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Southeast Asia Moves Closer To Trade Liberalization

By Agence France-Presse Southeast Asian countries on Sept. 3 completed talks on a "road map" for economic integration, bringing the region a step closer to creating a European-style single market covering 530 million people. The plan calls for the abolition of tariffs in 11 industry sectors by 2007 for six more developed members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-- Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. ASEAN's four other members -- Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam -- have been given until 2012 to abolish tariffs in the 11 priority sectors. The road map will be submitted to ASEAN leaders for endorsement during their summit in Laos in November. The road map is aimed at facilitating businesses within ASEAN to work together in an efficient manner so they can better compete internationally, said ASEAN secretary general Ong Keng Yong. At a summit in Bali last October, ASEAN leaders endorsed a plan to achieve a single production base and market by 2020, with a free flow of goods, services and investments in the region. ASEAN hopes to integrate the 11 industry sectors, including autos, textiles and electronics, before 2010 as part of efforts to establish the economic community. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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