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Asean members press one another

ASEAN member states have urged one another to eliminate barriers on some sensitive products after almost 100 per cent of goods already have zero tariffs, in order to encourage more trade within the region, according to the Thai Commerce Ministry's Trade Negotiations Department.

After the 15th meeting of the coordinating committee on the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) recently, national representatives agreed to talk further on reductions in tariff and non-tariff barriers to ensure market liberalisation after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is fully implemented next year.

Somkiat Triratpan, deputy director-general of the department, said each state had been urged to reduce high tariffs on sensitive goods including rice, sugar, some vegetables and fruits, meat, coffee, and tobacco.

"Many non-tariff barriers that have obstructed the growth of Asean trade were discussed during the meeting. Each member state has been urged to address the problem as well as cutting tariffs to ensure that the AEC will be fully enforced with no hidden practices," he said.

For instance, Thailand raised the issue of horticulture import controls by Indonesia, which had affected Thai agricultural exports to that country. For its part, Indonesia raised a copyright issue with Malaysia, and Cambodia and Laos pointed to import controls by Thailand that caused them difficulty in exporting maize to this country.

Asean has proceeded with setting up a certification system for rules of origin. The system has created a way for exporters to reduce operational costs, as their ROO certification will be inspected by Asean agencies. ROO self-certification was implemented under a pilot project in 2010, which Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand joined. In the second stage, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines joined.

Moreover, an Asean Trade Repository has been set up as a centre to collect information about trade measures from the 10 member states. The project will help facilitate access to information about Asean countries in a one-stop service. The Asean Trade Repository is expected to be complete by the end of next year in accordance with AEC integration.


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