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The 6th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting

The Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) attended the 6th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held on 13 October 2018 in Singapore. The Ministers reviewed the developments since the 6th RCEP Ministerial Meeting on 30-31 August 2018 in Singapore, particularly the outcomes of intersessional meetings held by various Working Groups and Sub-Working Groups
The Ministers welcomed the intensification of market access negotiations.
The Ministers reaffirmed their resolve to bring negotiations to a substantial conclusion and reiterated that the completion of the Package by the year-end is an important milestone, particularly at the time of uncertainties in global trade. The Ministers agreed to work together to overcome any difficulty or challenge as the RCEP negotiations enter into the last mile.

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ASEAN moves forward on women’s economic empowerment

The ASEAN Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment was held on 27-28 August 2018 in Singapore.
Jointly organised by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), the forum was supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore. It was the first project that promotes and protects the rights of women through economic empowerment.
Representatives from the AICHR, ACWC, Senior Economic Officials and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network, as well as private sector and civil society representatives from ASEAN Member States shared experiences and exchanged good practices that contribute to the greater economic participation and empowerment of women through all stages of life.
The forum comprised five sessions, namely, Empowering Female Employees at the Workplace; Breaking Barriers and Re-inventing Traditional Businesses; Creating New Businesses in Emerging Industries; Shaping Corporate Culture for Women Leadership Development; and Empowering Women in the Silver Economy.

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ASEAN Economic Ministers meet in Singapore

Singapore is hosting the 50th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings starting 28 August until 1 September 2018.
In line with the theme of Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship – “Resilient and Innovative”, economic priority deliverables for this year are being pursued under the five key thrusts of promoting innovation and e-commerce flows, improving trade facilitation in ASEAN, deepening services and investment integration, cultivating a conducive regulatory environment, and progressing ASEAN’s external relations.
The 50th AEM Meeting will deliberate, among others, on the progress of these economic priority deliverables, ASEAN economic performance, implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN external economic relations.
Following the 50th AEM Meeting, the ASEAN economic ministers will meet with their counterparts from Dialogue Partner countries namely Australia and New Zealand (Closer Economic Relations), Canada, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States, as well as with private sector representatives from the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and other regional business councils.

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ASEAN, partners call for robust implementation of SDGs by local governments

ASEAN, together with its dialogue partner China and the UNDP called on local governments of the region to take a more active role in poverty alleviation programmes as espoused by the sustainable development goals (SDGs) agenda. The call was made at a symposium held in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 21 August 2018.

At the opening of the ASEAN-China-UNDP Symposium on Localising the SDGs and Realising Poverty Eradication, ASEAN’s Deputy Secretary-General for Socio-cultural Community Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee highlighted ASEAN’s efforts in building the ASEAN Community that is rules-based, people-oriented and people-centred. He noted the progress and achievements ASEAN has made in promoting complementarities between ASEAN’s Vision 2025 and the SDGs. He said “ASEAN Vision 2025 and SDG converge. The desire of the peoples of ASEAN to live in a peaceful, harmonious, inclusive, resilient, and healthy community meets the strong leadership and commitment of the ASEAN Leaders. Let us all leverage on the complementarities between these two important agendas for the betterment of the peoples of ASEAN.”
Based on latest data from ASEANStats, economic progress in ASEAN in the last 50 years has significantly reduced poverty across the region. The proportion of ASEAN population living with less than USD1.25 PPP per day fell from a high of 47% in 1990 to 14% in 2015. The SDG goal to “leave no one behind” means ASEAN still has some work to do.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Huang Xilian reiterated his government’s support to synergizing the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 in his remarks. He said “China is ready to strengthen cooperation with the UN and ASEAN to foster sustainable development as a new growth point of China-ASEAN cooperation and enhance intensive cooperation in clean energy, poverty eradication, environmental protection and climate change.” Amb. Xilian emphasized that sustainable development and poverty eradication would be impossible without the support of all sectors.

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Report: Asia-Pacific Business Environment Improves 7.3%

Doing business in APEC member economies continues to get easier, according to a new report, helping to open up trade and growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific against the backdrop of rising uncertainty.
An analysis of business conditions in APEC economies by the APEC Policy Support Unit reveals a 7.3 per cent improvement over the last two years, boosted by their ambitious ease of doing business initiative being taken forward by economic officials in Port Moresby. The initiative is focused on five priority areas: 1) Getting credit; 2) starting a business; 3) dealing with construction permits; 4) enforcing contracts; and 5) trading across borders.

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ASEAN updates economic community action plan

ASEAN updated the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2025 Consolidated Strategic Action Plan (CSAP) to include action lines from sectoral work plans.
Following its first publication on 6 February 2017, and as mandated by the AEC Council, the AEC 2025 CSAP was updated to include the Strategic Action Plan 2016-2025 for ASEAN Taxation Cooperation, the ASEAN Work Programme on Electronic Commerce 2017-2025, the AEC 2025 Trade Facilitation Strategic Action Plan. The updates also include ASEAN Work Plan on Good Regulatory Practices 2016-2017 and changes to the timelines and key action lines of other AEC sectoral bodies—all of which were endorsed after the initial publication.

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ASEAN-China-UNDP Symposium to push for localisation of sustainable development goals

ASEAN, in cooperation with China and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will hold a symposium in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 20-21 August 2018 to push for local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the region. Dubbed as the “Symposium on Localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Realising Poverty Eradication,” it will elaborate ways to mainstream the SDGs at regional and sub-national levels in the context of complementarities between the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the SDGs.

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ASEAN celebrates 51st anniversary

ASEAN celebrated its 51st anniversary at the ASEAN Secretariat with a series of community and youth engagement events held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 8 August 2018.
The celebration was highlighted by a commemorative ceremony in the morning attended by Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning of Indonesia Sofyan Djalil, representatives of ASEAN Member States, Dialogue Partners, the diplomatic corps, civil society, international organisations, and entities associated with ASEAN.

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Myanmar Ministry forced to ditch ‘$1,000 in cash per tourist’ entry demand

The Myanmar government reveals they have ditched the demand for tourists to possess US$1,000 in cash upon arrival, a week after the initial announcement was made, after the backlash from businesses.
The immigration ministry issued a policy last week (July 24) which requires Japanese, Chinese and South Korean visitors to bring US$1,000 in cash when they enter Myanmar under new visa arrangements. But the demand was dropped in the following week: two days ago, the hotel and tourism ministry announced a “suspension” of that rule.

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2018 Article IV Consultation with India

On July 18, 2018, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with India.
Stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and progress on structural reforms continue to bear fruit. Following disruptions related to the November 2016 currency exchange initiative and the July 2017 goods and service tax (GST) rollout, growth slowed to 6.7 percent in FY2017/18, but a recovery is underway led by an investment pickup.

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