PH hosts biggest gathering of economic officials from ASEAN and its trade partner countries

PASAY CITY—Following the successful hosting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat in March, the Philippines (PH), as current Chair of ASEAN 2017, stands ready to host once again a series of high-level meetings among economic ministers of the 10 Member States of ASEAN and the region’s trade partners.

As the biggest formal gathering of high-level economic officials this year, the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings will run from 6 to 11 September 2017. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to lead the occasion with Secretary Ramon M. Lopez as the AEM Chair and DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo as AEM PH Lead.

Since the adoption of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 last year and the Consolidated Strategic Action Plan (CSAP) in February 2017 in Manila, community building efforts have intensified under the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN.

As the lead agency for the AEC Pillar, DTI together with member agencies of the Committee for AEC or CAEC (National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Science and Technology, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Board of Investments, Bureau of Customs, Presidential Management Staff, and Tariff Commission) have been pushing strategic measures that are aligned with the PH thematic priority on pursuing an “inclusive, innovation-led growth.” CAEC is an inter-agency coordination body tasked to facilitate policy formulation, and supervises the implementation of the AEC 2025

Increasing trade and investment, integrating the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the global value chains, and developing an innovation-driven economy are the identified strategic measures to achieve said thematic priority.

Under this year’s Chairmanship, PH’s priority deliverables include strategic measures pushing for an ASEAN-wide Self-certification Scheme, introducing a more robust method for AEC compliance monitoring through the ASEAN Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicators (ASTFI) and Review Mechanism for AEC, fostering a more facilitative and transparent trade in services regime sector through the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) negotiations, and strengthening investments through the Focused and Strategic (FAST) Action Agenda on Investment, and enhancing intra-regional connectivity and bolstering socio-economic growth in the regions through the launch of the ASEAN Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) Shipping Network.

PH is also introducing Inclusive Business in ASEAN, mainstreaming Women Economic Empowerment in AEC, and supporting cross-border trade and ecosystem of entrepreneurship based on technology and innovation through E-Commerce and the ASEAN Declaration on Innovation.

PH’s membership in ASEAN is seen as a means to further enhance the country’s competitiveness and reap the full benefits of participation in closer ASEAN regional economic integration.

ASEAN trade ministers will also meet their counterparts from Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. These series of meetings will enable and exchange views on global and regional economic developments, as well as include discussions on trade agreements and economic cooperation mechanisms with these countries.

“At the end of the day, what will value is how these meetings concretely translate to creating more and better opportunities for ASEAN citizens to experience inclusive growth that leads to region-wide prosperity, as we partner for change and engage the world,” said Sec. Lopez, referring to this year’s theme of PH’s chairmanship of ASEAN.

Sec. Lopez is also scheduled to have bilateral meetings on the sidelines to discuss important trade and economic concerns and explore commercial opportunities.

“We see ASEAN as a platform where we can regionalize our national interests. Our collective efforts will lead us towards earning takeaways that will truly resonate to the country’s economic thrusts, and in turn to the benefit of our people,” said Usec. Rodolfo.

Alongside engagements with external partners are dialogues with the private sector and business councils including ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Canada – ASEAN Business Council (CABC), ASEAN – Korea Business Council (AKBC), US – ASEAN Business Council (USABC), Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham), Australia-New Zealand Business Council (ANZBC), Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Association (FJCCIA), East Asia Business Council (EABC) and ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC) in order to recognize their significant contribution in producing appropriate policy options and recommendations to further facilitate ASEAN’s deeper economic integration.

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