27 April 2015

EU-Asean Business Council launches Agenda to boost trade between ASEAN and EU

The EU-ASEAN Business Council (ABC), the primary voice for European businesses in the ASEAN region, has launched a set of recommendations to boost the trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and the EU. The launch of the recommendations coincides with 26th ASEAN Summit taking place in Malaysia.

The Agenda for the promotion of trade and investment between ASEAN and Europe – which was presented to ASEAN Economic Ministers and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalmstrÓ§m on April 26 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – has been developed through a process of consultation between EU-ABC members and the wider European business community active in Southeast Asia. The EU is ASEAN’s largest source of foreign direct investment, and also ASEAN’s second-largest trading partner, after China.

Source: EU-ABC, Agenda for the promotion of trade and investment between ASEAN and Europe. ASEAN trade with external trading partners (% Total Trade), for the top 10 ASEAN trade partner countries/regions according to ASEAN, as of December 2014, .

The Agenda contains twelve recommendations covering:

1. Measures to promote trade, including the removal of remaining tariffs, elimination of non-tariff barriers, the implementation of the ASEAN Single Window and WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the easing of customs procedures.

2. Measures to promote investment, including the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights, the harmonisation of standards across ASEAN, the liberalisation of foreign ownership rules and the easing of long term investment constraints;

3. Measures to boost competitiveness, including financial support for SMEs, facilitating the movement of skilled labour, developing the skills pool and increasing access to government procurement opportunities;

4. Measures to further promote strong trade and investment relations between the EU and ASEAN, including the creation of a formalised ongoing consultative and dialogue process.

“The EU-ABC has developed a set of specific recommendations that are designed to enhance the existing strong trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and the EU. These recommendations complement ASEAN’s existing workstream and form the basis of ongoing engagement and dialogue between ASEAN and the European business community," EU-ABC Executive Director Chris Humphrey said.

"It is through opportunities like this that we can explore further ways to boost trade and investment between our two regions. As ASEAN’s largest source of foreign investment and second largest external trading partner, European businesses have much to offer and will continue to engage constructively with their ASEAN counterparts as the region continues to integrate.”