Support to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI)

Project description

Title: Support to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Current Phase: 2015 to 2017


Following the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015, the ASEAN Member States are now pursuing further efforts to integrate their economies. This includes the promotion of a single market and single production base. The Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) was launched in 2000 to assist the less developed countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam in making the most of the potential benefits of regional integration, while also helping them cope with the associated challenges and economic risks.

Details of how the IAI aims to fulfil these objectives are included in the document ‘ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together’. Numerous measures remain to be implemented, particularly with regard to the ASEAN agreements on trade facilitation and investment in the services sector, and on promoting the mobility of skilled labour.


As part of the ASEAN single market, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam are effectively implementing agreements intended to secure the free flow of services and investment, and to promote the mobility of skilled labour.


The project is assisting Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam to reduce the barriers to trade and investment in services sectors, with a focus on tourism and health sectors. To this end, it supports efforts to achieve greater transparency of the trade in services and to improve access to this market. It aims to reduce discrimination among service providers, and introduce measures that promote investment in the context of ASEAN integration. Related to this, the project carries out capacity development measures in ministries involved in implementing the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Framework (ACIA).

The project also works to strengthen the competitiveness and productivity of companies in the four countries, for instance by providing them with appropriate training and raising awareness about the benefits and risks of the ASEAN single market for small and medium-sized enterprises. It also supports the implementation of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs), providing assistance with the drafting of MRA implementation plans and improving the technical capacities in the institutions responsible for fulfilling the MRAs.

Finally, the project also contributes to the four countries’ efforts to align their national qualifications standards and curricula with the existing ASEAN standards. This is an important step in improving the mobility of skilled labour and strengthening the institutional context for MRA implementation.