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
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.