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By John Wong

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Extra resources for ASEAN Economies in Perspective: A Comparative Study of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand

Sample text

Subsequently the technocrats from the five member-countries have called numerous meetings to thrash out the various technical and administrative details for tariff concessions in order to enhance intra-regional trade, culminating in the announcement of the mutual across-the-board preferential tariff reductions of 10 per cent on all products between Singapore and the Philippines in January 1977, and a similar accord between Singapore and Thailand in February 1977. To be sure the mainstay of the intra-ASEAN trade lies in the sector comprising Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, rather than involving the Philippines and Thailand, so that the immediate impact on intra-ASEAN trade by these two bilateral agreements will not be substantial.

Prior to the Second ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in early August 1977, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand had agreed to a faiily extensive trade liberalisation scheme involving 10 per cent across-the-board tariff concessions for a wide range of 1751 commodity items. The offer was apparently rejected by Indonesia and Malaysia, as the final communique of the Second Summit only recommended the 71 items for implementation before January 1978. The upshot clearly indicates that there are still numerous obstacles standing in the way of achieving a closer intra-ASEAN trade tie and that the expectations of-some members at this stage are still higher than the capacity of the ASEAN organisation to fulfil them.

Ultimately significant growth of intra-regional trade depends on the appropriate restructuring of the existing trade policies currently pursued by the individual members, such as liberalising the present intra-regional traoe arrangements. At the first summit meeting in February 1976, the governments of the five ASEAN members had, in their Bali Declaration of Accord, expressly committed themselves to preferential trading arrangements as a long-term objective. Subsequently the technocrats from the five member-countries have called numerous meetings to thrash out the various technical and administrative details for tariff concessions in order to enhance intra-regional trade, culminating in the announcement of the mutual across-the-board preferential tariff reductions of 10 per cent on all products between Singapore and the Philippines in January 1977, and a similar accord between Singapore and Thailand in February 1977.

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