37th High Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration

10:09:19 AM | 2/17/2020

The High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration (HLTF-EI 37) was held from February 12 to 13, 2020 in Hanoi, as part of activities of ASEAN Year 2020 chaired by Vietnam. The gathering discussed and proposed important and strategic recommendations on the vision and cooperation of ASEAN internal and external economic integration.

The conference was attended by Deputy Economic Ministers of ASEAN countries and Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN. As the coordinator of ASEAN economic pillar cooperation in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and Head of the Governmental Delegation for Economic and International Trade Tran Quoc Khanh led the Vietnamese delegation to this conference.

For intraregional economic integration, HLTF-EI 37 focused on discussing key issues such as a mid-term review of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 in the context of complicated, unpredictable developments of global and regional economy, based on discussion results to propose recommendations to the Ministers and Leaders to accomplish the Blueprint goals;  ASEAN strategy in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; ASEAN legal document management system; and economic cooperation priorities for 2020 proposed by Vietnam.

In addition, in order to strengthen and enhance economic, trade and investment with external partners, the meeting also discussed some related contents such as (i) how to access new FTA partners, (ii) progress and future of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

At the conference, Vietnam's contributions, especially related to priorities in ASEAN's economic pillar in 2020 proposed by Vietnam, were highly appreciated by the countries and regarded as the basis to promote comprehensive economic cooperation among ASEAN countries. Furthermore, ASEAN countries also considered Vietnam's proposal for a new harmonized approach to ASEAN FTA negotiations, especially the RCEP Agreement, in the context of a volatile, complicated world and emerging protectionism in some places. On that basis, the meeting reaffirmed ASEAN's commitment to maintaining incentives for increasing regional trade and investment by promoting ASEAN's free trade agreement negotiations, of which the highest priority is advancing RCEP negotiations to achieve practical results for all participating countries.

Recommendations on ASEAN's upcoming cooperation strategy at HLTF-EI 37 will be submitted to the 26th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in March 2020 in Da Nang City for consideration and approval. The final outcome will be reported to ASEAN Leaders in April 2020.

By H.Ly, Vietnam Business Forum