Asean trade initiatives set for fast track

Economy August 23, 2017 01:00


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WORK on a so-called Asean single window – to unite members of the bloc under a shared computer system for trade activities – will be accelerated in a bid to spur intra-regional trade, a senior Ministry of Commerce official said.

The single window is a key feature of the Asean Master Plan, and its development will be fast-tracked along with other initiatives under the master plan.

At an event marking the 50th anniversary of Asean, Boonyarit Kalayanamit, director-general for the ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations, yesterday said Asean cooperation would unlock the limitations that business operators frequently encounter, especially concerning issues such as the rules of origin process and requests for trade privileges. Yesterday’s event was held under the concept “Go Ahead to AEC 2025”, referring to the Asean Economic Community.

Companies will be able to search for trade information in |the system and file requests |for trade privileges through |the Asean single window.

The plan would support the Asean Master Plan's four main strategies: to encourage the development of the small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), boost e-commerce, extend trade innovation, and expand investment in research and development, Boonyarit said.

Under the master plan, business will be strengthened – particularly SMEs – with the help of technology that will allow the establishment of the joint database. This will enable companies to gain the information they need on trade privileges and other matters through the Asean single window. 

The master plan also aims to raise the importance of Asean in the global supply chain, help member countries cope with changes in global trade more efficiently, upgrade Asean's competitiveness, attract foreign trade and investment, and strengthen Asean operators and Asean members' economies, Boonyarit said.

Asean is a big market that has enjoyed steady trade growth and is now Thailand's largest market, he said. Previously, Thailand's main markets were China, the United States and Japan.

“In the past 10 years, Asean trade has grown in value by more than 30 times. What we want to see is Thai people understanding and exercising privileges under Asean agreements, including waivers on tariffs and increased convenience for capital movement and investment,” Boonyarit said.

“We want to provide [Asean] trade knowledge for modern operators. We are also targeting students to provide them trade knowledge, trade opportunities and the know-how to exercise these privileges in Asean.”

In 2016, Asean trade totalled US$270 billion and Thai-Asean trade amounted to US$91 billion.