The talks – held between September 6 and 8 in Vientiane, Laos – reviewed the progress of the AEC so far against goals laid out in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, which include the elimination of tariffs and the facilitation of trade and investment.
ASEAN leaders also held talks with counterparts in countries negotiating the terms of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN's 10 member states and the six nations with which ASEAN has FTAs: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
With world exports growing at their most sluggish pace since the 2008 financial crisis and economic growth sputtering, ASEAN's efforts could help reinvigorate trade, said Jayant Rikhye, Asia Pacific Head of Strategy and International Markets at HSBC, the world's leading international bank. "The trade-liberalising potential of the AEC has already begun to deliver tangible benefits in ASEAN by making it easier to do business across a network of trade corridors that bring people, capital and ambition together,” said Rikhye.
“Any progress that can be made by ASEAN towards forging the free trade agreement envisaged by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could further spur business activity and drive prosperity in the region,” Rikhye added.
HSBC's international banking network provides access to more than 90 per cent of global GDP, trade and capital flows. The network covers the world's largest and fastest-growing trade corridors and economic zones, including those in ASEAN, where the bank has played an active role for 150 years in developing the region's economies and infrastructure. HSBC has more than 200 branches across the six largest markets in ASEAN, is the partner of choice for more than 10,000 corporate clients – including 4,500 subsidiaries of multinational corporations – more than 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, and some 2.5 million retail customers.