Negotiations to form the world’s largest trade bloc will start next April.
The proposed ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (ARCEP) would form a single market linking the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The market would cover three billion people and boast a combined gross domestic product of $15 trillion, $2 billion larger than the EU’s.
With cooperation expected to cover trade, investment, technology and infrastructure, ARCEP would build on existing FTAs between the ASEAN bloc and the six dialogue partners.
ARCEP negotiations will take place in parallel with efforts to complete preparations for the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
The AEC will create a single economic zone allowing the free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and capital across the 10 ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.