The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Ministers ratify the completion of the Digital Integration Framework Action Plan 2019-2025 at the 18th AEC Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on Thursday (10/31) - Photo by ASEAN Secretariat

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Ministers ratify the completion of the Digital Integration Framework Action Plan 2019-2025 at the 18th AEC Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on Thursday (10/31). This aims to advance and overcome digital integration barriers in ASEAN.

Indonesia, represented by the coordinating minister for economic affairs, Airlangga Hartato and minister of trade Agus Suparmanto, noted the importance of operating the ASEAN Single Window at the end of this year. Through the agreement, said the ministers, would be able to expedite the delivery of export documents from exporting countries to export destination countries.

The AEC Council also noted that substantial completion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations will be announced by the countries at the 3rd RCEP Summit on Nov. 4.

“The meeting noted a very significant achievement has been carried out by ASEAN especially in the economic pillar in completing targets that support strengthening facilitation trade and prepare ASEAN to face the industrial revolution 4.0 in 2019,” Suparmanto said in a written statement.

The Council also notes the progress made by the AEC sectoral body in realizing the AEC Blueprint 2025. It aims to realize an increasingly integrated ASEAN as a single market and production base, competitive economic zones, equitable economic development, and regions that are integrated with the economy global.

Indonesia also supports the strengthening and sustainability of priorities the ASEAN economy during the Chairmanship of Thailand in 2019, especially in the field of trade facilitation and the readiness of ASEAN member countries in facing the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

In addition, the AEC Council also signed the ASEAN Protocol on Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism, so that it can be effectively enforced in ASEAN. The protocol was successfully completed in July 2019 after going through a pretty tough discussion since 2009.

“The scope of the new Protocol is now broader, containing a List of ASEAN Agreements in the economic field, from the previous 46 agreements to 105 agreements,” said the minister.

The protocol also clarifies the provisions regarding the procedure and scope of complaints that can be submitted only limited to Violation Complaints (disputes submitted are a violation of the agreement contained in Covered Agreements).

In the protocol 2004, members could dispute fellow members for cases that were of nature Non-violation Complaints and Situation Complaints. In addition, additional provisions are also regulated specifically for “Least-Developed AMS” where the previous protocol was not regulated.

Furthermore, the director general at trade ministry, Iman Pambagyo, added third parties have the right to participate in the first and second panel meetings, from previously only allowed to participate in the first panel.

With the signing of the protocol, dispute resolution over the implementation of economic agreements in the ASEAN region will be handled effectively by the member countries, without having to be brought to the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com