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ASEAN Welcomes Regional Trade Liberalization

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

29 April 2015

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) welcomed the progress made towards the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) during their 26th Summit in Malaysia on April 27.

It was noted that the current rate of implementation of the 506 measures within the AEC Scorecard targeted for ASEAN-wide implementation over the period 2008-2015 now stands at 90.5 percent. The leaders were therefore generally satisfied with the progress, which "is sending a strong signal that the region is moving forward as an economic community by January 1, 2016."

ASEAN-6 countries – comprising Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – eliminated tariffs on 99.65 percent of tariff lines in 2010. Under the AEC plan, ASEAN's newer members – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam – also reduced tariffs on 98.86 percent of their tariff lines to the zero-to-five percent tariff range by the same year, and were expected to eliminate tariffs on these goods by 2015.

The leaders welcomed the confirmed cancellation of those tariffs by the four countries on January 1, 2015. It was said that the elimination of import duties on most of their remaining tariff lines by 2018 "will further contribute to the development of a more integrated regional market."

They were also pleased at the progress being made in negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – between the ASEAN and China, South Korea, India, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, its single free trade agreement partners – and "urged all parties to intensify efforts with the aim of concluding negotiations by end-2015."

TAGS: tax | free trade agreement (FTA) | Brunei | Burma | India | tariffs | trade treaty | Australia | China | Laos | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | agreements | Cambodia | Indonesia | Korea, South | Malaysia | New Zealand | import duty | trade | Japan | Vietnam

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