Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plan to further lower trade barriers and intensify their economic ties, while reducing business costs and building a larger market and economies of scale for regional businesses.
Trade delegations from the region gathered for the recent 27th Coordinating Committee on Implementation of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and related meetings to talk about trade cooperation, import-export policy improvement, creating a solid regional market, and reducing trade barriers.
Consultations and discussions focused on ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) enhancement, AHTN 2012 and 2017 issues, most-favored-nation treatment, sweet corn export barriers, and tariff rate quota elimination.
Participants also tackled the implementation of ASEAN sales certification, E-form D implementation through the ASEAN Single Window, ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU program, Laos’ export promotion to other CLMV nations, ASEAN Trade Repository/National Trade Repository, and non-tariff measures.
ASEAN member countries agreed on the need to work together to align their various procedures to enable easier trading within the 10-member bloc, noting that trade facilitation involves many aspects that have to be worked out.
They also saw the importance for ASEAN to decide on uniform standards that are acceptable to all countries, to enable a freer flow of goods and capital in the region.
The region likewise needs to improve the business environment and make it more conducive to competition, largely through improvement of member nations’ legislation on trade and investment.
To facilitate trade and investment in the region, ASEAN economic ministers have launched the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade, a business-friendly internet-based facility that receives and responds to complaints submitted by ASEAN-based businesses.
Also rolled out is the ASEAN Tariff Finder, a new practical tool for businesses, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises. This takes the form of a no-cost online search engine to obtain up-to-date facts on tariff-related information applied by ASEAN member states and their free trade agreement partners under the various ASEAN+1 FTAs.