ASEAN Economic Ministers have agreed to upgrade the ATIGA so that the deal would better contribute to the bloc’s efforts in economic integration amid growing challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
|Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh. Source: MoIT
The move was revealed at the ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) 35th Free Trade Agreement Council Meeting (AFTA 35) held today [September 8] under virtual format with the participation of ministers from 10 ASEAN member countries.
The event is part of the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting taking place from September 8-15, aiming at discussing the implementation progress of the ATIGA and priorities in the coming time.
“The revision of the ATIGA should aim at providing better support for enterprises in utilizing the deal, especially through lowering compliance cost and enhancing trade facilitation measures,” Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh suggested as he welcomed the bloc’s efforts.
Under ATIGA’s commitments, ASEAN members committed to removing tariffs to 98.6% out of the total goods and products in 2021. So far, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia have eliminated 99.3% of the tariffs and the remaining four (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam), 97.7%.
With the goal of facilitating trade and creating more convenience for businesses in taking advantage of the ATIGA, economic ministers approved the amendment of certain clauses in the Operational Certification Procedures (OCP) under the deal.
|Overview of the meeting.
Regarding the provision of non-tariff measures (NTM) among ASEAN members, the ministers stressed the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Electronic Commerce (ACCEC) under the chair of Vietnam last year has resolved pending issues related to NTM and simplified the process to boost trade among members.
During the current economic hardship as a result of the pandemic, a revision of the ATIGA would further strengthen trade cooperation within the bloc and expand regional supply chains, steps that are expected to ensure economic recovery in Southeast Asia in the post-pandemic period.
At the meeting, the ministers ratified an addition of 107 tariff lines of farm produce and food products into the ASEAN’s list of necessities that are subject to NTM, taking the total in the list to 257 in a bid to help its members better respond to Covid-19 impacts
The AFTA 35 also highlighted joint efforts in setting up the 2022 ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN), set to take effect in early 2022.
|During the first eight months of 2021, ASEAN was Vietnam’s third-largest export market with a turnover of US$18.4 billion, a surge of 23.3% year on year. In return, the bloc remained among the top three suppliers of Vietnam with imports worth $28.2 billion during the same period, up 47.4%, only behind China ($72.5 billion) and South Korea ($34.6 billion).