Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011 ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting

This week, the ASEAN Economic Ministers met in Manado, Indonesia, for their annual review of economic matters in ASEAN, and in particular the progress with the AEC.  They were joined by senior economic officials from ASEAN, as well as ministerial level officials from ASEAN dialogue partners such as the United States and China.

Although there were many developments from the AEM meeting, a few key developments were related to the AEC:

  • The AEM conducted its first formal dialogue with the ASEAN business community, focusing on trade facilitation, standards and conformance, as well as customs procedures. The AEM endorsed the Rules of Procedures for Private Sector Engagement.
  • ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) tariff reduction schedules have been completed.
  •  Outreach to the private sector will intensify on non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the priority areas of electronics, textiles and automotive, in an effort to understand and overcome NTBs.
  • The ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) reservation lists will be completed soon, allowing the ACIA to enter into force by the end of 2011. 
  • Self-certification (e.g., the right of companies to submit their own Form D certificates of origin documentation instead of going to a governmental agency or designee to have such documentation issued) is currently undergoing a pilot program involving Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, with Thailand joining in October 2011.   Indonesia will join the program if the companies are pre-certified before joining up (although some complain that this requirement would be inconsistent with the intent behind self-certification). 
  • The self-certification pilot program, and the ASEAN Single Window pilot project involving Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are notable examples of the ASEAN-X formula for partial implementation of ASEAN measures by a sub-group of ASEAN members, as contemplated by Article 21.2 of the ASEAN Charter. 
  • A formal ASEAN Community Statistical System Committee was established to coordinate collection and reporting of ASEAN-wide economic statistics.
  • The ASEAN Industrial Cooperation Scheme (AICO) was terminated.  For more, see my eulogy to AICO
I’ll have more detailed analysis in future blog entries.