Blog: Meeting with ASEAN

Met dank overgenomen van A.C. (Cecilia) Malmström i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 3 maart 2016.

I'm nearly 10,000 km from Brussels today meeting my counterparts from ASEAN - the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - a very dynamic area of the world, crucial to the EU's economic interest.

The EU has a strongly established trade footprint in Asia, with a strategy based on individual trade agreements as building blocks towards a region-to-region EU-ASEAN framework.

But what makes me come back to the region for the second time in less than a year?

Well, many things have happened in recent months: we have finalised an agreement with Vietnam, started bilateral talks with the Philippines and celebrated creation of the ASEAN Economic Community. This makes me feel the time is coming to scale up our partnership at the regional level. Before restarting region-to-region talks we must make sure that ASEAN is ready to meet the same high level of ambition that we have already achieved in the deals negotiated with several of its members.

That's why the current discussions on the potential scope of our future region-to-region agreement are so important.

The EU is the second trade partner for ASEAN after China and the first source of investment in the region; we share a common vision on regional integration and trade. So I hope that both sides will now show enough ambition to make the EU-ASEAN economic relation much closer than the geographical distance would suggest.