ASEAN trade chiefs adopt PHL initiatives at AEM meet

MANILA- ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) have adopted the Philippines' agenda during the conclusion of the 23rd AEM Retreat and Related Meetings here on Friday.

"During the AEM Retreat, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), as chair and host, was able to push the Philippine agenda on the country's economic priority deliverables by securing endorsement of fellow ASEAN Economic Ministers," said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in a briefing.

"These deliverables touch on freer trade and trade facilitation, trade services, investment, connectivity, and innovation," added Lopez, who is also the AEM chairman.

The meeting has also allowed ASEAN's top trade officials to identify their target outcome documents for the next and bigger meeting in September.

According to DTI Assistant Secretary Anna Maria Rosario Robeniol, some of the outcome documents that AEM eyes include program on e-commerce; inclusive business; integrating micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in global value chain and digital economy; and trade facilitation index.

During the AEM Retreat, economic ministers target to reduce trade transaction cost by 10 percent by 2020.

"Next is to put plan of action on how to achieve this piece of document, and make it ready for September for endorsement to ministers," Robeniol said.

The region's top trade officials also reiterated the need for better connectivity, highlighting the ASEAN Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) Network with Davao-General Santos-Bitung route, which will be launched next month.

The economic ministers have reaffirmed to push for the conclusion of the text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the country's chairmanship of ASEAN.

AEM also met with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), EU-ASEAN Business Council, and had its 15th round of consultations with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalmstrAlm.

Source: Philippines News Agency