With the aim to increase the understanding of trade liberalisation issues in ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the South East Asia Trade Policy Training Network (SEATRANET) joined hands to organise a three-day interactive workshop in Jakarta from 5-7 July 2010.

The workshop looked at how ASEAN Member States implemented their regional commitments in the Trade in Services sector while catering to their national needs. The workshop also discussed current and future negotiating issues in international trade. Key references included the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS), the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Held at the Trisakti International Business School in Jakarta, the workshop brought together representatives from ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN-Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

The workshop was opened by the ASEAN Secretariat’s Director for Market Integration Directorate, Mr Subash Bose Pillai; Development Counsellor of the Government of Canada, Mr Adrian Walraven; and the Executive Director of SEATRANET, Mr Mario Koetin.

“With the surging importance of the services sector in ASEAN, it is imperative that the capacity of officers in the ASEAN Member States and at the ASEAN Secretariat and of representatives from the private sector be enhanced,” said Mr Pillai. Thus, the holding of this very important workshop to put ASEAN in the right footing, he added.

In his remarks, Mr Walvaren said that “Demand-driven skills development, provided through this CIDA-funded workshop, is just one of the ways Canada stimulates sustainable economic growth in ASEAN.” Canada has been a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN since 1977.

Mr Koetin, meanwhile, said that “SEATRANET as the network of International Trade Policy Training Institutions in the ASEAN region have combined academic researchers and past as well as present international trade negotiators into one faculty network, capable of delivering capacity building that has the regions outlook and best interests at heart.

This is the second workshop where the ASEAN Secretariat has collaborated with Canada in the area of trade and economic cooperation. The first workshop was held in February 2010 at the ASEAN Secretariat.

Click here for Mr Pillai’s welcome remarks.