Asean wraps up week-long meeting with commitments to further digital economy, sustainability

SINGAPORE – Asean will collaborate with its external partners to spur stronger recovery from the pandemic and lay a foundation for longer-term growth, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday (Sept 15).

“Asean and our dialogue partners exchanged views on… the economic impact of Covid-19, and discussed cooperation areas to mitigate its impact and hasten recovery,” Mr Gan wrote.

His post came after the week-long Asean Economic Ministers’ Consultations with the grouping’s key partners, including China and the United States, wrapped up on Wednesday.

The ministers agreed to collaborate on the digital economy, including working on the exchange of electronic Customs information.

They also committed to conducting a study on a regionwide digital economy pact by 2023 and to start negotiations on the Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement by 2025.

A focus on digital transformation to enable the smooth flow of goods and services and data will help ensure the region continues to draw global trade and investments, and better position itself for growth, Mr Gan said at virtual meetings with his counterparts last week.

The grouping also agreed to work with Japan on innovation and sustainability in industries, urban areas and rural areas, and held inaugural consultations on economic cooperation with Britain.

“We also discussed enhancing our existing free-trade agreements with our dialogue partners such as Australia-New Zealand, China and Korea, and working towards the ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in early 2022,” Mr Gan said.

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