ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysians should not fear AEC 2015, says Mustapa
Malaysians should not be worried about the Asean Economic Community 2015 (AEC 2015) as its implementation is more towards benefitting the country and all liberalising measures are not done abruptly.
International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said the measures undertaken for the aim of a single market and production base had been carried out in the last 10 years.
"Next year is not a big deal really. 2015 is just the semi-completion of the AEC 2015.
"Although Malaysia will assume the chairman role for the community in January 2015, the heavy duties will only start in November next year," he said at the AEC Townhall Session with the media here today.
On advantages, he said, Malaysia was the top beneficiary of the 'open skies' policy given the nature of liberalising the region's air transport industry.
Mustapa said AirAsia, which has staff from all over the region, has been leveraging on this policy and was presently flying all over Asean countries.
The government aimed to push for 90 per cent implementation rate of the measures under the AEC Blueprint from the current over 80 per cent by focusing on three areas -- non-tariff barriers, youth and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
One of the pillars of the AEC 2015 is free flow of goods whereby member states were to eliminate import duties and remove all forms of non-tariff barriers.
"Todate, Customs import duties have been substantially eliminated and beginning next year, 97.3 per cent of the products traded in the region will be duty-free
"However, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are given flexibility to maintain duties between one and five per cent over tariff lines, which will be eliminated in January 2018, as they have only joined the community recently," he said.
Mustapa encouraged local companies, which already have presence in the region, to develop programmes to engage youths in the form of internships that were similar to a student exchange programme.
"This is happening but on a small scale. We need more of these as they are the best way to learn about a country and increase the youths' sense of belonging to Asean," he said.
On SMEs which have growing fear of going bankrupt as a result of the open market, he assured them the AEC would actually create market opportunities for them in Asean member states. (BERNAMA)
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