On January 1, 2010, China and the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) finally, formally launched a China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that encompasses nearly two billion people engaged in trade worth some $200 billion. For China the agreement is a way of securing supplies of raw materials, while the ASEAN countries hope the agreement will open opportunities in China's huge domestic market. When CAFTA was first signed in November 2002, Beijing promised that Southeast Asia would reap an “early harvest” of its benefits. Yet the Southeast Asian response to CAFTA in the agreement’s first year has been less than enthusiastic, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia. Is CAFTA a bonanza? A blunder? Something in between? Prof. Mendoza will assess the agreement, its implementation, and the implications for China’s role and image in Southeast Asia going forward.
Amado M. Mendoza, Jr. is a leading policy scholar in the Philippines, where he also serves as the treasurer of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ESCR) Asia, Inc., an NGO dedicated to the promotion of socio-economic and cultural rights. He is the Philippines’ lead contributor to the soon-to-be-released 2010 Global Integrity Report on governance and corruption. Other subjects of his current research include Asian regional integration; Asian summitry and economic crisis management; Philippine economic diplomacy; and China-Taiwan relations within a regional context. In addition to his academic career, he has a background in journalism, banking, and development.