ASEAN Economic Ministers agreed to utilize trade digitalization and industrial technology 4.0 - Photo by ASEAN Secretariat Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia proposed the South East Asian organization (ASEAN) to review the liberalization trade among the members as well as various challenge around the region, said the trade minister on Sunday (09/08). The ministers also agreed to utilize trade digitalization and industrial technology 4.0 in the future.

“This time there are two things that become Indonesia’ main concern in the AFTA Ministerial meeting related to the transposition of Vietnam tariff posts for decomposed vehicle products which is considered not transparent and the old issue regarding the drinks tariff post Indonesian alcoholic drinks which are still included in the General Exception List (GEL),” said Enggartiasto Lukita in an official statements after attended the 33rd AFTA Council Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

The economic ministers from Indonesia, Cambodia, and Singapore urged Vietnam to ensure that the tariff for each component forming completely knocked down (CKD) is 0 percent. According to them, Vietnam has abolished tariffs for CKD products and determine tariff posts based on unity whole product, but rather per component.

As a resulted, said Lukita, the process of getting tariffs CKD export preferences are burdened by preparing preference documents per CKD component. For that, he continued, the four countries agreed to ask Vietnam to provide transparency solutions to the impact of eliminating the CKD tariff post mentioned in the reduction schedule based on 2012′ ASEAN Harmonized tariffs.

“The AFTA Council meeting agreed to try to resolve this problem through the side letter (separate statement) by Vietnam. These must be made in such a way that they can become a guide for customs officials ASEAN on the field,” the minister stated.

Related to the post tariff for alcoholic drinks, the Trade Minister said there is a difficulty removing it from the list of excluded products GEL of the imposition of preferential tariffs, although this issue has long been discussed since 2007. This matter because the issue of alcoholic drinks is a sensitive issue in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Nevertheless, the ministers agreed clear solutions must be sought for the longstanding issues in ASEAN, so that credibility of the organization in the eyes of the world can be maintained. On the investment issues, a number of ASEAN countries including Indonesia have done a number of investment policy reform efforts are expected to attract a number of investors.

Digital and Industry 4.0

Beside those issues, ASEAN economic ministers also agreed to utilize trade digitalization and industry 4.0. Lukita revealed, the agreement reached as an intended to strengthen economic integration between the members.

He continued, The four priorities are the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework Action Plan, ASEAN Declaration on Industrial Transformation to Industry 4.0, Policy Guideline on Digitalization of ASEAN Micro Enterprises, and Guidelines on Skilled Labor or Professional Services Development in Response to The Fourth
Industrial Revolution.

At the meeting, the Ministers also reviewed the implementation of the Blueprint The ASEAN Economic Community 2025, including achievements the 13 priority economic outcomes under Thailand’ leadership in ASEAN in 2019, as well a number of ASEAN external economic relations.

AEM-METI Meeting

In the other meeting with Japan (The 24th AEM-METI Consultations) the ministers discussed various efforts to enhance cooperation
the economics of both parties. At present, Japan is the third largest trading partner and source of foreign investment the second largest for ASEAN.

One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the development of implementation ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) agreement after signed The First Protocol on April 24. The Ministers committed to immediately completing the approval ratification process.

In this meeting, Japan offers various economic cooperation projects for ASEAN, especially in the face of developments in the progress of digital technology in the era of the Industry 4.0.  According to the minister, these opportunities must be exploited.

“We should be able take advantage of these opportunities and synergize these projects with similar initiatives developed in ASEAN, namely the ASEAN Action Plan on Digital Integration 2019-2025, “
he concluded.

Furthermore, the ministers also held an Informal Meeting and Preparatory Meeting for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to arrange strategies to deal with partner countries.

by Marcel Gual, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com