Senior economic officials in a video conference call for the 52nd ASEAN Economic Minister's meeting
Senior economic officials in a video conference call for the 52nd ASEAN Economic Minister’s meeting

MANILA—The third meeting of the ASEAN senior economic officials for the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (SEOM 3/52) was held via video conference on 2-4 August 2021. The Philippines was represented by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty.

As senior economic officials gathered for the third time this year, ASEAN Member States (AMS) marked the completion of economic initiatives pursued by the region in line with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery (ACRF) adopted in 2020. The ACRF serves as the region’s whole-of-community exit strategy from the COVID-19 crisis.

Recent initiatives completed include the: 1) launch of the ASEAN Access (formerly known as ASEAN SME Service Centre), a one-stop business information gateway for international-oriented micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to expand their market outreach within ASEAN and outside the region, and 2) development of the Roadmap and Action Plan on smart manufacturing. Senior economic officials also welcomed the establishment of an ACRF support unit this year to undertake monitoring and evaluation, coordination, and advocacy efforts to further the momentum in implementing the remaining initiatives.

“The Philippines welcomes the completion of key economic initiatives under the ACRF in support of accelerating ASEAN’s recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident that this momentum would also allow us to further our work, such as in finalizing the guidelines on MSME crisis and disaster resilience by end of the year,” said Assistant Secretary Gepty.

Senior economic officials also noted the progress in the Framework of the Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which identifies key strategic priorities in support of ASEAN’s work to expand the agenda on circular economy in line with the region’s effort to achieve resiliency, resource efficiency and sustainable growth vis-à-vis ASEAN Blueprint Post-2025 Work. The Framework is targeted for adoption at the 20th AEC Council in October 2021.

According to Asec. Gepty, “We support the finalization of the Framework on Circular Economy as this will guide AEC work on sustainable development, support cross-pillar cooperation, and serve as a building block to ASEAN Post-2025 Work”. In the Philippines, deliberation is ongoing under the House Committee on Economic Affairs for House Bill No. 7609, also known as the “An Act to Promote Circular Economy and a Whole-of-Nation Transition Towards a Sustainable Future”, which aims to institutionalize the promotion of circular economy and sustainable consumption initiatives in the country. Other efforts discussed by SEOM include the completion of Brunei Darussalam’s priority economic deliverables, such as the ASEAN Investment Facilitation Framework, finalization of the Consolidated Strategy on the 4th Industrial Revolution and further expansion of the List of Essential Goods to include food and agricultural products, such as rice, in the MOU of the Implementation of the non-tariff measures (NTMs) on essential goods, in preparation for the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting scheduled in September 2021. ♦

Date of Release: 8 August 2021