New Straits Time | 5 August 2016
NTBs progressively reduced in Asean : Mustapa
By RUPA DAMODARAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Non-tariff barriers – regarded as the main stumbling block in the shaping of the Asean Economic Community – have been progressively reduced since the issue was raised by the 10 member states four years ago.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said a total of 69 NTB cases have been reported, whereby 49 cases have been resolved through intensive consultation and peer review.
"Examples of NTBs that were resolved involving Malaysia include lengthy time and cost incurred on testing of food and pharmaceutical products, transit charges at the borders, import licensing requirements, pre-shipment inspection and non-recognition of test reports and certification for cosmetic products," he said in Vientiane, Lao.
Mustapa is attending the 48th ASEAN Economic Ministers, 30th ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council and 19th the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council Meeting in Vientiane until Sunday.
"While ministers acknowledge that there is progress in addressing NTBs, there is a lot more that will need to be done to ensure that ASEAN will be an attractive single market and production base. "
To facilitate the private sector, a portal called ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) was presented at the economic ministers meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
With this portal, Mustapa explained, the private sector can now use this portal to lodge their complaints or problems faced in importing or exporting products within the region.
"The portal is expected to be operational soon and the ministers agreed that issues raised in this portal must be resolved expeditiously through intensive consultation."
The removal of impediments will enable ASEAN to sustain growth within the region which is forecast to grow by 4.1 per cent in 2016 and 4.6 per cent in 2017.
"With greater awareness of AEC and expansion of intra-ASEAN investments, intra-ASEAN trade target of 30 per cent can be achieved over the next few years. "