ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
New system eyed to promote cross border trading in ASEAN
A SYSTEM to help identify remaining challenges for an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be implemented next year to promote cross-border trading, a senior American diplomat said the day before yesterday.
In a telephone press briefing with regional media, Nina Hachigian, US Ambassador to ASEAN, said private companies will be able to use the system to lodge their complaint to the ASEAN Secretariat on their experiences of doing business across borders.
“It is a way of finding out where the remaining challenges are in terms of non-tariff barriers,” she said in response to a question on the role of the US in the post-2015 agenda for the AEC.
“At the broadest level, US companies are the largest investors in ASEAN and so we have a big stake in how the AEC moves forward. This year is an important milestone for the AEC but everybody understands that it is an ongoing process,” she said.
She said ASEAN has made progress with relation to the AEC which aims for a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, equitable economic development and integration in the global economy by 2015.
“I don’t think anyone in the early 90s would’ve predicted that ASEAN was going to become a tariff-free community for goods...which is almost down to zero so that is impressive,” she said.
She said the US, which invested in the ASEAN Single Window to facilitate free flow of goods across borders, will continue to work in the region through programmes that will train small business owners and help in the harmonisation of regional standards.
She cited a partnership with the US-ASEAN Business Council which has trained about 3,500 small business owners in various skills.
“For this year, we’ll be starting a programme on e-commerce with many of the participants being women,” she said.
During the 27th ASEAN Summit 2015, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Hj Abdul Razak, Malaysia Prime Minister, urged member countries to remove ‘low hanging fruits’ to expedite the process for a more 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 at the end of the summit in Kuala Lumpur.
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