The ASEAN Economic Community recorded many successes in 2010, said Chairman of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Vu Huy Hoang while reviewing the AEC's operations this year.
HA NOI —
In his review, Hoang, who is Viet Nam's Minister of Industry and Trade, stated that during Viet Nam's term as chair of ASEAN in 2010, the bloc had achieved a great deal.
The group hurried up the implementation of its internal and external co-operation goals to realise an AS EAN Community by 2015 and increasingly strengthened its position and power in its role as a driving force and the centre of the co-operative architecture in the region.
As one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, the AEC had made many important contributions to ASEAN in both regional and national spheres, said Hoang.
In the region, Viet Nam had led the AEC Council in a stable and effective manner.
Viet Nam undertook the ASEAN Chair at a time when the plans for building the ASEAN Community were taking shape and economies in the region and the world were suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis.
In such difficult and challenging circumstances, Viet Nam, as AEC Chair, had guided the AEC Council to work in a regular and effective manner and monitored the implementation of the targets set for the AEC.
According to Hoang, Viet Nam had defined the focus and priorities of the AEC's agenda in 2010.
These included ensuring the implementation of goals to create the ASEAN Economic Community, maintaining ASEAN's central position in the regional co-operative architecture, speeding up the ASEAN connectivity process and enhancing the private sector's role and involvement in carrying out and supervising economic integration programmes.
The contents introduced by Viet Nam had been highly appreciated and enthusiastically received by the other ASEAN member countries, said Minister Hoang.
Under ASEAN's 2010 theme "From Vision to Action", Viet Nam had contributed several important initiatives aimed at promoting the AEC and increased the process of economic integration.
The key contents chosen for 2010 focused on transportation, services and customs affairs.
Viet Nam had boosted step by step dialogue activities between businesses and the State to heighten their role in the policy-making process through various forms and at different forums.
The country had also worked to enhance the capacity for co-ordinating and supervising the AEC's operations in ASEAN member countries and at the ASEAN Secretariat, to raise the effectiveness of previously made commitments.
Viet Nam also suggested that ASEAN leaders approve the ASEAN Leaders' Statement on Sustained Recovery and Development at the 16th ASEAN Summit.
While implementing its commitments to the AEC, the AEC Council defined and reported to top ASEAN leaders the achievements and challenges made while establishing the AEC and proposed solutions to ASEAN's leaders.
Many important achievements were made in all areas of co-operation related to the AEC such as goods and services trade, investment, finance, food security, competition policy, intellectual property, energy, transport, trade facilitation, information technology, tourism and the development of small and medium sized enterprises. The achievements that were strategically important for realising the AEC by 2015 were grouped in accordance with the four major points as follows.
On tariffs, the ASEAN-6 countries had abolished tariffs on 99.65 per cent of their tax lines regulated by the Agreement on the Common Effective Preferential Tariff/ASEAN Free Trade Area, while the ASEAN-4 countries had cut 98.86 per cent of their tax lines regulated by the agreement to between 0-5 per cent. In addition, the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement came into effect on May 17, 2010. These were the most important achievements towards the goal of forming a free exchange of goods.
To facilitate trade, the heads of ASEAN customs departments had finished negotiations on Protocol 7 under the ASEAN Framework Agreement to facilitate goods in transit, to be signed in 2011, thus helping to designate ASEAN transit routes and to end negotiations on Protocol 2 on frontier transit posts. They had also completed negotiations on a memorandum of understanding on a pilot project to set up a national one-stop-shop customs mechanism as a basis for a similar mechanism for the whole of ASEAN.
In services, trade and investment, besides completing the seventh package of commitments, the ASEAN Economic Ministers signed a protocol on October 28 to introduce the eighth package of commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services. The implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement had also been stepped up, helping to form the free circulation of services and investment capital in the bloc's internal trade.
2010 also saw various achievements made regarding ASEAN's integration into the global economy thanks to the ASEAN-China and the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Free Trade Area Agreements as well as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area Agreement and the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement.
On reviewing this year, the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN member countries shared the same view that the ASEAN Economic Community Council had a successful year. Viet Nam, as Chair of the council, worked well and professionally with many practical initiatives contributing to the success of the council and the ASEAN 2010 Year.
These achievements were attributed to efforts made by not only officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but also the close guidance of Government leaders and officials of the National Committee on ASEAN 2010.
The achievements were also made possible thanks to close and effective co-ordination between sub-committees under the National Committee on ASEAN 2010 and member ministries and sectors of the Viet Nam AEC council. — VNS