PHUKET, 23 April 2019 – ASEAN ministers deliberated and exchanged views on the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as well as current issues pertinent to the global economy at the 25th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Retreat in Phuket, Thailand from 22 to 23 April 2019.

The ministers endorsed 13 priority economic deliverables under Thailand’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2019. Recognising the changes being brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which underpins a number of the priority economic deliverables for the year, the top officials noted the next steps in advancing ASEAN’s work in preparing a strategic response for the 4IR.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi reported that, “The next steps will be cross-pillar, prioritising on areas where the regional platform can best deliver, and take into consideration existing and planned initiatives.”

The ministers also discussed matters regarding ASEAN’s external economic relations, including the progress towards the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations and the ongoing debate on reforming the World Trade Organization.

Two agreements were signed at the sidelines of the AEM Retreat on 23 April. The first agreement, ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement, encompasses all achievements that ASEAN Member States have made to date under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services. It also provides the mandate for countries to transition towards a negative list approach for even deeper integration in the future. The second agreement, the Fourth Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, incorporates obligations on prohibition of performance requirements that will ensure ASEAN investors continue to get the best treatment through this agreement.

The 25th AEM Retreat was the first meeting of the Economic Ministers in 2019. The AEM will meet again at the 51st AEM Meeting in September this year in Bangkok.