1. The ASEAN Economic Ministers held informal consultations with the ministers from the CER countries. ASEAN was represented by H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Prof. S.B. Joedono, Minister of Trade, Indonesia; H.E. Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister International Trade and Industry, Malaysia; H.E. Mr. Rizalino S Navarro, Secretary Trade and Industry, the Philippines; H.E. Mr. Cesar B. Bautista, Undersecretary for Trade and Industry, the Philippines; H.E. Mr. Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore; H.E. Dr. Amnuay Viravan, Deputy Prime Minister, Thailand; H.E. Mr. Le Van Triet, Minister. of Trade, Vietnam; and H.E. Dato’ Ajit Singh, Secretary-General of ASEAN. The CER countries were represented by H.E. Senator the Hon Bob McMullan, Minister for Trade, Australia and H.E. the Hon Philip Burdon, Minister For Trade Negotiations, New Zealand; in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on September 1995.
2. The Consultations between the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the Ministers from the CER countries were jointly chaired by H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources of Brunei Darussalam and the Chairman of the AEM and H.E. Senator the Hon Bob McMullan, Minister for Trade, Australia and H.E. Hon Philip Burdon Minister for Trade Negotiations, New Zealand.
3. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the multilateral trading system the need for both regional trading arrangements to reinforce the process of liberalisation within the WTO framework. To this end, the Ministers agreed to establish region-to region linkages between the free trade areas, reflecting the “open regionalism” concept of AFTA and the CER. The Ministers recognized the significant potential benefits of establishing linkages between the two regions to benefit from the comparative advantages of their economies. The Ministers noted the significant increase in trade between the two regions, an increase of 30.8 % between 1993 and 1994. Two-way trade between the two regions approached US$ 12.5 bn in 1994.
4. The Ministers noted that two-way investment between the ASEAN and the CER countries is increasing and recognised the excellent potential for further development in this area. The Ministers urged their business sectors to increase their investment activities take advantage of the opportunities provided by AFTA and CER respectively.
5. The Ministers agreed that the ASEAN-CER linkage should provide tangible benefits to their business communities and would build upon existing complementarities between the two free trade areas. The linkage would contribute towards greater trade and investment flows between the two regions. The Ministers have identified initial activities cooperation and agreed that they should be practical and manageable. The areas for cooperation agreed were: exchange of information, human resource development, customs matters, standards and conformance, trade and investment facilitation and promotion, competition policy and industrial cooperation.
6. The Ministers agreed that it would be useful to exchange information between two regions on various areas for cooperation for both the immediate and longer term. A package of activities for cooperation was prioritised to be launched immediately cornpleted within a year i.e.
(a) Creation of a Customs Compendium for ASEAN and the CER countries;
(b) Linkage of trade and investment database between the two regions;
(c) Cooperation in areas of standards and conformance beginning with exchange of information and collaborative work on ISO 14000 environmental certification systems;
(d) Information promotion on standards and conformance by featuring developments in CER standards and conformance in the ASEAN Standards and Quality Bulletin.
7. In order to move the .process forward, the Ministers agreed that existing ASEAN Working Groups will coordinate this work on the ASEAN side in collaboration with designated contact points in Australia and New Zealand and to integrate the private sector into the AFTA-CER work programme.
8. The Ministers stressed the importance of active participation from the busines sectors in these cooperation programmes. To this end, the Ministers encouraged the business communities to work closely with the ASEAN and CER officials. The Minister further called for greater networking between the business organisations and firms of the two regions.
9. The Ministers emphasised their shared commitment to developing a closer dialogue between ASEAN and the CER countries on trade and investment issues. The Ministers looked forward to greater economic cooperation with the view to promoting and facilitating trade and investment flows between the two regions. The Ministers agreed to hold the next consultations back-to-back with the next AEM in Indonesia in 1996 to review the progress thus far.