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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    30 August  2012

Asean to resolve trade issues with Japan, India


Asean needs to resolve trade and investment issues as it embarks on a regional comprehensive economic partnership, secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan says.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of Asean economic ministers, Surin told The Cambodia Herald that such a partnership "will certainly be helpful" to Asean.

He said, however, that Asean had "left over issues" with its dialogue partners, "particularly Japan in services and in investment and India in services and investment.

"We would like to get on with the negotiations so we can go into the regional architecture, which is expected to be launched at the end of this year, with a clean plate.
"We will do our best in order to finish our left over issues, particularly with the two partners Japan and India."

The former Thai foreign minister said Asean was also discussing how to improve the intellectual property environment to promote protection and technology transfers.

"More and more our exports are exported with intellectual property content. We certainly would like to make it competitive, make our region more creative and more innovative," he said.

Asean's discussions with the director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation this week are "very important," he said.

Surin also highlighted the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in Asean, which he said accounted for an estimated 90 to 95 per cent of regional economic activities.

"They are very important in generating employment. They are important in contributing to the GDP. Twenty per cent of our exports are from SMEs," he said.

"Asean integration will also need SMEs crossing borders to invest in each other. The trade between and among among ourselves is only 25 per cent of our total trade. So SMEs certainly can increase that percentage. Their participation and enthusiasm in understanding the process of the economic community development is extremely important."

Regarding the establishment of the Asean Economic Community by 2015, "everything is on course," Surin said. "We will have to accelerate a bit more. So far we have achieved almost 72 or 73 per cent of all major instruments we need in order to form the economic community."

But "we also have to go into the actual implementation of these agreements," he said. "That's when all these member states have to look inside and coordinate among their own agencies, work with their own legislatures in order to come up with enabling legislation and translating what ever we have agreed on at the regional level down to the implementation at the member states level.

"There is a challenge there," the secretary general said "That is the challenge in every integration grouping anywhere in the world, translating the regional goals down to national implementation and legislation."

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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