The Armenian – Thai Chamber participated at an “Outreach Event on ASSIST For Trade Services”.
ASSIST is an ASEAN trade instrument as the keynote speaker explained, notably for the usage of the private sector within the ASEAN business community. The event was conveyed in the format of a seminar about ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE+), a project, supported by the European Union together with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC).
The event took place on March 12, 2019, at the Sofitel Sukhumvit Hotel in Bangkok.
The purpose of the seminar was to present ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade (ASSIST) which in itself is a tool which benefits trade facilitation, presented by the EU Delegation’s representative, keynote speaker of the day: Lawyer Paolo Vergano.
(Excerpt from Background Notes)
The trade facilitation tool of the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) was officially launched at the 48th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting on the 3rd of August 2016 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. ASSIST can be used by ASEAN-based enterprises (i.e., companies that are legally registered in one of the 10 ASEAN Member States) to lodge complaints or to interact with ASEAN Governments in relation to intra-ASEAN cross-border trade issues. ASSIST is currently available only to address cross-border problems with regard to trade in goods, but ARISE Plus is supporting ASEAN to roll-out ASSIST for trade in services by training all ASEAN Member State Governments (i.e., the respective ASSIST Focal Points) during the first six months of 2019. It will eventually be extended also to trade-related investment measures.
ASSIST provides a significant opportunity for ASEAN-based enterprises, either directly or through ASEAN-based trade associations, chambers of commerce, business councils, business federations, and ASEAN-based lawyers or law firms, to seek solutions to the constraints or problems that they may be facing when trading within and across ASEAN. ASSIST is a non-judicial, non-confrontational and non-binding trade facilitation tool that aims at finding solutions, rather than apportioning responsibilities and/or sanctioning instances of illegality or inconsistency with ASEAN obligations. It is freely available online (http://assist.asean.org), free of charge, it works in English, and is based on simple and streamlined procedures that are managed by
Who are the key actors within ASSIST?
• The ASEAN Enterprise (AE), or the ASEAN-based association, chamber of commerce, business council, business federation or ASEAN-registered lawyer or law firm representing the ASEAN enterprise, is the actor that raises an issue, query or complaint through ASSIST. It must be a company or entity duly-registered (i.e., holding a regular and valid business registration license) in one of the ten ASEAN Member States;
• The ASEAN Secretariat is the Central Administrator of ASSIST and, in that capacity, manages the online proceedings. All communications among the key actors within ASSIST must go through the Central Administrator;
• The Home Contact Point (HCP) is the national body (i.e., Focal Point) in the ASEAN Member State of the complaining ASEAN Enterprise (or where the parent company is based in certain Trade in Services cases). This ministry, agency or governmental authority may intervene, if need be, to hold discussions with the Central Administrator and/or the Destination Contact Point;
• The Destination Contact Point (DCP) is the national body (i.e., Focal Point) in the ASEAN Member State where the issue is raised and where the ASEAN Enterprise is facing trade problems. This ministry, agency or governmental authority will decide whether it wants to engage within ASSIST to offer the ASEAN Enterprise a solution, will coordinate with its national competent authorities, and will manage all communications with the Central Administrator of ASSIST;
• The Responsible Agencies (RAs) are the agencies or other government representatives tasked with finding a solution to the issue. They are the competent authorities in the ASEAN Member State where the issue is raised and where the ASEAN Enterprise is facing trade problems. They will suggest a possible solution to the ASEAN Enterprise through their Destination Contact Point and thereto the Central Administrator.
How does ASSIST work?
ASSIST is based on a simple and streamlined process that largely unfolds online:
• The ASEAN Enterprise (or the ASEAN-based association, chamber of commerce, business council, business federation, or registered lawyer or law firm that is representing the ASEAN Enterprise, in cases of anonymous complaints) submits a complaint on the ASSIST website;
• If the complainant wishes for the complaint to be anonymous, the online submission may be made ‘on its behalf’ by an ASEAN-based trade association, or any other representative entity chosen by the complainant, such as an ASEAN-based chamber of commerce, business council, business federation, or registered lawyer or law firm, so long as it is an entity duly registered in one of the ten ASEAN Member States. In this case, the complaint will be filed using the representative entity’s business registration number and no information on the actual ASEAN Enterprise need to be revealed to the Home and/or Destination Contact Points. In case of a complaint filed on behalf of a client by an ASEAN-registered lawyer or law firm, special rules apply;
• The Central Administrator reviews the complaint and may return it to the ASEAN Enterprise (or to the representative entity, in cases of anonymous complaints) for possible amendment and re-submission, if necessary;
• When accepted by the Central Administrator, the Destination Contact Point reviews the complaint and may reject it, if it considers that ASSIST is not the appropriate forum for consultation or if it does not wish to address it for other compelling reasons (e.g., there is ongoing domestic litigation on the same issue before national courts, or there is a parallel proceeding at the World Trade Organization in Geneva under its dispute settlement system). In this case, a justification must be given by the Destination Contact Point;
• If the complaint is accepted by the Destination Contact Point, the Responsible Authority(ies) in that country will search for a solution to the issue at stake;
• If a solution can be proposed, it will be notified by the Central Administrator to the complainant (i.e., the ASEAN Enterprise or the representative entity, in cases of anonymous complaints) and to the Home Contact Point;
• The ASEAN Enterprise (or the representative entity, in cases of anonymous complaints) may accept the proposed solution or reject it and seek other dispute resolution avenues.
ASEAN Enterprises can expect practical solutions to be found through ASSIST in 40 to 60 working days maximum from the date of acceptance of the complaint by the Central Administrator. All solutions must be in full conformity with existing ASEAN commitments and applicable ASEAN Member States’ laws and regulations.
If the ASEAN Enterprise that lodged the complaint (or the representative entity, in cases of anonymous complaints) is not satisfied with the outcome, it may refer the case, through its ASEAN Member State of business registration, to the ASEAN Compliance Body (ACB) or to the ASEAN Enhanced Dispute Settlement Mechanism (EDSM). Recourse may even be made to the WTO dispute settlement system, but these alternative dispute resolutions mechanisms are driven by Governments, not directly by ASEAN enterprises.
Naturally, the ASEAN Enterprise (or the representative entity, in cases of anonymous complaints) may also decide to pursue national litigation or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (i.e., mediation, conciliation or arbitration) within national ASEAN jurisdictions.
The information provided by the complainant shall be used within ASSIST and by the actors involved only for purposes of addressing the specific ASSIST complaint. Appropriate steps shall be taken to safeguard commercially sensitive or personal data at all times, especially when transferring data across the network.
Source: Background information for Outreach event by ARISE Plus
Additional information is freely available online (http://assist.asean.org)
The Executive Director’s