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Update March 8, 2016

The EU-ASEAN Business Council on the recent ASEAN ministers retreat in Chiang Mai

Chris Humphrey is the Executive Director, of the EU-ASEAN Business Council which advocates for European business interests in the ASEAN region, pushes for the reduction and eventual elimination of barriers to trade (both tariffs and Non-Tariff Barriers) and facilitates trade and investment between Europe and ASEAN.

The ASEAN Economic Ministers have just wrapped up their retreat in Chiang Mai, where they discussed, amongst other things progress under the ASEAN Economic Community and the new AEC Blueprint 2025. During their meetings they held a consultation with European business leaders in the region, meeting with the EU-ASEAN Business Council. We asked the EU-ABC’s Executive Director, Chris Humphrey, about the meeting and the views of European industry on the AEC.

What does the EU-ABC think of the AEC?

We have always said that the AEC is work in progress, and it is a project that we at the EU-ABC are delighted to support and assist with. Much work lies ahead if the full benefits of the AEC are to be realised throughout the region. That is clearly acknowledged in the 2025 Blueprint. For the benefit of everyone in ASEAN we hope to see rapid progress on the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers to trade in ASEAN, as called for under the original AEC Blueprint, as well as measures that can spread the benefit of the AEC to all corners of ASEAN such as increased support for SMEs and the broadening and deepening of the integration of Financial Services in ASEAN, enhancements in ICT, protection of intellectual property, and in improvements in the trade in goods and services.

What did the EU-ABC say to the AEM at the meeting?

We presented the AEM with a list of short-term recommendations which we believe will help advance the AEC agenda. We are keen to see the AEC develop and to develop faster. These recommendations have been designed so that they could be achievable in a relatively short space of time and the benefits of them could be readily felt by everyone in the region. They cover areas such as trade facilitation, easing of customs procedures, and helping ease cross border payments in ASEAN, all of which should benefit both large and small companies in the region.

Were the Ministers receptive?

The private sector plays a vital role in the development of any economy, so we were especially pleased to hear the AEM reconfirm the commitments in the AEC Blueprint 2025 to deeper and enhanced dialogue with industry, especially when it comes to the developing the ASEAN integration agenda and the need to harmonise standards and develop practical solutions on the ground. They welcomed our recommendations and urged us to continue to engage with them and others in the region. We stand ready to help ASEAN in any way possible with the work ahead.

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The EU-ASEAN Business Council on the recent ASEAN ministers retreat in Chiang Mai