Credit by Joint Statement of The Fifteenth AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations © ASEAN.org
ASEAN, EU Agree to Resume Free Trade Talks
ECONOMY Beyond

ASEAN, EU Agree to Resume Free Trade Talks

In a joint statement, economic ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the global economic outlook has improved.

But they expressed caution over uncertainties arising from "growing protectionist and inward-looking policy stances" that often blame trade for the loss of jobs because of automation and industrialization.

"We do see tendencies of protectionism and anti-globalization across the world," Malmstrom told reporters after a meeting Friday of economic ministers from both regions. "Closing borders and building walls, raising tariffs — that will not be a solution, but will rather reinforce the problems."

Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting Ramon Lopez, left, shakes hands with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom following a news conference in the 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers-European Union Trade Consultations Friday, March 10, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. In their statement, the AEM-EU meeting, being hosted by the Philippines this year, various projects on trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, air transportation and statistics and integration monitoring were discussed. Image: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting Ramon Lopez, left, shakes hands with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom following a news conference in the 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers-European Union Trade Consultations Friday, March 10, 2017 in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. In their statement, the AEM-EU meeting, being hosted by the Philippines this year, various projects on trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, air transportation and statistics and integration monitoring were discussed. Image: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

 

The challenge for leaders is to make a strong case for open, fair and free trade and to ensure it is efficient, benefits small businesses and increases investment and jobs.

Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said statements from some world leaders, who he did not name, have added to uncertainty.

Negotiations on an EU-ASEAN free trade agreement were launched in 2007 but were suspended in 2009 due to differences over ambitions for the plan. The vast gap between affluent EU nations and developing countries in Southeast Asia also complicated the talks.

From left; Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, Secretary of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting Ramon Lopez, Commissioner for Trade, European Union Cecilia Malmstrom and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh link arms following a news conference during the ongoing 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers-European Union Trade Consultations, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Pasay city, Philippines. In their statement, the AEM-EU meeting said they "discussed various projects on trade facilitation, Intellectual Property Rights, air transportation and statistics and integration monitoring." Image: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
From left; Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, Secretary of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry and Chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting Ramon Lopez, Commissioner for Trade, European Union Cecilia Malmstrom and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh link arms following a news conference during the ongoing 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers-European Union Trade Consultations, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Pasay city, Philippines. In their statement, the AEM-EU meeting said they "discussed various projects on trade facilitation, Intellectual Property Rights, air transportation and statistics and integration monitoring." Image: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

 

The EU then started bilateral trade negotiations with individual ASEAN members. It has FTAs with Vietnam and Singapore and is still negotiating agreements with Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Other ASEAN members are Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

Two-way trade between the two regions stood at 208 billion euros ($220.5 billion) in 2016. The EU was the largest external source of foreign direct investment into ASEAN in 2015, at 23.3 billion euros ($24.7 billion).


Source : Associated Press

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