The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 highlights a renewed focus on trade facilitation and private sector engagement to support the realisation of a single market and production base. The World Bank data shows a significant improvement in ASEAN’s business environment between 2007, when the AEC was first adopted, and 2015 indicated by improvement in Ease of Doing Business ranks across all ASEAN member states. To further enhance transparency predictability and intra ASEAN trade, ASEAN continues to pursue new trade facilitation initiatives.

Launched at the 48th AEM Meeting in August 2016 as one of the key deliverables under Lao PDR’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2016, ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) is now ‘open for business’.

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ASSIST is designed as a non-binding and consultative mechanism aiming at delivering practical solutions to ASEAN based enterprises for specific intra–ASEAN cross border trade problems in a time-bound manner, thereby facilitating business across the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). ASSIST enables the business sector to interact directly with ASEAN Member States to fully implement the ASEAN economic agreements in line with the AEC Blueprint 2025. It will initially be available only to address cross-border problems to trade in goods and will subsequently be extended to cover trade in service and investments issues. ASSIST was developed in partnership with the “ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU” project (ARISE).