financial crisis and peaked in 2000, when total exports were valued at $408 billion. Following the fall in ASEAN exports to $366.8 billion in 2001 as a result of the economic slowdown in the United States and Europe and the recession in Japan, ASEAN exports recovered in 2002 to $380.2 billion. The upward trend in ASEAN-6 continued until the first two quarters of 2003. In the first two quarters of 2003, intra-ASEAN trade increased by 4.2% and 1.6% respectively in exports and imports. [Figures 2, 3 and 4] The new free trade bloc will be larger than the agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada and the European Union. Many Member States have already concluded free trade agreements, but there are restrictions. This new analysis proposes to examine two key areas, including port facilities and competitiveness in Internet services.
According to the report, reforms in these areas could increase ASEAN trade by 7.5% ($22 billion) and 5.7% ($17 billion). On the other hand, a reduction in tariffs on all ASEAN members on the South-East Asia regional average would increase intra-regional trade by about 2% ($6.3 billion).  The United States, the European Union and Japan remained ASEAN`s main export markets. Japan, followed by the United States and the EU, was ASEAN`s main source of imports. In the first half of 2002-03, ASEAN-6 trade with major markets increased by 11.71% for exports and 6.91% for imports.