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June 23, 2017

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Zero tariffs for ASEAN-6 starting

MANILA, Philippine -- Starting Jan. 1, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand can import and export almost all goods across their borders at no tariff as the Common Effective Preferential Tariffs for ASEAN Free Trade Area (CEPT-AFTA) takes effect.

This move which will bring the total tariff lines traded under the agreement to 54,457 or 99.11 percent is a major milestone in efforts to transform ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) into a more integrated regional bloc economically, politically, socially, and culturally.

"The elimination of tariffs by ASEAN -6 underscores ASEAN's commitment to dismantle tariffs and keep intra-ASEAN trade open. It will also serve as a catalyst for the development of the single market and production base projected by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint," the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat said in a statement.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary General, said the landmark agreement could mean savings for the 600 million ASEAN consumers depending on the market dynamics of the respective ASEAN -6 countries.

"We sincerely hope that all parties will act to ensure that the man on the street will benefit from these reductions in tariffs," he said. The business community, especially the downstream producers, also stands to gain in this new regional setup, Pitsuwan said.

"Lower cost of inputs will allow the business community a wider choice of goods, and in the process, they will move towards becoming more competitive globally, as envisaged in the AEC Blueprint," he added.

Under CEPT-AFTA, an additional 7,881 tariff lines will come down to zero tariffs for the so-called ASEAN -6, the secretariat said.

"Additionally, with the reduction, the average tariff rate for these countries is expected to further decrease from 0.79 percent in 2009 to just 0.05 percent in 2010," it said.

In 2008, intra-ASEAN import value of commodities for these 7,881 tariff lines amounted to US$22.66 billion, or 11.84 percent of ASEAN -6 import value within ASEAN.

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