Published on 08.09.2014
SINGAPORE — The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) has made further progress towards full economic integration, with new systems being worked out to create a more seamless customs procedure ahead of the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
In particular, customs procedures will be streamlined to help facilitate trade flows between the 10 ASEAN countries, said Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang at the ASEAN Business Club Forum today (Sept 8).
“(These initiatives) include a self-certification system, which will allow exporters to certify export documents on their own,” he said. “Another initiative that will reduce costs for businesses is the ASEAN Single Window… which will enable businesses to reduce cost and enjoy simpler and faster clearance of goods in ASEAN.”
The upcoming implementations will follow the cross-border and domestic policies already put in place as ASEAN gears up for AEC. Tariffs on goods have mostly been removed, with the core ASEAN-6 countries having eliminated 99.65 per cent of their tariff lines in 2010, while Thailand is preparing to align its regulations to comply with the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement.
With these concentrated efforts, “progress has been made towards the establishment of the AEC, with the implementation of 82.1 per cent of the 229 priority key deliverables filed for completion by 2013,” Myanmar’s Minister for National Planning and Economic Development Mr Kan Zaw said at the Forum. Myanmar is the current chairman of ASEAN.
But ASEAN must not limit its focus on just AEC, Minister Lim added, stressing that attention must also be given to pan-regional free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
TPP looks to create the world’s biggest FTA between 12 Asia Pacific countries, including parts of ASEAN, the US and Japan. RCEP will link ASEAN and its six existing FTA partners, including Australia and China. These agreements are being negotiated as the global economy increasingly looks for growth in Southeast Asia, which combines to the world’s 7th biggest economy with a US$2.3 trillion (S$2.9 trillion) GDP as of 2013.
“Together with TPP, the RCEP could provide a possible pathway to a free trade area of the Asia Pacific, which, if realised, would be an unprecedented boost to economic interconnectivity,” Mr Lim noted.