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Trade Digitalisation: ASEAN ministers to strengthen regional supply chains

ASEAN economic ministers are committed to strengthening regional supply chains and improve trade digitalisation to spur trade and investments, as well as cushion the impact of the ongoing health crisis, according to Indonesian Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto.

The commitment came after the 52nd ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) meeting on Tuesday, in which ministers gathered virtually to discuss the impact of Covid-19 in the region’s economy, among other issues.

“Indonesia supports the ASEAN’s joint effort to face Covid-19, particularly the economic pillar through the strengthening of supply chains and utilisation of digital technology in trade,” Indonesian Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministers have also finalised an ASEAN Digital Integration Index, which maps the readiness for an integrated digital economy among ASEAN members.

Meanwhile, the region's top officials finalised the terms of reference for the establishment of the Network of Innovation Centers in ASEAN, which would connect innovation centers across the region to bolster the ecosystem for start-up development in the region.

Indonesia has recorded a 5.32 per cent year-on-year economic contraction in the second quarter, the worst since 1998 financial crisis, as the components of economic activity fell significantly.

Meanwhile, movement restrictions implemented in various countries have also hit international trade, with the World Trade Organisations (WTO) projecting global trade volumes to contract by between 13 per cent and 32 per cent at worst this year.

To revive the region’s trade, Agus and his regional peers also approved the implementation of a protocol to simplify certification bureaucracy in the region, called the ASEAN Wide Self Certification (AWSC), which enables certified exporters to declare the origin for their goods.

The implementation will start on Sept 20. “The utilisation of this facility will boost Indonesia’s exports to ASEAN,” Agus said.

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