Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang revealed Vietnam’s preparation progress for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on the conclusion of the 21st ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat in Malaysia.

The Minister underlined the Vietnamese Government’s guidelines, programmes and strategies to implement the commitments of the AEC formation, such as facilitating administrative formalities for businesses and raising public awareness of opportunities and challenges when joining the community.

He cited Vietnam as one of the leading state members with over 90 percent of its commitments on the AEC establishment implemented, second only to Singapore.

Vietnam also took the lead in eliminating tariffs. Statistically, the country has already zeroed out nearly 90 percent of its tax rates and will strive to negate another 7 percent of the tax rates between now and 2018, he noted.

The establishment of the AEC provides both opportunities and challenges for Vietnam, especially its business community. Vietnam will have a strong opportunity to learn from the experience of others in State management and business administration. On the other hand, the country will face increased competition, even domestically, he said.

He called on State management agencies and businesses to take adequate measures and prepare carefully for the establishment of the AEC on December 31.

The AEM Retreat-21 taking place in Kota Bahru from February 28 to March 1 is an important event in preparation for the ASEAN Summits next April and November, Hoang said.

The meeting evaluated the implementation of commitments on the AEC formation and continued discussing measures to facilitate non-tariff trade and business operations.

Ministers showed resolve to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in late 2015, which will promote economic, trade and investment cooperation between the ASEAN and Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, New Zealand, Australia, and India.

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA