Illustrative image (Source: aseanbriefing.com)
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is set to resume free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the European Union after negotiations were suspended since 2009, the Bangkok Post reported.
The European Commission on Trade agreed on a joint trade and investment programme, the newspaper cited Sansern Samalapa, Thai Vice Minister for Commerce, who acted as the chief negotiator at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting on September 8-9 with the EU, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Russia via teleconference.
The two sides agreed to prepare negotiations for an ASEAN-EU FTA and hold joint expert meetings to build mutual understanding on new trade issues such as e-commerce, government procurement and sustainable trade and development.
Sansern said ASEAN and EU ministers also met with the EU-ASEAN Business Council, which proposed ASEAN reduce non-tariff trade measures, promote the same product standards in both regions, protect intellectual property rights, promote environmentally friendly energy, use data management for the digital economy, and allow cross-border travel permits.
He said Thailand has emphasised the importance of an ASEAM-EU FTA because it would create a favourable environment for trade and investment in the region.
According to Sansern, the AEM met with Elizabeth Truss, the UK secretary of state for international trade, after the UK was granted the status of dialogue partner with ASEAN on August 2.
A joint ministerial declaration on future economic cooperation between ASEAN and the UK in 11 areas was endorsed at the meeting and senior economic officials from both sides were asked to discuss further plans for cooperation, he said.
The EU started negotiations with ASEAN on an FTA in 2007. After negotiations were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with nations.
Six ASEAN members have begun talks on bilateral FTAs with the EU: Singapore and Malaysia in 2010; Vietnam in 2012; Thailand in 2013; the Philippines in 2015; and Indonesia in 2016. FTAs are in effect with Singapore and Vietnam, ratified in November 2019 and August 2020, respectively. Negotiations are continuing with Indonesia, while talks are on hold with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand./.