BANGKOK, 10 Feb 2014 The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has come to a conclusion that this year it will put an emphasis on developing the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) segment in the grouping.
The pledge was made during the recent ASEAN Senior Financial Officers meeting in Myanmar. Deputy Director General of Thailand’s Department of Trade Negotiations Somkiat Treeratanapunt said the meeting agreed to support the private sector’s investment in infrastructure development projects in the region, adding that the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) has been assigned to study the direction of tentative business cooperation among regional entrepreneurs after the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) next year.
Mr. Somkiat said the meeting agreed that ASEAN would push for the realization of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or ASEAN plus 6, within 2015 with an aim of forming a large scale free-trade territory offering high quality products to the world’s population. ASEAN would soon hold talks with Hong Kong and China to clinch free-trade deals allowing Thai goods to penetrate more Chinese markets in the future.
According to Mr. Somkiat, ASEAN found the overall preparations for the AEC to progress satisfactorily, with nearly 80% of the plan ready to take off. Singapore made the most progress, followed by Thailand, while the 8 other members made a similar level of development.