Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday reiterated their commitment to ensure the full and effective implementation of the trade agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which took effect on Jan. 1, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said.
They made the pledge during the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting or AMM Retreat, which was held here in a hybrid format.
Chaired by Sokhonn, the meeting was attended in person by foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Laos, and online by foreign ministers of Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam, while Myanmar did not designate a non-political representative for it.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Sokhonn said the ministers reaffirmed the importance of strengthening ASEAN economic integration and the intra-ASEAN trade, investment and supply chain connectivity to enhance the region’s competitiveness, connectedness and resilience as outlined in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025.
“On this note, my colleagues and I were encouraged by the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement on the first of January 2022 and reiterated our commitment to ensure full and effective implementation of the agreement to enhance ASEAN’s attractiveness for trade, investment and global supply chains,” he said.
RCEP is a mega trade agreement between 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and its five major trade partners of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The pact covers about 30 percent of the world’s population, accounts for about 30 percent of global gross domestic product.
Apart from RCEP, the ASEAN foreign ministers also discussed ways to boost regional economy in the post-pandemic era, Sokhonn said.
“To facilitate the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we emphasized the importance of full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework,” he said.
He said the ministers also commended the operationalization of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and stressed that timely implementation of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework would facilitate cross-border movements and raise economic activities among the member states.
According to Sokhonn, the ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues and reaffirmed their shared commitment to open, rules-based and inclusive multilateralism for the promotion of sustainable peace, security, stability and prosperity within and beyond the region.
“To this end, we were also on the same view of the importance of strengthening ASEAN’s centrality and unity in our engagement with ASEAN’s external partners through ASEAN-led mechanism to build mutual trust and confidence as well as to reinforce regional architecture with ASEAN at its center,” he said.