Officials at 21st AEM-CER Consultations (Source: VNA)
Vientiane (VNA) - The 21st Consultation Meeting between ASEAN Economic Ministers and Economic Ministers from Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (ASEAN-CER 21) took place in Vientiane, Laos on August 4.

During the meeting, which was part of the ongoing 48th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings, participants focused their discussion on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, affirming that this will help the AEC become an area with high competitiveness and close connection by 2025.

Officials agreed that the Blueprint has great potential for promoting trade and investment links between ASEAN and the two countries.

Australia and New Zealand officials stated that their countries are supporting the AEC through the implementation of the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).

Ministers debated future orientations for the trilateral agreement, agreeing that an overall examination for this agreement can be carried out in 2017.

While applauding close cooperation among the three sides to facilitate the implementation of the first Protocol of amending the Agreement establishing the AANZFTA, ministers acknowledged the priorities of the AANZFTA are to foster and and further deepen investment and trade connections among the parties.

Participants highlighted the significance of economic cooperation in the framework of the AANZFTA Economic Support Programme (AECSP), saying that it plays a crucial role in implementing the AANZFTA, especially in terms of rules of origin (ROO), service, investment, intellectual property and competition.
Trade value between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand hit 60.3 billion USD, accounting for 2.6 percent of ASEAN’s total trade turnover. Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Australia and New Zealand to the bloc reached 7.4 billion USD last year, making up 6.2 percent of total FDI poured into ASEAN in the year.

Australia was ASEAN’s 7 th largest trade partner in 2015 with two-way trade hitting 51.8 billion USD. Meanwhile trade turnover between ASEAN and New Zealand was valued at 8.5 billion USD in the period.-VNA