A Seminar on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Information for Business was held on 15-16 June in Bangkok to promote awareness and understanding on the AEC's key initiatives to the business community. The Seminar explained the objectives, key benefits along with the process steps contained in the three AEC Information Packs, namely: Tariff Reductions; Rules of Origin; and Customs Clearance.
Ms. Palarin Yamchinda, Director of Policy and Strategy Unit, Office of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Promotion of Thailand, highlighted the importance of enhancing the competitiveness and dynamism of ASEAN SMEs by facilitating their access to information, market, human resources development and skills, finance as well as technology.
Dr. Christine Falken-Grosser, Economic and Commercial Counselor, German Embassy Bangkok, conveyed Germany's continued support as a long-standing partner to ASEAN Member States (AMS).
Mr. Syed Nabil, Secretary-General of ASEAN-Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), called for joint collaboration from the public and private sector to work together to reduce the non-tariff barriers/ measures (NTB/NTM) in achieving international trade of ASEAN. He raised some of the issues faced by SMEs, such as limited access to finance, market, technology, as well as the challenges in facilitating free movement of goods. Lack of understanding and information also brought issues on facilitating intra ASEAN Trade. In overcoming these issues, ASEAN-BAC is currently doing study on lowering NTM/ NTBs. In that occasion, he also suggested to optimize the information and communication technology (ICT) utilisation in support of SMEs activities.
The participants came from regional and national business councils, small and medium enterprises (SME) promotion agencies, relevant government agencies and SMEs in AMS. They discussed the implications and relevance of the AEC to their business operation and strategy, and how they could further disseminate the information to respective network and community. Several issues were raised during the Seminar, particularly on the utilization of ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) Form D, certificate of origin (COO), tariff reduction schedule and progress and development in the harmonisation of customs procedure across AMS.
In the effort to raise awareness and promote information dissemination on AEC to the wider business community in ASEAN, ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG) in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat is in the process of developing ASEAN SME Service Centre Web Portal to provide information, business and trade opportunities and advisory services to SMEs with regional and sub-regional linkages to the SME web portal in AMS.
The Seminar on AEC Information for Business is one of the GIZ activities under the Capacity Building Programme for the ASEAN Secretariat, supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.