News

EU, ASEAN to Discuss Extensive Trade Agreement

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh (L) talks to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht (R), as ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, listens during the opening ceremony of the 2nd ASEAN-EU business summit meeting in Phn
Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh (L) talks to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht (R), as ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, listens during the opening ceremony of the 2nd ASEAN-EU business summit meeting in Phn
Irwin Loy

A key European Union trade official wants to begin negotiations on a far-reaching free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. The comments were made at a business summit between EU and Asian officials Sunday in the lead-up to this week's ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht is urging closer economic ties between the EU and the ten-member ASEAN bloc. During a conference of EU and ASEAN officials Sunday, De Gucht urged delegates to make "concrete progress" on negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two regions.

"We need a comprehensive, 21st-century free trade agreement between our two regions," said De Gucht, "It should tackle the full range of barriers that obstruct flows of goods, services and investment between our regions. And that means not only eliminating tariffs, but also tackling regulations that block trade in goods and services, improving the protection of intellectual property rights, and securing access to markets for government procurements, all within a legally binding framework."

De Gucht says the European Union will soon begin negotiations on a bilateral trade deal with Vietnam. The E-U has already started discussions with Singapore and Malaysia. But De Gucht says the goal is to strike a free trade agreement with the ASEAN bloc as a whole.

This year's summit comes amid the ongoing European financial crisis. De Gucht spent much of his speech Sunday assuring ASEAN leaders that the worst of the problems are over. Fifteen years ago, the situation was reversed, with Asian economies locked in financial turmoil.

In his speech, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan threw a light-hearted jab at his European counterparts.

"In 1997, Europe told us, put your house in order," said Pitsuwan. "This time, we appeal to Europe, put your house in order."

Trade between the two regions is significant. ASEAN as a whole is the EU's third largest trading partner, while the EU is ASEAN's second largest. Surin says these vital economic ties must grow to form a buffer against future financial challenges.

"This is where both the business communities in ASEAN and the EU must engage themselves to mitigate the effects of these new dynamics, through trade, through investment, through technology, to further elevate our partnership, our cooperation and our connectivity, so that more opportunities can be created and more businesses are able to take advantage of our partnerships and to alleviate or reduce the uncertainties within the two regions," said Pitsuwan.

While officials from ASEAN may be on board with negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU, opinion will be divided on the region's hot button internal issues. The main ASEAN summit kicks into full gear this week, when it's expected some members will attempt to raise the thorny issue of competing claims over the South China Sea.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs