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The APEC Business Advisory Council`s recommendations are reflected in the APEC Ministerial Statement

The APEC Ministerial Statement released by the PNG Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade after the 26th APEC Leaders` meeting in Port Moresby on 23 November 2018 (in English) contains an annex on Cross Cutting Principles for Non-Tariff Measures. The Principles are derived from the work the APEC Business Advisory Council has done in its Regional Economic Integration Working Group (REIWG) over the last few years, and are a great example of successful ABAC advocacy.

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ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Commission sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) on Economic Cooperation was signed on 14 November in Singapore, on the sidelines of the 3rd ASEAN-Russia Summit. The MOU was signed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi and Chairman of the Board of the EEC Tigran Sargsyan, and witnessed by Leaders of ASEAN Member States as well as Russia.
Realising the importance of developing closer economic interaction between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), in March 2017, ASEAN and the EEC started to develop an MOU on economic cooperation. ASEAN and the EEC finalised the MOU on 1 October 2018. The MOU aims to promote economic cooperation and collaboration, contributing to trade, investment and economic expansion between the Member States of ASEAN and the Member States of the EAEU. The MOU comprises of a total of nine articles which lay the groundwork for enhanced economic cooperation and development of new areas of cooperation (i.e. customs procedures and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary; technical regulations; e-commerce; trade in services and investment, business development primarily for MSMEs; and other areas to be mutually agreed upon by the participants).

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NCC APR Director for Multilateral Cooperation Mr. Sergey Mikhnevich participated in the discussion on the future of Russia-China relationships at the RANEPA

An open discussion “The Eastern Question: The Future of Russia-China Relationships” was held at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) on 21 November 2018. Director for Multilateral Cooperation Sergey Mikhnevich represented the National Coordination Center for Developing Economic Cooperation with the Countries of Asia-Pacific Region (NCC APR) at the event.
The discussion focused on a wide range of issues, including the roles of Russia and China in the modern world; their key interests in the Asia-Pacific region; spheres of Russian-Chinese cooperation; challenges in mutual relations; and cooperation prospects for the next 20 years.
Sergey Mikhnevich emphasized that serious progress has been made in the political relations between the two countries that in 30 years have shifted from confrontation to a close engagement. However, this progress is not accompanied by a comparable strengthening of economic links. Despite a positive dynamics of trade turnover between the two countries, its structure is far from perfectly meeting Russia`s interests. Russian export to China predominantly consists of commodities, Chinese export to Russia – of finished products.

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WTO members review regional trade agreements covering EU, Ghana and EAEU

WTO members reviewed the interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Ghana at the 19 November meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. Members also considered the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) treaty and EAEU accessions of Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic.
Members also considered three regional trade agreements relating to the EAEU: the EAEU treaty, the accession of Armenia and the accession of the Kyrgyz Republic to the EAEU. The EAEU was established on 1 January 2015, at which time it was composed of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic acceded to the EAEU on 2 January 2015 and 12 August 2015 respectively. All EAEU members are part of the WTO, save for Belarus which is in the process of acceding to the organization. Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic are currently renegotiating their bound tariffs at the WTO to account for changes arising from their accession to the EAEU while Kazakhstan will start doing so in 2023.
The EAEU establishes a common market for goods, services, capital and labour as well as coordinated and agreed policies in different areas such as agriculture, energy and transport services. EAEU members apply a common external tariff to imports from third countries, subject to some exceptions applied by Armenia, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.
EAEU members spoke of the benefits of their regional integration at the meeting, noting that the market of the union represents 183 million consumers and a combined gross domestic product of US$ 1.8 trillion. The purpose of the EAEU is to increase competitiveness and increase the welfare of its members' populations. Decisions are made by consensus among the EAEU members and an EAEU court resolves disputes among member states. EAEU members also emphasized that their treaties and practices are consistent with WTO rules. Trade with third parties is also a strength for the EAEU and the union has already concluded free trade agreements with Viet Nam. Negotiations are ongoing with Singapore and Israel while those with Egypt and India are expected to start soon.

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Korea’s trade volume surpasses USD 1 trillion

Korea’s annual cumulative trade volume exceeded USD 1 trillion, due to increases in high-value added products, diversification of export goods and expansion of newly emerging markets.
According to the statistics reported by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and Korea Customs Service (KCS), the annual cumulative trade volume surpassed USD 1 trillion at 1:24 p.m. on Nov. 16. This is the fastest pace of increase, since trade statistics were first recorded in 1957. MOTIE forecasts that the trade volume will further increase to USD 1.1 trillion within this year.
According to the cumulative data, Korea’s 13 major export items, such as memory chips, general machinery, petrochemicals and chemical products, exceeded previous records. The export volume of each item jumped 36.2%, 12.6%, and 15.0%, from January to October from a year ago. The positive growth rate of current global manufacturing industries and the rising oil prices are considered as the main reasons for such results.
Furthermore, the export volume of high-value added products, such as the next-generation storage devices (SSD) and multi-chip module items, have also increased by 13.5% and 33.6%. Increased exports of promising consumer goods, such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, added variety in export items.
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy commented that the government’s effort is what led to such positive records. Despite difficult conditions amid trade conflicts between the U.S. and China, the government expanded the scale of support for export companies, and the trade insurance service for new emerging markets.

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Chorus of free trade for humanity: the main results of China International Import Expo (CIIE)

The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) concluded on Saturday with sizable deals signed, signaling China's historic transition from an export powerhouse to an import nation.
Deals for intended purchase of goods and services within a year totaled 57.83 billion U.S. dollars, Sun Chenghai, deputy director of the CIIE Bureau, told a news conference after the expo wrapped up.
Deals for high-end intelligent equipment reached over 16.46 billion dollars, followed by 12.68 billion dollars of food and agricultural products, 11.99 billion dollars of automobiles, 5.76 billion dollars of medical equipment and health care products, 4.33 billion dollars of consumer electronics and appliances, and 3.37 billion dollars of apparel, accessories and consumer goods, Sun said, adding that the value of deals for services hit 3.24 billion dollars.
This type of event could facilitate the mission of building a community of a shared future for humanity, in which common development of all nations could be realized. Every country makes money, the wealth gap is bridged and all nations prosper.
At the opening ceremony of the expo, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the role of economic globalization, saying that it is an irreversible historical trend and provides strong momentum for world economic development.
The import expo has served as a platform to inspire cooperation in international free trade in unprecedented depth and width. It is not China's solo show, but rather a chorus involving countries from around the world.
The first CIIE is a new propellant driving China's import agenda. In the next 15 years, China expects to import 30 trillion U.S. dollars worth of goods and 10 trillion U.S. dollars worth of services. Last year, China's total imports rose 15.9 percent to hit 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars.

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The Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 deliverables for 2018 and ASEAN Connectivity Microsite launched

The ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) launched three Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 priority deliverables and the ASEAN Connectivity microsite at the 22nd ACC Meeting.
The MPAC 2025 aims to achieve a seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated ASEAN to promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of ASEAN Community. Although MPAC 2025 is a multi-year roadmap that is currently in the early stages of implementation, it has made substantive progress across its five Strategic Areas; namely Sustainable Infrastructure, Digital Innovation, Seamless Logistics, Regulatory Excellence, and People Mobility.
During its Chairmanship of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC), Singapore has identified three priority deliverables. One, the establishment of a rolling priority pipeline of ASEAN infrastructure projects to attract more public and private investments into infrastructure in ASEAN. Together with the World Bank, ASEAN expects to develop an initial list of priority ASEAN infrastructure projects by the first quarter of 2019.
Two, the development of a sustainable urbanisation strategy for ASEAN, with city specific-action plans and tool kits for cities to use as a template to mitigate urban challenges. The projects were developed by the ACCC and the Lead Implementing Body for Sustainable Infrastructure (LIB-SI), with the support of the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme (AADCP) Phase II.
Three, the study on the adoption of digital technology by micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to ascertain how to encourage more regional MSMEs to use digital technology as an enabler to increase their capacities and amplify their reach as we move into the fourth industrial revolution. The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) is supporting the study.
In his remarks, the Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan expressed satisfaction at the tangible progress made by MPAC 2025 in the current year, and explained that the three priority deliverables were selected to address important challenges facing ASEAN; namely, infrastructure development, urbanisation, and promotion of MSMEs, which account for between 95 to 99% of businesses in ASEAN.

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Fourth Issue of ASEAN Economic Integration Brief Released

The fourth issue of the ASEAN Economic Integration Brief (AEIB) (in English) is released in time for the 33rd ASEAN Summit.
The ASEAN Secretariat is pleased to announce the publication of the fourth issue of our ASEAN Economic Integration Brief (AEIB). First launched in June 2017, the AEIB has been providing periodic updates on the progress of ASEAN economic integration, as well as global and regional developments relevant to ASEAN.
Consistent with the overall theme of Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship, the key message of this issue is that resiliency and innovation are not only crucial for ASEAN to navigate global and regional challenges, but also to transform these challenges into opportunities to further deepen and seize the benefits of economic integration in the region.
The issue features three thematic articles. In the special feature article, H.E. Mr. Chan Chun Sing, the Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers 2018, highlights the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) agenda under the Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship. The second article, by Allan Bollard, the Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, highlights APEC main agenda under the Papua New Guinea’s inaugural APEC chairmanship this year. Lastly, the third article contributed by Choi Shing Kwok, the Executive Director of ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute of Singapore, looks into the need for a speedy conclusion of the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA), which would bring benefits for businesses, consumers, and travellers alike.
This issue also includes regular sections on regional economic outlook, updates on the AEC, and the latest ASEAN statistics. A centre-fold infographic illustrating ASEAN in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is also included.
The ASEAN Economic Integration Brief is produced by the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Directorate (AIMD) of the ASEAN Secretariat.

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ASEAN publishes MSMEs digitalisation success stories

ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) launched the Future of ASEAN: 50 Success Stories of Digitalisation of ASEAN MSMEs publication at the sidelines of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2018 in Singapore.
The ASEAN-Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) congratulated the ACCMSME on the release of the publication. “It is a real source of inspiration for all and we look forward to more success stories from MSMEs who venture and thrive in the digital era being replicated many times over in the following publications,” said Dr. Robert Yap, Chair of ASEAN-BAC.
The publication profiles 50 inspiring stories of MSMEs in the ASEAN region that have leveraged digital technology in starting, sustaining and growing their businesses from sectors such as agriculture and fisheries to beauty and fashion, information technology, manufacturing and services. The publication also provides good references to the various government support programmes available in ASEAN to promote digital technology adoption among MSMEs.
Dato Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, said “MSMEs are critical to the well-being of the region and to the success of the ASEAN economic integration agenda. Embracing digital technologies will help MSMEs to have better market access, become resilient and thrive in this digital age.”

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ASEAN holds the 3rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women in Ha Noi

The 3rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW) was held under the theme of “Social Protection for Women and Girls: Toward ASEAN Vision 2025” on 25 October 2018.
The meeting took note of the deliberations of the 15th, 16th and 17th ASEAN Committee on Women Meetings, and other important developments, such as the outcomes and recommendation of the ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Participants also commended the achievements and progress of ASEAN’s regional cooperation on advancing gender equality and empowering all women and girls during the period 2015-2018.
An open session was conducted with UN Women and Asian Development Bank with an emphasis on the Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific publication.

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