Progressive Harmonisation Efforts in ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has taken great strides when it comes to driving deeper regional integration for trade, thanks to measures like the ASEAN Single Window facilitating the free flow of goods and services in the region. However, trade tensions outside of ASEAN continues to call for member countries’ strong support towards open, non-discriminatory, and fair trade.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Lunch Series session hosted by FIA to launch its white paper, Removing Non-Tariff Barriers in ASEAN through Regulatory Convergence and Mutual Recognition in the Food Sector, Cuong Ba Tran, Assistant Director of the Trade Facilitation Division from the ASEAN Secretariat, shared the above view, along with his thoughts on the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the challenges that ASEAN is facing as well as the steps needed to tackle them.

Mr Tran says that AEC’s progress has been positive, with five member countries having implemented the Single Window measure, which cuts down cost and time during trading. Nonetheless, ASEAN still faces its challenges in trade, including feeling the effects of growing tensions between U.S. and China. Mr Tran highlights that it is even more important now to work harder towards facilitating open and fair trade in the region.

Other challenges include bridging the development gap among members of ASEAN, and better integrating newer members into the regional and global economy. Mr Tran notes that initiatives are ongoing to ensure that developing countries are receiving the assistance they need for capacity building, ensuring that they are able to catch up with the other top-ranking countries.

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