Bernama | 27 October 2014
EU set to further strengthen trade ties with Asean
SINGAPORE: In line with the recently concluded EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and reflecting the growing importance of Asean as an economic entity, the EU-Asean Business Council (EU-ABC) today formally announced its constitution as an independent body.
It comes with the full endorsement of the European Commission and to speak as the voice of European business in Asean.
The launch of the Council marks a key milestone in Europe’s commercial relationship with Asean, and coincides with the appointment of a new European Trade Commissioner, the finalisation of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and the appointment of a dedicated EU Ambassador to Asean.
It also underscores the importance of Asean as an economic block, and the value that European businesses place on trade with the region.
It also comes at a time when leaders from South East Asia, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are calling for Europe to step up its engagement with the region.
The Council will foster dialogue between European businesses and Asean, provide two-way knowledge transfer, and contribute to the policy making process through, for example, providing recommendations to boost trade, development and growth.
It currently represents some of the largest multinational corporations covering a variety of business sectors, notably AXA, BMW Group, Diageo, STMicroelectronics, Prudential, Robert Bosch Swiss Re and Unilever. Commenting on the launch of the Council at a press briefing here today, EU Ambassador to Asean, Olof Skoog, said: "The European Commission has welcomed the EU-Asean Business Council since its inception as a platform for enhancing the business dialogue between both regions and contributing to advocating European business interests in the Asean region.
"I am therefore very pleased to see that this initiative is now moving into a higher gear with the creation of a strong corporate membership.
"This will allow the EU-ABC to strengthen its role in the region in terms of trade advocacy as well as business-to-business dialogue and co-operation with Asean, to bring EU-Asean business trade and investment relations to a higher level."
Meanwhile, EU-ABC Chairman François Guibert described the European business presence in Singapore and the Asean region as strong and was the region’s second largest trading partner after China.
"With a comprehensive membership, coupled with its heavy involvement in the government and regulatory environment in Asean and the EU, the EU-ABC will help European businesses grow in the region through the breakdown of trade and investment barriers, and helping businesses make informed investment decisions amidst ever-changing issues, trends and legislation within Asean," he added.