ASEAN Seeks To Upgrade Trade in Goods Agreement

ASEAN member states agreed on 16 March to launch negotiations for upgrading the 2010 ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) as part of their efforts to speed up economic recovery after the COVID pandemic. 

The negotiations were launched during the 28th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Retreat via video conference. This was the first ministerial level meeting in the economic track since Cambodia assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN for 2022, with the theme of “A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together.”

The launch of the ATIGA upgrade negotiations is important following the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement on 1 January 2022. At the start of this year, the RCEP became the largest trade agreement in the world as measured by the gross domestic product of its members – almost of one third of the world’s GDP.

“The ATIGA upgrade seeks to ensure that ASEAN remains relevant, modern, forward-looking, and more responsive to regional and global developments and able to contribute to increasing the efficient utilisation of ATIGA for businesses to benefit from regional integration,” ASEAN said in a statement.

“The upgraded ATIGA should deepen the ASEAN economic integration with more comprehensive, modern, trade facilitative and stronger commitments than those offered by ASEAN to Dialogue Partners, including in RCEP, to enhance the competitiveness of ASEAN as a single market and production base and its attractiveness as a preferred production and investment hub,” said Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The ministerial meeting also agreed, in principle, to extend the validity of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation of the Non-Tariff Measures on Essential Goods under the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic until 13 November 2024, as well as expanding the list of the essential goods.