Intra-ASEAN trade now $520B - equivalent to 25% of ASEAN's global trade

Intra-ASEAN trade has grown from $470 billion in 2008 and $376.2 billion in 2009 to $519.7 billion in 2010. Last year's achievement is equivalent to 25% of the total $2.04 trillion trade between ASEAN and the rest of the world.

Indonesia's Trade Minister, Mari Elka Pangestu, announced the details in a discussion about the annual ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meeting to be held in Manado, North Sulawesi, from 10-14 August.

She said Indonesia will offer a framework to achieve inclusive and equitable development, which will include supporting small- and medium-scale enterprises in the region.

“We are formulating the guiding principles of the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Development to be used by all institutions in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to overcome development gaps,” she said, citing the example of Singapore with a per capita GDP of more than $37,000, compared with Cambodia's and Laos' $700 and $980, respectively.

Mrs Pangestu said the meeting will also focus on two other important issues — the integration of 10 ASEAN member states into the AEC by 2015 and the role of ASEAN in East Asia.

“During the meeting, we want to check how far the blueprint of the AEC has been met to support the establishment of the AEC,” she said, adding that improvements were needed on trade facilitation and mutual recognition for standardisation of products made in ASEAN.

So far, six ASEAN member states have "lifted import duties on 99% of traded goods among the region" and all 10 ASEAN member states have" reduced import duties to 0-to-5% for 99% of traded goods".

Philippines Trade and Industry Secretary, Gregory L Domingo, agreed Non-Tariff Barrier (NTB) issues are expected to dominate the 4-day event. “The focus now is on harder issues and how to move things forward to meet the 2015 goal for AEC,” he said.

One of the NTBs of interest will be 'services and investments' which  involves the movement of people, profession practice and foreign ownership issues. “The services sector is a concern among ASEAN countries,” Mr Domingo said.

The AEC Blueprint for realising the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 was adopted and signed by ASEAN leaders in November 2007 in Singapore during their annual Summit Meeting.

The main objectives of AEC are to create a single market and production base; highly competitive economic region; region of equitable economic development; and region fully integrated into the global economy.