The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) affirmed the commitment to enhancing bilateral comprehensive cooperation at the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brussels on January 21.
The EU is currently the second biggest trade partner of ASEAN with bilateral trade reaching 261 billion USD in 2017, up 11.9 percent from the previous year.
It is also the largest source of foreign investment of ASEAN when its direct investment here hit 25.4 billion USD in 2017, accounting for 18.6 percent of the total foreign direct investment in the region.
At the meeting, participants emphasised the two blocs’ special relations as “partners in integration”.
The EU also reiterated its support for ASEAN’s central role and that it considers ASEAN as an important partner sharing many interests and strategic visions.
At the meeting, they agreed to bolster cooperation in the fields of shared concern and interest like economy-trade-investment, connectivity, climate change response, sustainable development, counter-terrorism, trans-national crime prevention, cyber security, and maritime security.
Ministers recognised the progress in bilateral relations since the 21st ministerial meeting in 2016, particularly the success of the ASEAN-EU 40th Commemorative Summit in 2017 and the approval of the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2018-2022.
Step up efforts towards an ASEAN-EU free trade agreement
The two sides also agreed to step up efforts towards an ASEAN-EU free trade agreement on the basis of the bilateral deals between the EU and ASEAN member countries.
They also reached a consensus in principle of upgrading ASEAN-EU relations to a strategic partnership, and adopted the joint statement of the meeting. Regarding international and regional issues, the ministers exchanged views on complex and unpredictable developments of the global economic and political situation.
They agreed to keep coordinating in the promotion of multilateralism and open, fair and rules-based multilateral trade systems, while working closely together to resolve global challenges, enhance dialogue, build trust and prevent conflicts.
As for the East Sea issue, participants continued to underline the importance of maintaining peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight, and respecting the rule of law.
They called on the sides relevant to make self-restraint, not threaten to use or use force, and settle disputes by peaceful means in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The countries voiced support for ASEAN and China’s efforts in effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and working towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters.
Additionally, they welcomed the recent progress on the Korean Peninsula, affirming their support for and readiness to assist efforts towards sustainable peace and stability and complete denuclearisation on the peninsula.
They also emphasised the continuation of the serious and full implementation of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. On behalf of the ASEAN, Deputy Minister Dung delivered a speech on the cooperation priorities between the two sides in 2019. He proposed orientations and measures to intensify substantive cooperation in the areas matching the ASEAN’s demand and the EU’s strength such as climate change response, counter-terrorism, trans-national crime prevention, cyber security, border management, illegal fishing prevention and sustainable development.
He also reaffirmed the ASEAN’s principled stance on the East Sea issue and highlighted the strides in the building of the COC between ASEAN and China. The official added that the bloc supports the EU to contribute to its efforts to maintain regional peace, security and stability. On the sidelines of the meeting, Dung had bilateral meetings with officials of Belgium, Romania, Greece, Hungary, the European Council and the European Commission to promote the signing and ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the bilateral investment protection agreement, and discussed other issues of bilateral relations.-VNA ASEAN, EU pledge to strengthen comprehensive ties | Vietnam+ (VietnamPlus)
Supporting disadvantaged women key to achieving SDGs in ASEAN
The study, which holds a gender lens up to each of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda, confirms that when two or more forms of discrimination overlap, barriers increase
JAKARTA, 1 March 2021 – Women and girls across South-East Asia who are members of an ethnic minority, live in a rural location, or suffer from poverty are at greatest risk of being left behind despite the region’s recent progress in gender equality, according to a new report by ASEAN and UN Women.
Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Chinese overseas investment dropped off in 2020
– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
– Sustainability, health and digital to be the new cornerstones of the initiative
Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.
Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.
By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.
However, as borders closed and lockdowns were imposed, progress stalled on a number of major BRI infrastructure developments.
In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.
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