Need to address non-tariff barriers within Asean

ADDRESSING non-tariff barriers (NTB) in Asean still has a long way to go, and member countries must first work on key people-centric focus groups in order to start progressing, said Asean Business Advisory Council Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid.

He said while the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is now a reality, concerns on the increasing NTB still exist, despite the fact that the tariff had been decreased significantly. “Have study groups, focus on the issue and bring in experts from other countries,” he said, when identifying key focus groups, namely in industries such as the healthcare, education, agri-food business, logistics, retail and e-commerce.

“Even the World Trade Organisation had said that the concerns on NTB were far more serious than the tariff itself. Asean NTB must be addressed if you want to have a free movement of goods,” he said on the sidelines of the Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2016, here, yesterday.

Last month, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said NTB — regarded as the main stumbling block in the shaping of the AEC — had been progressively reduced since the issue was raised by the 10 member countries four years ago.

Mustapa said 69 NTB cases had been reported and some 49 cases had been resolved through intensive consultation and peer review. Meanwhile, Munir said it is equally important to further cultivate another two Asean pillars, besides AEC — the Asean Political-Security Community and Asean Socio-Cultural Community.

“We see little development in these two pillars as compared with the AEC.”

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