Tuesday, January 17, 2012


SINGAPORE, Jan 16 (Bernama) -- Officials and business representatives from

the 10 Asean Member States and the European Union came together today in Siem
Reap, Cambodia, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of free trade
agreements, as well as ways that Asean would benefit from free trade agreements.
Organised by the EU-Asean''s "Enhancing Asean FTA Negotiation Capacity
Programme", the event focuses on Asean and the European Union (EU) trade
policies, as well as on new and emerging trade issues.
The event also includes a stakeholders dialogue, designed to enable
participants to share their knowledge and experience related to key issues such
as the political economy of free trade agreements, the challenges of trade
agreement implementation and post-trade agreement adjustment.
Director General of Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia and as Asean SEOM
Chairman, Pich Rithi, has expressed his deep appreciation to the EU for
providing technical assistance on the Enhancing Asean FTA Negotiating Capacity
Programme to government and private sector representatives of the Asean Member
States and Asean Secretariat officials.
"With a series of 10 workshops all over Asean, starting here today in Siem
Reap, the EU-Asean cooperation will provide a forum for Asean trade
practitioners and officials to reflect on trade issues, which really matter.
"We expect a meaningful contribution to enhance mutual understanding on
trade matters and the negotiation processes, because trade is such an important
affair," he said in a statement released by the EU delegation here.
Rithi said free trade was not only essential for economic development and
growth in support of competitiveness, consumer welfare and poverty reduction, it
brought together people and ideas.
Meanwhile, Head of Economic and Regional Cooperation of the Delegation of
the European Union to Asean, Andreas Roettger, said: "Asean and the EU are
already keen and important trading partners – the EU being the largest export
market for Asean."
He said both regional blocks could only benefit if this partnership
prospered further.
During the event, participants will also engage in negotiation simulation
exercises that focus on trade negotiating techniques, methodologies and tools.
The four-day event coincides with Cambodia’s hosting of the Asean Senior
Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) in Siem Reap beginning tomorrow till Jan 19.
The "Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity Programme" is a 2.5 million
euros technical cooperation programme funded by the EU for the benefit of
ASEAN’s Member States.
It supports Asean economic integration and facilitates Asean’s preparedness
for participating in FTA negotiations.
The programme is designed to provide high-quality training, cutting-edge
research and analysis, and bilateral FTA negotiations simulations for government
and private sector representatives of the Asean Member States and Asean
Secretariat officials.
It covers a broad range of trade and investment issues and addresses
traditional and non-traditional issues and newer 21st century challenges.
In addition, the "Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity Programme" will
conduct awareness-raising seminars on a wide range of international trade,
investment, globalisation and related political economy and socio-economic
issues, which will be opened to the public, private and civil society sectors.
Issues were chosen to reflect the interests and needs of the ASEAN Member
ASEAN as a whole represents the EU''s 3rd largest trading partner outside
Europe (after the US and China) with more than 175 billion euros of trade in
goods and services in 2010 (according to ASEANstats data).
The EU represents ASEAN''s largest export partner with exports with more than
90 billion euros in 2011 and ensuring an annual trade surplus to ASEAN of nearly
25 billion euros.
EU and Asean started regional negotiations in 2007 which were also designed
to contribute to Asean''s process of regional integration.
Although these negotiations are currently suspended and the process is
following a bilateral track, the EU still believes that a region-to-region free
trade agreement between both regions makes political and economic sense in the
long term and the strategic objective of concluding an agreement with the Asean
as a region is retained.

No comments: