Meeting backs forging digital framework

Meeting backs forging digital framework

Value of trade may hit $2tn by 2030

The latest meeting of the Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) agreed to establish the Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement (Defa) with the aim of boosting the value of digital trade within the Asean region to as much as US$2 trillion by 2030, up from $400 billion in 2021.

The meeting, held during Aug 19-22 in Semarang, Indonesia, also agreed on the formulation of a carbon neutrality strategy and commitments regarding the operational framework for industrial infrastructure projects.

Ekachat Seetavorarat, deputy permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, who was assigned by outgoing commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit to participate in the 55th AEM and related meetings, said the outcomes of the meeting would be presented to the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Council and Asean leaders during Sept 3-7 this year.

Mr Ekachat said the outcomes of the meeting, particularly regarding the formulation of the Defa, are considered to be pivotal mechanisms to drive a new economic momentum for Asean, responding proactively to global trade trends.

According to Mr Ekachat, the AEM meeting approved essential documents necessary for the negotiations regarding the Defa agreement. These documents encompassed studies on the benefits and impacts of Defa, negotiation guidelines, and a draft statement from Asean leaders. The negotiations are set to commence later this year and are expected to be concluded within two years. It is projected that the Defa would significantly enhance the value of digital trade in the Asean region to reach $2 trillion by 2030, he said.

The meeting also endorsed vital issues such as the development of Asean's carbon neutrality strategy, which will contribute to the creation of added value within the green economy and support sustainable regional growth; an acceleration of the establishment of a unit to support the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement; and the promotion of electronic certificates of origin (e-Form D) within Asean's electronic customs system, covering all 10 member states by 2023.

The meeting also endorsed a plan to prepare a new post-2025 "Asean Vision", aimed at elevating Asean's integration towards a seamlessly-linked single market and production base.

Asean is Thailand's top trading partner. Last year, the trade value between Thailand and Asean reached roughly $125 billion, with Thailand's exports to Asean totalling $71.9 billion and imports from Asean amounting to $52.6 billion.

In the first seven months of this year (January-July), trade between Thailand and Asean tallied $67.9 billion, with Thailand's exports to Asean worth $38.6 billion and imports from Asean worth $29.3 billion.

Key exports included automobiles, automotive parts, sugar, and air conditioners, while significant imports were tapioca and corn, mainly from Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

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