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October 4, 2023
AEC 2019

Harnessing Momentum Towards Greater Economic Integration

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October 4, 2023
Harnessing Momentum Towards Greater Economic Integration
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Greater Momentum for ASEAN EconomicIntegration

The ongoing effort to build the institutional and policy pillars of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is taking place at a time of changes and uncertainty in the global environment. The slowing of global GDP and trade growth, which have both been exacerbated by the global trade uncertainty generated by evolving trade disputes, is causing a rapid adjustment of supply chains. The longer these uncertainties persist the more far reaching consequences we can expect in GDP growth and international trade patterns. At this time ASEAN has fared betterthan most as a group though certaincountries within ASEAN have been harder hit than others.

We call upon ASEAN to support the evolution of a rules-based multilateral trading systemby, for example, joining and ratifying the CPTPP, concluding the RCEP expeditiously, exploring more bilateral FTAs, including with the United States, as well as supporting WTO initiatives. The Council joins the ASEAN Business Advisory Council in calling on ASEAN, at the highest levels, to use its institutions to call upon both the U.S. and China to resolve quickly the differences between them and promotelong term stabilityand integration in the Asia Pacific region based on rules-based institutions.

These shifts offer ASEAN new challenges and opportunities to attract increased amounts of foreign direct investment in the region. In order to truly maximize the attention being given to ASEAN we urge ASEAN to redoublethe economic integration efforts embodied in the AEC. ASEAN should use this opportunity to double down on integration and to take advantage of the global economic shifts, create the scale that businesses need in Asia, noting that businesses themselves are going through transformation and restructuring.

The Council remains committed to support ASEAN integration and the concept of the Indo- Pacific, not only that whichhas been set out by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but also the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. We have been engaging with various ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies in the past year and working to contribute to the implementation of the AEC Blueprint 2025 and the AEC 2025 Consolidated StrategicAction Plan (CSAP).This has been especially true in the digital economy, including Cyber security, E-Commerce and IR 4.0; Customs and Trade Facilitation; Agriculture, including Biotechnology; Transportation; SME; and Energy. We look forward to continue engaging ASEAN and having an inclusive, prosperous, mutually beneficial engagement as we move forward.

We have attached a detailed accounting of many of the trade and economic issues in which we are engaging ASEAN along with recommendations on how we propose to deal with them across the policy spectrum in cooperation with your Ministries.