Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Interconnectivity to Unlock ASEAN’s Vast Growth Potential

The World Economic Forum on East Asia was held from 5-7 June 2013 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. At this event, ASEAN business and leaders emphasized the need for greater connectivity and regulatory harmonization to unlock ASEAN's vast growth potential. Key ways to achieving a more integrated and efficient ASEAN include: streamlining regional export and import processes, creating a body solely responsible for boosting supply chain competitiveness; and improving regulatory harmony. Boosting regional supply chains are also viewed as important to generate necessary capital to fund critical infrastructure. Further, the forum viewed ASEAN disparities in wealth as the region's weakness as well as its biggest strength, as it allows companies to be more selective about where they set up production bases and focus on value added across the region.
Source: World Economic Forum


More Import Restrictions towards AEC 2015

Subsequent to the House of Representatives concerns over the impact of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) establishment to Indonesia, government is currently drafting various policies to promote and protect domestic products (including by imposing more import restrictions). According to Edy Putra Irawady (Deputy for Industry & Trade, Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs), ASEAN Member States have different strategies in strengthening domestic economies towards AEC establishment. For example: Malaysia focus on improving its service sector, Thailand focus on its custom zone, Singapore continues advancing its high technology, and Philippines concentrating to develop its SMEs further. Indonesia strategy will focus on export promotion. Therefore, government will also simplify bureaucratic process for businesses.



ACIA Guidebook for Business & Investors

ASEAN launched a guidebook for potential business and investors to better understand the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA). The launching was conducted during Forum on ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement - Transforming Investment in ASEAN through ACIA (ACIA Forum) in Kuala Lumpur, March 21st. The ACIA Guidebook highlights the most salient provisions of ACIA from a doing business perspective, and the way in which ACIA improved the earlier ASEAN investment instruments. Further, it also shed light on the potential benefits and opportunities for business.

Source: ASEAN Secretariat


ASEAN and Belgium Work Closely to Enhance Relations

JAKARTA, 22 March 2013 - H.E. Filip Cumps, Ambassador of Belgium to ASEAN, presented his Letter of Credentials to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh, at the ASEAN Secretariat this week. Ambassador Cumps expressed his gratitude to ASEAN and its Member States for accepting him as the new Ambassador of Belgium to ASEAN.

On this occasion, SG Minh noted with pleasure the progress made in ASEAN Community building and stressed that much work remain to be done for ASEAN to attain this goal. SG Minh therefore encouraged Belgium to support and contribute further to the common endeavours and looked forward to exploring opportunities for cooperation with Belgium, especially in ASEAN's efforts in narrowing the development gaps.

Ambassador Cumps, who is concurrently the Ambassador of Belgium to Indonesia, expressed his readiness to working closely with ASEAN in enhancing the relations with Belgium and the EU.


On Track and Keeping Pace: Narrowing the Development Gap is Essential to ASEAN Integration

JAKARTA, 22 March 2013 - Growth forecasts for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV) over the medium term is expected to be between 6-7%, outperforming economies of the ASEAN-6 countries according to the OECD Southeast Asian Outlook 2013: Narrowing the Development Gap. Growth momentum remains robust and should pave the way for the CLMV countries to pull within the ranks of the other Member States.

At the inaugural NDG (Narrowing the development gap) Lecture Series, organised at the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the OECD Development Centre, speakers from the OECD Development Centre, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia and the ASEAN Secretariat tackled policy issues facing growth in the CLMV countries.

"Disparities need to be examined beyond income level differences and also directed towards areas where gaps are largest, such as poverty and human capital development", says Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre based on the latest report of the Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013.

According to the Narrowing the Development Gap Indicators (NDGIs) recently created by the OECD Development Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat, in an index scale of 0 to 10 - where 0 denotes no gap and 10 the widest gap - the gap between CLMV and ASEAN-6 are widest at 4.4 and 4.0 in poverty and human resource development indicators, respectively. Gaps in other indices are at 3.5 in infrastructure, 3.1 in trade and investment, 2.9 in ICT, and 1.5 in tourism.

"Evidence suggests that welfare gains from the AEC can reduce economic disparities in the region", says Dr Aladdin Rillo, Head of the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Office (AIMO) at the ASEAN Secretariat. "To this end, Member States must pursue with vigour its implementation of the programmes in the AEC Blueprint as a strategy for sustained growth in the region."

ASEAN's launch of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) in 2000 was specifically meant to deal with issues on narrowing the divide where equitable and inclusive development will be a defining feature of ASEAN's integration efforts. The IAI Work Plan II (2009-2015) serves as the main tool to remove obstacles standing in the way of an equitable growth path in key sectors such as trade, investment and tourism.

Implementing structural policies necessary for enhancing productivity is equally critical to the success of the CLMV countries and ASEAN as a whole, contends Dr Sothea Oum of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia. Higher investment in social infrastructure, especially in education and health is of particular importance.

Dr Pitchaya Sirivunnabood, Senior Economist of AIMO, stressed that promoting productivity among CLMV officials is also necessary because limited capacity at the national level will mean less effective integration at the regional level.

The journey of building an ASEAN Community by 2015 requires countries, including the newer members, to not only stay on the same track but to also keep pace. Narrowing the Development Gap, thus, remains essential to the ASEAN integration process.

More information on the NDG Lecture Series and speakers' presentations are available here.

The NDG Lecture Series will continue to tackle contemporary topics of interest to ASEAN in the coming months as the ASEAN Secretariat intensifies its public outreach efforts to promote the IAI and the work of ASEAN. If you would like to be included in the mailing list, kindly submit your name to the IAI&NDG Division of the ASEAN Secretariat This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  .



Joint Media Statement of The Twelfth AEM EU Trade Commissioner Consultations

1.    The ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the EU Trade Commissioner held their Twelfth Consultations on 8 March 2013 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. The 12th AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations were co-chaired by H.E. Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam, and H.E. Karel De Gucht, the EU Trade Commissioner.

2.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner exchanged views on current developments in their respective regions and noted that trade and investment between ASEAN and the EU continued to expand despite the world economic slowdown. Trade between ASEAN and the EU grew by 12.6%, amounting to US$234.8 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment flow from the EU into ASEAN increased by 7.2% totaling US$18.2 billion. In 2012, the EU was ASEAN's third largest trading partner and continues to be ASEAN's biggest source of foreign direct investment.

3.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner underscored their continued support and commitment to a stable, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system and to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner agreed to work together to move the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations forward with a view to reaching agreement on a focused set of issues, including Trade Facilitation, at the 9th Ministerial Conference later this year in Bali, Indonesia. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner congratulated Lao PDR on its accession to the WTO. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner expressed their utmost appreciation for the hard work and commitment of His Excellency Pascal Lamy during his tenure as the WTO Director-General. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner noted ASEAN's candidature of Her Excellency Mari Pangestu, Minister of Tourism and Creative Industries of the Republic of Indonesia, as well as former Minister of Trade and 2011 Chair of the AEM, as the next WTO Director-General.

4.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner exchanged views on regional and international issues particularly those significant to regional economic integration in ASEAN and EU, and noted the progress of the bilateral free trade agreement negotiations and discussions between individual ASEAN Member State and the EU. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen cooperation between the two regions including the possibility of resuming negotiations of an ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement, upon realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015.

5.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner exchanged views on how to enhance ASEAN-EU investment relations. In particular they shared updated information on their investment policies as well as on on-going initiatives in terms of their investment agreements' negotiations. Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner stressed the importance of increased flow of investment both ways to create jobs and stimulate the economy of both regions.

6.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner welcomed the third ASEAN-EU Business Summit held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam at the sidelines of the AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations. The Business Summit, which has been organised annually since 2011, continued to attract many business people from both regions and provide the opportunity for public-private sector dialogue. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner expressed hope that the event would generate more business opportunities and expand economic cooperation between the two regions.

7.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen trade and investment between ASEAN and the EU, and endorsed the ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme for 2013-2014. The Work Programme aims at improving two-way trade relations and investment between ASEAN and the EU as well as supporting broader integration within ASEAN as well as between ASEAN and the EU.

8.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner were pleased to note the status of the implementation of the various ASEAN-EU economic cooperation programmes in support of ASEAN's economic integration, institutional capacity-building, statistics, ASEAN's FTA negotiating capacity, intellectual property rights and air transport. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner welcomed the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE) project which is aimed at supporting the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by enhancing the capacities of ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat. The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner agreed that the experience drawn from the EU's economic integration would substantially benefit ASEAN.

9.    The Ministers and the EU Trade Commissioner welcomed H.E. Le Luong Minh, as new Secretary-General of ASEAN and wished him a successful term.


(i)    H.E. Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam;

(ii)    H.E. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, Cambodia;

(iii)    H.E. Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade;

(iv)    Mr. Iman Pambagyo, Director-General of Ministry of Trade and Industry, Indonesia (representing H.E. Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade of Indonesia);

(v)    H.E. Nam Viyaketh, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Lao PDR;

(vi)    Datuk Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Secretary Genereral, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia (representing H.E. Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia);

(vii)    H.E. Dr. Kan Zaw, Union Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, Myanmar;

(viii)    H.E. Gregory L. Domingo, Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Philippines;

(ix)    H.E. Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;

(x)    H.E. Boonsong Teriyapirom, Minister of Commerce, Thailand;

(xi)    H.E. Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam; and

(xii)    H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN.


EU Provide Technical Assistance to Support Cosmetic Sector in CLMV

Harmonization of standard and conformance is one of ASEAN initiatives under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. Thus far, cooperation amongst ASEAN Member States in this area have focused on aligning national standards to relevant international standards, as well as the implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) to fulfill regional objectives. One of the outcomes from the cooperation is ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD), which sets out to establish a harmonized regulatory regime for cosmetic sector in ASEAN. Adoption of ACD required sufficient technical regulations and qualified infrastructure. Not all members of ASEAN can meet such requirements. Assistance is needed for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) to fully implemented ACD. The ASEAN Regional Integration Support from EU (ARISE) project provided such technical assistance. To begin the process of support, ARISE project hosted a consultative meeting amongst cosmetic regulators from CLMV in Jakarta. The meeting resulted 3 year work plan that will address implementation gaps of ASEAN Cosmetic Directive in CLMV.

Source: ASEAN Secretariat


H.E. Le Luong Minh: ASEAN Secretary General for period 2013-2017

FOR WEB 8362817185 7ec0236678H.E. Le Luong Minh assumed the post of ASEAN Secretary General (SG) from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017. His appointment was formally endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, November 2012. In his inaugural speech, the new SG highlighted some priority agendas, including: speedy efforts toward an early start of negotiations with China in order to achieve an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea; maximize common grounds and minimize differences in establishing ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to ensure added value for all Member States; and narrow development gap. Prior to the new post, Mr Minh had a long outstanding carrier in Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His last post was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is the first Vietnamese to lead the ASEAN Secretariat.

Source: ASEAN

Picture: Courtesy of ASEAN Secretariat


Cambodia projected to have second highest 2013 GDP growth in ASEAN

Cambodia is projected to have the second fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia over the next two years, the World Bank stated. Gross domestic product, is forecast to expand 6.7 per cent next year and 7.0 per cent in 2014. That compares with an estimated 6.6 per cent in 2012. Among Asean countries, only Laos is forecast to post faster growth than Cambodia over the next two years.  Lao GDP growth is forecast at 7.5 per cent in both 2013 and 2014, down from an estimated 8.2 per cent this year. Among other Asean economies, Myanmar is forecast to  grow by 6.5 per cent next year followed by Indonesia at 6.3 per cent, the Philippines at 6.2 per cent and Vietnam at 5.5 per cent. Thailand and Malaysia are both forecast to grow by 5.0 per cent with Singapore expanding only 2.0 per cent.


World Bank raises growth forecast for the Philippines

The World Bank has raised its growth forecasts for the Philippines for this year and the next. The World Bank also said developing East Asia, excluding China, would grow at a moderate pace this year with some help from strong economic expansion in the Philippines. For this year, the Bank now sees the Philippines expanding by 6 per cent, becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia and the Pacific. It was the third time the World Bank raised its forecast for the year. The adjustments in the World Bank's forecasts came after the government reported a surprising growth rate in the quarter. The country's economy grew by 7.1 per cent during the period, one of the fastest rates in the region. As a result, the Philippines' gross domestic product growth averaged 6.5 per cent in the first three quarters of the year. "The rebound in Thailand following the floods in 2011, strong growth in the Philippines, and relatively mild slowdowns in Indonesia and Vietnam contributed to this recovery," the World Bank said in a statement concerning the update.


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