Non-Tariff Measures: Not All that Bad
While tariffs have been reduced, the number of non-tariff measures (NTMs) is increasing, and is often blamed to be one source of the lack of integration in ASEAN. Yet, the discovery of Volkswagen's large-scale attempt to seemingly go around US emissions tests serves as a reminder of a stark truth. NTMs can play a role of check and balance for the quality of goods. To make NTMs work for the common good, ASEAN should break from the 'trade negotiation' approach and strive instead for three objectives: (1) a drive for transparency, (2) cooperation in conformity assessment procedures, and (3) dynamic disciplines. Such 'dynamic deep integration' would largely eliminate the high-visibility political friction, poorly designed--or those captured by special interests--NTMs.