ASEAN senior economic officials met in Hanoi on March 7 to prepare discussion points for the 19th ASEAN Economic Ministers ’ (AEM) Retreat, which will open on March 8.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang led the Vietnamese delegation at the meeting, which was attended by delegations from the other nine ASEAN member countries and the group’s Secretariat.

Participants reviewed the development progress of the ASEAN Economic Community that will be established by 2015, sought measures to step up the founding of the community and pointed out priorities to be carried out, realising agreements and implementing trade, services and investment tasks.

They discussed the association’s important cooperation initiatives this year, and reviewed documents that are scheduled to be signed during the AEM Retreat, including the draft revised protocol on some ASEAN economic agreements relating to the trade of goods and investment.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has 10 members. They are Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia , Laos, Cambodia , and Vietnam .

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, ASEAN is one of Vietnam ’s priority trade and investment partners. It is the third largest importer of Vietnamese goods and the second largest commodity supplier to the country. Two-way trade between Vietnam and ASEAN member countries exceeded 38 billion USD in 2012.-VNA