ASEAN 2023

Trade Minister outlines steps to maintain ASEAN's positive trade trend

Trade Minister outlines steps to maintain ASEAN's positive trade trend

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan delivers a speech during the opening session of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2023 in Jakarta on Sunday (September 3, 2023). ANTARAFOTO/Media Center KTT ASEAN 2023/Akbar Nugroho Gumay/foc.

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan outlined three concrete steps that could be taken to maintain the positive trend in trade of goods and services among countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"First, we need to upgrade trade agreements in ASEAN in order to modernize them and ensure their relevance and responsiveness toward developments at the regional and global levels," he remarked at the 2023 ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) in Jakarta on Sunday.

ABIS constitutes a side event for the upcoming 43rd ASEAN Summit that will take place in Jakarta from September 5-7 under the chairmanship of Indonesia in the regional bloc this year.

Earlier in May 2023, Indonesia held the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, where the bloc's leaders produced various important documents, including the ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on Advancing Regional Payment Connectivity and Promoting Local Currency Transactions.

To sustain the current increasingly positive trade trend in ASEAN, Minister Hasan also proposed the enhancement of agreements reached between ASEAN and partner countries, as well as reviewing and reassessing such agreements from the start while exploring opportunities for new agreements with other partners.

"Third, we also need to begin negotiating a digital economy framework this year," he pointed out.

Hasan noted that the sound level of collaboration among ASEAN countries has played a significant role in improving trade performance in the Southeast Asian region, adding that Indonesia's trade activities with Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand have grown by almost 20 percent on average.

He then expressed the hope that by optimizing digital technology in trade activities, ASEAN will be able to further bolster its trade performance.

"We hope that it is only a matter of time before the digitization process eventually integrates trade activities in ASEAN," he said.

Regarding integration, the minister hoped that the digitization process would facilitate ASEAN countries efforts to align their policies regarding related tariffs and customs, as well as standards for health and architecture.

It is expected that in one or two years, everything will be integrated and digitized, he added.

Furthermore, Minister Hasan reiterated that collaboration is of the essence to strengthen cooperation between governments and private business actors in the hopes of making ASEAN centers of economic, political, and socio-cultural growth.

The minister's determination aligns with Indonesia's ASEAN chairmanship theme of "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth".

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