The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers explores the potential of mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation with Britain - Photo by Trade Ministry Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers explores the potential of mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation with Britain. Both parties has met in a virtual ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) Troika Open-ended Dialogue with United Kingdom (UK) Trade Ministers on Thursday (08/27) to form the cooperation.

The meeting was a series of activities the AEM Meeting which took place since August 22 to 29. Trade minister, Agus Suparmanto said in a statement, ASEAN welcomed Britain’ proposal to become a dialogue partner to seeks the potential of ASEAN – UK economic cooperation. In this meeting, they also discussed various global and regional development issues related to COVID-19, Brexit, and tariff simplification based on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The ASEAN secretariat data shows that Britain is the 13th trade partner with a total trade in 2019 worth of US$35.7 billion. For investment, the kingdom in is in sixth position with total valued $7.7 billion. he added that the potential for ASEAN economic cooperation with the UK that could be explored is in the digital economy, financial technology, especially for MSMEs, and cooperation related to the environment.

In early meeting, Suparmanto encouraged the ASEAN members to strengthening the cooperation among countries to face the challenges during the pandemic dan trade tension between United States (US) – China. At the meeting, he conveyed the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) for ASEAN economic recovery and remains the region to become more attractive for the investors.

The ministers noted that FDI inflows to the region reached $160.6 billion or 10.4 percent of the total investment in the world during 2019. The region also ranks third after the European Union ($446.9 billion) and the US ($246.2 billion). The ASEAN contributed $91.8 billion with the share of the US reaching 15.2 percent, Japan 12.7 percent, and European Union 10.1 percent.

The ministers rated, economic performance in all ASEAN countries to decline significantly, which will result in an increase in unemployment and a decrease in people’ purchasing power. This year, the Asian Development Bank estimates trade growth in ASEAN will down to minus 0.3 percent. While, the global investment is estimated to decline by around 30 – 40 percent compared to 2019 so that all countries are expected to be prepared to accept performance lowest investment since 2005.

Trade Minister continued, the challenges faced by ASEAN are getting heavier because of the COVID-19 and trade competition in major economies have yet to show the signs will end. For Indonesia, this condition is an opportunity for ASEAN to improve its perspective on the investment.

In the serial meeting, the ministers joined in the ASEAN Free Trade Area Council welcomed the independent certification as the latest trade facilitation scheme that will soon be implemented in the region. As the name implies, this facilitation scheme will make it easier for producers and traders certified exporter to make a statement of origin directly.

“The use of this facilitation will have a positive impact on increasing Indonesia’ exports to ASEAN,” said Suparmanto.

He also conveyed the importance of the ASEAN Single Window to have a tracking feature, as implemented by the Indonesia National Single Window (NSW). ASEAN needs to increase the credibility of the Single Window in the eyes of exporters and importers through the provision of a tracking feature for e-Form D receipt by the customs of the importer country at the NSW.

To reduce technical barriers to trade in the automotive sector, the ministers have agreed to sign an agreement on mutual recognition of product type testing automotive products produced in ASEAN countries. Before the end of 2020, the economic ministers also agreed to sign ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Building and Construction Material, ASEAN Food Safety Regulatory Framework Agreement, and revised ASEAN Framework Agreement on MRA (AFA-MRA) 1998.

In 2019, total value of trade of goods between Indonesia and ASEAN was recorded at USD 55.72 billion or down by 1.22 percent over the period same year 2018. The value of exports to ASEAN 2019 amounting to $41.79 billion, an increase of 6.42 percent compared to 2018. While, the value of imports from ASEAN was $13.93 billion or decreased by 3.87 percent compared to 2018.

The most popular category of goods in the ASEAN market from Indonesia is coal briquettes (11.2 percent), palm oil (8.5 percent), petroleum gas (5.5 percent), crude oil (2.8 percent), and rubber (2,2 percent).

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