ECONOMY | Tim Charlton, Singapore

What to expect from Singapore's 2018 ASEAN chairmanship

The country will focus on these two key priorities.

In his speech at Singapore Business Federation’s ASEAN conference, Trade and Industry minister, Lim Hng Kiang expressed Singapore’s plans for the ASEAN during its chairmanship in 2018.

During its chairmanship, Singapore intends to pursue a set of tangible and meaningful economic deliverables. They want to tap on global megatrends such as digital economy and trade facilitation.

Singapore aims to direct ASEAN’s focus on e-commerce and other initiatives relating to the digital economy. It is looking into streamlining regional trade rules governing e-commerce that will promote greater digital connectivity in the region, and lowering operating barriers to entry.

The country hopes to focus on improving trade facilitation measures to support the internationalisation plans, including for SMEs. It intends to work closely with the other ASEAN Member States towards the realisation of an ASEAN-wide Self-Certification regime and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW).

“We will also ensure that these are incorporated into our current regime and new trade agreements,” Lim adds.

Lim also mentioned that country aims to facilitate the execution of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2025 plan adopted earlier this year. The AEC 2025 Consolidated Strategic Action Plan (CSAP) seeks to inform public stakeholders of the key action lines that will be implemented under the ASEAN economic integration agenda from 2016 to 2025.

“While the progress towards realising the goals of the AEC remains steady, more could be done, especially in new areas relevant to modern businesses under the AEC 2025 agenda,” Lim said in his speech.

The plan assures that ASEAN efforts remain credible and transparent and improve at a steady pace. AEC 2025 follows the AEC 2015 roadmap with deeper and stronger focus on relevant issues in modern businesses for it to remain relevant in the evolving global environment.

The AEC remains the cornerstone of Singapore’s foreign economic policy with ASEAN as its most important market and largest trading partner. Singapore holds 31% of intra-ASEAN trade, with 25.7% (US$ 2017.1b) of its world trade coming from ASEAN countries.

Despite challenges, the ASEAN has grown internally and globally and is predicted to grow to US$6t by 2030. This could be attributed from Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), young and rising middle class, and an abundance of natural resources.

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