THE Philippines is confident the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is on track towards achieving its goal to become One Economic Community by 2015 despite the numerous challenges still facing the regional bloc.
In a press briefing here, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said these challenges include the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) which aims to enhance cooperation in services among member States in order to improve the efficiency and competitiveness, diversify production capacity and supply and distribution of services of their service suppliers within and outside ASEAN; eliminating non-tariff barriers; and enhancing customs procedures through the ASEAN Single Window.
“We’re currently between 73 to 76 percent in terms of the ASEAN accomplishments. We’re on the 9th package so the first eight packages had been completed. But there’s still a lot of work because the easier parts have been done. So now we get into the more difficult portions,” Domingo noted.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) aims to achieve regional economic integration by 2015. AEC envisages the following key characteristics: (a) a single market and production base, (b) a highly competitive economic region, (c) a region of equitable economic development, and (d) a region fully integrated into the global economy.
The AEC areas of cooperation include human resources development and capacity building; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies; trade financing measures; enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity; development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN; integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing; and enhancing private sector involvement for the building of the AEC.
In short, the AEC will transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital. (PND)