16:09 | 09/03/2015 Cooperation
(VEN) - The 21st ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (AEM Retreat-21), which took place from February 28 to March 1 in Malaysia, agreed on the major orientations in terms of economic cooperation priorities ahead of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in late 2015.
Two biggest priorities
AEM Retreat-21 reviewed the deployment of measures in building a roadmap for the AEC and agreed on two biggest priorities in 2015 including forming the AEC and building the AEC’s Post-2015 Vision. To date, ASEAN has implemented about 82 percent of the adopted measures. According to the ministers, member countries will make higher efforts to complete the remaining tasks by the end of the year.
In terms of trade in goods, ASEAN has implemented many programs and initiatives such as the program on reviewing non-tariff measures and building a framework for notification, evaluation and removal of tariff barriers in order to create a favorable environment for trade. However, all member countries need to enhance the need to resolve non-tariff barriers within the bloc. Regarding trade services, the ministers agreed on directing relevant committees to complete the 10th package of commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) in 2015.
Some suggestions of Malaysia to promote intra-regional trade and investment and improve competitiveness and market attractiveness were highly appreciated.
The ministers also noted the positive progress of building the AEC’s Post-2015 Vision. ASEAN will continue to promote integration to become an area of stability, prosperity and competitiveness coupled with equitable economic development towards poverty eradication and socioeconomic injustice reduction.
In terms of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) negotiations between ASEAN and six partner countries including India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and China, the ministers agreed to accelerate negotiations to achieve breakthrough results in the key areas such as trade in goods, services and investment.
Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said that Vietnam and ASEAN determine on building the AEC and see the establishment of the AEC as a top priority in the economic integration process. Vietnam will actively discuss with ASEAN countries on economic cooperation priorities, especially contents of narrowing the development gap and facilitating trade and investment.
Vietnam is one of member countries completing measures in building the AEC at the highest level of more than 90 percent. One of the main priorities of Vietnam in 2015 is to strengthen propaganda, contributing to helping businesses and people take most of opportunities and promptly deal with challenges.
ASEAN is an important trade partner of Vietnam, accounting for over 14 percent of Vietnam’s total trade value. In 2014, total export-import turnover between Vietnam and ASEAN reached US$42.12 billion. Of this number, export turnover stood at US$19 billion and import turnover totaled nearly US$23 billion. Regarding foreign investment, by the end of 2014, ASEAN investors including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia poured US$53 billion into Vietnam with 2,507 projects, accounting for 14 and 20 percent of Vietnam’s total investment projects and capital, respectively.
By Hung Cuong