By the year 2002, import tariffs of goods traded in the ASEAN region, in particular, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, would be reduced to the range 0-5%, with the exception of some sensitive products such as rice, and those permanently excluded, such as narcotics and psychotropic substances. For the new members, the end dates for achieving 0-5% tariffs would be 2006 for Vietnam, 2008 for Laos and Myanmar, and 2010 for Cambodia.

In addition, as announced by the ASEAN Leaders at their Third Informal Summit on 28 November 1999, import tariffs of those products in the Inclusion List (IL) would be reduced to zero percent by 2010 for the original six members, and 2015 for the new members.

The commitment to establish an ASEAN Free Trade Area does not stop at tariff reduction measures only. The CEPT Agreement for AFTA also provides for the immediate elimination of quantitative restrictions for products included in the CEPT Scheme, and the elimination of other non-tariff barriers within a period of five years upon enjoyment of the CEPT concession. In this connection, several measures have been taken within ASEAN to remove unnecessary barriers to trade through efforts such as the harmonisation of product standards and mutual recognition of conformity assessment requirements, simplification of customs clearance procedures and harmonisation of sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

In addition to these measures, and recognising that non-tariff barriers could take various forms, ASEAN member countries have also agreed to a mechanism to effectively address private sector complaints on issues that are thought to constitute non-tariff barriers. Complaints or notifications are to be channeled directly to member countries and to the ASEAN Secretariat. These complaints/notifications would go through a process of clarification and verification by member countries concerned, and if they were found to constitute an NTB, efforts would be taken towards their removal. However, from experience, some of the issues notified are not necessarily NTBs but arose due to a lack of information or clarity regarding a procedure or regulation. In such a case, clarifications would be obtained from the member country concerned in order to address the issue.

Information on these non-tariff issues that have been raised with directly with the member country or the ASEAN Secretariat would be routinely placed on the ASEANWEB. It is hoped that this mechanism will promote a constructive exchange of information on non-tariff issues in ASEAN, and provide the relevant information to the public and private sectors. Members of the public and the private sectors are encouraged to seek clarification on any non-tariff issues (NTIs) of relevance to the ASEAN Free Trade Area. Questions or comments can be forwarded either to:

    Trade in Goods Unit
    Bureau for Economic Integration and Finance
    ASEAN Secretariat
    70 A Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Jakarta 12110
    Indonesia
    Fax: (62-21) 739 8234, 724 3504
    e-mail: kanya@aseansec.org

            Or

Directly to the National AFTA Unit of the member country concerned using the attached addresses. In the case of a query directly sent to the National AFTA Unit of the member country, a copy of the query may be furnished to the ASEAN Secretariat.

For a start, as of January 2000, several non-tariff issues have been raised and these have been discussed and clarified by the relevant ASEAN member countries. The Attached FAQs provide important background information relating to non-tariff issues raised and the corresponding explanations and clarifications provided by the relevant member countries. Comments or questions on these issues are most welcome, and can be forwarded to the address provide above.