ASEAN Secretariat, 17 February 2010
H.E. Mackenzie Clugston, Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia and ASEAN
Mr. Mario Koetin, Director, SEATRANET
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Selamat pagi (Good morning).
I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you to this Workshop on “Introduction to Trade Policy and the WTO” which will be held for three days here at the ASEAN Secretariat. At the outset, let me thank Ambassador Clugston for gracing this important occasion and the Canadian Government for its generous support for this event. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the ASEAN Business Advisory Council for without their small but generous contribution we would not have been able to expand the number of participants in this workshop. My sincere appreciation goes to SEATRANET and its facilitators too for making this training workshop possible.
As a group of developing countries with open economies, ASEAN attaches great importance to the DDA negotiations. We have always supported efforts in pushing for the completion of the DDA and share the view that a successful Round will benefit developing countries and least developed countries by ensuring meaningful market access for their products and services, including through reductions in tariffs, trade-distorting domestic subsidies and trade barriers. Such outcomes will be critical to the global economic growth and development including that of the ASEAN Member States. It will provide a stable and transparent trading regime and will ensure that the multilateral trading system maintains its integrity in the aftermath of the present economic crisis.
On its part, ASEAN has never subscribed to the notion that protectionist and WTO-inconsistent measures are appropriate responses to the current global economic recovery. We share the view that open trade is an “essential ingredient to exit the crisis”. In this respect, ASEAN looks forward to the rapid conclusion of DDA in order to send signal that protectionist measures are not the solution to this crisis. Instead, predictable rules and expanded market access would pave the way for stronger global trade expansion and economic recovery.
ASEAN has embarked on the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, which requires an overall regional integration entailing trade policy harmonisation. This would require exhibition of flexibility by Member States to address the sensitivities of individual Member Countries; special and differential treatment that allows the newer and less developed ASEAN members more time to prepare for market liberalisation; and economic cooperation where the development aspect of regional integration is addressed. These basic principles are applied not only in ASEAN’s internal integration process but also in our FTA arrangements with Dialogue Partners. This reflects the emphasis given by ASEAN to narrowing the development gap both within the ASEAN membership and with our Dialogue Partners.
Beginning of this year, ASEAN’s FTA with China, India and Australia-New Zealand have entered into force. These FTAs are part of a series of engagements ASEAN has with its neighbours to deepen trade integration and maintain ASEAN as a hub for regional integration and an attractive investment destination. ASEAN has also concluded FTAs with Japan and the Republic of Korea and signed a Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) with the US. These agreements exemplify ASEAN and its members’ commitment to increasing trade ties with its partners and collectively Asia’s potential to be the engine of growth for the world in this Century.
To support ASEAN’s endeavours, trade-related technical assistance and capacity in understanding the areas of trade policy formulation and trade negotiations is going to be crucial. ASEAN officials and businessmen need to better understand how trade policy is formulated; how WTO functions in the global trading system; and how the ASEAN economic agreements relate to the operation of the global trading system under the WTO. Indeed, technical assistance and capacity-building are important components of the ASEAN Economic Community building process and the support being given to ASEAN by its Dialogue and development partners is much appreciated.
In this connection, the ASEAN Secretariat welcomes the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) efforts in organising this Workshop as well as future cooperation. This initiative marks the first collaboration between the ASEAN Secretariat and Canada in the area of trade and economic cooperation. Canada, a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN since 1977 and under the ASEAN-Canada Joint Cooperation Work Plan 2007-2010, aims to assist ASEAN in its integration efforts.
On the economic front, ASEAN and Canada are working towards the conclusion of the ASEAN-Canada Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) to enhance trade and investment relations. Economic ties between ASEAN and Canada has grown and expanded positively through the years. Total trade between ASEAN and Canada stood at US$ 10.5 billion in 2008. Canada’s foreign investment in the ASEAN region was valued at US$ 802 million in 2008, up 73% from US$ 464 million in 2006. In 2008, tourist arrivals in ASEAN from Canada grew from 497,000 to 508,000. We hope that the TIFA will help to further expand and deepen ASEAN-Canada trade, investment and economic relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, I wish for three outcomes from this Workshop:
First, I hoped that the participants, by the end of the meeting, will have a good understanding of the broad principles underpinning the multilateral trading system, and the workings of the WTO as well as salient aspects of the WTO negotiations. Such understanding can facilitate our work in building up the ASEAN Economic Community, which is premised on open regionalism.
Second, all participants should get the most out of this training by actively participating in the discussions and activities. Having a good mix of ASEAN representatives from the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR), the business community and the Secretariat should certainly make this forum a lively one.
I would like to stress the importance of this Workshop for government officials and business people. The knowledge that all of you will gain from this Workshop should help in your general understanding of the various FTA being negotiated and implemented both nationally as well as at the ASEAN level because the fundamental principles and trade policy being applied in the FTAs are WTO principles and provisions, e.g. Goods, Services, Article 24 on RTAs, Enabling Clause. As government officials, to have a better understanding of the multilateral trading system and issues surrounding the negotiations will enable you to actively contribute to your country’s preparation in supporting the DDA negotiations at this critical juncture. As a representative from the business community, you too can support by providing inputs to the government on issues and trade policies that affect businesses and trade opportunities.
Third, I look forward to future cooperation activities with Canada to help strengthen the ASEAN-Canada dialogue relations. This workshop is a good beginning and an important signal for the future of the ASEAN-Canada trade and economic relations.
In closing, I thank all the participa
nts for being eager and attending this workshop in full force. I wish all of you a good meeting.