A Blueprint for Growth - ASEAN Economic Community 2015: Progress and Key Achievements

2.3 Key Achievements

Towards a Single Goods Market
Under the goal of creating a single market and production base are the central themes of the free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labour as well as freer flow of capital, as mentioned earlier.

For goods, the aim has been no less than to eliminate trade bottlenecks; that has involved the daunting task of removing tariffs, reducing paperwork and cutting the waiting times of getting products to market, with the added benefit of reducing risks associated with consigning goods.

Significant progress has been made in tariff elimination. Pursuant to the commitments made in the AFTA in 1992, and later in the ATIGA in 2010, Member States have eliminated import duties among themselves by 2010 for the ASEAN-6 (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand), and – by 2015 with flexibility to 2018 – for the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam). To date, the ASEAN-6 have virtually eliminated their intra- regional tariffs, with 99.2% of tariff lines at 0%. For the CLMV, the figure stands at 90.86% giving an ASEAN average of 95.99%.

“Tariff elimination alone does not create an open market”

Tariff elimination alone, however, does not create an open market. Benefitting from intra-regional trade preferences can be made easier, among other factors, with continuous simplification of Rules of Origin (ROO) as well as the ASEAN Self-Certification Project. Under the Self- Certification scheme, the primary responsibility for origin certification is met by traders and manufacturers. This energises regional trade links by giving certified exporters the freedom to declare that their products have satisfied ASEAN origin criteria, which allow them to benefit from trade preferences under ATIGA. All 10 Member States are now on board on one of thetwo Self-Certification Pilot Projects. Concerted efforts are underway to establish the ASEAN-wide self- certification scheme.

Trade facilitation also continues across borders, with five Member States having tested the exchange of trade data and information (ATIGA Form D) using the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) platform through their national single windows. The ASW creates a single point of entry where trade- related documents and information can be submitted to speed up customs clearances and reduce transaction times and costs. The Protocol on the Legal Framework to Implement the ASW (PLF) was signed by the Finance Ministers in 2015.

Transparency and resulting business certainty is central to ASEAN’s trade facilitation agenda. The work on establishing an ASEAN Trade Repository (ATR), documenting trade and customs laws and procedures accessible in the public domain, was authorised under ATIGA and is a major highlight in facilitating the free flow of goods. The ATR is expected ultimately to contain trade-related information such as MFN tariffs, preferential tariffs offered under ATIGA and other ASEAN FTAs, ROO, non- tariff measures (NTMs), national trade and customs laws and rules. It will also contain comprehensive procedures and documentary requirements, administrative rulings, best practices, and a list of authorised traders.

Once all national trade repository (NTR) web portals are established and connected by the ATR they will contribute to lower business costs, extend regulatory transparency and greater certainty in business dealings. Further, the ATR could also serve as a support mechanism for implementing other AEC initiatives such as addressing the barrier effects of non-tariff measures.

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