Meeting focuses on cutting non-tariff measures
The Commerce Ministry plans to speed up the trade facilitation framework for Southeast Asia with Asean officials this week, focusing on a reduction in non-tariff measures in the region.
Thailand is the Asean chair for 2019. The Asean Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee will meet tomorrow and Thursday.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said the meeting will follow up on the trade facilitation framework and set guidelines to closely monitor non-tariff measures, which are a key obstacle to regional trade.
All 10 nations in the bloc should avoid unnecessary non-tariff measures and adhere to transparency principles by informing other Asean members before implementation, Mrs Auramon said.
"Each country should hold public hearings with all stakeholders and open for any comments from them before each measure takes effect in order to reduce contentious issues and trade obstacles," she said.
In her view, Southeast Asia's trade facilitation framework should be in line with standards of the World Trade Organization, such as establishment of a national trade facilitation committee and information centre.
The meeting will talk about cutting production costs by 10% in 2020 for all nations, as well as reducing the time for shipping processes and requests for permit documents.
Mrs Auramon said the meeting will speed up the Asean single window to cover all 10 countries, not just the current six nations.
The remaining four countries are Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar, all of which have to be put in the Asean single window customs system by 2019.
This system is a regional initiative that connects and integrates the national single windows of Asean member states.
Moreover, Thailand will chair the meeting of senior economic officials for a third time in 2019.
The meeting, which runs July 14-18, will follow up on the 11 priority economic issues from 13 total issues, including the digital platform, human resources development to support the Fourth Industrial Revolution, SME assistance to prepare for the digital economy, gastronomy tourism and bioenergy development.
Earlier, Asean agreed on two priority issues: infrastructure development funds and a guideline for the sustainable development of capital markets.
The meeting will follow up on the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, especially the Asean Automotive mutual recognition arrangement (MRA).
"The meeting will propose Asean economic ministers sign the MRA agreement in September and it will be effective within a year after signing," Mrs Auramon said.
The meeting will have nine dialogue partners: China, Japan, South Korea, the US, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
The discussion will follow up on the improvement of trade agreements and economic cooperation.
"Asean will discuss China's financial support of 350 million yuan and propose regional projects to allocate these funds, such as the tourism digital platform and rule of origin," Mrs Auramon said.
Asean is the biggest trade partner of Thailand. In 2018, the trade value grew by 13% to US$113.934 billion from 2017 and the trade surplus for the period stood at $22.94 billion.