MANILA, Philippines–The cost of doing business in Asean is expected to lower and trade-related transactions to become simpler as the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga), one of the region’s landmark economic agreements, entered into force Monday, May 17, the Asean Secretariat said.

The Atiga, which is comprehensive in its scope and brings transparency to regional trade liberalization, consolidates all commitments related to trade in goods. It focuses not only on tariff liberalization and non-tariff measures, but it also includes matters related to simplification of rules of origin and its implementation. Various agencies and regulatory bodies dealing with entry of goods, such as the Customs, and health and agricultural authorities, will jointly operate in ensuring smoother operations at the Customs entry points.

“The Atiga is a major achievement toward the establishment of a single market and production base under the Asean Economic Community 2015,” said Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan.

The entry into force of the Atiga will help facilitate trade by simplifying processes and procedures thereby reducing transaction time and cost of doing business hence benefitting the business community and the public, he said upon the deposit of Thailand’s instrument of ratification with his office in Jakarta. All Asean member states have now ratified the Atiga.

The Atiga contains the full import duty liberalization schedule among Asean member states and spells out the tariff rates to be applied on products. This provides businesses with transparency and certainty in making business and investment decisions.

Surin also urged the Asean member states to implement the Atiga through timely incorporation of the Atiga commitments into domestic legislation to meet the agreed tariff reduction schedules.

With the coming into force of Atiga, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand will issue their legal enactments in 90 days, while Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam will do so in 180 days. Thereafter, tariff liberalization commitments under the Atiga will be implemented retroactively from 1 January 2010. –