A Highly Integrated and Cohesive Economy

  • Intra-ASEAN tariffs have been virtually eliminated, and efforts are now intensified to enhance trade facilitation, and address the barrier effects of non-tariff measures in ASEAN. The ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee was created in 2017 to oversee these developments. On ASEAN Single Window, an overdue initiative, seven AMS have now joined the live operation of the ASEAN Single Window for the ATIGA e-Form D, with the remaining expected to come on board within the year. While work towards the operationalisation of the ASEAN-wide Self Certification has also progressed well in the past few years.
  • ASEAN recently also worked on deepening services and investment integration in the region. Two key agreements were signed at the 25th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat on 23 April 2019, namely the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) and the Fourth Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA). ATISA consolidates ASEAN’s achievement under the ASEAN Framework Agreement in Services (AFAS) and provides for a transition to an eventual negative list approach in liberalising services. While the fourth ACIA Protocol incorporates TRIMS-plus prohibition on performance requirements commitments so as to ensure that AMS enjoy better treatment under the ACIA. The ASEAN Agreement on Movement of Natural Persons has also entered into force in 2016.
  • On customs, key developments include the signing of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Goods in Transit (AFAFGIT) Protocol 2 (Designation of Frontier Posts), and ratification by all AMS of Protocol 7 (Customs Transit System), and ongoing work towards an ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Authorised Economic Operators
  • On standards, key achievements include the signing of MRA on Bio-Equivalence (BE) Study Report for Generic Medicinal Product and the ASEAN Sectoral MRA for Inspection and Certification Systems on Food Hygiene for Prepared Foodstuff Products, transposition of the ASEAN Harmonised Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulatory Regime, and the revision of the ASEAN GRP Guide to align with the ASEAN GRP Core Principles. Several initiatives on agricultural standards include adoption of maximum residue limits, standards for agricultural produces, and the ASEAN Phyto-sanitary Guidelines for Importation of priority commodities.
  • On finance, the ASEAN Insurance Forum has been established in 2016, while the enhanced Capital Account Liberalisation Heatmap Methodology has been finalised and is now being implemented, the Protocol to Implement the 8th Package of Commitments on Financial Services under AFAS has also been signed in 2019.