General & Misc

"ASSIST" Platform extended to address ASEAN Trade Issues

Date: 08 January 2019; Type: Industry Updates; Source: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 (Bernama) - ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade (ASSIST), a platform for ASEAN-based firms to lodge complaints or to connect with governments in the region, will be extended to cover issues in trade services and trade-related investment measures in mid-2019 and 2020, respectively.

Launched in 2016, ASSIST is currently available to address cross-border issues with regard to trade in goods, under the support of ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the European Union (ARISE Plus).

Hence, Trade Facilitation Key Expert for ARISE Plus, Paolo R. Vergano, said enterprises should leverage on this tool to flag unfair non-tariff measures and barriers and facilitate freer flow of goods, services and capital across the region.

He said every accepted complaints would be reviewed by the ASEAN Secretariat, which will liaise with the related national bodies in addressing the complaints and come up with solutions within two to three months.

However, in the case of rejected complaints, ARISE Plus will demand the related government to justify the complaint.

"While ASEAN has adopted wide-ranging commitments towards greater transparency through full operationalisation of ASEAN Trade Repository and the related network of National Trade Repositories, this process is however unfolding at a rather slow and asymmetrical speed among ASEAN member states.

"The ASEAN corporate sector should encourage the governments to comply fully with these obligations, which are fundamental to regional integration and economic development," he said at a briefing here today organised by CIMB ASEAN Research Institute and chaired by its Chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid.

To date, three cases related to intra-ASEAN trade in goods have been received with one complaint having gone through the full procedure and addressed.

Vergano said fears of retaliation by the governments’ complaints against lack of awareness and language barriers were among the potential reasons for the low utilisation of the platform.

Hence, ARISE Plus is working with the ASEAN countries to improve the anonymity features of the platform to dispel complainants' fears about possible retaliation and reaching out more to private sector entities.

ARISE Plus have also developed dedicated tutorials with simulated cases on its website to help businesses understand the system.

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