ASEAN Trade Partners Meeting: Developments with the US, EU, Hong Kong, India and Russia
Global trade incentives being developed as ASEAN trade reaches far beyond its borders
Economic ministerial-level consultation meetings between ASEAN and its partners – the US, Hong Kong, India, the European Union, and Russia – have been held via video conference in the framework of the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting this week. In this article, we detail the new trade progress made between ASEAN and its major trading allies.
ASEAN members received a large amount of anti-pandemic assistance from the United States such as for COVID-19 vaccines. Ventilators, and personal protective equipment. The US was the second-largest trade partner for ASEAN with a total trade of US$309 billion in 2020, an increase of 4.6 percent from the previous year.
Further, the meeting also highlighted the ongoing progress in implementing several important initiatives such as the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and the US-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiative for 2020-2021. The latter focuses on developing e-commerce, agriculture, trade, the ASEAN one-stop-shop mechanism, the development of micro-small, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the environment.
The meeting adopted a plan to carry out the TIFA and the E3 Initiative in 2021-22.
ASEAN ministers spoke highly of the EU’s support for the ASEAN Economic Community via initiatives within the framework of the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE Plus) and the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI).
The event also adopted the ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Program for 2020-21 and directed senior economic officials of both sides to continue with discussion to reach an early consensus on the draft ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Framework Agreements to prepare for negotiations.
The EU is now the second biggest investor in ASEAN with a total invested capital of US$7.6 billion and a significant trade partner of the bloc with bilateral trade revenue of US$258 billion in 2020.
See also: EU-ASEAN Business Council Trade Survey
The ministers highlighted the ratification of the ASEAN–Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN–Hong Kong Investment Agreement. Working groups will now work on any remaining issues related to investments and rules of origin.
Hong Kong has expressed interest in joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in which ASEAN is a signatory along with Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and China.
See also: Hong Kong Plans to Join RCEP
At the meeting with Indian ministers, both sides lauded the completed approval of the ASEAN–India Investment Agreement and the progress in discussions regarding the upgrade of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), towards further facilitating trade for enterprises.
During the ASEAN-Russia consultation, ministers adopted the revised ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Roadmap and the ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Work Program for 2021-25, with focuses on trade and industry; micro-small, small and medium-sized enterprises; sci-tech, innovation, and intellectual property; climate change, energy, transportation, agro-fisheries, tourism, culture, human resource development and health care, sustainable development, and the digital economy.
Russia has Free Trade Agreements via the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with Singapore and Vietnam, both of which have been highly successful with the prospect of more to come. Vietnam has called for the entire ASEAN bloc to establish free trade with the EAEU which would allow ASEAN access to the EAEU’s 170 million population in Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and the EAEU and Russia access to ASEAN’s population of 661 million.
See also: Russian Investment into ASEAN
At the meetings, ministers also spent time talking with representatives of the ASEAN-US, ASEAN-India, ASEAN-EU, and ASEAN-Russia Business Councils to listen to private sector recommendations regarding trade facilitation in ASEAN.
See also: Doing Business in ASEAN 2021
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