The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) opposed groups uncertainties over the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration, saying that the country is prepared to be at par with the other 10 nations included in the community.
Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said in optimism that businesses should not be worried at the coming Asean Economic Community (AEC) by December 2015 where member-nations of the Asean, along with six other partners—Japan, Australia, India, China, New Zealand and South Korea—can freely trade and gain more access each markets.
“Businesses should not be anxious because we’ve basically seen the bulk of changes last 2010, when over 99 percent of tariff lines within the Asean were reduced to zero,” Domingo said.
“The Asean Economic Community [will not really cause]a big bang in the sense that, when we reach that date in 2015, massive changes will happen. The biggest change has already happened in 2010. AEC 2015 will mostly affect service areas and investment rules, but even then, we don’t expect radical changes,” he added.
Like the European Union, Asean member-nations would join together as a single market with the AEC. The integration will allow zero tariff and lesser documents and clearances to enter each other’s markets.
Access to such markets brought anxiety to businesses and other groups, which pointed out that the country is still unprepared with the concern of massive importation to the country that will discourage entrepreneurs in the country.
But Domingo assured that the AEC will bring the country positive results.
“There will be more of evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, changes. The anxieties are slightly exaggerated…But there have been adequate preparations [on the integration],” Domingo said.
He added that the DTI also provides “Doing Business in Free Trade Areas” seminar to orient people on how to “take advantage of free trade agreements,” as well as the small and medium enterprises (SME) roving academy and shared services facilities (SSFs) that expands SMEs capacity and competitiveness both in local and international markets.