ASEAN, EU commit to promote free trade

MANILA-- The ASEAN and the European Union (EU) committed to promote stronger trade growth and liberalizing trade, EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said in press conference for ASEAN-EU Business Summit on Wednesday.

Jessen said pushing for free trade will ensure sustainable development as the global market is becoming more unpredictable.

He mentioned that the EU engages in liberalizing trade with ASEAN. But instead of pursuing region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA), the bloc aims to negotiate bilateral FTAs with ASEAN member nations to facilitate faster trade deal.

EU already has FTA with Singapore and Vietnam. It is currently on negotiations for FTA with the Philippines and Indonesia.

To boost linkage between European and ASEAN companies, the ASEAN-EU Business Summit will be held on March 10 at The Conrad Manila in Pasay City.

The summit will be attended by EU chambers and companies present in ASEAN.

"This summit takes on added significance as a platform for the exchange of ideas on how to further deepen and extend the trading and investment relationship between these two complementary regions," said EU-ASEAN Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey.

Manila's hosting of ASEAN-EU Business Summit coincides with the Philippine hosting of ASEAN Summit 2017, the 40th year of the regions' relations, and the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.

Moreover, Jessen said a high-level delegation from the EU will be attending the Summit -- the first time for a top-level delegation to visit in the Philippines since the Duterte administration started last year.

Jessen noted that the EU strongly support the Philippines' agenda on its ASEAN hosting, which include promoting inclusive and innovation-led growth, empowering micro, small, and medium enterprises, improving ease of doing business, and linking local and international companies. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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