ASEAN, EU Agree to Consider Future FTA

9:04:11 AM | 8/9/2021

ASEAN and the EU pledged to continue giving priority to containing COVID-19, promoting comprehensive and sustainable recovery and implementing the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action for the 2018-2022 period.

Foreign Minister of 10 ASEAN member countries, Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Borrell Fontelles and Secretary-General of ASEAN on August 6 attended the virtual ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting.

The participants welcomed the decision made by ASEAN and the EU to officially upgrade their relations to strategic partnership level. ASEAN consented with the proposal of the EU to organize the 45th ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium in 2022.

Fontelles affirmed that the EU always attaches importance to the relationship with ASEAN, expecting to further strengthen ASEAN-EU strategic partnership and advocates the central role of ASEAN.  

ASEAN countries spoke highly of the EU’s implementation of the €800 million Team Europe program to support ASEAN in disease prevention and the €20 million "Pandemic Preparedness in Southeast Asia" program.

They suggested the EU continue to support ASEAN's COVID-19 prevention and control initiatives and coordinate with ASEAN to ensure access, supply, research and development of vaccines in a safe, equitable and effective manner in the region.

Both ASEAN and the EU agreed to explore the possibility to design a free trade agreement between the sides in the upcoming time and soon sign the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA).

The participants highlighted the importance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of aviation and navigation in the East Sea, and voiced support for efforts to resume negotiations on an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea in line wiht international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In his remarks, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son underscored the significance of the ASEAN-EU strategic partnership, which has significantly contributed to promoting multi-lateral cooperation and regional connectivity.

He welcomed the EU's role in spearheading global efforts in the pandemic fight, technology application, renovation, acceleration of multi-lateral trade, recovery and climate change adaption.

The Vietnamese diplomat asked the EU to support ASEAN to get access to vaccine resources sufficiently, considering transfer of vaccine production technology to the bloc to strengthen its vaccine autonomy.

The EU, as the top economic partner of ASEAN, needs to coordinate with ASEAN to stabilize connectivity of supply chain, facilitate trade and investment and consider the ability of building the FTA between ASEAN and the EU based on the current FTAs between the EU and some ASEAN member State, including Viet Nam, he said.

As the 1982 UNCLOS serves as a legal foundation governing all activities at seas and oceans, Bui stressed that rights and legitimate interests of coastal countries defined in the Convention must be respected.

At the end of the meeting, the Philippines officially took over the role of coordinator of ASEAN-EU relations during the 2021-2024 period.

Source: VGP