ASEAN is committed to building an investment climate that is conducive for business. The goal of free flow of investment is one of the key elements characterising ASEAN’s economic community building effort. The enforcement of the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) on 29 March 2012 marked a key milestone in fulfilling this goal.
To date, ACIA is the primary regional investment framework in ASEAN. ACIA is comprehensive in scope, covering investment liberalisation, protection, facilitation, and promotion. It also embraces international best practice, hence, is comparable with other international investment agreements. ACIA builds and improves upon ASEAN’s previous region-wide investment frameworks: the 1987 ASEAN Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments and the 1998 Framework Agreement on the ASEAN Investment Area.
ACIA reaffirms the national treatment and most-favoured-nation treatment obligations and includes enhanced investment protection elements. It provides for the progressive liberalisation of investment in five main sectors: manufacturing, agriculture, fishery, forestry, mining and quarrying, and related services. Going forward, ASEAN may undertake to liberalise other investment sectors as may be agreed upon by the ASEAN Member States.
The implementation of ACIA does not exist in a vacuum. It is supported by other initiatives working towards the overarching goal of transforming ASEAN into a single investment destination. Supporting measures to facilitate an open and integrated investment regime in the ASEAN region include activities on – regional investment promotion through outbound investment missions and capacity building,
- regional networking and business linkages in the form of socialisation forums and seminars,
- regional harmonisation of best practice investment measures carried out through information exchange and undertaking analytical policy studies, and
- regional investment information and transparency initiatives through the development of knowledge portal (Invest in ASEAN) and publication and dissemination of knowledge resources (e.g. ASEAN Investment Report).