JAKARTA, 29 April 2021 – ASEAN launched the Report of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 online on 28 April. The MTR offers assessment of the first phase of implementation of the Blueprint, as mandated by the AEC Council and guided by the High-Level Task Force for ASEAN Economic Integration (HLTF-EI).

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi underlined the critical importance of the MTR (Report) in progressing the work of AEC towards 2025 and beyond.  He emphasised the value of the lessons learned and the recommendations put forward by the Report in informing future actions of ASEAN to economic integration and in responding to the challenges of an increasingly complex environment that we now live in.

Key take-aways from the MTR:

  • Progress has been made but not enough. It calls for acceleration of implementation, focus on quality and high-impact measures, due attention to ensure the entry into force and implementation of key AEC agreements, the need to address cross-cutting issues, and underscores the need to strengthen cross-sectoral and cross-pillar coordination
  • The next phase of AEC Blueprint implementation is taking place in a different context. Not only has the world become more uncertain, more volatile, and more fragmented, there are growing imperatives that call for urgent attention, including digital transformation, inclusivity, and sustainability considerations.
  • The need to strengthen work process and stakeholder engagement is paramount. The exercise has demonstrated the value of integration monitoring – regular tracking and objective evaluation of progress – to identify and address gaps. The exercise highlighted the value of stakeholder engagement and feedback of the AEC remaining open and engaged as many of the challenges span across borders.

The MTR, which assesses progress in implementation of the 23 sectoral work plans, finds that out of more than 1,700 action lines, 54.1% have been completed and 34.2% are on-going. After growing on average by more than 5% annually in the past five years leading to 2019, ASEAN is now the 5th largest economy in the world. In 2020, following the impact of COVID-19, its GDP stood at US$3.0 trillion. ASEAN has also become more business facilitative, financially inclusive, digitally connected, and attractive to investors.

The launch also featured reflections and insights of invited panel members representing the ASEAN Secretariat, the Member States, and the business community. Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for AEC Satvinder Singh expressed that the MTR exercise enriched the pillar’s work processes moving forward to the second phase of the AEC Blueprint 2025 implementation. He said, “it helps us focus our agenda, formulate our collective action and responses, leverage on our synergies, and derive creative and pragmatic approaches.”

Dr. May Faezah Arifin, Permanent Secretary of Ministry Finance and Economy and HLTF-EI Lead, Brunei Darussalam, highlighted that, “it is important to look at the remaining gaps between what we have achieved and what we targeted to achieve.” She called on all AEC sectoral bodies to close pay attention to the findings and recommendations as it offers solutions to the challenges faced by the AEC towards its 2025 goals.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ar. Siti Rozaimeriyanty Hj Abd Rahman, Chairperson of ASEAN Business Advisory Council 2021, called on the public sector and the business community to work together. She underscored that “while ASEAN will recover sooner or later, it cannot simply aim for survival, but must take advantage of the opportunity to rise even stronger, but only if it does so together, sama-sama.”

The MTR of the AEC Blueprint 2025 was supported by the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE) Plus. The launch event was also graced by Igor Driesmans, Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN, who noted the long-standing friendship between the two regions. He also expressed EU’s willingness to share their learning and experiences to ASEAN and support the region in the next phase of the AEC Blueprint implementation.

The virtual launch was attended by members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, the HLTF-EI,  the Senior Officials of AEC sectoral bodies, ASEAN  Business Advisory Council and Joint Business Councils,  entities associated with ASEAN, other representatives from the ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as public participants.

You can re-watch the launch event from the following link.

The video of highlights of the AEC MTR Report here.

To download the AEC MTR Report, here.