At the forum (Source: Straitstimes.com)

Hanoi (VNA) – Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on May 21 said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should undertake a collective stance in favour of a free trading system while combating against protectionism.

ASEAN must reaffirm its resolve to abide by open regionalism, press on with deepening integration, and come together to made a strong statement for a free, open, rules-based and interdependent system, Chan said at the Business Times' Leaders Forum on ASEAN, as Singapore is taking the rotating chair of ASEAN this year.

ASEAN has done well in eliminating tariffs and gradually reducing services barriers. However, non-tariff barriers still hinder the free flow of goods, and the investment landscape is uneven and lagging behind many other emerging economies, the minister said.

Consequently, ASEAN must continue to push for economic integration and strive to achieve a greater level of connectedness among members, Chan noted.

According to him, ASEAN must ensure that the trade architecture is continually updated and enhanced towards greater coherence. Moreover, ASEAN needs to ensure that their economies are digitally connected and digitally enabled. Finally, ASEAN needs a breakthrough and innovative capacity to maintain its competitiveness in the long-run, shifting the region up in the value chain.-VNA