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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora