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49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2017

The 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM 49) and associated conferences, including the 31st Meeting of ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), the 20th Joint Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and the ASEAN Investment Area Council (AEM-AIA), consultative meetings between ASEAN and 10 partners (China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Russia, Canada, Hong Kong), the Fifth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting, the Ninth Mekong - Japan Ministerial Meeting, the Ninth Ministerial Meeting on Economic Cooperation of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), were held from September 6 to 11, 2017 in Manila, the Philippines. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh led the Vietnamese delegation to the Meeting.

Economic ministers of 10 ASEAN countries and partners discussed intra-ASEAN economic cooperation and ASEAN’s cooperation with its partners and prepared contents for the final report which will submitted to the 30th ASEAN Summit and related conferences in November.

The ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) delved into ASEAN's economic cooperation priorities for 2017; reviewed the overall roadmap for the carrying out of commitments under ASEAN agreements; discussed the implementation of priorities of building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2017; set the trajectory of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. Among them, the most important content is developing mechanisms and policies to facilitate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to make good use of intraregional agreements, overcome new challenges as the Fourth Industrial Revolution is going on rapidly and having profound impacts on all businesses. To better support MSMEs, ASEAN continues to promote the self-certification of ASEAN origin, develop e-commerce, replicate and facilitate inclusive business models, and building the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Index. These initiatives are expected to bring practical benefits to businesses, especially MSMEs.

In parallel with the 49th AEM Meeting, the Fifth RCEP Ministerial Meeting was held on September 10, 2017 to unify key elements needed to be concluded in areas of negotiation by the end of 2017 and direct negotiations in core fields such as trade in goods, trade in services and investment.

With respect to cooperation beyond ASEAN, ministers hailed achievements thus far in improving and further promoting free trade frameworks with their partners and acknowledged the status of ASEAN's FTA negotiations and enforcements with its partners (China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong). Ministers also underlined cooperation status with other partners such as Canada, Russia and the United States.

Aside from main events, the Vietnamese delegation had bilateral meetings with ministers and heads of delegations from Malaysia, the United States, South Korea, and the Philippines. At these meetings, Vietnam reaffirmed its contributions to ASEAN's overall success on the occasion of its 50th Founding Anniversary. It also discussed some frameworks and specific measures to promote bilateral economic and commercial relations with its partners.

According to data from the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to grow 4.8 per cent in 2017. ASEAN’s merchandise trade valued US$2.22 trillion in 2016, of which 23.5 per cent is intra-block trade. Among the dialogue partners of ASEAN, China, the European Union (EU) and Japan are the top three trading partners. ASEAN's trade in services valued at US$643.4 billion, of which 16.6 per cent was intra-regional trade. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into ASEAN reached US$96.72 billion in 2016, of which 24.8 per cent was intra-ASEAN investment. The EU, Japan and the United States are the three biggest investors in the region. The service industry was the biggest recipient of FDI, accounting for US$77.08 billion or 79.7 per cent of the total value in 2016.

Huong Ly

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