Connect with us

Asean

Four Incremental Steps Towards the AEC

In today’s post, we examine recent incremental steps taken by ASEAN to realize the ASEAN Economic Community. Considered separately, each step may not seem like much. However, taken as a whole, they evidence active foundation-building at various levels in ASEAN.

Avatar

Published

on

Asean summit flags

In today’s post, we examine recent incremental steps taken by ASEAN to realize the ASEAN Economic Community. Considered separately, each step may not seem like much. However, taken as a whole, they evidence active foundation-building at various levels in ASEAN.

Statistics

ASEAN announced the formation of an ASEAN Community Statistical Committee (ACSS) composed of chief statisticians and heads of government statistical offices. This may be perhaps the most prosaic yet most important development. Without accurate and meaningful statistical data, policymakers and economic actors in ASEAN cannot conduct proper analyses and make appropriate decisions. Current economic data collection is difficult in certain ASEAN members and certain sectors, even for the ASEAN Secretariat. Statistics have even been a diplomatic issue between ASEAN members in the past, such as regarding bilateral trade between Singapore and Indonesia. Hence formation of the ACSS is a big step towards economic integration.

Common Visa

ASEAN announced that it was studying a common tourist visa for the region. A common tourist visa essentially amounts to an ASEAN Single Window for tourists (just as freedom of movement for ASEAN nationals would require a similar effort). This will require significant upgrades to the intergovernmental operating system in ASEAN. As I’ve discussed before, operational linkages for the region, such as the ASEAN Single Window for goods, are inconsistently implemented. Yet improving the intra-ASEAN flow of people and goods will bring major benefits to the region, particularly as it eyes a soccer World Cup bid. Perhaps the region’s latent soccer-mania is the necessary motivation for improvements.

Education

The ASEAN University Network has started discussing the harmonization of academic calendars; Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar start their academic years in June while most ASEAN universities start their years in September. An academic credit transfer system and increased use of English should also help students move around the region and learn more about their fellow ASEAN citizens. This level of cooperation is noteworthy, particularly given the great disparity among academic institutions that would normally cause jealousies and resentments.

Legal

ASEAN law ministers met and signed off on the Terms of Reference and the Rules of Procedure of the Advisory Panel to advise ASEAN Member States on matters relating to the adoption and implementation of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. Harmonization of commercial arbitration will encourage further trade with ASEAN members with less-developed judicial systems and reduce the costs and burdens of dispute resolution. Progress on a Treaty on the Abolishment of the requirement for Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents among ASEAN Member States, examining modalities for harmonization of ASEAN trade laws, the progressive liberalization of trade in legal services in ASEAN, and proposals for a model law on maritime security and uniform laws on legalization of documents were also discussed by the ASEAN law ministers. Progress on all of these issues would be welcomed by the business community.

All in all, ASEAN took many incremental steps in forwarding the AEC, particularly during the run-up to the APEC Hawaii meeting and the East Asia Summit in Bali. Continued scrutiny and advocacy will be required to ensure that they lead to real progress.

Edmund Sim is a U.S. international trade lawyer at the Singapore office of Appleton Luff and adjunct associate professor of law at National University of Singapore. There, he teaches the first course developed on the law and policy of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). You can follow him via AEC Blog.

I am a U.S. international trade lawyer at the Singapore office of Appleton Luff and adjunct associate professor of law at National University of Singapore. There, I teach the first course developed on the law and policy of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). I have also advised the ASEAN Secretariat in an EU-funded assistance project on the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), and represented companies in dealing with the ASEAN Industrial Cooperation (AICO) scheme, Common External Preferential Tariff (CEPT) program and other ASEAN economic integration

Comments

Asean

ASEAN, Korea webinar to showcase youth perspectives on digital partnership

Asean News

Published

on

ASEAN, Korea webinar to showcase youth perspectives on digital partnership

SEOUL, 25 JANUARY 2021 – The ASEAN-Korea Youth Academic Webinar, held by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, is set to take place on 27 January at 2PM (KST).

(more…)
Continue Reading

Asean

The Latest on Covid-19 in Southeast Asia

Thailand has largely avoided widespread community transmission of Covid-19, but the kingdom is not faring well on the economic front, with a projected contraction of 7.1 percent this year.

Avatar

Published

on

Coronavirus Asia

As a region, Southeast Asia has fared relatively well in keeping coronavirus cases low, with the notable exceptions of the Philippines and Indonesia.

(more…)
Continue Reading

Laos

China’s debt-trap diplomacy: Laos’ credit rating downgraded to CCC

Laos’ debt challenge is deeply concerning, with some media commentators suggesting the country is falling into a debt trap as a result of Chinese infrastructure investments connected to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Boris Sullivan

Published

on

On 23 September, the Fitch Ratings agency downgraded Laos’ credit rating to CCC — the second downgrade in 2020, having dropped to B- in May.

(more…)
Continue Reading

Trending