All of Asean must work to reduce tariff barriers, says Najib

LOKMAN MANSOR


MANILA: Every member nation of Asean must respond positively to tariff reduction efforts, which would enhance the region’s value proposition as an attractive economic area.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said a Scorecard approach could be used to identify and measure progress of reduction in non-tariff barriers (NTB) and non-tariff measures (NTM).

“Strong commitment is needed to reduce costs and simplify procedures, so that trade can flow more freely,” he told Malaysian media at the close of the 30th Asean Leaders Summit here.

The Asean economy, which currently stands at US$2.6 trillion, is projected to grow to US$9.2 trillion by 2050. But NTBs and NTMs, which have actually increased 365 per cent from 1,634 to 5,975 in recent years, threaten to stall trade growth.

“Everyone is guilty. We’ve gone down this route (of imposing more barriers) as a consequence of what others have done. We have to discuss, and everybody has to respond positively.

“The Asean Secretariat and economic ministers will push for it,” Najib added.