A Successful Year for AEC

08:12 | 01/02/2011 Cooperation

(VEN) - ASEAN worked very well in 2010 when Vietnam took the presidency. All goals were promoted, regarding internal and external cooperation to create an ASEAN community in 2015. ASEAN's role as the engine and the center of the regional cooperation structure was proven and strengthened. Vietnam succeeded as the president of ASEAN 2010. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), one of three pillars of the ASEAN Community, contributed importantly to the success. Major achievements of the Economic Pillar in 2010 are looked from regional and national angles.

By Vu Huy Hoang, the Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, and the Chairman of the 2010 ASEAN Economic Community Council

On a regional scale, Vietnam as the president put the AEC Council in stability and efficiency. Vietnam took the ASEAN presidency right after the Itinerary for Building the ASEAN Community became effective. The regional and world economy was still hurt by the global financial crisis. However, as the chair of the AEC Council in 2010, Vietnam directed the AEC Council to work regularly and effectively to complete its mission to supervise and promote the realization of the goals.

Vu Huy Hoang as the Chairman of the 2010 ASEAN Economic Community Council gives signed                documents to ASEAN General Secretary
Surin Pitsuwan (left)

Vietnam identified the core and priorities of 2010 Agenda for the Economic Pillar. These are to (1) ensure the realization of the goals to build the ASEAN Community and (2) maintain the central role of ASEAN in the regional cooperation structure, accelerate the pace of the itinerary to connect ASEAN, and strengthen the role and increase the involvement of the business sector in launching and overseeing economic integration programs. Contents initiated by Vietnam got good response from ASEAN member countries.

Many important achievements are visible in all specialized cooperation areas under the Economic Pillar, such as goods/service trading, investment, finance, food security, competition policies, intellectual property, energy, transport, trade facilitation, information technology, tourism, and the development of medium to small-sized enterprises. The achievements are crucial for realizing the goal to build the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, which is categorized in four major pillars as follows:

Regarding tariff, ASEAN terminated 99.65 percent of tariff lines involved in CEPT/AFTA (Common Effective Preferential Tariffs)/ASEAN Free Trade Area) of ASEAN 6 countries. ASEAN also cut and reduced tariffs to 0-5 percent on 98.86 percent of tariff lines involved in CEPT/AFTA of ASEAN 4 countries. The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) took effect on May 17, 2010. These are the most important achievements that are vital for creating a free flow of goods.

Regarding trade facilitation, the heads of customs administrations of ASEAN countries completed the negotiations on Protocol 7 under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on facilitation of transit goods. In so doing, they got ready to conclude the agreement in 2011, contributing to verifying ASEAN transit routes, completing the negotiations on Protocol 2, regarding transit points at border crossings. The heads of customs also worked on a memorandum of understanding on development of a trial project to create a national one-stop customs mechanism, which is a premise for devising a one-stop customs mechanism.

Regarding trade, service and investment, apart from completing Commitment Package 7, the ASEAN economic ministers signed a protocol on October 28, 2010, to realize Commitment Package 8 under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS). The development of the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement was also boosted in 2010. This is very important for the realization of the goal to create free flows of services and investment in trade within ASEAN.

Regarding the competition policy, to reach the goal to set up a high-competitive economic sector and a business environment with fair competition, ASEAN launched two books on August 24, 2010, which are entitled, "Instructions of Competition Policy for ASEAN Region" and "Handbook on ASEAN Competition Policies and Laws towards Enterprises".

Regarding the need to establish an evenly developed economy, a Strategic Action Plan for ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 2010-2015 was drawn-up, substituting the ASEAN Medium and Small Enterprises Development Plan for 2004-2014. The ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprise Advisory Board, including leaders of SME authorities and representatives of enterprises, was established to share information and give proposals on policies related to SMEs. Public-private dialogue was promoted via all existing channels. Progress was also visible in 2010 to make ASEAN totally integrate with the world economy, given that the ASEAN-China and ASEAN-Korea free trade agreements were completed and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement took effect in 2010.

On a national scale, Vietnam completed the role as the host country. The first achievement was reaped from the meetings within the framework of the ASEAN Economic Community Pillar, which were prepared carefully and were organized successfully both in terms of content and logistics. Participants in the meetings spoke highly of the meetings, which contributed to increasing the position of ASEAN in general and Vietnam in particular in the regional cooperation forum. In doing so, Vietnam made a strong impression on foreign guests.

Through the ASEAN 2010 presidency, Vietnam has harmonized national interest with that of the region. Bilateral economic ties between Vietnam and ASEAN member countries and between the ASEAN Secretariat and important partners like Russia, Japan, India and the European Union (EU) have been strengthened and achieved progress. Vietnam concluded two agreements to enhance cooperation with Laos and Cambodia, plus three energy cooperation agreements with Russia on the occasion of the 17th ASEAN Summit held in October 2010 in Hanoi.

ASEAN 2010 propaganda has also contributed to improving people's understanding of, participation in and support in ASEAN economic integration. Good coordination between sub-committees under the National Committee for ASEAN 2010 and related ministries have also made part in tightening the linkages between ministries and sectors, contributing to completing the missions for 2010 and realizing the goals to build an ASEAN Economic Community in particular and an ASEAN Community in general.

The ASEAN Secretariat and member countries said that the ASEAN Economic Community Council worked very well in 2010 and that Vietnam worked very hard and professionally as the AEC Council President since it raised many practical initiatives and contributed to the success for the AEC Council and ASEAN 2010. The success is attributed to the great effort of officials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the close direction of government leaders and those from the National Committee for ASEAN 2010. It is also the fruit of careful preparations and close association between the sub-committees under the National Committee for ASEAN 2010, ministries and sectors that took part in the AEC Vietnam Council./.

Theo ven.vn