By Linda Khoo
BANGKOK, Sept 11 -- ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea expressed concern over the rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalisation sentiments that continue to plague the global economy and put the multilateral trading system at risk.
In a joint statement after the conclusion of the 22nd ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Plus Three Consultations yesterday, the ministers acknowledged the global outlook in economic and trade performance and the recent moderation of growth.
While noting that trade continues to expand between ASEAN and the Plus Three countries, the ministers cautioned against rising trade tensions and its impact on growth.
“They (the ministers) reaffirmed their strong commitment to upholding an open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system.
“They noted the work being undertaken to reform the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and reiterated their full support to this endeavour,” said the joint statement.
Meanwhile, the ministers also reaffirmed their support to enhance regional economic integration.
“The ministers welcomed the progress in the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and reiterated their full support towards the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year as mandated by the leaders,” it said.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from the Plus Three Countries into ASEAN were valued at US$37.9 billion in 2018, accounting for 24.5 per cent of total FDI inflows into ASEAN and an increase by 9.9 per cent from the previous year.
The total trade increased by 6.8 per cent to US$869.1 billion, representing 31.0 per cent of ASEAN’s total merchandise trade.
The ministers also acknowledged the progress of activities undertaken through the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Programme 2019-2020 which was adopted by the 21st AEM Plus Three Consultations last year.
The statement said the ministers were encouraged by the progress made in the areas of connectivity, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) development and trade facilitation, and reaffirmed the commitment to continuously enhance trade and economic cooperation within the region.
In this regard, the ministers noted the status of the joint study on “10+3 Cooperation for the Improvement of Supply Chain Connectivity,” which was agreed-in-principle by ministers in August last year and welcomed by the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Summit in November last year.
The consultations were co-chaired by Thailand Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, Japan’s Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Shigehiro Tanaka, and South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.
All 10-ASEAN economic and trade ministers were present.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking represented Malaysia.