ASEAN economic ministers sign agreements to facilitate trade

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-29 23:51:49|Editor: yan
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SINGAPORE, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed two agreements in Singapore on Wednesday, which are expected to benefit ASEAN's service providers and exporters.

One of the two agreements is the 10th package of commitments for the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS). The document is the final package of services liberalization commitments under the AFAS, which was first signed in 1995.

The other agreement is the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, which will introduce the necessary legal amendments in order to effect the ASEAN-wide Self-Certification scheme.

Besides signing the documents, the economic ministers endorsed ASEAN member states' commitment to transit their ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement Reservation Lists to a two-annex negative list structure, which will instil greater transparency and clarity on the nature of commitments taken by each nation.

They also endorsed the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce, which is ASEAN's first agreement in the area of e-commerce and is now slated for signing on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting in November 2018, and endorsed the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework, which will assist ASEAN member states in making improvements to the regional digital ecosystem and monitoring the region's progress in digital integration.

The economic ministers exchanged views on global and regional developments and reviewed the implementation of the AEC Blueprint 2025, including progress in ASEAN's external economic relations.

The ministers highlighted that Singapore's chairmanship theme of "resilient and innovative" has created the momentum for ASEAN to make strides in its work on the digital economy and e-commerce, among others, which contributed to the region's long-term competitiveness amidst the threat of escalating trade tensions and continued global uncertainties.

The 50th ASEAN Economic Ministers' meeting and related meetings formally kicked off here on Wednesday morning with an opening ceremony participated by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The meetings will be concluded on Sept. 1.