Brunei proposes 10 economic priorities as ASEAN Chair

Rokiah Mahmud

Brunei Darussalam proposed 10 Priority Economic Deliverables (PEDs) under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Pillar during the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) Retreat 2021 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) yesterday.

The video conference was chaired by Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin, joined by ASEAN Senior Economic Officials and other representatives of the ASEAN member states.

The meeting marked the first of SEOM meetings to be chaired by the Sultanate as the 2021 Chair of ASEAN.

The proposed PEDs, following the theme ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’, are divided into three strategic thrust – recovery, digitalisation and sustainability.

Under the recovery thrust, the proposal aims to ensure the region’s recovery post COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on clarifying rules on non-tariff measures and the facilitation of investments into the region.

Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin during the virtual meeting. PHOTO: MUIZ MATDANI

The proposal looks into the development of a recovery roadmap for the tourism sector as guidance in the preparation of a comprehensive and coordinated plan and solutions; as well as to open new markets and partnerships for ASEAN, particularly with the launch of negotiations for a possible ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement.

Under the digitalisation thrust, it focusses on fostering a resilient ASEAN through leveraging on new technologies to provide a safe, secure, and harmonised e-commerce environment and digital ecosystem within the region.

Meanwhile, the sustainability thrust aimed to advance an inclusive and sustainable economic growth in ASEAN with a focus on ensuring the provision of guidance and support to micro, medium and cooperation in the area of minerals.

The permanent secretary welcomed SEOM leaders and officials for joining the meeting where it is Brunei’s turn to continue the process of advancing the economic integration agenda and recovery in the region. “It is hoped that Brunei can continue the momentum and carry on the efforts that have been done by Vietnam as the previous ASEAN Chair,” she said.

The meeting discussed the Annual Priorities 2021 under the SEOM’s purview; SEOM Work Programme for 2021, updates of the works of economic officials in Jakarta; and proposed economic meetings throughout the year.

Following the closing of the ASEAN SEOM Retreat, the first official SEOM and Related Meetings under Brunei as ASEAN Chairmanship is expected to take place virtually from January 20 to 28.