AEM Meetings In Singapore To Focus On Asean Integration

August 25, 2008 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

SINGAPORE, Aug 25 (Bernama) – The 40th Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) and Related Meetings will focus on Asean integration issues and Asean’s relations with dialogue partners.

The event scheduled in Singapore from Aug 25 to 29, will be attended by 24 ministers from the Asean and Asia Pacific countries, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore.

The ministers atttending include Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as other ministers from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Asean’s new secretary-general, Dr Surin Pitsuwan who assumed his post on January 7 this year, will be also attending the 40th AEM in Singapore.

The AEM and related meetings this year, hosted by Singapore, will witness Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Lim Hng Kiang chairing the meetings.

The opening ceremony will take place Tuesday at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

Aspirations towards fulfilling the Asean Economic Community (AEC) will be of major significance during the AEM and related meetings. Ministers will look into Asean’s progress in implementing economic integration commitments outlined in the AEC Blueprint, which was signed by leaders at the Asean Summit in Singapore last year.

Discussions on Asean integration issues will centre on the goal of realising an AEC by 2015.

In previous Asean summit, Asean leaders agreed to accelerate the development of the AEC by 2015 and transform Asean into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and free flow of capital.

The AEC will also cover competition policy, intellectual property rights, infrastructure development, taxation, e-commerce, SME Development, coherent approach towards external economic relations regarding Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and international treaties and enhanced participation in global supply networks.

At the 40th AEM, ministers will be updated on the enhancements to Asean’s goods and investments agreements and will sign Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) for professional services of accountancy, dental and medical practitioners.

Ministers will also discuss initiatives to ease business processes in Asean, and will obtain feedback and exchange views with the business community during consultations wth the Business Councils.

Asean Economic ministers will meet with up with several related councils namely the Asean Free Trade Area Council Ministers, the Asean Business Advisory Council and Asean Investment Area Council Ministers.

In addition to this, Consultations of the Asean Economic Ministers with India, Australia, New Zealand and Korea will be conducted. Consultations with dialogue partners will focus on matters pertaining to the FTAs and economic cooperation activities between Asean and its Dialogue partners.

In particular, the ministers will receive updates on the progress of the Asean-India FTA and Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA.

Ministers will also discuss the status of ongoing negotiations of the Asean-China FTA Investment Agreement, the Asean-Korea FTA Invesment Agreement, and the next steps for the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Agreement that was signed earlier this year.

According to the Asean Trade and FDI Database, 2008, total Asean trade (both intra-and extra-Asean) in 2007 was US$1.6 trillion, a 15 percent increase from 2006.

Intra-Asean trade in 2007 totaled US$404 billion, a 14.5 percent increase from 2006. Intra-Asean trade accounted for 25 percent of total Asean trade and said to be increasing quickly.

Asean’s top five trading partners last year were the EU, the US, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.

China remains Asean’s fastest growing trading partner with 22 percent growth from 2006 to 2007.

Total (intra- and extra-) foreign direct investment into Asean last year was US$61.5 billion, a 17 percent increase on a year-on-year basis.

Overall, intra-Asean investment last year amounted to US$8.2 billion, 33 percent increase from 2006.

The major sources of intra-Asean investment were Singapore (US$5.7 billion), Malaysia (US$1.3 billion), Thailand (US$0.7 billion) and Indonesia (US$0.2 billion).

The major sources of extra-Asean investment were from the EU (US$14.3 billion), Japan (US$8.9 billion), the US (US$5.1 billion), the Republic of Korea (US$2.7 billion), Australia (US$1 billion) and China (just below US$1 billion).

— BERNAMA

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Entry filed under: Economy and Trade, Politics. Tags: , .

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