EU-ABC report: Calls for faster action on elimination of non-tariff barriers in Southeast Asia

The EU-ASEAN Business Council, the primary business body for European businesses in ASEAN, recently published a report on the proposed upgrade of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and highlighted yet again the need for the region to take faster and more concrete action on the elimination of non-tariff barriers in Southeast Asia, including binding requirements to eliminate behind-the-border barriers to trade.

Other key recommendations are:

• Incorporate measures to ensure that recycled, reused, or remanufactured goods enjoy preferential tariff rates to encourage adoption of the circular economy in ASEAN

• Simplify Rules of Origin and the obtaining of Certificates of Origin further to encourage greater use of ATIGA and boost intra-ASEAN trade

• Upgrade the Customs Chapter to encourage faster clearances and increased automation of processes

• Incorporate measures to adopt and mutually recognise internationally accepted standards and procedures such as those set out by ISO, IEC and UN-R

• Include new provisions covering e-Commerce, Intellectual Property Protection and a new Chapter on Trade and Sustainability

Executive Director of the EU-ABC Chris Humphrey, in a statement, said that the move by ASEAN to upgrade the ATIGA is very much welcomed.

“The more than a decade that has passed since it was signed saw remarkable changes in business and trade. An upgrade is, therefore, very necessary. It is hoped that ASEAN seizes this opportunity to make real and significant changes to ATIGA, taking it beyond the existing FTAs that the region has in place, and ensuring that it is modern, forward-looking, and significantly improves trade facilitation in the region,” he said.

Speaking further about the review of ATIGA, Humphrey added that the Council’s recently published business sentiment survey showed continued concern from European businesses over the prevalence of non-tariff barriers to trade in ASEAN, and also on overly burdensome and complex customs procedures.

“It is hoped that the upgrade of ATIGA will take concrete steps forward to deal with both of these perennial concerns and help drive intra-ASEAN upwards and therefore help with continued economic development,” he continued.

“Furthermore, the upgrade of ATIGA also presents a unique opportunity for the region to demonstrate its seriousness about tackling sustainability-linked issues and developing a circular economy. New provisions can be introduced to the Agreement that can help accelerate progress on both issues,” concluded Humphrey.


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