Lorenzo di Masi reveals a unique approach to free trade agreements negotiation by ASEAN and China

In his chapter “SPS, Public Health, and Environmental Provisions in East Asia RTAs: ASEAN and China” in the book “China´s Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law”, the author Lorenzo di Masi scrutinizes the free trade agreements – mainly Regional Free Trade Agreements and Preferential Trade Agreements – concluded by ASEAN Countries and China. The unique nature of this kind of agreements rests in the fact that their provisions have a tendency to go beyond the standards set for the multilateral trade agreements concluded under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. For this reason, they include arrangements shaping the relationships between the parties to the agreements in a special manner. Lorenzo di Masi pays attention to the particularities of the process of concluding the agreements by each of the respective parties as well as to ascertain characteristic elements of their content. Consequently, he analyses the agreements from the perspective of public health and environmental protection. Even though both of the scrutinized parties stem from the same region, the analysis of their free trade agreements unveils slightly different motivations pursued by the parties. While the agreements concluded by China unveil the motivation to strengthen China´s economic leverage, improve its position within the World Trade Organization and contribute to China´s economic growth, the agreements concluded and negotiated by ASEAN attempts – apart from the economic motivations – also to enhance the socio-economic development of the States united in ASEAN. The differences regarding the focus of these two kinds of free trade agreements have influence also on the different degree of importance they attribute to public health-related and environmental concerns. For instance, the agreements concluded by ASEAN Countries reveal a higher liberalization in the area of health-related services in comparison to the free trade agreements concluded by China, which pay less attention to these issues. Interestingly enough, environmental concerns have found their place also in free trade agreements concluded by China, which might be attributed to the relatively high importance of environmental protection and environmental concerns in China. Lorenzo di Masi invites the readers to learn more about this topic in his chapter.