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EU may consider possibility of allowing Myanmar to join Asean peers in FTA talks

Bernama | June 08, 2011

EU may consider possibility of allowing Myanmar to join Asean peers in FTA talks

By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

SINGAPORE, June 7 (Bernama) — The European Union (EU) may look into the possibility of allowing Myanmar to join its Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) peers to negotiate for a free trade agreement (FTA).

Head of EU Delegation and EU Ambassador to Singapore, Marc Ungeheuer, said Myanmar has not requested to have an FTA with the EU.

"But it is clear that for the moment the EU will wait for further progress in democratisation inside Myanmar.

"If Myanmar adopts the same standards on human rights and democracy like other Asean countries there would be no reason not to," he said at a media briefing on the EU-Singapore Trade and Investment 2011 here Wednesday.

However, Ungeheuer said, at the moment EU’s assessment was that it was not the time and it has maintained the sanctions even if they were less strict than before.

EU had initiated efforts to form a regional pact with Asean as early as 2007, which if materialised, would have created one of the largest trading bloc in the world by bringing nearly one billion people under it.

But the efforts were halted because of the varying degree of economic development among the ten-member Asean and also because of the tumultuous political situation in member countries such as Myanmar.

However since the Union Solidarity and Development Party was sworn in as Myanmar’s governing party, under the new president, Gen (R) Thein Sein, political analysts saw there had been changes in the country’s political landscape where the government has given some face to the media unlike in the past.

Ungeheuer said the EU was Asean’s second overall trading partner and its largest foreign investor.

 source: Bernama