InfoQuest, (July 10, 2019) -- Ms. Onmon Subthawitham, Chief of the Department of International Trade Negotiations, Ministry of Commerce of Thailand revealed that the Department would host the 3rd/50th Conference for ASEAN Senior Economic Officials (SEOM) on July 14-18. This meeting is the 3rd senior official meeting, at which the work report of ASEAN will be made. It is a prelude to ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting scheduled to be open in September and ASEAN Summit in November. During the meeting, in addition to the SEOM meeting attended by senior economic officials from 10 ASEAN member states, meetings will also be organized between ASEAN and nine dialogue partners, including China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Ms. Onmon said a lot of major issues and concerns would be discussed at this SEOM meeting, such as the progress of Priority Economic Deliverables, the progress of the working groups under SEOM's responsibility, ASEAN's positive role in the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the unification of ASEAN's stance before meeting with these nine dialogue partners.
Meetings with other international organizations, such as the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN), the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE Plus), will also be held during the same time.
The Chief of the Department of International Trade Negotiations said that the meeting will cover the reporting of 13 economic progress in 3 aspects to be accomplished this year, including: (1) ASEAN's preparations for the future, such as the development of a digital implementation plan, the development of a human resources development guide for taking over 4IR, and the promotion of digital applications for small businesses.
(2) Connectivity. For example, all 10 ASEAN member states will have access to the ASEAN Single Window, the electronic customs management system within this year to promote the development of food tourism. (3) Promoting the sustainable development in all aspects, such as promoting sustainable development of the fishery and promote research and development of ASEAN's bioenergy sector.
At present, ASEAN has completed the implementation of two economic tasks, including the establishment of a private investment and financing mechanism for infrastructure development projects and the formulation of guidelines for the sustainable development of ASEAN's capital markets. At the SEOM meeting, participant will continue to follow up the remaining 11 tasks.
SEOM must continuously keep track of the work progress of various working groups in order to implement the AEC Blueprint 2025, such as the ASEAN Product Origin Self-Certification System/Trade Working Group. At present, ASEAN member states have adopted the product origin certification guidelines, which are expected to take effect from March 2020. The meeting will also involve the review on the progress of the working group responsible for the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Vehicle Certification. At present, the above agreement has been basically completed and is being refined in terms of legal vocabulary. It is planned to be signed at the ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting in September 2019.
Ms. Onmon added that the important topics to be discussed at SEOM's consultation meetings with nine dialogue partners including China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia include: (1) following up on whether or not member states are willing to implement the new version of specific rules of origin in accordance with the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and the progress of various cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. (2) Following up the progress of the revision of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement in the first execution protocol signed by ASEAN and the above-mentioned 9 dialogue partners on April 24, 2019. (3) Discussing and upgrading the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZFTA) free trade agreement and discussing the ground for WTO reform. (4) Progress of economic cooperation between ASEAN and the United States
ASEAN is the largest trading partner of Thailand in 2018, with the total bilateral trade volume of 113,934 million U.S. dollars in the year, up by 13 percent compared to that of 2017. In 2018, Thailand's total exports to ASEAN reached 68,437 million U.S. dollars, Thailand's total imports from ASEAN were 45,497 million U.S. dollars, so Thailand's trade surplus was 2,294 million U.S. dollars. Currently, the export of Thailand to ASEAN accounts for 27 percent of Thailand's total export volume.
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