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15 August 2009

Six Asean members to kick off zero-tariff trade in 2010

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Ministers from six out of the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) agreed to start tariff-free trade from January 1, 2010, reported Malaysian news agency Bernama.

At the Asean Economic Ministers meeting in Bangkok, ministers from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the original signatories to the AFTA-CEPT (Asean Free Trade Agreement-Common Effective Preferential Tariff) agreement, said they would launch a complete Free Trade Area (FTA) the beginning of next year, but several issues related to non-tariff barriers remain to be solved.

Asean members have agreed to enact zero tariff rates on virtually all imports by 2010 for the original signatories, and 2015 for the CMLV (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam) countries.

In a related story, AFP reported that Thailand, annual chairman of Asean, is moving the venue of the regional summit in October away from the island of Phuket because it coincides with a religious festival.

The meeting of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and regional dialogue partners will now take place in the royal beach resort of Hua Hin, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said.

A meeting of Asian foreign ministers attended by US Secretary of State went ahead as planned in Phuket last month. The summit was meant to host the 10-nation Asean plus its dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea, and a wider grouping including Australia, India and New Zealand.



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