51st ASEAN Economic Minister Meeting

Thailand hosted the 51st ASEAN Economic Minister Meeting and related meetings. The event was opened with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s welcoming speech. He spoke highly of ASEAN’s achievements, including ASEAN’s Free Trade Area which promotes free trade between ASEAN countries by lowering tariffs, the ASEAN Economic Community that enhances economic co-operation, and ASEAN’s proposal for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The conclusion of the RCEP talks, which include topics such as the digital economy, the Internet of Things, and smart industry, would lead to opening the world’s largest markets. ASEAN has a combined population of 3.5 billion people and accounts for nearly half the world’s population, with USD $27.3 trillion in total trade values.