ASEAN economic integration

Window of Hope Towards ASEAN Economic Integration

There is unfortunately no ‘stick’ to compel member states to meet deadlines. Nonetheless, the trade community in each member state can pressure trade policymakers. Reduced red tape in cross-border trade, especially eradicating the submission of repetitive information, will be of extra benefit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who are often resource strapped. Since SMEs account for more than 95% of business establishments in ASEAN, the opportunities brought about by the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) makes it a cause worth fighting. Given that ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,’ the success of the ASW is dependent on the quality of NSWs of each member state. The ASW has only experienced incremental progress thus far. Member states should take advantage of digitalization and be relentless in accelerating the progress of the ASW. The grit needed to underpin the ASW will be worthwhile as success of this milestone will bring the region closer to the coveted goal of establishing an integrated market and regional platform.