IN a push for digital transformation within the Asean region, member countries will join forces to implement the Asean Single Window (ASW) for all 10 nations in the trade bloc by the end of next year .
At the beginning of this year, five Asean countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia – launched the ASW.
The ASW aims to integrate the different national single-window systems of the Asean countries in order to expedite cargo clearance and boost cross-border trade via enabling the electronic exchange of trade-related documents among Asean members.
“As chair of Asean in 2019, Thailand will facilitate the development of the ASW in the remaining five Asean countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Brunei,” said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations under the Commerce Ministry.
“Our aim is achieve a fully complete ASW system for all 10 Asean members by the end of 2019,” she continued in an interview with The Nation.
“The tariffs on goods imposed between different Asean countries have been reduced to nearly 0 per cent. Our next goal is to ensure a faster and more effective physical flow of goods between the Asean members, specifically, through pushing for the development of the ASW digital system in 2019,” Auramon explained.
Before the ASW is implemented, goods that are being traded among Asean countries will need a physical certificate of origin, called Form D, to benefit from the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta). However, there are various border posts in the Asean region that lack the authority to approve these certificates, causing goods to be delayed and idle at the border for up to 10 days before they are approved by authorities, she said.
“The ASW will digitise the Form D. We expect the use of an electronic Form D through the ASW gateway will reduce the waiting time for goods at the borders down to only one to three days,” she said.
“As chair of the Asean summits in 2019, we aim to complete the development of the ASW for all 10 Asean countries, facilitating the development of the necessary digital and technological infrastructure in the five remaining Asean members,” she stated.
Cambodia, Philippines and Brunei are now at the testing stage in the development, according to Auramon.
“The ASW system is expected to boost cross-border trade and allow Thailand to achieve its targeted bilateral trade value with different Asean members in 2019 and 2020,” she said.
In the first 10 months of 2018, Thai-Cambodia trade value reached $6.938 billion (Bt225.61 billion), with the aim to reach an annual value of $15 billion (Bt487.76 billion) by 2020. The Thai-Laos trade value for the first 10 months of this year was at $5.611 billion, with the aim to reach an annual value of $11 billion in 2021. The Thai-Myanmar trade value stood at $6.367 billion from January to October and is projected to reach an annual value of $12 billion in 2022, according the Department of Trade Negotiations.
Thailand aims to push for more connectivity within the region as the next host of the Asean summits next year,” said Sakon Varanyuwatana, Thailand’s Vice Minister of Commerce.
“This includes encouraging the development of cross-border logistics to reduce transportation costs for exporting businesses within the region, and to improve trade regulations between countries to allow for more convenience in trade,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thailand aims to accelerate its own Thailand 4.0 initiative to promote the growth of technological and digital industries through developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) special economic zone. The zone includes the provinces of Chon Buri, Chachoengsao and Rayong.
The Board of Investment of Thailand (BoI) has set a total investment target of up to Bt300 billion by the end of 2018 in the EEC. In the first nine months of this year, Bt230.55 billion has been invested in the EEC, showing an increase of up to 117 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit.
The five key infrastructure investment projects in the EEC are: high-speed railway; expansion of U-Tapao airport; expansion of Laem Chabang seaport and Map Ta Phut seaport; and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, with their combined investment estimated at Bt650 billion.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpitt-ayapaisith said these key investment projects would be completed in the next five to six years and a digital park project will be completed in 2022.