Trade Department pushes 12 priorities for Asean chair
Twelve economic issues, including the conclusion of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, have been proposed for consideration as Thailand readies itself to assume Asean's chairmanship.
Thailand had announced "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability" as the theme for its chairmanship next year.
Oramon Sapthaweetham, director-general of the Trade Negotiation Department, said 12 economic issues have been presented to the Asean Senior Economic Officials' Meeting (SEOM) during a retreat held late last week in Bangkok.
The participants were asked to consider the issues before another meeting in January, and the conclusions will be proposed to Asean economic ministers, she said.
Beside the RCEP, the issue of human resources development to handle the fourth industrial revolution, promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the expansion of the Asean Single Window Customs System -- which is now available only in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- to include all the 10 Asean members, were also highlighted as priorities.
The senior economic officials were also asked to consider the ways to develop and promote sustainable fishery and capital market development in Asean, she said.
The meeting also discussed the framework for cooperation with Asean's dialogue partners, she said.
The officials also urged for the ratification of the Asean-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement and the Asean, Hong Kong, China Investment Agreement to be prioritised, so both can come into effect in early 2019.
Other priorities include the ratification of the upgraded Asean-China Free Trade Agreement and the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership which includes agreements on trade, services, human migration and investment.