ASEAN leaders back recovery, growth, digitization initiatives

Photograph courtesy of DTI Development and Trade Policy Group Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty (2nd from left) of the Department of Trade and Industry joins the recent 1st Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials in Semarang, Indonesia, to discuss ways on how the region attain economic recovery, digital transformation, and sustainable economic growth.

The senior economic leaders of the ASEAN Region have unanimously agreed to support initiatives for economic recovery, digital transformation, and sustainable economic growth, during the recently concluded First Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials in Semarang, Indonesia.

When ASEAN Senior Economic Officials convened its first meeting last 16 to 17 January 2023, the Philippines representative, Trade and Industry Development and Trade Policy Group assistant secretary Allan Gepty stressed that undoubtedly, ASEAN is now the center of the global economy.

“As a single market and production base, economic activities have gravitated towards our region from research and development, product development, manufacturing, innovation, and even the development of the creative and digital economy. That is why, ASEAN matters in this era, and it is important that we remain united and assert our strength and influence in the global economy,” he told counterparts during the meeting.

Under the theme of “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” Indonesia takes on the chairmanship of ASEAN for 2023 with a focus on initiatives towards recovery, digital transformation, and sustainability of the region. These efforts are concretized through 16 Priority Economic Deliverables that cut across the ASEAN Economic Community Pillar.

RCEP agreement
“As we implement the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement, upgrade existing ASEAN economic agreements, and embark on new economic trade relations with other partners, ASEAN can help shape international trade rules that work well in a region with diverse culture, legal regime, and levels of development,” Gepty added.

To date, Philippine lawmakers have not yet ratified the RCEP agreement even though President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his cabinet, including Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, have been pushing for its ratification.

Meanwhile, as country coordinator for Japan, the Philippines also spearheaded the discussion at the Special Senior Economic Officials-Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Consultations on 16 January 2023 to discuss the marking of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan economic relations this year.

Officials exchanged views on the development of the “Future Design and Action Plan of an Innovative Sustainable ASEAN-Japan Economic Partnership” and the private-sector-led “ASEAN -Japan Co-Creation Vision” which aims to implement initiatives on supply chain resilience, and MSME development, among others.

“For ASEAN and Japan, we have to ensure that our strong economic ties are further deepened and remain resilient amidst evolving economic and geo-political developments,” Gepty said.

Future Design and Action Plan
The Future Design and Action Plan is envisioned to serve as the roadmap of ASEAN-Japan economic relations in succeeding years and o develop a society that is “safe, prosperous, and free through fair and mutually beneficial economic co-creation based on trust.”

At the sidelines of the SEOM 1/54 Meeting, officials also convened the inaugural Meeting of the Focal Group for Global Value Chains, which serves as a platform to advance ASEAN’s work on GVCs and monitor and evaluate the overall progress of ASEAN’s GVC-related work.


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