Recovery, digitalisation and sustainability were the three strategic thrusts outlined by Brunei during the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials (SEOM) Retreat 2021, as the sultanate proposed ten Priority Economic Deliverables (PEDs) under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Pillar.

Chaired by the Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) Dr Hjh May Fa’ezah Hj Ahmad Ariffin, the video conference meeting that was held on Monday marked the first SEOM meetings to be chaired by the sultanate as the 2021 Chair of ASEAN.

As ASEAN Chairman, Brunei proposed ten Priority Economic Deliverables (PEDs) under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Pillar following the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”.

The Meeting was attended by the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials (SEOM) and other representatives of the ASEAN Member States. Image: Courtesy of MOFE.

Subsequently the PEDs were divided into three (3) strategic thrusts namely; recovery, digitalisation and sustainability.

The recovery thrust aims to ensure the region’s recovery post-COVID19 pandemic with a focus on clarifying rules on non-tariff measures and th facilitation of investments into the region as well as the development of a recovery roadmap for the tourism sector.

The thrust also aims at opening new markets and partnerships for ASEAN, particularlly with the launching of negotiations for a possible ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement.

Meanwhile, the digitalisation thrust is aimed towards fostering a resilient ASEAN through leveraging on new technologies with a focus on providing a safe, secure, and harmonised e-commerce environment and digital ecosystem within the region.

The sustainability thrust on the other hand is aimed towards advancing an inclusive and sustainable economic growth in ASEAN with a focus on ensuring the provision of guidance and support to MSMEs, sustainable energy transition and cooperation in the area of minerals.

In her opening statement Dr May Fa’ezah as Chairperson welcomed all SEOM Leads and officials for joning the first meeting of the year, in which it is now Brunei’s turn to continue the ASEAN process of advancing the economic integration agenda and recovery in the region.

She then expressed hope that the sultanate can continue the momentum and carry on the efforts that have been done by Vietnam as the previous Chair.

The meeting also saw discussions on the 2021 Annual Priorities under the SEOM’s purview; the SEOM Work Programme for 2021; updates of the works of the Economic Officials in Jakarta; and proposed economic meetings throughout the year.

Following the close of the ASEAN SEOM Retreat, the first official SEOM and Related Meetings under the Brunei Darussalam ASEAN Chairmanship is expected to take place virtually on 20th to 28th January 2021. – Wardi Wasil

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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