ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Reduce trade barriers to build integrated ASEAN economy
THE Malaysian Prime Minister the day before yesterday urged ASEAN to continue listing out and removing ‘low-hanging fruits’ by the end of the post-2015 agenda.
In a press briefing held the end of the 27th ASEAN Summit 2015, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Hj Abdul Razak said more work needs to be done to reduce trade barriers and build an integrated regional economy.
“It is hoped that the economic ministers will try to reduce that (non-tariff measures and barriers) as much as possible...so we will get a sense of how much meaningful progress there is by the next ASEAN meeting,” he said.
He said launching the ASEAN Business Travel Card (ASEAN-BTC) should be prioritised to assist with the process of economic integration.
“It is time to list out those low-hanging fruits and get them solved by 2025,” he said
In its 2015 report to leaders, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) said the ASEAN-BTC will reduce cost for businesses as this will speed up the process for immigration clearances.
ASEAN BAC said the card can be modelled to the ones used by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) which allows cardholders visa-free entry and hastens immigration process through designated lanes in participating countries.
The APEC-BTC has contributed to an annual time-savings of 62,413 hours which is equivalent to US$1.9 million, said ASEAN BAC.
The APEC-BTC also helped reduce costs associated with application times by 43.3 per cent, immigration costs by 52.4 per cent and application fees by 27.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, on the progress of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said countries are working hard to conclude negotiations.
ASEAN leaders yesterday signed the ‘ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together’, a document which charts the path for ASEAN community building in the next 10 years, including the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Some of the elements listed under AEC 2025 include a business-friendly environment, improved connectivity and an economy that is integrated into the global economic system.
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