Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia, as the chair of ASEAN 2023, will encourage the establishment of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Secretariat as one of the seven priority economic deliverables (PED) at the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Retreat.

Indonesia is hosting the Prep-Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) for the 29th AEM Retreat; the AEM-ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) Consultation; and the 29th AEM Retreat in Magelang, Central Java province, from March 20 to March 22, 2023.

"Later, there is also the (discussion about) RCEP (as) we want to realize the establishment of the RCEP Secretariat in Jakarta," director general of international trade negotiations at the Trade Ministry, Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono, said at a media briefing in Magelang on Sunday evening.

Another PED of the AEM Retreat will be the ASEAN Services Facilitation Framework (ASFF), which is targeted to be adopted in 2024 to optimize the benefits from the liberalization of open market services.

The meeting will also discuss the signing of the Second Protocol to Amend the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

The director general said that the AANZFTA has been in effect since 2008, thus it is necessary to amend the agreement according to recent economic development.

"The ASEAN member countries, Australia, (and) New Zealand agreed to improve the agreement … explore, (and) intensify some sectors which have not been included in the cooperation, (thus) let's work together," he remarked.

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Yet another priority deliverable of the AEM Retreat will be the development of the ASEAN Industrial Project-Based Initiatives in a number of sectors, such as energy, food, and health industries.

Furthermore, the meeting will talk about the full implementation of the electronic certificate of origin for imported commodities (e-Form D) through the regional electronic economic platform called ASEAN Single Window to encourage intra-ASEAN trade growth.

The sixth priority of the AEM Retreat will be the formulation of a Leader's Statement to Develop the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework (DEFA).

ASEAN already has the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce), which enables all members to develop and use e-commerce to encourage economic growth and social development in the region, Witjaksono noted.

However, currently, the global trend has shifted toward a digital economy, thus, Indonesia is pushing ASEAN to devise a digital economy framework.

"For instance, Singapore has had a digital economy policy (and) cooperation with several other countries. Indeed, ASEAN already has the ASEAN (agreement on) e-commerce, but (it) only (covers) e-commerce, it does not include the digital economy," the director general explained.

The last priority agenda of the meeting will be the development of the Roadmap of ASEAN Harmonized Standards to Support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation.

“Indonesia will make its chairmanship of ASEAN this year a success by pushing various issues which… can deliver the strengthening of the economic position of Indonesia and ASEAN," Witjaksono said.

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Translator: Kuntum Riswan, Uyu Liman
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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