Development of ASEAN framework for the trade negotiations

The electronics industry today plays a vital and important role in the development of most nations as it has grown substantially and strongly over the past decades. During the early years of the electronics industry, some of the world’s top electronics companies, looking for ways to be more competitive, decided to set up their assembly plants in Asia, particularly in Association of Southeast East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries where they found a large pool of highly skilled workers and where they could operate at a very competitive cost. Most of them were multinational companies based in North America, Europe and Japan.

The relocation proved to be good for these companies, so good that many of them now operate their largest assembly plants in ASEAN. Not only they maintained their operations in these countries, they have also expanded them as their markets grew. With the entry of these large multinational companies, plus the set-up of homegrown companies in ASEAN, the electronics industry in no time became the number one export industry of most ASEAN countries, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. For so many years now, it has been these countries’ top export products. The ASEAN countries, through its initiative of ASEAN Free Trade Area, or AFTA, laid out a comprehensive program of regional tariff reduction, to be carried out in different phase years.

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