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On August 19, 2023, the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting took place in Semarang, Indonesia, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Trade in Indonesia, His Excellency Zulkifli Hasan, and the attendance of ASEAN Economic Ministers and ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn. The Vietnamese delegation attending the conference included representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance, led by Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien.
At the meeting, the Ministers reviewed the implementation of Indonesia's priority economic cooperation initiatives in the ASEAN Chairmanship year 2023, important tasks of the ASEAN Economic Community such as the Strategy for Economic Cooperation and Development, ASEAN strategy on carbon neutrality, preparation for the launch of negotiations on the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Digital Economy, the implementation and upgrading of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) as well as the preparation for the consultation meetings between the Economic Ministers of ASEAN countries and partner countries.
The Ministers noted that four out of the seven priority economic cooperation initiatives of Indonesia, the ASEAN Chair in 2023, have been completed, notably the signing of the 2nd Amendment Protocol of the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) within the framework of this ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting as well as the launch of negotiations on the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Digital Economy at the 43rd ASEAN Summit scheduled to take place in early September this year.
The Ministers also spent time discussing the upgrading of the ATIGA Agreement, dealing with long-standing problems in the implementation of this agreement, the recommendations of the High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration related to the formulation of the ASEAN Economic Community Vission post-2025, and to review the preparations for the ASEAN Summit and related meetings scheduled to take place in early September 2023.
In addition, the Ministers also discussed on economic cooperation activities between ASEAN and its dialogue partners such as the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, etc., the implementation of Free Trade Agreements between ASEAN and partner countries, including the upgrading of the FTA between ASEAN and China, negotiation of an FTA between ASEAN and Canada, and the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
On the sidelines of the meeting, the Ministers also met and discussed with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) about the recommendations and priorities of ABAC in the coming time related to promoting electric vehicles usage in the ASEAN region, strengthening regional trade and investment integration, facilitating cooperation activities on sustainable development and maintaining health measures to respond to the epidemic.
Participating in discussions at the meeting, Vietnam positively contributed comments on issues in intra-ASEAN economic cooperation such as the preparation for the signing of the second Protocol amending the AANZFTA Agreement, negotiation on upgrading the ATIGA Agreement and preparation for the launch of negotiations on the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Digital Economy, thereby demonstrating Vietnam's strong commitment to regional economic integration, maintaining an proactive role in activities that drive regional and global economic growth, promote post-Covid-19 economic recovery, and strengthen regional supply chains.
This meeting will be followed by a series of Economic Ministers Consultations between ASEAN and its dialogue partners scheduled to take place from 20 to 22 August 2023.