ASEAN re-affirm international economic ties

Azlan Othman

ASEAN economic ministers (AEM) re-affirmed economic ties with international and regional partners through a series of consultations via video conferencing on September 13 – 15.

The meetings were chaired by 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. The Sultanate was represented by Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin. ASEAN Secretary-General, Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi was also present.

Economic ministers from ASEAN member states deliberated with dialogue partners – Australia; New Zealand; the People’s Republic of China, the European Union (EU); Hong Kong, People’s Republic China; India; Japan; the Republic of Korea (ROK); Russia; Switzerland; United Kingdom (UK); the United States (US) – on the progress in economic cooperation and implementation on the various initiative, as well as exchanged views on the global and regional developments.

The meeting also discussed responses to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and paths towards economic recovery.

ASEAN-CHINA

The AEM and the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Commerce held their 20th consultation on September 13.

The meeting saw the exchange of views on ensuring the ASEAN–China trade and investment environment grow to be more conducive, open and inclusive.

Topics such as cooperation on low-carbon and circular economy; cross-border e-commerce and digital transformation of businesses; and exchanges among chambers of commerce
and enterprises were also discussed.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin during the video conference. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

ASEAN-REPUBLIC OF KOREA

The AEM and the ROK held their 18th consultation on September 13 where they discussed the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA) and its implementation report.

The possibility of upgrading the AKFTA in the context of the development of modern business practices, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, and the post COVID-19 pandemic recovery was also discussed.

ASEAN-SWITZERLAND

The AEM Troika held an open-ended dialogue with Switzerland’s trade minister on September 13.

The progress of the development of the Joint Declaration of Cooperation between ASEAN and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was discussed in the meeting, and concrete economic cooperation activities under the Practical Cooperation Areas 2022-2026 between ASEAN and Switzerland were identified.

ASEAN+3

On the 24th AEM-Plus Three Consultations on September 13, the the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Programme 2021-2022 was endorsed by the AEM and its partners.

The progress of implementation of the ASEAN Plus Three plan of action (APT POA) on mitigating the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was also brought up in the meeting.

ASEAN-US

The AEM and the US trade representative held consultations on September 14.

The progress of implementation of the 2020-2021 ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) Work Plan was discussed and endorsed during the meeting. Updates on the US-ASEAN Connect and the US’ technical assistance programme on “Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through Innovation, Trade, and E-Commerce (IGNITE)” were also brought up.

ASEAN-HONG KONG, CHINA

The AEM discussed the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Investment Agreement (AHKIA).

The proposal to expand the scope of the Economic and Technical Co-operation (ECOTECH) Work Programme and the progress of the implementation of projects under ECOTECH Work Programme were also endorsed by the AEM.

ASEAN-INDIA

The AEM and representatives from India spoke on the progress on the implementation of the ASEAN-India FTA, as well as on the progress of the ongoing discussions regarding the Scoping Paper of the Review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) on September 14.

Preparations for the 18th ASEAN-India Summit that will take place in October 2021 were also discussed.

ASEAN-EU

The AEM held their 17th consultation with the EU on September 14, and endorsed the ASEAN-EU Trade Programme 2021-2022.

There was also a progress report on the development of a Framework Setting out the Parameters of a Future ASEAN-EU FTA.

ASEAN-RUSSIA

The AEM held their 10th consultation with Russia on September 14 where the progress report on the implementation of the post-2017 ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Work Programme were discussed. The revised ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Roadmap and the ASEAN-Russia and Investment Work Programme for 2021-2025 were also endorsed during the meeting.

The progress of the current Programme of Cooperation between ASEAN and Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) for 2020-2025 was also discussed.

ASEAN-AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

The AEM held their 26th consultation with Australia and New Zealand on September 15 and welcomed the progress of the implementation and negotiations on the upgrade of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Agreement.

The importance of the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP) in supporting the implementing the AANZFTA agreement and its successor programme were discussed.

ASEAN-JAPAN

At the 27th AEM-Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan consultation on September 15, the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Joint Committee was discussed.

There was also a progress report on the ASEAN-Japan 10-Year Strategic Economic Partnership Cooperation Roadmap, including ASEAN-Japan economic cooperation 2020-2021.

The progress of the implementation of the ASEAN-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan, and the Dialogue for Innovative and Sustainable Growth (DISG) were discussed.

ASEAN-UK

The AEM held their first consultation with the UK on September 15. It is the first meeting between ASEAN and the UK since the UK officially became ASEAN’s dialogue partner on August 5.

Activities of the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) and the progress of the ASEAN-UK economic cooperation 2020-2021 were discussed.

The meeting also saw the endorsement the ASEAN-UK Joint Declaration on Future Economic Cooperation.