Implementation of the AEC Blueprint 2025 continues as reflected in the progress of the implementation of AEC 2018 priorities and economic priority deliverables under Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship.
With regard to the latter, the key achievements include the following:
- The ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce was endorsed at the 50th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting in August 2018 and will be signed at the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018. The agreement reaffirms ASEAN’s commitment to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions, create an environment of trust and confidence in the use of e-commerce, and strengthen cooperation in intensifying the use of e-commerce in the region.
- The ASEAN Digital Integration Framework was adopted at the 50th AEM Meeting. The Framework identifies six priority areas to be implemented over the next 12-18 months that would have significant effects on digital integration, namely: facilitating seamless trade, protecting data while supporting digital trade and innovation, enabling seamless digital payments, broadening the digital talent base, fostering entrepreneurship and coordinating actions.
- The Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement was signed by the AEM to allow for the operationalisation of the ASEANwide Self-Certification.
- The Protocol to Implement the Tenth and final Package of Commitments of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services has been signed by the AEM.
- The negotiations of the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement have been concluded, and will be signed soon.
- At the 50th AEM Meeting, the AEM welcomed the commitment by all ASEAN Member States to transition the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA)’s reservation lists to a two-annex negative list. Enhancements are also being made to the ACIA, particularly in introducing additional disciplines prohibiting the imposition of performance requirements on investors.
- Following the 36th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting on 29 October 2018, the key developments for the energy-sector priority economic deliverables include: (i) the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation between ASEAN and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to strengthen cooperation and assist ASEAN in scaling up renewable energy deployment and advancing the transition to a sustainable energy future; (ii) the completion of the Gas Advocacy White Paper, which includes key recommendations to promote the use of natural gas and liquefied natural gas through a well-coordinated and connected common gas market; (iii) the endorsement of the key recommendations of the study towards the development of green building codes for ASEAN; and (iv) the endorsement of the initiative on the Capacity Building Roadmap on Energy Investment and Financing.
In addition to these priority deliverables, other key developments in other AEC sectors, include the following:
- The ASEAN Regional Cooperation Framework on Competition was endorsed at the 50th AEM Meeting; its implementation would form the pathway towards an ASEAN Regional Cooperation Agreement on competition. The ASEAN Common Guidelines on Industrial Designs was endorsed at the 50th AEM Meeting and was published in September 2018.
- The ASEAN Good Regulatory Practice (GRP) Core Principles were adopted at the 50th AEM Meeting and are a practical, non-binding set of principles to guide the mainstreaming of GRP into ASEAN work and fostering ASEAN-wide regulatory cooperation, as well as assist ASEAN Member States in improving their regulatory practice.
- On Food, Agriculture, and Forestry, the 40th Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) on 12 October 2018 adopted the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry and endorsed the following: AMAF’s Approach to Gender Mainstreaming in the Food, Agriculture and Forestry Sectors; ASEAN Guidelines for Agroforestry Development; and ASEAN Roadmap for Enhancing the Role of Agricultural Cooperatives in the Global Agricultural Value Chain 2018-2025.
- Following the ASEAN Leaders’ recognition on the need for ASEAN to be well prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) at the 30th ASEAN Summit in 2017, and with mandate from the AEM, the ASEAN Secretariat completed the “Assessment on ASEAN’s Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The assessment and its recommendations were presented to the AEM, and discussions will continue among sectoral bodies across all ASEAN Community pillars, particularly to arrive at a holistic and coordinated strategy to respond to the 4IR.
- The ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) was established by Leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit held on 28 April 2018 in Singapore. The ASCN serves as a platform for ASEAN cities to work together towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. The 26 ASCN pilot cities have finalised their Smart Cities Action Plans specifying their respective focus areas and priority projects. The ASEAN Smart Cities Framework, a non-binding guide for smart city development in ASEAN, will be adopted by the Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November.
- On the operationalisation of the AEC 2025 M&E Framework, the AEC 2025 Consolidated Strategic Action Plan has been updated and made available online in the ASEAN website on 14 August 2018. The update was made to take into account sectoral developments. In addition, the ASEAN Secretariat has also conducted the AEC M&E Country Visit to Brunei Darussalam in October 2018, and will conduct the next one in Malaysia in December 2018.
- On statistical cooperation, at the 8th Session of the ASEAN Community Statistical System (ACSS) Committee on 12 October 2018, the Committee adopted the ACSS Protocol for New Data Request from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies to allow for more effective support to integration monitoring. The Committee also adopted the Concept Note on the ACSS Open Data Initiative for Statistics, in recognition of the importance of open data practices and promoting data transparency at the national and regional levels.
- On external economic relations, at the 50th AEM Meeting, the AEM endorsed the recommendations of stage two of the General Review of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. The completion of the Joint Feasibility Study for an ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement was also welcomed by Ministers. On the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), there have been 24 rounds of negotiations held to date. Efforts are being intensified towards conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, including through greater engagement at all levels. The 2nd RCEP Summit is planned to be held in November 2018.