THE 31st Meeting of the High-Level Task Force on Asean Economic Integration (HLTF-EI) convened on Thursday to discuss and recommend mechanisms that will support and strengthen the implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 toward greater regional cohesion and integration.
“The Asean High-Level Task Force is considered a visionary group that assesses the progress of the region’s economic integration and proposes measures that will be submitted to the ministers who, in turn, will discuss these at the Asean Economic Ministers’ Retreat in March 2017,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said.
“The meeting gives us the opportunity to consult each other on several matters to ensure that the benefits of integration are fully realized and shared by everyone in Asean. Strengthening compliance and monitoring our AEC commitments, and finding ways to deepen engagement with our stakeholders in designing and implementing regional strategies and initiatives are some of the topics we will focus on during the meeting,” said Rodolfo, who is also the managing head of the Board of Investments.
The 31st HLTF-EI Meeting gathers Asean high-ranking trade officials in consultations on how the region can effectively address emerging challenges in a dynamic global environment.
The Asean consists of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Brunei.
In light of the substantial progress of Asean’s economic integration, the AEC Blueprint 2025 requires a stronger undertaking in the presence of wider competition and vast opportunities in goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital.
“Our recommendations will take into account the need to implement both liberalization and cooperation measures and move forward the implementation of integration activities articulated in the Asean Economic Community’s 2025 Vision,” Rodolfo said.
“The Philippines will also be taking to the HLTF the statement of its Civil Society Organization on how the Asean integration should truly be people-centered, environmentally-conscious and equitable,” he said.
The agenda includes the presentation of the Philippines’ economic priority deliverables for its Asean 2017 Chairmanship with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” as well as the commemorative events and activities to celebrate Asean’s 50th Founding Anniversary.
The HLTF-EI is composed of trade vice ministers from the 10 Asean economies and functions primarily as an advisory body to the economic ministers of the Asean member states.
Its primary responsibility is to ensure that the 10 Asean economies are on-track and on-time with the plans and programs intended to realize regional economic integration and achieve the vision of an Asean Economic Community.