Also attending the event were economic ministers of other nine ASEAN member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, as well as the ASEAN Secretary General, Le Luong Minh. Some insiders said that this time’s meeting focused on strengthening preparedness ahead the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community ( AEC ).
Ahead of the Ministers Retreat, ASEAN senior officials met on Feb. 26, reviewing the implementation of ASEAN +1 Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and preparation for the establishment of the ASEAN+6 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which comprises the 10 ASEAN member nations as well as China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Meetings on the ASEAN Caucus on the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) were also held. The AHKFTA is expected to be implemented in 2015.
The participants in the RCEP FTA negotiations have a total population of over 3 billion and a trade share estimated at around 27 percent of global trade (based on 2012 WTO figures), covering GDP of around 21 trillion USD (2012 IMF figures).-VNA