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ASEAN Economic Community On Track For 2015

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

29 February 2012

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers, at the conclusion of their meeting in Myanmar, noted the developments in the implementation of various initiatives aimed at establishing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Firstly, the ministers resolved to further intensify efforts in facilitating trade, services, and investment within ASEAN, and to address seriously the impediments to market access of goods and services to ensure that ASEAN moves toward one integrated market.

Since the adoption of the AEC blueprint in November 2007, significant progress has been made towards achieving the AEC. Tariffs within ASEAN have reduced to zero on 99.65% of the traded tariff lines for the ASEAN-6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) and 98.86% for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The ministers - based on feedback from the business sector - unanimously agreed it was now time to look into impediments to trade at and behind the border. It was said that the only way to tackle those issues was through better engagement with the business sector. The ministers are also to call on all ASEAN-based organizations to be proactive in raising concerns.

Secondly, the ministers provided strategic guidance in the development of the ASEAN framework on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to take ASEAN to the next level of engagement with its free trade agreement (FTA) partners, the so-called ASEAN ‘Plus One’ FTAs, for example, with India, China and South Korea.

Conscious of the need to act fast to keep pace with regional developments, the ministers agreed to establish working groups on trade in goods, services and investment as soon as possible, to look into various aspects of the RCEP.

TAGS: tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | Brunei | Burma | tariffs | Laos | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | agreements | Cambodia | Indonesia | Malaysia | trade | Vietnam | services

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