Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. On Monday said member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should institute reforms in their regulatory regimes in order to realize the organization’s goal of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

In his speech at the 1st ASEAN Symposium on Regulatory Reforms in Makati City, Cristobal said that improving the region’s regulatory structure would reinforce competitiveness and strengthen gains in opening trade borders among its member nations.

“Policy adjustments in various areas are likewise needed, such as in trade and investment, education and training, research and development, business support services and venture capital market funding, entrepreneurship and enterprise development, and the ancillary formation of strategic alliances within and across borders,” he said.

The World Trade Organization reports that the ASEAN region accounted for 7 percent of global exports, or $14,851 billion, in 2010.

According to ASEAN Competitiveness Report 2010, prepared by the Asia Competitiveness Institute of the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the region has also been more competitive than 57 percent of the 132 developed and developing economies. However, the same report also indicated that ASEAN has not advanced on the competitiveness scale in the last five years.

In 2011, ASEAN conducted a dialogue focused on regulatory regimes that were identified as key support areas for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community: transport, trade in services, and investment facilitation. This year’s Regulatory Reforms symposium in Makati was focused on instituting reforms in supply chain connectivity and logistics.

Cristobal said policy and regulatory frameworks have contributed significantly to ASEAN’s successful integration into the regional and global networks of information and communications technology (ICT)-related logistics and supply chains, both as a competitive partner and a major beneficiary.

ICT products were the most important source of exchange earnings in ASEAN in 2010, in which ICT exports totaling $258 billion accounted for almost a quarter of the value of all ASEAN exports.

Cristobal added that through trade and investment liberalization, the regional organization has been able to reduce tariffs and therefore the cost of doing business; at the start of the ASEAN Free Trade Area in 1993, the average tariff on intra-ASEAN trade was almost 13 percent. In 2011, it was down to less that one percent.

“ASEAN needs to build on its previous successes and initiate a fresh wave of market-based reforms in order to meet the challenges of globalization, as well as risks posed by a volatile global economy,” Cristobal said.

In its publication Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015, ASEAN envisions an integrated economic community characterized by a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, broad-based and equitable development, and full integration into the global economy. — BM/VS, GMA News