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Economy

Sink-or-swim time for ASEAN latecomers as tariffs come down

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam enter free-trade deep end with mixed feelings

An auto plant in Vietnam's Vinh Phuc Province: The abolition of tariffs has brought the industry to a critical juncture.   © Reuters

HANOI -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are no longer getting the kid-gloves treatment in the ASEAN Economic Community.

As late entrants to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the four countries were initially exempted from abolishing some tariffs when the bloc established the AEC at the end of 2015. As of Monday, however, they are fully integrated members of the community -- with all that entails. Now, the AEC is expected to pursue deeper economic integration by lowering nontariff barriers and relaxing investment rules.

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