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|4 January 2010
Asean 6 kick off zero-tariff scheme on 8,000 products
Six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) took a step closer to the establishment of a single market in the region as they stopped collecting import duties on thousands of products shipped across their borders, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei scrapped collections on 7,881 tariff lines starting January 1.
According to the Asean Secretariat, affected tariff lines include final consumer products such as air conditioners, chili, fish and soya sauces, as well as intermediate materials, such as motorcycle parts and motor car cylinders.
Other products include mechanical appliances and prepared foodstuff, as well as those belonging to the iron and steel, plastics, machinery, chemicals, paper, cement, ceramic and glass sectors.
With the latest move, a total of 54,457 tariff lines may be transported across the six country’s borders at zero tariff.
The number represents 99.11 percent of all tariff lines listed under the Common Effective Preferential Tariffs for the Asean Free Trade Area.
The CEPT-AFTA provides for the gradual reduction in tariffs of these products, which started in 1993.
With the latest round of tariff reduction, the average tariff rate for the six countries—referred to as the Asean 6—is expected to further decrease from 0.79 percent in 2009 to 0.05 percent this year.
The remaining four Asean countries that are not affected in the tariff reduction—Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam—have been given leeway and need not break down trade barriers right away since they are newer members and have less developed economies.
Under the CEPT-AFTA schedule for tariff reduction, the four countries may undertake similar moves by 2015.
Latest data from the Asean Secretariat showed that in 2008, intra-Asean import value of commodities covered by the 7,881 tariff lines amounted to $22.66 billion, or about 12 percent of the Asean-6’s total imports from within Asean.
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