Jakarta, InfoPublik – All ASEAN member states will enhance cooperation and trade facilitation with the four dialogue partner countries.
Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said ASEAN also ensures the smooth flow of medicines and medical devices supply chain to accelerate economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ASEAN member states agreed to enhance trade cooperation to accelerate economic recovery. We also continue to work together to encourage the acceleration of the vaccination program, as well as to ensure the flow of the supply chain of medicines and medical devices," said the trade minister in an official statement received by InfoPublik regarding the series of ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meetings with four dialogue partners countries, namely China, South Korea, Japan, and Switzerland via video conference on Monday, 9 September.
The trade minister further explained that the 20th AEM meeting with the Chinese Minister of Trade or AEM and the Minister of Commerce (MOFCOM) Consultations agreed that ASEAN and China should immediately complete the discussion of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) Upgrade Protocol.
He also said that the ASEAN Ministers also encouraged the finalization of a concept paper for the Joint Feasibility Study to identify new areas of potential cooperation to improve ACFTA approval.
In addition, the ASEAN ministers agreed to launch a Joint Statement on Further Enhancing Trade and Economic Cooperation, a commitment to continue enhancing trade and economic cooperation of both parties.
“The Ministers agreed to enhance trade facilitation and ensure that ASEAN-China trade and investment remain open. This is necessary to restore economic growth in the ASEAN region," explained Minister Muhammad Lutfi.
The ministers in the 18th AEM-ROK Consultations agreed to immediately complete a concept note on the implementation of the Joint Feasibility Study to identify trade areas that can be increased through the ASEAN-Korean Free Trade Agreements (FTA).
After the AEM-ROK meeting, all ASEAN Ministers attended the AEM Troika Open-Ended Dialogue with Switzerland.
"At the meeting, all ASEAN Ministers are committed to increasing cooperation in trade, investment, health, and sustainable development in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic," he added.
The trade minister added that the series of meetings ended with the 24th AEM Plus Three (APT) meeting which include South Korea, China, and Japan. The meeting generated an agreement on the “ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Program (APT ECWP) of 2021—2022” as a guideline for the next year.
In addition, the meeting also agreed on the "Plan of Action on Mitigating the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic" which aims to increase and promote trade and investment flows. The plan also focuses on the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) since serves as a critical engine for economic recovery.
"Indonesia supports a number of initiatives and recommendations from East Asia Business Council (EABC) business actors to increase public outreach, and to accelerate the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) as one of the ways to encourage regional economic recovery," he said. (Wahyu Sudoyo/SC)
(Photo: Ministry of Trade's Public Relations Bureau)