By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
ASEAN leaders have agreed to proceed with a 10-year strategy to increase regional economic cooperation, emphasising service liberalisation, lowering trade and investment barriers, and equalising product standards.
Under the new mission from early next year, Asean will draw up a concrete action plan to proceed with these strategies, while further liberalising trade, service and investment under the bloc’s existing trade pacts with China, Japan and South Korea.
After attending the 27th Asean Summit and related meetings on Saturday and Sunday in Malaysia, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said yesterday that Asean leaders had agreed on the AEC 2025 mission. This will cover economic cooperation between 2016 and 2025, with the aim of making the Asean Economic Community more efficient in driving the growth of each member state.
The Asean Economic Committee will discuss how to widen liberalisation of the service sector, which has an important role in the regional economy. The panel will also discuss ways to reduce and eliminate non-tariff barriers that have obstructed trade and investment growth.
Asean will also adjust product standards and regulations to facilitate trade growth as well as to strengthen MSMEs (medium, small and micro enterprises), and to promote innovation and digital technology.
The outline to the 10-year strategy is to be complete in the first quarter of next year.
Moreover, during the Asean-China meeting, both sides agreed to liberalise trade, services and investment further under the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement.
They will make rules of origin more flexible, as well as adjust customs procedures.
Asean and China will move on closer cooperation in various service businesses, including tourism, retail, construction, and environmental enterprises. The two sides will set up a “One Stop Investment Centre”.
Asean and Japan agreed to accelerate liberalisation of trade in services to promote businesses growth under the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Partnership Cooperation.
Service businesses that Japan will open up more for Asean are in the tourism, construction, environmental, financial and telecommunication sectors, while Thailand will liberalise computer, telecommunication, construction, environment, entertainment, cultural, and sports services for Japan.
Asean and South Korea also agreed to liberalise trade in goods, especially sensitive goods.