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EC provides 7.2 mln Euros to support Asean integration process

Bernama, Malaysia

EC Provides 7.2 Mln Euros To Support Asean Integration Process

8 June 2007

JAKARTA, June 8 (Bernama) — The European Commission (EC) has officially launched a 7.2 million euros (RM33.2 million) programme to support the Asean integration process.

This EC-funded programme, entitled Asean Programme for Regional Integration Support (APRIS II), aims to further the process of Asean integration while strengthening relations between the European Union and Asean as a whole through support for the TREATI/READI (Trans-Regional EU-Asean Trade Initiative/Regional EU-Asean Dialogue Instrument) dialogue processes.

The launch on Tuesday was officiated by Asean Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong and Charge d’Affaires of the Delegation of the EU, Rosamaria Gili.

"APRIS II will focus on achieving common Asean standards on four priority sectors agreed under TREATI which include agri-food, fisheries, electronics, cosmetics and wood products," said a press release issued today by the Asean Secretariat, here.

"It will also focus on improving customs clearance and the establishment of a regional transit regime as well as on developing an Action Plan for Investment to promote the acceptance of a free and open investment regime in Asean in line with the goal of the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP)," it added.

In addition, the statement said, APRIS II aimed to enhance the capacity of the Asean Secretariat in the settlement of disputes among Asean member countries arising from economic agreements as well as staff training.

"APRIS II will also seek to develop common positions/joint initiatives between the EU and Asean in support of the results of the TREATI and READI dialogues in areas such as — but not limited to — transport, climate change, animal health, minerals, and the information society," the statement said.

It will also provide support to the negotiation of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Asean announced in May 2007 in Brunei Darussalam.

Gili said the EC was in a key position to effectively contribute to Asean’s move towards integration on the basis of its own successful experience of integration in particular the creation of the EU Single Market.

"EU’s commitment to provide such support has been stated through the EC’s strategy document `A New Partnership with Southeast Asia’ of July 2003 which identifies enhancing regional trade and investment relations with Asean as well as dialogue in specific policy areas as key priorities," she said. This has been reinforced recently in the Nuremberg Declaration on EU-Asean Enhanced Partnership on March 15.

Ong said Asean warmly welcomed the EU’s continuous efforts to work with Asean in the area of Asean economic integration.

"This facility provides technical assistance to Asean and further enriches Asean-EU relations. The recently launched Asean-EU FTA negotiations mark a new phase in the economic relations between the two sides," he said, adding that the facility was in a unique position to help Asean member countries address concerns and issues during the negotiation process.

Once completed, he said, the FTA was expected to offer mutual benefits for all parties.

APRIS I, the precursor of APRIS II, ended in Sept 2006 and made a significant contribution to the implementation of the initial phase of VAP.

APRIS II started on Nov 20 2006 and will run for a period of three years.