The 26th AEM Retreat took place in the central city of Da Nang on March 10 under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.
The initiatives focused on e-commerce, trade in goods, energy, information technology, agriculture, sustainable development, finance, statistics and innovation. They are designed towards the directions of promoting linkages and connectivity within ASEAN, promoting partnerships for peace and sustainable development, and enhancing the adaptability and operation efficiency of ASEAN.
Vietnam’s 13th initiative regarding international roaming fees also received support from the ministers but they required further research into technical details before it can be officially launched.
Minister Tran Tuan Anh said the adoption of the initiatives is an important step to reiterate ASEAN’s role in cementing regional solidarity, enhance the bloc’s internal strength and uphold the role of the ASEAN Economic Community.
The minister noted that Vietnam also proposed a joint statement on maintaining ASEAN supply chains and facilitate access to input materials by businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones in the context the COVID-19 epidemic seriously affecting people’s life and economic activities in the region.
The 26th AEM Retreat also agreed on priorities in the economic working agency for 2020, covering trade in goods and services; investment environment; facilitation of movement of skilled labourers and business people; competition policy; consumer protection; cooperation on intellectual property; e-commerce; and statistics.
Besides priorities for intra-bloc cooperation, the ministers sought solutions to problems in cooperation with outside partners, including directions for the launch of a review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) and cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
ASEAN economic ministers adopted six recommendations made by the 37th meeting of the high-level task force on ASEAN Economic integration (HLTF‐EI 37), which was held in Hanoi on February 12-13.