By Hoang Hanh Posted on March 8, 2013
ASEAN is making efforts to build up the ASEAN Community by 2015. In the photo, ASEAN Economic Ministers meet in their 19th Retreat in Ha Noi, March 8, 2013
VGP – The 19th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat (AEM19), opened on March 8 in Ha Noi, discussed many important issues relating to the construction of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
This important annual event of ASEAN Economic Pillar drew the participation of 10 ASEAN Economic Ministers and the ASEAN Secretary General.
Before the meeting, the Ministers had a courtesy call with PM Nguyen Tan Dung, during which they reported the content of the meeting and confirmed their intentions to follow instructions of the leaders of the ASEAN member countries.
At the meeting, the ASEAN Economic Ministers focused their discussions on the orientation of ASEAN economic integration in 2013 and reaffirmed their determination to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
In 2013, in addition to external challenges such as the ongoing adjustment in the world economy due to the actual economic crisis, the existing difficulties in certain majors exporting markets, ASEAN is also facing with internal challenges like development gaps between member countries. Therefore, the Meeting also thoroughly discussed key outcomes of the implementation of the AEC Blueprint by 2015 and main objectives to be achieved by 2013 in order to prioritize resources allocation for implementation. At the same time, measures to improve the efficiency of the ASEAN economic cooperation mechanism and strengthen outreach activities on AEC were also considered.
The Ministers also reaffirmed their determination to implement the ASEAN Framework on Equitable Economic Development; to enhance human and institutional connectivity through specific initiatives such as: i) building the mechanism to support SMEs in ASEAN; ii) enhancing ASEAN’s competitiveness; iii) reinforcing the role of young ASEAN entrepreneurs; iv) strengthening the relations between ASEAN and its partners; v) building the ASEAN business networks.
Besides setting the directions for 2013 economic cooperation, the Ministers also discussed other issues in the economic pillar in preparation for the 22nd ASEAN Summit Meeting, which will be held in Brunei in April 2013.
At the meeting, the Ministers also adopted the scoping papers served as the basis for commencing the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), which is considered a spear-headed initiative to create a new economic cooperation structure in the region, reflecting the centrality of ASEAN. Negotiation of RCEP is expected to be launched in 2013 and completed by 2016. “Once signed, the Agreement will creat the largest free trade area in the world with a total population of more than 50% of the world’s population and total GDP of nearly 30% of the global GDP,” said Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu in an interview with the press.
In the framework of the meeting, ASEAN Economic Ministers have signed the Protocol amending a number of ASEAN economic agreements related to trade in goods. The signing of this Protocol will strengthen the legality of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and facilitate businesses to take advantage of ASEAN agreements.
As the host of the AEM19, Viet Nam initiated the organization of the 3rd ASEAN-EU Business Summit. According to Deputy Minister Nguyen Cam Tu, the Summit will be a good chance for policy-makers from ASEAN and the EU to meet enterprises and listen to their proposals for building a better business environment within ASEAN as well as between ASEAN and the EU. The event will be also an opportunity for ASEAN enterprises, including Vietnamese ones, to meet with their counterparts from other member countries and the EU for sharing experience, exchanging business information, and seeking for investment chances and partners.