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Trade negotiations between the EU and ASEAN member states

11-11-2020

In 2017, the European Union–Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue partnership celebrated its 40th anniversary. The same year saw the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. The ASEAN region is currently the world's fifth largest economy, a dynamic economic area home to more than 660 million consumers. To ensure better access to opportunities in the region's market, the European Union (EU) started negotiations with ASEAN for a region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007 ...

In 2017, the European Union–Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue partnership celebrated its 40th anniversary. The same year saw the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. The ASEAN region is currently the world's fifth largest economy, a dynamic economic area home to more than 660 million consumers. To ensure better access to opportunities in the region's market, the European Union (EU) started negotiations with ASEAN for a region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007. After negotiations were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six have begun talks on bilateral FTAs with the EU: Singapore and Malaysia in 2010; Vietnam in 2012; Thailand in 2013; the Philippines in 2015; and Indonesia in 2016. Negotiations have already been concluded and FTAs entered into force with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, in November 2019 and August 2020, respectively. Negotiations are under way with Indonesia, while talks are currently on hold with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the longer term, these bilateral FTAs would allow the establishment of a region-to-region FTA, which remains the EU's ultimate ambition. By bringing together two of the world's largest economic areas, the agreement would establish a free trade area with a combined market of more than 1 billion people. It is in the EU's interest to strengthen its economic cooperation with ASEAN, in order to maintain its competitive position in this dynamically developing region. Closer trade and investment relations could also pave the way towards the EU's goal of a strategic partnership between the two regional blocs, encompassing political as well as economic cooperation.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): The EU's partner in Asia?

11-11-2020

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve ...

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve the same level of integration as the EU, it has also enabled ASEAN to accommodate huge disparities among its 10 member states. In 2003, south-east Asian leaders decided to take cooperation to another level by setting up an ASEAN Community. To this end, they adopted a charter in 2007, though without fundamentally changing the nature of the organisation's decision-making or giving it stronger institutions. The community has three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. ASEAN's impact has been uneven. Barring the contentious South China Sea issue, ASEAN has become an effective platform for cooperation between its member states and the wider Asia-Pacific region, and promoted economic integration, even if the goal of an EU-style single market is a long way off. On the other hand, ASEAN is still perceived as an elite project that has little impact on the daily lives of south-east Asians. EU-ASEAN relations span four decades and have steadily deepened, building on common values as well as booming trade and investment. Both sides have expressed their ambition to upgrade to a strategic partnership.

Indonesia and prospects for closer EU ties

09-10-2017

Public opinion surveys suggest that although most Indonesians do not know much about the European Union, they generally feel positively towards it. Looking at the principles underpinning key Indonesian government policies over the past few decades, there is much common ground between the EU and Indonesia. Some of the biggest gaps are in the field of economic policy, where the EU's commitment to trade and investment liberalisation contrasts with Indonesia's more ambiguous stance. There are more similarities ...

Public opinion surveys suggest that although most Indonesians do not know much about the European Union, they generally feel positively towards it. Looking at the principles underpinning key Indonesian government policies over the past few decades, there is much common ground between the EU and Indonesia. Some of the biggest gaps are in the field of economic policy, where the EU's commitment to trade and investment liberalisation contrasts with Indonesia's more ambiguous stance. There are more similarities in foreign and security policy: like the EU, Indonesia is strongly supportive of regional integration, and its efforts to build south-east Asian consensus mirror the EU's common foreign and security policy. Climate change is another area of convergence, with strong commitments from both sides to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia shares both the EU's motto of 'unity in diversity' and its commitment to multiculturalism; thanks to a successful democratic transition, it has also moved closer to the EU's approach to human rights, although there are still concerns about the situation of some Indonesian minorities. Positive Indonesian perceptions of the EU and shared values are a strong foundation for the two sides to develop closer economic and political cooperation. Indonesia is an important partner for the EU both in its own right and as a leading member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with which the EU aims to develop a strategic partnership.

The future of EU - ASEAN relations

20-04-2017

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace ...

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace all aspects, from trade to energy, from climate change to security issues, from human rights to sustainable development. Deepening and enhancing relations between one of the most dynamic region in the world and the largest and most affluent market will bring important benefits to both European and ASEAN citizens. The last years have seen an increase in contacts but the many challenges faced today by the EU, internally and in its close neighbourhood, risk to require all attention and put the EU-ASEAN relations at risk. Finally the study argues that strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the relationship would, besides supporting representative democracy in Southeast Asia, contribute to maintaining the momentum launched in 2012.

Driving trade in the ASEAN region: Progress of FTA negotiations

14-12-2016

After negotiations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a regional free trade agreement (FTA) were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six of them have started talks on a bilateral FTA with the EU. Negotiations have already been concluded with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, although those FTAs still await ratification. The EU's final objective is to have a region-to-region ...

After negotiations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a regional free trade agreement (FTA) were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six of them have started talks on a bilateral FTA with the EU. Negotiations have already been concluded with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, although those FTAs still await ratification. The EU's final objective is to have a region-to-region agreement with ASEAN, based on the bilateral FTAs concluded with the ASEAN member states. Once the conditions required for this to happen are in place, the EU and its ASEAN partners will need to determine how to bring all these bilateral agreements under one regional FTA, with a view to including ASEAN member states with which the EU does not have bilateral agreements. It is in the EU's strategic interest to strengthen economic cooperation with ASEAN, and to maintain its competitive position in the Asia-Pacific region, given its economic importance, combined with the expanding intraregional trade and investment relations and the growing number of regional integration initiatives. Back in 2006, in its communication entitled 'Global Europe: Competing in the world', the European Commission identified ASEAN as a potential FTA partner that should be given priority based on key economic criteria. The Commission's new 2015 trade strategy, entitled 'Trade for all – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy', reaffirmed this objective.

One Belt, One Road (OBOR): China's regional integration initiative

07-07-2016

In 2013, China launched its 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) initiative. OBOR is China’s broadly sketched vision of how it plans to boost regional integration in its wider neighbourhood. The initiative is unprecedented in terms of China's financial engagement and the innovative network-based project design which is intended to contribute to a more inclusive global governance. It contrasts sharply with existing treaty-based integration concepts where the geographical scope, partner countries, strategy, ...

In 2013, China launched its 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) initiative. OBOR is China’s broadly sketched vision of how it plans to boost regional integration in its wider neighbourhood. The initiative is unprecedented in terms of China's financial engagement and the innovative network-based project design which is intended to contribute to a more inclusive global governance. It contrasts sharply with existing treaty-based integration concepts where the geographical scope, partner countries, strategy, principles and rules were clearly defined at the outset. China's new development vision has been seen as an alternative to regional trade agreements which do not include it; as a strategy for asserting its leadership role in Asia in response to the US pivot to Asia; as an economic outreach towards Asian countries for resolving territorial and maritime disputes by exporting China’s domestic development policies; as a means of tapping into new sources of growth to check the marked downturn in its economy; as a tool for tackling the socio-economic divide between its inland and coastal provinces; and finally, as a venue for addressing security challenges on its western periphery as well as energy security issues. The response to China's regional integration vision has been mixed. While the idea of enhancing connectivity has drawn considerable interest, given the huge infrastructure gaps across Asia, scepticism regarding China's potential hegemonic ambitions has prevailed notably among regional rivals India and Japan as well as the USA. Whether OBOR will be mutually beneficial for China and the EU will depend on the two sides agreeing on the 'rules of the game', including for joint projects in third countries. Potential synergies between OBOR and the EU connectivity initiatives are being explored under the EU-China Connectivity Platform.

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA): A Privileged Interlocutor for the European Parliament in South East Asia

20-08-2015

The mains aims of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) are the promotion of closer cooperation among parliaments of the association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN) member countries and the facilitation of the attainment of the objectives of ASEAN. AIPA is not the Parliament of ASEAN: it has no legislative powers, its resolutions are non-binding, and it does not vote on the budget of ASEAN. However, AIPA is significant in relation to the development of the political context in Southeast ...

The mains aims of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) are the promotion of closer cooperation among parliaments of the association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN) member countries and the facilitation of the attainment of the objectives of ASEAN. AIPA is not the Parliament of ASEAN: it has no legislative powers, its resolutions are non-binding, and it does not vote on the budget of ASEAN. However, AIPA is significant in relation to the development of the political context in Southeast Asia, as the ASEAN Economic Community is about to enter into force: it provides a parliamentary forum where members from national parliaments can interact and exchange information on issues of common interest. The European Parliament's participation in the General Assembly of AIPA provides a unique opportunity for regional dialogue In South East Asia, both with the member countries and with the observer countries of ASEAN.

The EU's Trade Policy: From Gender-Blind to Gender-Sensitive?

09-07-2015

The services of the European Commission are currently reflecting on the follow-up to the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 (COM (2010) final). The EU's trade policy has not yet been fully integrated into this Strategy, providing an opportunity for the INTA committee to consider whether and how gender issues should be dealt with in the context of the EU's trade policies. Article 8 TFEU provides that “in all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote ...

The services of the European Commission are currently reflecting on the follow-up to the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 (COM (2010) final). The EU's trade policy has not yet been fully integrated into this Strategy, providing an opportunity for the INTA committee to consider whether and how gender issues should be dealt with in the context of the EU's trade policies. Article 8 TFEU provides that “in all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality between men and women.” The trade policy issues that are discussed by the European Parliament's INTA committee can have differing gender impacts across the various sectors of the economy. Understanding the gender dimension of trade agreements better will therefore contribute to better policy making and to ensuring that both sexes can take advantage of the benefits of trade liberalisation and be protected from its negative effects.

China’s Foreign Policy and External Relations

07-07-2015

This study provides an overview of China’s current approach to foreign policy and external relations. It focuses more particularly on the role and actions of China in global governance, its territorial claims and relations with countries in Asia, and its emergence as an important actor in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. It assesses the implications for the EU and makes recommendations on how the EU should deepen its strategic partnership with China. The study ...

This study provides an overview of China’s current approach to foreign policy and external relations. It focuses more particularly on the role and actions of China in global governance, its territorial claims and relations with countries in Asia, and its emergence as an important actor in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. It assesses the implications for the EU and makes recommendations on how the EU should deepen its strategic partnership with China. The study argues that China has not made a unilateral and exclusive turn towards assertiveness in its foreign policy. China’s foreign policy assertiveness represents a policy choice that should be understood in the broader context of its external relations, which is one of uncertainty. Both the impact of China’s emergence in international affairs and the use China intends to make of its power and influence remain uncertain. This uncertainty is explained by the interdependence between a number of international and domestic factors as well as by the absence of a grand strategy. The uncertainty in China’s foreign policy opens avenues for the EU to influence China and further deepen the scope of the EU-China Strategic Partnership.

ASEAN: building an Economic Community

03-12-2014

In 2007 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decided to move towards closer integration by establishing an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 as one of its three pillars (the other two being the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities). What will this mean and to what extent will the AEC resemble the EU's Single Market?

In 2007 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decided to move towards closer integration by establishing an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 as one of its three pillars (the other two being the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities). What will this mean and to what extent will the AEC resemble the EU's Single Market?

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