ASEAN economic revival tops agenda

James Kon

Taking into account that the spread of COVID-19 has not yet subsided, a full-fledged recovery in the region will require continued unfaltering cooperation in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration agenda, particularly to look into immediate-to-long term goals of efforts to revive the ASEAN economy.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah shared the importance of ASEAN member countries working together in the revival of the region’s economy in his remarks as Chair of the 27th ASEAN Economic Ministers Retreat.

The retreat officially began via video conferencing yesterday, as the first meeting for the ASEAN Economic Ministers in 2021 under Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship.

ASEAN Economic Ministers from ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi attended the virtual meeting. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) .Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin represented Brunei Darussalam.

The two-day retreat will endorse Brunei Darussalam’s 10 Priority Economic Deliverables (PEDs) as ASEAN Chair for 2021 following the theme, ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin at the virtual meeting. PHOTO: MOFE

Divided into three strategic thrusts, the PEDs will focus on recovery in the region through initiatives such as streamlining non-tariff measures and investment facilitation, providing a recovery plan for ASEAN tourism sector, and open new market and partnership for ASEAN with the launch of the possible ASEAN-Canada FTA negotiations; digitalisation for a resilient ASEAN by focussing on the work in providing a safe, secure and harmonised e-commerce environment and digital ecosystem.

This includes initiatives such as the ASEAN Agreement on E-Commerce and a regional action plan in the area of cyberspace; and sustainability efforts towards advancing an inclusive and sustainable economic growth through initiatives such as support and guidance for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), development of a regional framework for Circular Economy and cooperation in sustainable energy transitions.

The meeting will also discuss and provide guidance on the post COVID-19 recovery efforts in the region including initiatives implemented under ASEAN, Comprehensive Recovery Framework; progress under the ASEAN Economic Community including 2021 priorities of sectoral bodies under the purview of AEM and the Post 2025 Vision for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC); ASEAN external economic relations including progress in ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement as well as status of the review on ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA).

During the Consultation with ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), the ASEAN-BAC, led by Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasra Haji Abdul Rahman as ASEAN-BAC Chair briefed the ministers on the priorities and initiatives for 2021.

Among the priorities for this year are: a legacy project called ‘Harnessing Impact for Resilient Employability Digitally (HIRED)’ and action lines that would contribute to the economic recovery in the region.

The 27th AEM Retreat was preceded by the Preparatory Senior Economic Officials Meeting (Prep-SEOM) on March 1. The meeting was chaired by Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin; and attended by all senior economic officials of ASEAN member states, officials from the ASEAN Secretariat and officers from the Trade Division at the Ministry of Finance and Economy.