AEC launch delayed a year
BANGKOK, 21 November 2012: ASEAN leaders have decided to delay the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) for 12 months until 31 December 2015 to give more time to prepare regulations.
AEC was supposed to be introduced 1 January 2015 and some of its provisions impact directly on the hotel and travel agency business, both for staffing and equity ownership.
ASEAN general secretary, Surin Pitsuwan, said ASEAN leaders at the 21st ASEAN summit, held 16 to 20 November, in Phnom Penh, postponed the launch for 12 months.
“The delay will help us to prepare the necessary regulations as much work still remains to be done,” he said at the close of the meetings.
However he confirmed: “There will be no more delays and that all 10 ASEAN countries will participate.”
Indonesian Trade Minister, Gita Wirjawan, said the decision was made during the plenary session of the 21st ASEAN Summit, 18 November.
“ASEAN members said that they had completed 72% of the economic blueprints needed to bring about the AEC, with tasks in the socio-cultural and political-security fields still pending.”
There are eight necessary policy measures to be implemented before 2015:
• Tariff and non-tariff barriers;
• Investment liberalisation;
• Connectivity and transport;
• Small and medium sized enterprise development;
• Initiatives for ASEAN integration;
• Mutual Recognition Arrangements on professional services and labour mobility;
• Institutional building and regulatory reforms;
• Institutional issues for AEC building.
Thailand’s Foreign Minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, said: “Several leaders agreed they still needed to make more progress in several areas, among them visa requirements for ASEAN people travelling in the region.”
Some ASEAN leaders expressed concerns about the negative impacts of AEC, in particular transnational problems such as drug trafficking.
Others took note of the need for ASEAN to balance the contesting presence of regional and global leaders in the region.