The Jakarta Post
As the new chair of ASEAN, Indonesia said it would remove all legal barriers toward the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and would ensure all member countries were ready for broader integration in 2015.
Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said Tuesday that currently the realization of the blueprint to establish the AEC faced stumbling blocks due to the late ratification of agreed regulations by ASEAN member states, including Indonesia.
“All ASEAN members should ratify agreements after they are made, but the processes are impeded by different domestic procedures and adjustments to prevailing national laws,” she said at a press conference at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) in Jakarta.
Utilizing its strategic position as the new chair of ASEAN, Mari said Indonesia would encourage ASEAN member to increase efforts to combat constitutional, legislative and regulatory limitations that could hinder the realization of the AEC, which would be similar in structure to the European Economic Community or the European common market.
“We also recommend that each country strengthens the institutions coordinating and supervising the implementation of the blueprint,” she said.
In her speech, Mari highlighted several possible economic breakthroughs ASEAN may achieve in 2011, such as the completion of an information exchange system on recalled unsafe products, the establishment of the ASEAN Small- and Medium-Scale Enterprises Service Center as well as strengthening economic ties with China, Japan, Korea, India, the US and other economic partners.
The AEC blueprint states four major targets: Establishing a single market and production base, creating a competitive economic region, promoting equitable economic development and encouraging full integration into the global economy.
Kadin chairman Suryo Bambang Sulisto vowed his organization would work harder to combat all constraints hindering the development of business and industry in the country.
“We’ll improve cooperation with the government because improving competitiveness is our shared responsibility. We can’t succeed without the government’s assistance,” he said after meeting with Mari and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
The vision to establish an integrated economic system among ASEAN members dates back in 1992 when the first ASEAN free trade agreement was signed. In 2010, ASEAN-6 members (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) lifted 99 percent of import and export tariffs on trade between each other.