(Vientiane, Lao PDR) The US-ASEAN Business Council met with the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) today to discuss trade and investment issues impacting US companies in the region. The Council’s delegation consists of senior representatives from APL Co., DaimlerChrysler, FedEx Express, Ford Motor Company, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Time Warner and UPS. US-ASEAN Business Council President Matthew Daley led the delegation. This is the sixth year that the Council has had the honor of engaging the ASEAN Economic Ministers and offering vision and support for development of the ASEAN market.
During the meeting, members of the Council urged ASEAN and its member countries to:
- Foster an environment for collaborative innovation in the region by promoting openness, removing barriers to the flow of information and by embracing open standards and interoperability
- Enforce the laws and conventions that exist to control the manufacture, sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated products and content in order to promote a more competitive climate for creativity and innovation
- Create a liberal, open and transparent environment for shipping, logistics and express delivery services that will stimulate growth and investment in ASEAN
- Harmonize the AFTA Rules of Origin (RoO) with the other ASEAN FTAs and ensure that the RoO is both reasonable and predictable
- Promote common standards and incentives for the introduction of alternative fueled vehicles given the rising price of oil
- Sign on to the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Trade and begin implementing it, and adopt other reasonable measures to diminish supply chain security vulnerabilities in ASEAN
- Implement the Multimodal Transport Bill (MTO) in the spirit of FTA and ASEAN principles by not raising barriers
The Council also continued to urge the AEM to accelerate the ASEAN integration process as it is the key to provide the economies of scale and efficiencies that investors require to commit significant funds to the region. “We believe that ASEAN has a clear roadmap and substantive agreements in place to achieve economic integration. What we need now is for ASEAN to implement those agreements without further delay”, said Matthew Daley. He further added, “The more efficient, unified and open a market ASEAN can become, the more competitive it will be in attracting investment from American companies. And in turn, this means jobs, economic development, and education in ASEAN and closer ties between our countries”.
At the meeting, the delegation also discussed the outcomes from a report that was published earlier this year by the US-ASEAN Business Council titled: “Express Delivery Services: Integrating ASEAN to Global Markets.” The report provides a number of recommendations for developing a customs modernization strategy and undertaking measures to promote trade facilitation.
On the question of the importance of encouraging a framework for strengthened intellectual property rights, the Council drew the attention of the Ministers to a recent report produced by the ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiatives entitled “Intellectual Property: Source of innovation, creativity, growth and progress.”
ASEAN is the third largest overseas market for U.S. exports, and two-way U.S.-ASEAN trade totaled US$136 billion in 2004. The ASEAN Economic Ministers have a central role to play in ensuring that the market for goods and services and two-way trade continue to grow and expand.