ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement comes into force

The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), one of the region's landmark economic agreements, took effect on May 17.
The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), one of the region's landmark economic agreements, took effect on May 17.

The ATIGA, which is comprehensive in its scope and brings transparency to regional trade liberalisation, consolidates all commitments related to trade in goods.

"The ATIGA is a major achievement towards the establishment of a single market and production base under the ASEAN Economic Community 2015," said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan.

The entry into force of the ATIGA will help facilitate trade by simplifying processes and procedures thereby reducing transaction time and cost of doing business, he said.

ATIGA focuses on not only tariff liberalisation and non-tariff measures, but also includes matters related to simplification of rules of origin and its implementation, according to ASEAN Secretariat.

Various agencies and regulatory bodies dealing with entry of goods, such as the Customs, and health and agricultural authorities, will jointly operate in ensuring smoother operations at the Customs entry points.

The ATIGA contains the full import duty liberalisation schedule among ASEAN member states and spells out the tariff rates to be applied on products. This provides businesses with transparency and certainty in making business and investment decisions.

With the coming into force of ATIGA, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will issue their legal enactments in 90 days, while Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam will do so in 180 days.

Thereafter, tariff liberalisation commitments under the ATIGA will be implemented retroactively from Jan. 1, 2010.

ASEAN is a 600 population market with a total GDP of over 1.3 trillion USD and the most dynamic development region in the world.

The group is among four Vietnam’s biggest trading partners. Vietnam shipped goods worth 8.9 billion USD or 15 percent of the country’s exports, to ASEAN in 2009. It imported commodities worth 14 billion or 20 percent the country’s imports from the group.

ASEAN registered a total foreign direct investment of more than 60 billion USD in Vietnam./.

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