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On August 21, 2023, within the framework of the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting, ASEAN Economic Ministerial-level Consultation Meetings with its partners, including the United States, China, Russia, India, East Asia and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministers Meeting took place in Semarang, Indonesia respectively, with the participation of the Economic Ministers of the ASEAN member countries and the Economic Ministers of each partner country. The Vietnamese delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Finance.
At the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the US Trade Representative Consultation Meeting, the countries take note the progress in implementing the ASEAN and US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and The Expanded Economic Cooperation (E3) Initiative 2022-2023 and the adoption of the ASEAN-US TIFA and E3 Work Plan 2023-2024, focusing on areas such as the digital economy; development micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME); labor and environment; good law practice; human capital development; and trade facilitation.
Regarding ASEAN-China cooperation, the Ministers agreed to adopt the China Initiative on enhancing ASEAN-China e-commerce cooperation with the aim of promoting MSME business cooperation, capacity building, sharing experiences and facilitate cross-border e-commerce. The Ministers also discussed the status of negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, towards the basic goal of completing negotiations to upgrade this agreement in 2024.
With Russia, the Ministers noted the implementation of the cooperation program between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Commission for the period 2020-2025 as well as the implementation of the ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Roadmap for the period 2021-2025, focusing on areas such as business and industry; micro, small and medium enterprises; science, technology and innovation; Intellectual Property; Climate Change; energy; carriage; etc…
At the ASEAN-India Economic Ministers' Consultation Meeting, the countries approved documents to prepare for the review and upgrade of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), including: Reference clauses for the AITIGA Agreement Joint Committee, Work Plan and Negotiating Structure for the Review. The countries also discussed with the ASEAN-India Business Council on the Council's proposals related to promoting the review and upgrade of the AITIGA Agreement in the direction of trade facilitation and simplification of non-tariffs trade barriers by harmonizing standards and mutual recognition, minimizing requirements at border gates, enhancing cooperation in areas of mutual interest, supporting micro, small and medium enterprises, etc... to strengthen trade relations between ASEAN and India.
Regarding ASEAN-East Asia cooperation, the Ministers spent time discussing the regional and global economic situation and listening to the Institute for Economic Research ASEAN and East Asia presenting the research "Accelerating the circular economy transformation through digitization: Strategies for Collective Action in East Asia Summit Countries”.
At the RCEP Ministerial Meeting, the countries noted that Indonesia and the Philippines had completed the domestic approval of the RCEP Agreement, helping the Agreement to officially come into force for all signatories. The Ministers also approved documents related to the establishment of the RCEP Agreement Implementation Support Unit in the ASEAN Secretariat (RSU), including: RSU Terms of Reference and Business Arrangement Document fees for RSU, thereby creating the basis for the establishment of RSU, promoting effective implementation of the Agreement in the future.
On the sidelines of the Meeting, the countries also witnessed the signing ceremony of the second Protocol amending the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement between four countries: Indonesia (ASEAN chair country 2023), Brunei (coordinator of economic relations ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand), Australia and New Zealand. The remaining countries are expected to sign in turn after completing their domestic procedures.
Participating in discussions at the aforementioned meeting, Vietnam has proactively contributed ideas on the direction of economic cooperation between ASEAN and its foreign partners in the coming time in order to achieve practical benefits for Vietna in particular and ASEAN in general such as strengthening regional supply chains and sustainable economic development.
The results of the aforementioned meetings will contribute to the overall success of the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and related conferences.