A New StrAtegic FrAmework For iAi work PlAN iii In Work Plan III, the vision for IAI remains consistent: to assist CLMV countries to meet ASEAN-wide targets and commitments towards realising the goals of the ASEAN Community. In order to achieve this vision, the five strategic areas which have been identified are:
■ Food and Agriculture. The populations of CLMV countries are primarily rural and dependent on agriculture, and rural poverty remains endemic. Given the low agricultural productivity, there are great opportunities to improve yields and competitiveness – though these improvements need to be sustainable. ASEAN is also working to increase trade in agriculture through harmonisation of standards and to improve food security in the region. Support to CLMV countries will help promote these objectives.
■ Trade Facilitation. Simplification and harmonisation of trade procedures can significantly reduce trade costs, especially in CLMV countries where border and documentary compliance is often onerous. ASEAN Economic Community is strongly focussed on improving trade facilitation through various mechanisms, e.g. ASEAN Trade Repository and ASEAN Single Window, and CLMV countries need assistance to fully participate. Increasing the capacity of CLMV countries to understand WTO rules and processes and implement WTO agreements will also support regional integration.
■ Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs play a critical role in the economies of all CLMV countries. However, the policy environment supporting MSMEs is still relatively weak, with opportunities for improvement in access to finance and new markets, business regulation and entrepreneurial education. Promotion of MSMEs is a strong ASEAN priority, with a range of regional initiatives in progress. CLMV countries will need additional support to implement these measures.
■ Education. Developing human capital is a major challenge for CLMV countries, with skills gaps widening as economies evolve. While access to basic education has increased, there remain large numbers of out-of-school children and quality is largely unaddressed. In technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education, ASEAN is promoting mutual recognition of qualifications standards. Support for English language instruction will also facilitate greater integration of CLMV countries in ASEAN.
■ Health and Well-Being. While indicators of health in CLMV countries have improved significantly since 2000, there remain large gaps vis-à-vis other Member States. ASEAN is increasingly pursuing regional standards in areas such as maternal and child health, and food safety. CLMV countries will need special support to implement these standards. Health also has important regional dimensions – in areas such as emerging infectious and communicable diseases, for example, the success of integrated surveillance systems depends on building strong national capacities in all Member States.