AEC Blueprint Implementation Performance and Challenges: Trade Facilitation
As the intra-ASEAN tariffs are virtually eliminated, it is the non-tariff measures and trade costs associated with moving goods and services across border that hinder intra-ASEAN trade. This paper focuses on reviewing the state of trade facilitation initiatives in ASEAN, especially on customs modernization, National Single Window, and National Trade Repository. The study uses questionnaires and interviews with the government officials of eight ASEAN Member States (Malaysia and Singapore are excluded). The questionnaires are similar to the ones for the ERIA Mid-Term Review Study 2011, thus, allowing for monitoring of progress across period. The result shows there has been significant progress in trade facilitation in the region in recent years. Nonetheless, there remains a huge gap between the front runners and the tail-enders. The main challenges include inadequacy of funds, availability of technical talent, long process of development of the technical infrastructure of the system, and coordination issues among agencies. For initiatives post-2015, the paper recommends amplification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement at the regional level. The paper also notes that political will, human capital, and persistence are the key determinants for the success of trade facilitation initiatives in the region.