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ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting shows resolve on Community-building
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20:49, August 14, 2009

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The 41st Meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) on Thursday and Friday agreed to facilitate trade in goods, to further liberalize trade in service and to promote foreign direct investment flow in the grouping.

Against a backdrop of the global uncertainties characterized by the ongoing world financial crisis, the AEM meeting heightened "ASEAN's resolve to ensure the success of its Community building efforts", said the joint statement after Friday's meeting, referring to the ASEAN Economic Community that is scheduled to be set up by 2015.

The establishment of the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Framework and an ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee were endorsed by the economic ministers from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the statement.

The Framework will serve as guidelines for ASEAN members in undertaking trade facilitation policies, including assessing their trade facilitation measures; and the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Joint Consultative Committee, comprising officials in the areas of Trade, Customs, Standards and Conformance, etc, will assist in monitoring the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Chapter of the ASEAN Trade in goods Agreement (ATIGA), which the ASEAN economic ministers in the meeting agreed to enter into force during the ASEAN Summit this October.

The ministers in the meeting also reviewed the progress in the implementation of the various ASEAN plus one free trade areas (FTA), and they were pleased to note the realization of the ASEAN-China FTA and ASEAN-Korea FTA by Jan. 1, 2010, the statement said.

China and ASEAN are expected to sign the investment agreement at the Saturday's 8th AEM MOFCOM Consultations, within the agenda of the AEM meeting and related meetings.

The importance of narrowing development gap and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers within the grouping was emphasized in the meeting, the statement said.

The AEM meeting also reviewed ASEAN's economic situation and achievements in Community-building, said the statement, adding that ASEAN's total trade in goods in 2008 managed to grow by 6.2 percent, from 1,610.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2007 to 1,710.4 billion U.S. dollars. Total ASEAN exports expanded 2.3 percent at the same period, with intra-ASEAN trade expanded by 14 percent, from 401.9 billion dollars in 2007 to 458.1 billion dollars.

Source: Xinhua

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